Is Ubuntu ready for mainstream?

November 28, 2006

The other day I updated my laptop running Windows 2000 with the latest MS patches and after that it wouldn’t boot – blue screen, so I’m left with a few options.

1, Repair from original W2K CD’s (risk that the same thing will happen again)

2. Install fresh W2K – again, risk that the same thing will happen again

3. Upgrade to XP – more resource hungry

4. Install Linux – learning curve, I work in IT and have a very strong Windows background and also a reasonable Unix support background so it’s not completely alien (I ran SUSE for a couple of months years ago too).

 

I’ve been keeping an eye on Ubuntu and wanted to give it a go to see if it really was user friendly so I went for it.

 

I used a BartPE (BartPE is one of those excellent IT support tools I use along with others like filemon / regmon / VNC) disk to boot up my dead laptop and copy the entire hard disk to another PC then downloaded Ubuntu 6.10.

The boot time from CD wasn’t great but it got there OK in the end (I was comparing this to a DSL (Damn small Linux) live CD). NOTE: A live CD is one which the OS runs directly from CD so there is no need to install on or even read the internal hard disk.

 

The Ubuntu 6.10 CD is a live CD by default and when it loads there is a shortcut on the desktop named “Install” which you then run to perform the install. This is not 100% intuitive, in fact I expect most home users would see Ubuntu running and assume it had already installed – not just run from CD.

In Live mode it creates a small ram disk for temp files but mostly runs from CD so it will appear to be quite slow in this mode.

My recommendation would be to have some kind of watermark or other method of alerting users they were running in live mode and that no install had occurred yet.

 

Is it ready for mainstream? – No

If you are an IT pro or even just very tech savvy you will know that you are quite popular with friends and family when it comes to fixing PC problems.

The fact is that PC’s are not really very well designed for home use – it’s just too easy to break them.

The only reason most people can get away with owning a PC is because they know someone who can fix it for them.

Until most IT people are running and familiar with Linux there is no hope for the average home user.

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