UbuntuI hate to say it, but I’m impressed. Very impressed.

The last time I mucked about in the Linux world was back when I was still a student studying Computer Science and that takes us back a good 6-8 years ago now. Everything was bash based back then and a simple KDE desktop was about the extent of the graphical interface we got to glimpse at. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t user friendly, but at least it did the job – once you learnt to convert all your DOS know how first that is.

My love affair with Windows blossomed however soon after joining up with Commerce I.T., who literally had access to almost all the Microsoft products out there, in turn meaning that I had unlimited access to basically all the latest Microsoft goodies as they arrived. But now my tenure with Commerce I.T. is at an end and my access to free Microsoft software gone, meaning that I am once again able and have the drive to explore alternative (read free!) solutions to my needs.

Enter Ubuntu, a Linux distribution package that has received much coverage here in South Africa thanks to entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth’s involvement and which is also currently voted as the most accessible and easiest to install Linux distro of them all.

And seeing as my good buddy Merkaba is already such an Open Source advocate and he seems to like this whole Ubuntu thing, it made sense to give it a bash.

Getting access to the distro is a simple matter of downloading it off their site (It’s about 700mb large) and burning the downloaded ISO to a CD which you then use to boot your machine off of. From there it is a simple matter of following the easy to understand and pretty to look at visual instructions, wait a couple of minutes while it works its magic on the harddrive (though it did manage to destroy my existing Vista installation in the process – something that wasn’t meant to happen I imagine) and voila, you have a brand spanking new Ubuntu installation that only needed to learn of your preferred timezone, keyboard layout and user account details!

It literally figures out and configures the rest for you. Network connection, monitor display, sound card, the lot.

And to stick the knife even further into Windows’ back, it comes preloaded with a host of very useful software including applications like Open Office, Pidgin, Fire Fox and GIMP. There’s even a media player that turns out to be pretty damn useable right off the bat! Oh, and adding/installing new applications is as simple as clicking a button and viewing the list of available software titles online!

Like I said, I’m impressed. The graphical user interface looks smooth, uncluttered, is fairly intuitive (if you know your way around Windows) and the package as a whole is just beautifully simplistic and breeze to work with.

I like it and it is most definitely a worthy OS to be using by the looks of it. It runs straight off the bat, no tweaking required and best of all, this useability comes at the low, low cost of…

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

(And it gets updated every six months too, just in case you were wondering.)

So there you have it. My first taste of the Ubuntu experience has left me smacking my lips and looking forward to twiddling some more. Who knows, I may even give one or two of the other distros (maybe Fedora?) a spin! :)

Oh, and in case you are wondering just why the project is named Ubuntu in the first place, here’s a little blurb I ripped straight off their site: “Ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’, or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.”

I’m not sure about that, but in any event, enjoy. As always more information is available by following the ‘Related Link’ below.

[One more thing. Is it Intrepid Ibex or Intrepid Ibis? Even the Internet seems a little confused!]

Related link: http://www.ubuntu.com