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Opinions on Ubuntu

Nickolas Case
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 26, 2008
Posts: 98
I had a PC go belly up on me and I am thinking of putting Ubuntu on it. I want to get some opinions from the Ranch.
Rusty Shackleford
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 03, 2006
Posts: 490
Ubuntu is better than any version of Windows.

It is not better than most Linux distros. It has a lot of hype, but not much substance. There are far better distros out there: openSuSE and Fedora to name two. My favorite is openSuSe, 10.3 is great. The hardware support is fantastic, it is easy to install and even easier to maintain.


"Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes" - Edsger Dijkstra
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
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Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14074
    
  16

I love Ubuntu, I'm using 64-bit Ubuntu 8.04 as the main operating system on my laptop.

I like Linux better for software development than Windows, because there is so much open source software available for it, and all the GNU tools and programs work much better on Linux than on Windows. Java runs great on Ubuntu, and you have the choice between different kinds of Java: Sun's regular Java version, or the OpenJDK version of Java, which is the 100% open source version of Java on which Sun is working.

I like Ubuntu over other Linux distributions because Ubuntu is very user friendly and there is a lot of software available for it. If you want to compare Linux distros, see DistroWatch.

Why don't you just try it out? You can download an Ubuntu CD image and boot your computer with it to try it without installing anything on your computer at first.

If you run into problems, then you can find a lot of information on the Ubuntu forums.

We have a special forum about Linux and Unix here on JavaRanch. I'm moving this question over there.
[ June 16, 2008: Message edited by: Jesper Young ]

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Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
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Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14074
    
  16

Originally posted by Rusty Shackleford:
There are far better distros out there: openSuSE and Fedora to name two.

What makes openSuSE and Fedora "far better" than Ubuntu according to you?
Nickolas Case
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 26, 2008
Posts: 98
I talked with a few of my coworkers about Ubuntu as well. I had one say he liked it a lot and another was not too impressed. Mostly because he couldn't get drivers for his hardware I think. I currently can't get the PC I am going to put it on to boot up. Says it is missing NTLloader.dll so I am going to have to use my laptop to download the cd's and I want to hear of everyone's experiences before I go burning five or so cd's per OS. I plan on mostly using it for storage and networking type stuff.
Stefan Wagner
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2003
Posts: 1923

Originally posted by Nickolas Case:
I plan on mostly using it for storage and networking type stuff.

You plan to use it as a server?

I like it very much, but I'm not too impressed - used a handful of other distros before.
Whether drivers are appropriate - I would try it out.

There will not be much difference from distro to distro, but sometimes there is.


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David O'Meara
Rancher

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I like it, and use it at work and home. I fell into Ubuntu around version 5.10 and like their early work. I had tinkered with Red Hat and Fedora (RH7 and F4, from memory) but they weren't quite at the same level of usability.

I only mention this to say that at the time I made my choice, it was based on data that may or may not still be true. I still like Ubuntu.

Our sys op chooses CentOS (also Red Hat based) for all of our machines.
Zaheer Ahmed
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 06, 2007
Posts: 22
Ubunutu is great. Ubuntu is the only linux distro on 1 CD per my experience and it is much more than its size.

I had installad v6.10 earlier. The only problem that I came up was with the ISA Server. My internet guy was using ISA server and the clients needed the ISA server to be able to browse the internet. But, there is no ISA Client for other OS than MS Windows.

Additionally, do check your hardware support with whatever version of linux you want to install.

To be honest, currently i am using my copies of Vista home edition that came shipped with my laptop and it works just great. Except that the fact it does not have RDC . Unless you do not have a money problem, I would suggest go with Windows, whatever the people say its still the easiest windows.

Cheers,
Zaheer


Zaheer Ahmed<br />SCJP 5
David O'Meara
Rancher

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

Zaheer, it sounds like you're talking about this conversation
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Ubuntu is today's hot distro. I'm using it, on a desktop and the laptop that I'm typing this on. Get the liveCD, try it on your hardware. if it likes the hardware you have (expecially the NICs and video card) you will like it.

