Andy Reitz (blog)



Ubuntu "The Hoary Hedgehog": First Impressions

Yesterday, Ubuntu Linux 5.04 "The Hoary Hedgehog" was released to the world. I have been reading about Ubuntu for awhile, but have deferred from playing with it until now. Quickly, Ubuntu is a new(ish) Linux distribution out of South Africa, which is actually trying to do some "design" in their distribution. Instead of throwing in all available Open Source applications, Ubuntu is aiming for "the best" application of each type. So for example, instead of coming out of the box with 3 different applications for playing audio, there is only one. This is what I would expect as a Macintosh or Windows user -- not only is it much less confusing, but it also means that there is someone behind the scenes, who I am trusting to steer me in the right direction. In my mind, this is how a desktop OS should work (hence, why I am a confirmed Machintosh user).

Ubuntu makes "Live CDs" available for multiple platforms, PowerPC included. So, I downloaded the ISO yesterday, and gave it a try today:

A photo of Ubuntu Linux running on my PowerBook G4

I have to admit, it is pretty amazing how well this works, especially on not-terribly-open Apple hardware. I just put in the CD, booted off of it, and ka-blam, I had GNOME staring me in the face. Sound works, but Airport Extreme does not. This was too be expected -- the Open Source dudes have been having a really hard time getting the necessary support to write drivers for wireless hardware. Interestingly enough, it might not just be because wireless companies are dicks.

I decided to go out on a limb, and see if I could get my Sony DSC-P100 camera to work in Linux. Much to my amazement, I plugged the USB cable in, and not only did Ubuntu automatically mount the memory stick as a USB filesystem, but it popped up a dialog and asked me if I wanted to import the pictures from the camera onto disk! Wow! So, I went ahead and got the photo that I wanted, edited it in the Gimp (version 2.2, which looks pretty slick btw), and am posting it to my blog -- all using free software. It has pretty amazing how far Linux has come in such a short time.

I think I will be giving Ubuntu a shot on my new Tivo box. If that goes well (and I don't see why it wouldn't), then I will install it on my desktop at work.