Monday, May 2, 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 'Just works'

The latest version of Ubuntu, Natty Narwhal, was released a few days back.

I installed it at home and I have to say that I finally had what I consider a user-friendly installation process that 'just works'. I'll explain the quotes... my lousy MacBook has this problem of just dying unexpectedly, so I haven't had the time to really test it enough to know if the webcam works out of the box.

If you used Linux before, you likely had to do a fair amount of tweaking after you installed, and I'm not talking about the fancy stuff that power users do. Things like installing Flash, MP3 support and the like  needed some decent know-how to get done (think medibuntu and RPM Fusion). So, it failled the 'just works' test.

The latest Ubuntu makes this a whole lot easier. One of the features is to download the 'extra' packages that I mentioned above, while running the installer. Of course, you need to be connected to the Internet for that, but that's not a big problem in the typical use case. So the result is that I had a system that was ready to be used without any tweaking. I just had to open up the Software Centre in order to add a few applications that my wife and I are using often that I can't expect the average user to want (Arista Transcoder? Xiphos?).
Of course, the MP3s are playing right out of the box, and I was able to start some Flash video.
And I didn't have to do any configuration for my printer to work too.

Also, did I mention that it comes by default with useful fonts that make the screen lookable at?

When installing on the Macbook, it automatically detected it and allowed me to brainlessly create a 'sharing' (FAT32) partition between the two OSes.

So, essentially, it was the first painless Linux install in my life (and I'm a power user). I hope that this ease of installation will encourage more people to make the switch and have a (more) liberated life.

Of course, I'm not expecting the most hardcore geeks to like it... VIM doesn't come pre-installed ;)

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