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Customer Review

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Linux all grown up!, April 20, 2012
This review is from: Ubuntu 16.04, 4-discs DVD Installation and Reference Set (DVD-ROM)
I first tried using Linux about 10 years ago or so. Red Hat, Mandrake (and eventually Mandravia) were some of the more popular distros out there. Installing the OS by itself wasn't so bad. Dual booting took some work, and if you needed to install anything, you had to be comfortable with the Unix console. I had no real reason to use Linux, other than curiosity, back then (Windows never really gave me problems that I wasn't the cause of.) So I gave up.

Well, I have a reason to use Linux now: An inexpensive (by inexpensive, I mean pretty much free) option to Mathematica and Matlab. I had a laptop that's getting on in age, so I figured "why not?" and installed Ubuntu 11.10 upon the recommendation of several friends. The installation was a snap! Everything is pretty much automated now. You have to check a box or 2, connect to the internet (to update while it's installing,) and find your location on a map. The whole process took maybe 30 minutes. Linux is very friendly to those who need technical software.

Installing software has never been easier! I was able to install everything I needed, and then some, through their Software Center, which is basically like an App Store for Android. You search what you're looking for, and it'll either find it, or something close to what you need, provided it's available. So much of it is free too! Not once did I have to touch the console, go digging for source code or packages, or unpack a tarball. Before I knew it, I had all my music off loaded onto the hard drive and playing through Audacious (a decent open source music player,) Octave, Kile, and Maxima installed and running, as well as Google Chrome installed and synced. I'll say it again... Linux has never been easier!

I have a few wordy complaints:

* This is open source! Granted it has come a long way since I last tried, but it still lacks the polish that you might be used to from Windows (or OSX, if that's your poison of choice.)
* Many programs that claim to be alternatives to the big name versions for Windows or OSX aren't quite "alternatives." Don't get me wrong, they're quite powerful and useful! But some people who're used to the big office or graphics suites might be in for a little bit of a letdown. Quite often, most of the missing features are cosmetic. For example, the GUI in most programs are either harder to use, lacking in features (sometimes no GUI is available at all!) or the GUI simply looks dated. Files that were originally made in MS Word look like hell! Sure, Libre Office opens them up and all, but the interpretation is way off. I couldn't get OpenOffice to run for some reason (others had similar complaints on the Software Center page.) Gimp doesn't really handle text as well as Photoshop, Octave is slower than Matlab and has a clunkier interface (though in some ways, it'll do more, as it recognizes Matlab code, as well as code from other languages!) I couldn't get a good front-end on Sage (probably my fault) and while Empathy is a serviceable chat client, it sure is clunky!

All that being said, I still highly recommend Ubuntu if you're looking for an easy introduction to Linux. My experiences from the past were limited to 3 companies; all of which proved to be rather frustrating. Now, I think I'll always have a computer around with Ubuntu running!

Having the DVD's pre-made along with documentation is nice, and the package doesn't cost much here on I'd recommend buying this package if you don't have a way to create a disc from an ISO file. Trying to install from USB can be problematic if your computer isn't new enough. For those who have a decent internet connection, a way to create a disc or bootable USB and are also brave and patient enough, there is plenty of documentation available online, so you would then have the true experience of Open Source Software (FREE!!)

**7/4/12 Edit**

I've upgraded from 11.10 to 12.04, and it was absolutely painless! I had to put in my root password a few times, acknowledge that some files and programs were no longer usable with the new version, and wait a while. Everything was pretty much automated. It even preserved my settings just the way I left them!

Another thing I'm impressed with is the fact that it'll update the kernel on it's own. I'm not sure if entire overhauls are being done to the kernel, but I see updates to the kernel, and numbers are changing! Everything has been so much easier than I recall from the past.

A problem I had before was YouTube videos coming in with a strong blue tint... well, that's been fixed! YouTube looks exactly as it should!

I am actually pretty close to being a Linux convert! I think it still needs a better native Office Suite, the ability to stream Netflix (it'll stream Amazon Instant Video like a champ, though!) and maybe the ability to run Diablo 3 natively... It's certainly getting closer!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 14, 2013 5:34:16 AM PDT
Neil H. says:
Thanks for your excellent review. I haven't tried any version of Linux yet, but a friend of mine is getting into it and I'm thinking of giving it a go myself. Your review has been helpful.
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