I've been spending the past few days installing, configuring, and using Linux on two of the Official Weekend Pundit computers – a 900MHz Athlon tower and a Dell Inspiron 3800 laptop, both of which I salvaged from work and resurrected.
The Athlon was originally loaded with Windows XP and the Dell used Windows 2000. Unfortunately the Athlon suffered a power supply failure, which in turn crashed the hard drive. The Dell was as slow as molasses, taking up to 10 minutes to boot.
I figured that the hard drive crash and the tortoise-like performance was a good excuse to try something I've wanted to use for some time. A new hard drive for the Athlon and a little more memory for the laptop and the computers were ready.
I downloaded Ubuntu 7.04 and burned the image onto a CD-R.
The first machine to act as a guinea pig was the Athlon tower. The install went without a hitch. No muss. No fuss. And once it was installed it booted quickly and ran like it had a ton of memory and a 3GHz dual core.
Ubuntu loaded just as easily on the Dell and it ran like it was a brand new machine! It boots quickly and runs like greased lightning. The only glitch was that Linux didn't recognize the 3Com PCMCIA Ethernet adapter. Fortunately the docking station that I picked up with the laptop had a built in NIC and that one worked just fine. I was on my way to exploring the wonderful world of Desktop Linux.
One of the nice things about many distributions of Linux is that they include Firefox and Open Office, both which are included on the disk image and are installed at the same time as Ubuntu. I've used the Windows versions of these apps for quite some time so they were already familiar.
Ubuntu Linux does take getting used to as the interface uses different conventions for performing some of the functions familiar to Windows users, but they aren't all that different. (If someone like me can figure it out, than almost anyone can....but then I am something of a computer geek.)
So far I like what I see. With very few exceptions I can do anything on Linux that I can do on Windows. And if I really do need to use a Windows program, it is possible to do so using an emulator called WINE.
And so the adventure begins.......