Those that know me might be aware that I’m into gadgets and techy stuff. Those that know me better are aware that I’m not actually that good at gadgets or techy stuff but am willing to learn. That’s why I installed Ubuntu on my netbook today. Truth be told, I’ve had the USB stick for a few days (you save it on a USB stick so you can use it in addition to Windows) but have been nervous to try it out because if it fails, the world could very probably asplode. And we certainly wouldn’t want that.
My netbook is primarily used for work, so I was a bit reluctant to bite the bullet, but I had my iPhone and laptop on hand just in case. As it turns out, I didn’t need either of them save for a phone call, which was pleasantly surprising. The desktop feels quite similar to the last time I used an Apple Mac (are they even called that anymore?) except the menu is on the left hand side, as opposed to the bottom of the screen, and the icons don’t attack you if you should accidentally hover the cursor over them. It is, however, very black, which looks cool and all but will probably take some getting used to on a 10.1″ screen. There is a desktop theme with larger icons, but it’s not very pretty. If any of you Linux Luvvies know of any pretty, medium/large icon themes that I can download, links in the comments would be much appreciated. I had a brief look at some of the downloadable themes but they’re all a bit masculine, even the backgrounds with flowers are heavily saturated, heavily contrasted, quite garish. Where’s the subtlety, lads? I’m a girl, dammit.
What I would usually refer to as “Programs” (because up until today I was a Windows XP user) is called “Applications” and is laid out as a giant folder, rather than a drop down menu. I quite like this, as it’s all in alphabetical order and has tabs at the top, dividing the not-called-programs-but-the-same-thing into groups, making them relatively easy to find. I’d organise my DVDs like this if I could, maybe one day when I get my Quantum Library. I’m curious as to whether this might take a bit of getting used to, as I’d otherwise have the programs I use regularly (Last.fm, Google browser, etc) on the Windows desktop. The extra effort involved to slide my index finer across the hardware might be slightly annoying, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. Any programs I use regularly will go in the side menu as soon as I figure out how to put them there (I got Google Chrome up there by complete happy accident).
After a couple of hours playing around, working out how to add my email address to “Evolution Mail” – an email client very similar to Outlook – and downloading a super-duper Super Mario Bros background image, messing around with the themes (I’ve gone for blue with little stars, I are one klassie lass dontcha know) I’m feeling much more confident on it. Friends have told me that it’s easier to use than Windows, and I can really see why. After two hours of messing about, I’ve managed to customise the entire layout, set up emails, and save all my passwords back onto the internet. No tutorial, no googling Ubuntu FAQs, and no frantic calls or emails to mates what know more’an me about this sort of thing.
My favourite app so far is Stellarium, which pinpoints constellations, planets etc. You can google your latitude and type them in so even if it’s a cloudy/smoggy night, it’s nice to know you can still tell what’s out there. I got all excited when I saw Alderaan in the distance, a mere 65 light years away – that’s really not far in the grand scheme of things, only to re-read it as Aldebaran. We live in hope. There’s a few apps I’m really looking forward to trying out, like learning BASIC (a type of code), and having a go at Mah Jong. There’s also a free video editing app that I’m relishing trying out so I can get round to updating my YouTube channel.
I haven’t had a chance to play around loads with this new system yet, as I’ve been working most of today, but I’m quite excited about the prospect of fiddling with it a bit more over the next few weeks. As far as Day One is concerned, I’m fairly confident that I’ve made a good decision, and would recommend it to anyone who’s sick of Microsoft but can’t be arsed with Apple.
The future is apparently Open Source.
Ed: I mentioned this to my Grandad, with the key phrase “no viruses” and he’s now very excited about swapping Windows XP on his computer with Linux as well. I’ll try and do a follow up blog post to see what he makes of it in a few days time.