Linux and the desktop

I recently installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on one of my desktop machines to just play around with. I really was dumbstruck at how good Ubuntu Linux is on the desktop. My favorite apps all have versions available. I’ve been using Ubuntu Server for a number of years and every so often trying it out in the desktop edition just to see what the state of it is. The laptop that I bought to run Ubuntu on was a giant fail at the time but works perfectly now (6 months later).

When I first tried out Ubuntu 11.04/11.10 I had a lot of problems with Unity and the machine would either boot into Gnome or just hang and need to be rebooted 50 times just to get to the desktop. However, this time around, 12.04 LTS installed and worked perfectly from the get go. Unity really is nice to use and the desktop is very very snappy. I was able to get up and going inside an hour (installing the OS and all the applications I needed) to be productive which I thought was pretty decent.

Apt is still one of my favourite features of Debian/Ubuntu, being able to install the majority of your software via apt-get makes life much easier when it comes to upgrades and security updates. The other good thing is that when it comes to compiling software, it just works, something that cannot be said of OSX.

I tried installing some apps that I love on my Mac just to see what they’re like on Linux. Spotify and Sublime Text 2 are two pieces of software that I use everyday and surprise surprise they were both available on Linux and both worked well. Spotify is still a preview edition but it still worked well enough that I had no noticeable problems with it. Sublime was perfect, UI is identical to the OSX version and just as snappy to use.

I know that there is Gimp for Linux however Adobe Photoshop is and always has been the reason I haven’t fully committed to Linux in the past. After reading the Adobe forums it appears that Adobe are still digging their toes into the dirt. Apparently they haven’t learnt anything from the gradual death of Flash. HTML5 and Javascript will completely replace Flash. They could switch to a SaaS model for their software or they could drop the price of Photoshop and sell more units rather than less units at a higher price.

But I digress, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Desktop is very nice. I haven’t spent months and months working on it but my initial reactions are all positive. Ubuntu really feels like a cohesive desktop that just works. If I was building a new business I’d definitely be considering Ubuntu for the desktop and using SaaS for the software that is mission critical.

2 Replies to “Linux and the desktop”

  1. i totally agree! Ubuntu 12.04 is brilliant, it kicks the arse of Mac OS X – which for serious software development it a real pain (why drink homebrew when you can drink real ale?). My only gripe would be to provide an option to simplify the GUI as the side launch bar is crap, although the HUD thing is pretty neat.

  2. Ubuntu has run well for a couple years on my wife’s laptop. As a geek I’m less enthused by how un-customizable it is, but she’s had only a few minor hitches. I’ve recently read good things about Linux Mint and–as she’s due for an upgrade anyway–she’s going to try that soon.

    Heh. She said “okay, fine;” as long as she can pull recipes and spacebook off the interwebs, she doesn’t care.

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