Its a little too user friendly for me for my servers. For them (I've got three and a new one that I haven't powered up yet) I prefer debian. Since Ubuntu is based on debian, once you learn how to use Ubuntu, its trivial to manage a debian server.

Debian doesn't hold your hands as much as Ubuntu, so Ubuntu is better for folks getting into Linux.

I used to use RedHat then Fedora Core and later Mandriva, and have used Suse as well. There is not a lot of reason to pick one over the other. Use one that your buddy uses. Buy him/her a beer.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14074
    
  16

Originally posted by Nickolas Case:
I currently can't get the PC I am going to put it on to boot up. Says it is missing NTLloader.dll so I am going to have to use my laptop to download the cd's and I want to hear of everyone's experiences before I go burning five or so cd's per OS. I plan on mostly using it for storage and networking type stuff.

Ubuntu fits on one CD. The not booting problem doesn't sound like a problem that's going to prevent you from installing Ubuntu or any other OS; NTLoader.dll is part of Windows, and you probably have a broken installation of Windows on the machine. As long as you can get the machine to boot from CD, it won't be a problem.
Joe Harry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 26, 2006
Posts: 9344
    
    2

I remember installing Fedora 5 on my system alongside windows. At one point of time I became so frustrated with Linux OS'es because I listen to music a lot and I was not able to play my favoutire tracks on Fedora (I'm just a beginer). And I was totally irritated that I need an internet connection at home to make mp3 files play from Fedora. So I decided to get rid of Fedora and I did try some uninstallations on my Fedora but somehow I messed up with it and was not even able to boot my pc up...either Windows or Fedora. My PC way laying idle for more than a month and when I was cleaning my room, I found a Ubuntu CD that I purchased. That served me as a panacea for my system. I played it and I was able to format my entire system.

From my perspective, Ubuntu is good.


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Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15950
    
  19

I run Fedora and other Red Hat variants myself, but I have absolutely no problem in recommending Ubuntu for desktop use. If you want to test drive and compare, the latest Fedora releases come in live CD form, as does Ubuntu, so you can boot them, play around with them, then shutdown and remove the CD without permanent consequences.

If you decide you like Ubuntu, permanent installation onto your hard disk is dead easy - it's just a menu selection off the GUI desktop and the install process is quite friendly.


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8836
    
    7

Originally posted by Jothi Shankar Kumar Sankararaj:
I became so frustrated with Linux OS'es because I listen to music a lot and I was not able to play my favoutire tracks on Fedora (I'm just a beginer).


The big difference between Ubuntu and Fedora are their philosophy and how it impacts what software they will support. The MP3 encoding format is patented in several countries..
Ubuntu tries to be a very easy-to-use distribution so it lets you install the MP3 codec with a disclaimer that says you should check your local laws.
Fedora strives to support only open-source and free software, so it does not support MP3. There are ways to get around this restriction, but really, if you want to play MP3's (or DVD's or many video formats), Ubuntu is a better choice than Fedora.


"blabbing like a narcissistic fool with a superiority complex" ~ N.A.
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Nickolas Case
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 26, 2008
Posts: 98
I went ahead and installed Ubuntu last night. I am having issues though, I think I have a bad hard drive. When the install went to partition the HD I got an attempt failed notification. I pressed the continue button and the machine went back to the keyboard layout screen and just sat there processing for over ten minutes. I finally pressed the cancel button and then the HD started reformatting but pretty much every other line was an error message. I went to sleep with the machine running and when I went to look at it this morning the tray had opened and the last line on the monitor said to remove the cd close the tray and press enter. I did that and the machine shut down. I had to go to work so I wasn't able to reboot to see what the status was but I will tonight. Any one have any ideas on what I should expect?
[ June 17, 2008: Message edited by: Nickolas Case ]
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Originally posted by Nickolas Case:
I went ahead and installed Ubuntu last night. I am having issues though, I think I have a bad hard drive.


