Yaay! I Have Ubuntu

So a couple of days ago I installed the latest version of the Ubuntu operating system (v9.04, called Jaunty Jackalope) on my desktop computer. I did this via Wubi, which lets you install Linux from within Windows without your having to re-partition your hard drive or do any other advanced Linux, Windows, or hardware configuration. The installer basically creates a folder in your C drive (called ‘ubuntu’, in my case) and everything to do with your Linux installation goes in there.

What Wubi does do is make your computer a dual-boot system which means that, from now on, whenever you start your computer you will be given the option of booting into (in my case) Vista or Ubuntu. Vista does remain the default boot option which means that, if you don’t choose otherwise within ten seconds, your computer will automatically boot into Vista. You can, of course, make Ubuntu the default boot option if you want.

Later, if you decide you don’t want Ubuntu you can always uninstall it from within Windows as well. This is as simple as going to Add/Remove Programs and uninstalling Wubi from there.

Why Did I Do This?

So why did I install Ubuntu? The simple answer is: because I wanted to. The more comprehensive answer is: Ubuntu is fast, Linux is fun, I love open source software (and support the FOSS movement), and am a little nostalgic. Oh, and I am a geek.

Let me unpack my comprehensive answer a little bit.

Ubuntu is fast. On my current desktop, from the time I press the power button to the time I can type a URL into Firefox and start browsing, it takes me less than one minute. Doing the same thing on the same computer in Vista – though with Chrome as the browser instead of Firefox – takes me just over three minutes (and the PC still hasn’t finished booting-up by then because complete boot-up takes about five minutes).

Now I’m not saying this to complain about Vista or to say that my computer is slow. In fact, I really like Vista and the way that everything is set up on my computer. Unfortunately, the downside of having everything set up on your computer just the way you want it is that it’ll be a little slow to start up. And by ‘everything’ I mean things like Google desktop and sidebar; Twhirl and Skype; Zone Alarm, KeePass, and Cobian Backup; and all my Windows settings – all of which get loaded at boot time. My Ubuntu install, meanwhile, is plain vanilla. I don’t even have any major Firefox plugins installed.

So my point is: if I need to use the computer in a hurry – to, say, send a quick e-mail or check on weather conditions later in the day – it’s much quicker to boot into Ubuntu than it is to boot into Vista. And that’s why I like it.

Linux is fun. There’s so much that you can do on Linux that is slower, more complicated, costs money, and is less geeky on Windows. For example, there’s nothing quite like shell scripting using Bash. I also love a lot of the software that is Linux-only; and often that software is both more powerful and much more configurable – though sometimes less pretty – than its equivalents on Windows or Leopard.

I love, support, and keep up with the FOSS movement. The Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement is important and I’ve spent a lot of time and effort supporting, promoting, and being a part of it. Ubuntu is a huge part of FOSS – particularly for the non-tech community – and, till a couple of days ago, I hadn’t actually messed around with it all that much. The release of Jaunty Jackalope finally prompted me to jump in and see for myself what Ubuntu was all about.

I have a lot of nostalgia associated with Linux in particular and UNIX in general. I’ve been using various flavours of UNIX – such as AIX, FreeBSD, and (Debian and RedHat) Linux – since 1996. I’ve also done a lot of programming, server and daemon configuration, and shell scripting in Linux. Indeed, the first time I became sysadmin was for a RedHat Linux server – the only student-run server at my undergraduate university, in fact – back in 1998.

Good Tech Ethic

Actually, it more than just those reasons. As someone who is technologically inclined – and also a geek – I want to try every technology or gadget that I can get my hands on. And I do this not just because I enjoy it immensely but also because it makes good sense to learn all you can about every kind of technology that’s out there.

This is why, for example, I have Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari all installed on my computer. This is why I use all the online services offered by Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, MySpace, Facebook, Orkut, and so on. And this is why I have the latest versions of Java, Flash, AIR, Silverlight, .NET, QuickTime, Real media, Windows media, DivX, etc. on my computer as well. Not to mention at least nine media players, four word processors, four text editors, five graphics applications, six audio applications, four video applications, and crap loads of media and system utilities. (I could go on…)

Using all kinds of technology is good tech ethic for someone who is tech savvy and is a fan of technology, a technology analyst, a technology teacher/trainer, and a technology evangelist. Oh, and is someone who frequently gives tech support to friends and family and is a geek :)