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Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron Initial Impressions

26 Apr

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I’ve tried Ubuntu a number of times, but have not been able to make it my day-to-day OS.  Additionally, I will not pretend to be well-versed in Linux customization or configuration, but you could say that I’m an normal desktop user.

Let me just say that my initial impression to the new OS was fantastic.  Everything was silky smooth and fast as hell.  I installed Ubuntu 8.04 by means of Wubi- a new installation method that installs the OS through Windows (just like you would install any other program).  You reboot and choose Ubuntu through the Windows Boot Menu and it completes the installation.  The whole thing took me less than 20 minutes.  This process is much easier than worrying about partitioning the drive yourself and worrying about deleting files.  You choose how much space you want to give Ubuntu and you are good to go.  Apparently, the speed of the Wubi-installed Ubuntu is slower than one installed directly to its own partition, but I have yet to experience a problem.  You can also uninstall Ubuntu from Windows through Add/Remove Programs.  This is the first of the wonderful additions that Ubuntu has added to their already outstanding OS.

After I logged in and the setup was complete, I was pleased to see that the wallpaper had been updated and slight refreshes have been made to some of the design elements.  Immediately, I enabled visual effects and every click became a delightful flurry of eye candy.  Some people tout this technology (Compiz Effects) as worthless, but it makes the GUI a smooth, dynamic experience.  This is a big step up from 7.10 since a lot of the time the visual effects would hiccup.  Another welcome addition was the automatically working forward/backward buttons on the mouse for internet browsers.  Before, you had to change the configuration file and mess around a lot.  Users like me first not only don’t know how to do that, but additionally worry about messing something up.  It finally works without any hassle or setup- right out of the box.

Possibly the best addition to this version of Ubuntu is far better dual monitor support.  I have a 20″ Dell widescreen that works great under Vista and Mac OSX.  I could never manage to get this monitor to work with prior versions and without too much problem I was able to configure dual monitor support in a short amount of time.  When I went into the monitor management program, it would not pick up the second monitor.  I had to type in “sudo nvidia-settings” and configure it through there.  I enabled the monitor and xinerama to get the setup I wanted.  Additionally, it works just as well as Windows or Mac machines.

I’ll be writing a more specific, detailed review of Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron in due time.  I will highlight areas it would still improve in and detail more things I like about it.  Check back in a week or two for that post.  I also hope to do a post dealing with security programs in Ubuntu since Unix/Linux machines are great for finding vulnerabilities and flaws in computers and security.

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