Download gparted, its free. Have it delete all partitions and format the disk as ext3.

Then try the ubuntu install again.

If you have problems, go to newegg, frys, etc. and get a new disk. They are really cheap.
Nickolas Case
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 26, 2008
Posts: 98
Will do! Thanks!


One question though (Though probably dumb)

If I don't have an OS on the drive how will I get gparted to work? Will running liveCD take care of that I guess?
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Originally posted by Nickolas Case:
If I don't have an OS on the drive how will I get gparted to work? Will running liveCD take care of that I guess?


gparted is a live CD. It is self contained. I think the new version can even be put on a thumb drive. I just burn a fresh CD every six months or so when I need it. Works great.
Rusty Shackleford
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 03, 2006
Posts: 490
Originally posted by Jesper Young:

What makes openSuSE and Fedora "far better" than Ubuntu according to you?


I am using openSuSe at the moment, so I will comment on it.

It has far better hardware support than Ubuntu, especially native support for notoriously difficult to use wireless cards in Linux.

It has superior security tools

It has a real root password

It doesn't have an insane release schedule, which is the root of all Ubuntu problems IMO.

Novell supports OSS software far better

It is not clunky, openSUSE is a smooth, rock solid distro.

Its config tools are far and away better.

The one CD that Ubuntu uses is not that much of a plus. That just means users have a ton of downloading to do before it is usable.

Don't get me wrong Ubuntu isn't all that horrible and has potential, it is just years behind SuSE and its success is based purely on hype. People use windows because it comes with the machine. People use ubuntu because of hype. This hype is hurting linux adoption. openSuSe truly works out of the box, even on most laptops, Ubuntu doesn't. Newbies equate Ubuntu to all of Linux and they have a bad experience and never return to Linux. Ubuntu truly is the windows of the Linux world.
[ June 17, 2008: Message edited by: Rusty Shackleford ]
Nickolas Case
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 26, 2008
Posts: 98
Got home. Downloaded Gparted. Reformatted the hard drive. No luck.


Nickolas Case
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 26, 2008
Posts: 98
Took a look at openSUSE. Is there a desktop tour or anything? I can't seem to find any visuals.
[ June 17, 2008: Message edited by: Nickolas Case ]
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Originally posted by Rusty Shackleford:
1) It has far better hardware support than Ubuntu, especially native support for notoriously difficult to use wireless cards in Linux.
[snip]

2)It has a real root password

3)It doesn't have an insane release schedule, which is the root of all Ubuntu problems IMO.


I renubered your list and cut out some.

I really dislike the ubuntu sudo concept, so I don't use it. I'm old school, so #2, real root accounts and passwords is a winner for me.

I think #1 and #3 are tied together. The insane release schedule really hurts testing. Ubuntu is really weak on new wireless cards.

I have no idea why Mark Shuttleworth thinks that the insane schedule is a good idea. I agree it hurts quality a lot, and brings nothing. They seem to think that releasing anything on time is more important than releasing good stuff when its ready.

But Ubuntu has a huge following, and stuff generally works or gets fixed quickly.

A lot of the stuff in 8.04 was eye candy, and it really doesn't work very well. (I have a good video card, that should handle it.)
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Originally posted by Nickolas Case:
Got home. Downloaded Gparted. Reformatted the hard drive. No luck.


The good news is that new drives are cheap and big. Go buy one.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 15950
    
  19

A digression:

I spent many years learning to love sudo. I, too tended to simply su to root. But sudo is not a feature exclusive to Ubuntu/Debian releases. I now use it regularly on Fedora and CentOS.

sudo has 2 advantages over su:

1. You can provide fine-grained access control over privileged functions. On a multi-user system, this means that you can, for example, give Joe Shmuckendorf the ability to mount and unmount filesystems without also giving him the ability to run more dangerous system utilities.

2. It's often convenient when you're bopping back and forth between user and superuser contexts, especially, since you only have to type the root password once and it will "stick" for a preset duration. After the idle interval expires, the user will be prompted again. Which, by the way, is a LOT safer than su'ing, getting called away, and forgetting that you've left an open root command prompt.

My most common use of sudo is probably "sudo yum -y install packagename". Here, again, the temporally-limited nature of sudo is an advantage, since a large package install with lots of dependencies may have me switching to another task in another command window where I'd forget - or be unavailable - to explicitly edit an su environment.




Returning to our reguslarly-scheduled program. Nicholas, are you sure that disk problems aren't what blew out Windows? Not, of course, that I'm saying you should go back to Windows.

You might want to boot a liveCD and run the badblocks utility. This will exercise the disk, check the I/O and keep your box burning electricity for an hour or 2. I recommend running the non-destructive test first, since it's quicker. If you get only a few or no bad blocks, do the destructive test (since you've apparently already nuked all the data on the disk anyway). If you get lots of bad blocks, or if the system log fills up with errors, it's time to look at a new disk.
Nickolas Case
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 26, 2008
Posts: 98
I am fairly certain the bad disk blew Windows. One day it worked, the next...nothing. And yes, I already nuked the hard drive. A few times...

I used the LiveCD of Ubuntu but couldn't find any disk checkers. If you could point me to where I should look or the commands I can type I would appreciate it.

I also used GParted to partition the disk. Not sure if I used it correctly because it is showing I have 1.25 Gb unallocated and I can't seem to delete the partition. The good news is it says the HD is now ext3.

One other tidbit, when I was using the LiveCD of Ubuntu, I tried to connect to the HD and it said it was unmounted and could not connect.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14074
    
  16

Originally posted by Rusty Shackleford:
I am using openSuSe at the moment, so I will comment on it.

...

It has a real root password

It doesn't have an insane release schedule, which is the root of all Ubuntu problems IMO.

You can argue whether having a real root password vs. using sudo is really such a big advantage. I don't see why having a real root password would be such an advantage in practice.

Ubuntu has a new release every 6 months, but regular releases are supported for 18 months and LTS (Long-Term Support) releases are supported for three years. You are not required to upgrade every six months.

Novell supports OSS software far better

It is not clunky, openSUSE is a smooth, rock solid distro.

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, supports OSS software just as well as Novell.

The "clunky" argument is vague and is your personal opinion.
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8836
    
    7

Originally posted by Jesper Young:
I don't see why having a real root password would be such an advantage in practice.


I agree with this. I moved to Ubuntu from Gentoo, where you have to use the root account to sneeze. There was some adjustment to my console habits, but I would be hard pressed to find a situation where I was worse off using sudo.

Originally posted by Jesper Young:

You are not required to upgrade every six months.

This is true. I'm stuck at 7.04 because of issues with the Hardy 2.6.24 kernel, but still get updates regularly (waiting patiently for FF3. . .).
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Originally posted by Joe Ess:[QB]This is true. I'm stuck at 7.04 because of issues with the Hardy 2.6.24 kernel


I'm pretty sure you can't migrate from 7.04 direct to 8.04. I was running 7.04, and had to first upgrade to 7.10, and then re-upgrade to 8.04.

I ran with the 7.10 kernel for a while, Now I'm on 2.6.24-19-generic
Rusty Shackleford
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 03, 2006
Posts: 490
You can argue whether having a real root password vs. using sudo is really such a big advantage. I don't see why having a real root password would be such an advantage in practice.


If an attacker can get into a user account in Ubuntu, he/she owns that machine. This is because it logging in as a user and using sudo is often set up with the same password.

If an attacker can get into a user account in a distro that uses su, he/she can do not much.

There is a huge security difference. Ubuntu's system is a security hole in the name of convenience. openSUSE has sudo, but some commands do not work with sudo and sudo is tied to the root password. It is true that Ubuntu can be set up to have this more secure system but most people accepts the defaults.

