In 2007, I began my first long time association with Linux when I installed openSuse 10.2 on my Laptop. Since, then Linux has come a long way. Sadly, I didn’t keep my system updated, and soon found myself back into the familiar jungles of Microsoft Vista. Of late, though hard disk space crunches on my Windows Partition forced me to think about going back to Linux. This time round I decided to go with Ubuntu.

The last time I had tried Ubuntu, it was a rather bitter experience. My graphics card wasn’t fully supported and Ubuntu refused to show anything but a blank screen!! This time round though it was delightful experience.

Like I said earlier, Linux has come a long, long way and I was completely bowled over by the ease of installation. I had thought openSuse represented the zenith of “easy” Linux installs. Ubuntu is way up there and even does openSuse one better. The pain free install is further complimented with a beautifully integrated system and some serious gorgeous eyecandy effects !!

Here are my impressions after playing round with the Meerkat for a few days:

  • Boot times are extremely quick. Definitely several times faster than my creaky old Vista Install and also my previous OpenSuse install. Ditto for shutdown
  • Hardware support is better by leaps and bounds over what I had seen with previous versions. My graphics card seems to be well supported with no need for any additional driver installation. In addition to this all the other hardware bits and pieces (wi-fi, bluetooth etc) work properly. Even the custom volume controls on my old Dell Inspiron were supported, to my delight.
  • Software installation is several shades better than the older “apt-get” systems that I was used to in older versions of Ubuntu. Though for the normal user, you might not even need to install any additional software. The default install comes fully loaded with Open Office, Firefox, Shotwell Picture Manager, Empathy IM, Evolution Mail, Transmission BitTorrent client, Gwibber Social, Rhythmbox and Movie Player to name a few. Adding more software is quite simple using the Software Center and its possible to find replacements for most Windows programs.
  • Ubuntu has a very slick and refined UI (see above screenshot). Gone are the orangish shades of previous versions, replaced with new slick black theme. I particularly like the window transitions and the switching between desktops. The manner in which all the elements are integrated together is just awesome !!!
  • Ubuntu is also social and resides in the cloud. I love the way they have integrated social networking and email right into the OS. Its very usable and gets the user going almost immediately. In addition to that, Ubuntu One, Ubuntu’s “cloud” service is supposed to bring dropbox like capabilities to the OS. An very intriguing concept, albeit one I am yet to try out.

Overall my take is that Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat is a fairly mature, stable and user friendly operating system. One that should find favor with both novices and old hands. (Also my primary OS for all intents and purposes going forward)

And I haven’t come to the best part as yet – Thanks to the “live” CD provided, you don’t need to install it to use it, just boot from the CD ROM drive and run along with the Meerkat. Go on, what are you waiting for? Run with the Meerkat today !!!

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