Why I switched to Ubuntu

Before talking about why I left Fedora I want to emphasize that Fedora is also a great distribution - I like it in general, especially that
  • there is no general focus on being used at server or workstation - so can be used for either purpose. - For Ubuntu there is a separate image for servers (even if I guess that the difference is "just" in the default packages being installed and I can't change that during install process).
  • I can choose my desired focus at installation (of being a server, developer machine etc).
  • I liked the graphical firewall configuration tool more (over those available on Ubuntu).
  • GSmartControl installed by default (will also be available for Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala).
  • I prefer yum over apt on the commandline because yum offers better output.
  • There were more updates for Fedora than for Ubuntu, so I also had the impression that security updates were available faster - but this might be an impression only.
But nevertheless I have chosen Ubuntu for future notebook installations because (in the order of relevance):
  1. My mobile internet stick (from "Three") was not working on Fedora 11. I tried a lot of manual operations to get it to work, but nothing helped. On Ubuntu 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope, it was a plug and play thing. Either less clicks than on Windows.
  2. A lot of applications I use are already available as package in the repositories (e.g. Freemind). Some of those I had to install "by hand" on Fedora. There are simply more packages available for Ubuntu than for Fedora (maybe because Debian-based), so less manual installations of separate rpms/debs not available in the repositories are needed.
  3. It was less tricky to get Skype to work (especially mic problems under Fedora). Although I got Skype to work even on Fedora 11, there were less manual changes needed on Ubuntu.
  4. There are a lot more cool applications in the repositories that I had not available on Fedora (at least not just with a few clicks). Just to give an example: With "Alien" it is either possible to convert rpm packages to Debian/Ubuntu packages - so you can get and install Fedora packages on Ubuntu as well.
  5. It seems that there is more Ubuntu on the clients than Fedora and it seems that the community is larger.
Most of the reasons for chosing Fedora also apply for Ubuntu. And as I already mentioned, both distributions are good - and if you are coming from Windows you also might like Linux Mint - I gave it a short test and for the Mobile Internet Stick for instait was either less clicks than on Ubuntu. Linux Mint is Ubuntu-based and is compatible with the repositories of Ubuntu with a main goal to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs etc. - so Linux Mint is a hot tip for newcomers. Maybe I will switch to Linux Mint in a few months. ;-) - However, it tries to be more Windows-like (which I maybe don't want now being familiar with Linux ;-) ).

Related posts: Why I have chosen Fedora, The operating system, Why Linux?, Going Linux, Small Business Boom, Distribution choice.

Installing your PC from scratch

I was used to hear that from time to time it is needed to install your PC from scratch. From my experience this applies only to Windows PCs. My Linux machine at home "survived" already 2 major system upgrades which is comparable with getting your Windows 95 upgraded to Windows 2000 to Windows XP without having to setting it up from scratch over this time. The only difference is that there is not so much time between major version releases for Linux.

And what I lately noticed, when a Windows PC has to be installed from scratch (there is no real difference either for Windows 7 here): You loose a lot of time searching for and downloading the newest version of all the tools and applications you have installed and used over time. With the application repository (or repositories) on Linux this task is much faster (and can be either automated). Not talking about the fact that a lot of applications on Linux are already there with the default install without having to install them later. For one that does "just" E-Mail, Web-Browsing, Instant Messaging, writing documents, viewing and editing images, burning CDs/DVDs, viewing videos gets everything needed with the default installation (just for MP3 and such some codecs must be installed afterwards - at least for most distributions).

Related posts: The operating system, Why Linux?.


Your holy machine

One of the arguments that I hear from people who want to emphasize the advantage of web applications is usually that you can access your application and data (e.g. webmail) from every computer.

But think of it: What are the PCs you really trust? For me it is a very few not more than 3 or 4. When I am at a customer or at a friend or somewhere else - the only PC that I really trust is the one that I bring along.

And thinking of GTD, on a different PC you will not have your keyboard shortcuts configured and other options set that allow you to be efficient. You can't really be highly productive without having setup your personal environment with the tools, settings and shortcuts that give you a boost. Being on a foreign PC sometimes my problems already start when grabbing the mouse as many may have different mouse acceleration settings than me.

Using a USB stick with your portable applications installed and configured is not a real solution as it binds you to a particular OS to be found at the client at least.

So it really makes sense to take your machine with you. With the rise of netbooks it even got easier to carry your machine with you. And you will have it configured to make you most productive and efficient.

Related posts: Web vs Thick client, The mobile device, Web application security, Pros and cons of cloud solutions, User lock down.