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, supports OSS software just as well as Novell.

The "clunky" argument is vague and is your personal opinion.


Cannonical more or less bundles packages together and tosses it out the door, Novell does a ton of work on OSS. You can't really compare the quality and quantity of the work done by Novell with that of Cannonical. So no they don't support OSS as well.

Yes it is obviously my personal opinion, but all you have to do is install and run Ubuntu for a while and do the same with openSuSE and you will feel the 'clunkiness' in Ubuntu.

Last fall 10.3 was released with full support for the as then unreleased KDE 4 and the day KDE relased v4 it was available. The biggest issue I had with 10.2 and earlier was that they did not include mp3/dvd playback support. It required downloading RPM's. With 10.3 all of those libraries are in the repositories. Also, when software like open office and firefox released a new version it took a while for them to show up in YAST. They finally fixed that annoyance. I was able to get FF3 and OO 3 the day they went live through YAST.
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8836
    
    7

Originally posted by Pat Farrell:

I'm pretty sure you can't migrate from 7.04 direct to 8.04. I was running 7.04, and had to first upgrade to 7.10, and then re-upgrade to 8.04.


I didn't try it. I'm referring to a fresh install on new hard drive. The problem is also evident with the Hardy Live CD (see my link above for details).
Adeel Ansari
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 15, 2004
Posts: 2874
I am using both Ubuntu, on my notebook and openSUSE, on my desktop office and home. I wouldn't go in to the debate. However, I am far more happier with openSUSE, and I think its about KDE. I am a KDE guy, and its not the native environment in Ubuntu. Yeah, I know Kubuntu, but its not comparable, IMO. May be because, main distro is Ubuntu.

Having said that,
- I love how YaST manages things.
- I love panel applets in openSUSE, KDE
- I love how we can edit the menu item easily, and love to assign any key
- I love pressing F4 on the file manager

Its just a few.

Howbeit, I believe, its about what you are comfortable with. Try both and than stick with your flavor. My two cents

Cheers.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4646
    
    5

Originally posted by Rusty Shackleford:
It is not better than most Linux distros. It has a lot of hype

Smile when you say that, Partner. Them's fighting words.

The reason that there are so many distros is that there is no "best". Its about the same as whether blond, brunettes or redhead women are best. Its personal taste.

Ubuntu has a lot of support, and a lot of market buzz. And its not bad.

Since they are free, there is only one rule:
  • Find a friend who uses a distro who will help you for a beer or two.
  • Use that.
  • Buy your friend a beer or two


  • Stefan Wagner
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 02, 2003
    Posts: 1923

    On a desktop machine the user data is the only valuable thing. If the user account is broken the worst case already happened.

    Modifications to the path, to .bashrc etc. will rapidly open the whole system, if this user is often using sudo or su or sudo su.
    Pat Farrell
    Rancher

    Joined: Aug 11, 2007
    Posts: 4646
        
        5

    Originally posted by Stefan Wagner:
    On a desktop machine the user data is the only valuable thing. If the user account is broken the worst case already happened.... if this user is often using sudo or su or sudo su.


    Agree. I just dislike the sudo karma because its different, and adds no real security.

    I like juggling running chainsaws
    Rusty Shackleford
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jan 03, 2006
    Posts: 490
    Originally posted by Stefan Wagner:
    On a desktop machine the user data is the only valuable thing. If the user account is broken the worst case already happened.

    Modifications to the path, to .bashrc etc. will rapidly open the whole system, if this user is often using sudo or su or sudo su.


    The user data is not the only valuable thing, it is often not the most valuable thing.

    Unless someone has a text file with personal data or passwords in it, the most valuable thing is the machine and its Internet connection. Using it as a base to attack, spam others, or plant a rootkit that logs all of your keystrokes is far more valuable than snickering over the love letters that Suzy sent you.
    [ September 06, 2008: Message edited by: Rusty Shackleford ]
     
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