So, Canonical’s latest OS, 12.04 LTS, is now out for public consumption, and I’ve been fiddling with it in a virtual machine. I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet, mostly because I dabbled in Linux as a hobby, rather than an exercise to actually learn it and use it like it was meant to be. I’ve been thinking about how I could actually give this a real test, considering most of my work is done from within Windows and I have a large collection of Windows-based games. I certainly can’t do that on my work computer ; dual-booting was out of the question as I’m not one to take chances with stuffing up my original install. I’ve already mentioned that I’m a lazy guy and I don’t want to have to fix GRUB, or LILO or any of the other boot loaders my machine has had installed on it in the past.

So I’m using an old laptop for my long-term review. I’ll have to hook it up to my keyboard and mouse because there’s no way in hell I’m moving back to a trackpad for work, but its going to take place of my desktop for now. I’ll be exploiting the OS as much as I can and learning more in-depth about it at the same time. Its not enough that I just use it for writing and editing photos (that much is easy enough to do on any platform) but I’m going to start learning how to administer it, how the new Universal Search bar takes over everything you do in a menu and how extras like Ubuntu’s Cloud and third-party music and movie services work for the average Joe.

So to the laptop, its an old Sahara model that I fixed up myself. Its got a miserly 1024 x 768 screen, 768MB RAM and a 40GB HDD. Linux has a reputation for being fast even on slower machines, and I’ll be testing that out as time goes by. I last tried running Linux permanently when I was in college which ended up failing spectacularly. At that stage the Linux environment was in a bit of a fritz over itself and hardware vendor support was a pipe dream. Of course, using hardware this old would feel like a crime, wouldn’t it? Not from where I can see right now. Its snappy, but not in the same way that my desktop is/was.

Will this benefit me in the long run, or am I wasting my time? I often ask that of others who question whether open-source is worth the effort and its a different answer everytime. No-one in the NAG office, I’m sure, could use it because their jobs require Windows to be pre-loaded on all machines. Were Microsoft’s DirectX API not so ubiquitous, we’d certainly see more gamers on Linux than there are now (more on that tomorrow). I’m comfortable with it so far, but only time will tell how much I’ll like it when this review comes to an end.

Testing it on an Ultrabook would be sweet, but beggars can't be choosers.

“When’s the end?”, I hear you ask. That could be in a month, three months or even six. As it is, my standing with Linux has waned over the years and I haven’t touched it again in over three until I started with 12.04 in the virtual machine. I’m planning to cover the hardware at rAge this year and I’ll need to buy myself a netbook to go along with me. If I can skimp out on the R800 for Windows 7 Home Basic, so much the better. If I can get one with built-in 3G, that’s even more swell. The point is, though, that I’m trying to save money for myself and potentially for you, dear reader.

See, we’re going to have Windows 8 this year on every single consumer machine money can buy and although I’ll also be giving that a shot in a review concurrent to this one, I’m not sure I’ll buy it. That should apply as well to millions of other computer users who want to know if its necessary to upgrade to it or not. On the forums, someone mentioned, quite accurately I think, that Windows 7 is going to land up as the XP of its time. To prevent OSes from getting long in the tooth, Microsoft is going to start blocking updates and support from them far quicker, one by one until you’re almost forced to upgrade to the new and shiny because X feature has been included. You have to pay for that privilege.

Linux is free and I’ve watched online as Ubuntu turned from the ugly ducking to a beautiful swan (with the exception of Unity, some people still hate it as do I). Its become one of the most widely-used distros by default and every year it gets updated twice to the current bleeding edge, all for free. That’s a bargain, if I may say so myself, and worth one checking out. Follow me as I do!

Source: Canonical’s Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Discuss this in the forums: Linky

More stuff like this: