Ubuntu vs Windows: 2 – 1

Some bloggers have wondered whether the netbook hype that’s currently going on will popularize Linux among (former) Windows users. For me personally, I can aswer that question with a firm ‘yes’. Not only did I opt to install Ubuntu on my netbook, I’ve also set it up on my ‘TV-PC’.

I have a little HP e-PC hooked up to my LCD television. Even though its an older machine and quite slow compared to most true HTPCs, it does allow me to watch movies and surf the web whilst being a couch potato. It was running XP until today, which worked OK but had a few issues. Most importantly, I couldn’t set the desktop resolution to anything over 1024*768. The integrated Intel graphics should be able to run higher resolutions, but the driver wouldn’t budge. I even read somewhere that my TV reports the 1024 as its maximum resolution through ‘plug & play’. All the more surprising then that it booted into 1360*768 straight away when I popped in an Ubuntu 8.04 CD. The optimum for my TV. Right off the bat.

Ubuntu’s slightly bigger default fonts are very easy to read, whereas XP required some squinting. I don’t use this machine every day, so not having to run tons upgrades and get the latest virus definitions when I do is also pretty nice. Like with my netbook I do not need it to run applications like Photoshop and Flash, which aren’t available for Linux. For everything else, I’m starting to like Ubuntu more and more.

One small problem I have with my current setup is that there does not appear to be a Bittorrent client for Ubuntu that supports auto-shutdown. I quite like the idea that when my downloads are finished, the computer shuts down automatically. No need to further waste energy until I’m back to the keyboard to shut it down. The very nature of Linux, the way it handles sessions and security, might be preventing this, but it still would be a good feature to have.

I hope netbooks will help get users to at least try Linux. Asus’ choice of (the slightly awkward imho) Xandros is a little unfortunate, but with other companies embracing Ubuntu it might just happen. I for one now have two machines with a valid Windows license sticker on them that do not run Windows. My Vista workstation is now officially outnumbered. Ubuntu 2, Windows 1.

This post made it to page 2 of digg.com yesterday (Sept. 30th), causing my blog to be offline for most of the day. Sorry about that. I’ll try not to write catchy titles like this from now on. And better posts. You never know which one people wil dig(g).


  1. Looks like you can shut down with Deluge and a python script >> http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=789315

    Comment by Myke — September 30, 2008 @ 2:01 am

  2. Hmmm… while it will probably work just fine, having to install a Python interpreter and use the command line in order to get what is a common option among Windows clients isn’t making Linux look good…

    Comment by Roy — September 30, 2008 @ 9:44 am

  3. Myke is a feature you don’t get with windows. Free quality support.

    And don’t blame Linux for the choice of Deluge’s developer.

    Comment by Tycho Quad — September 30, 2008 @ 11:40 am

  4. True. The Ubuntu community has proven worthy of the name ‘ubuntu’ for me so far. Still, I feel this shouldn’t be so hard. Couldn’t a torrent client be run as root and offer this feature natively? (a genuine question, I know nothing about the internals of Linux, no sarcasm here).

    Comment by Roy — September 30, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

  5. It’s pretty selfish to say that seeding a torrent you just downloaded is waste of energy!

    Comment by nobody — September 30, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

  6. @Nobody: uTorrent has an option to “shut down when everything is finished”. This means the machine will only be powered down when all torrents have seeded to a certain, user defined ratio. The “shut down when downloads finish” option is indeed selfish to use, so I never did.

    Comment by Roy — October 1, 2008 @ 8:44 am

  7. I see you’re using WordPress. Do you have WP Super Cache installed? In theory that should make your blog cope much better when featured on Digg. Unfortunately I don’t know for sure, since nothing I’ve written seems to have been worthy of the Digg effect.

    Comment by Mark — October 1, 2008 @ 10:59 am

  8. Congrats on this successful use of Ubuntu. It works for me as my main desktop OS, but I don’t think it would suit the majority of pc users. However, for a media pc it works very well.

    One correction: Flash is actually available for Linux, just not in a 64-bit version. See the first table, right column on this page: http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/productinfo/systemreqs/

    And maybe a nice tip, have you heard of Elisa Media Center: http://elisa.fluendo.com/ ? It provides an Apple TV like interface to your Linux media pc. Instructions on how to install it can be found here: http://elisa.fluendo.com/wiki/Distribution/LinuxPackages

    Good luck with Ubuntu!

    Comment by Roel — October 1, 2008 @ 1:31 pm

  9. @Mark. Yeah, I have WP Super Cache installed now. I’d never needed it before, and once my site was offline I had no way of installing it. Works like a charm. Earlier incarnations seemed to cause issues for lots of users, but WPSC plays well with all my other plugins, etc….

    @Roel: The Flash Player is available for Linux, not the IDE (afaik). I’ll be sure to check out Elisa! Thanks.

    Comment by Roy — October 1, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  10. I like Ktorrent. It has a bandwidth scheduler plugin that might be of use for this. Congratulations on your switch to Ubuntu.

    Comment by Mykool — October 1, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  11. Ktorrent is a KDE only thing, right? Ubuntu uses Gnome by default (and I have to say I quite like it), so I’m out of luck?

    Deluge looks pretty cool, but since Transmission offers all the basics I expect from a torrent client and no other one seems to offer an easy to use auto-shutdown I think I’ll stick with that for now.

    Comment by Roy — October 1, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

  12. I am sorry, but the Linux world has got to get over the “geekie-ness” and get something out that is for the users. Yes, you can build it, customize it, make your own distro for all it’s worth. The bottom line is that people want an OS that runs the software and hardware they use.

    I am an avid Linux and long time Mac user and I have to say, I feel like I am fighting with the OS much of the time. Getting drivers to work is just one of my pet peeves. Yes I can spend my time figuring it out on google, but why? Say what you want, but I can boot up OS X or Windows and they all work (software and/or hardware)…..and you do not need to be a “geek” to get them to work. OS X is what Linux should aspire to be….simple, powerful, easy to use, with enough play under the hood to satisfy any geek.

    We can say…virus free, runs on old hardware, and “I do not bow to the MS empire” all you want…but the bottom line is that Linux does not work or run the software or hardware people want….in the home or business. If it did, do you not think more people would be using it?

    What I do find funny is that the Linux/OpenSource community may have bigger ego’s and heads that Mac users.

    All in all, Linux/opensource guys and gals, we need understand the 99% of computers out there an begin to “think different”. Right now we have a long road. Let’s work together and get something that will rock this world.

    Comment by Scott — October 1, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

  13. Hmmm. If there was anything I wanted to convey with this post it is that I found Ubuntu to much more ‘ready for prime time’ than I would have guessed beforehand. Everything asides from the ‘torrent shut down issue’ worked out of the box. On my Eee-PC, even Compiz Fusion (which uses hardware accellerated 3d if I’m not mistaken) was installed and ready to go. And let’s face it, Ubuntu comes with a torrent client. That alone is pretty great.

    I can seriously see my parents make the jump to Ubuntu.

    The problem is that if you want something it does not do by default, the solution is usually much more complex that it would be with Windows. That gap between the very easy ‘just about everything work very well out of the box’ experience and the hardcore command line stuff is just too big. Fortunately, distributions like Ubuntu are getting pretty close to the point where regular users will never need the command line.

    Comment by Roy — October 1, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

  14. i am sick of the KDE/gnome talk.

    seriously, this is how it works. gnome has all these little programs that run as part of the gnome suite (they are called GTK programs) and it is just a way to make graphical programs. KDE has a different style called QT. This means that running KDE apps will require you to download a handful of other little programs to make that program work.

    QT programs work just fine under gnome, and GTK apps work just fine in KDE. They may look a little different, as they use different toolkits, but the software itself will still work just fine.

    Fire up synaptic and search for ktorrent. it should install just fine, and if you don’t like it, remove it. It’s not going to mess up your computer. It’s pretty much the same as running firefox inside of KDE (because firefox for linux uses the GTK style).

    For the other linux nerds out there, this is a gross over simplification. I know. I’m just trying to get people to know that they can still use KDE apps in ubuntu.

    Comment by lapubell — October 1, 2008 @ 4:26 pm

  15. Link: Ubuntu Vs Windows (2 - 1) - Willy Andres
  16. “Hmmm… while it will probably work just fine, having to install a Python interpreter and use the command line in order to get what is a common option among Windows clients isn’t making Linux look good…”

    1. How is it the fault of Linux that clients made for it don’t work that way?

    2. Python is installed by default in Ubuntu, as many programs use it. I believe Deluge itself is written in Python, in fact. There’s nothing additional to install.

    Comment by AndyCR — October 1, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

  17. @lapubell: This was actually the first bit of gnome/KDE talk I was ever involved in :). And it was a genuine question, so thanks for clearing this up.

    @Andy: 1) It’s not Linux’s fault, but it does affect its usefulness as a platform. The viability of the platform depends on both the OS and the software that runs on it. 2) I just figured that out my self. I stand corrected.

    Comment by Roy — October 1, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  18. You can use any KDE application you want in Gnome environment. I guess shutdown option is available in Azureus torrent client (and maybe in Transmission BitTorrent client, when you look into current transfer properties).

    Comment by deep-z — October 1, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

  19. The main reason I suspect that there is not a shutdown option in the Linux torrents is that most Linux users do not really shutdown our systems when to using them. Because Linux does not need to reboot every time it does something, Linux users tend to be in the habit of leaving applications running long time. IN Windows were extended run time can often be the source of system crashes during the computer off an on all the time is pretty normal(even if it is bad for desktop harddrives) so that feature is commonly wanted on the platform.

    Running any kind of file transfer application as root or just running as root is a very very bad idea. While to many Windows users this seems normal, after all that is what windows did, it is also the single largest source of virus and malware issues on the platform. VIsta added the UAC, and Win. 7 is looking to go further, as an attempt to curb this practice on Windows and increase the system security.

    Comment by Evan — October 2, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  20. “I am sorry, but the Linux world has got to get over the “geekie-ness” and get something out that is for the users. Yes, you can build it, customize it, make your own distro for all it’s worth. The bottom line is that people want an OS that runs the software and hardware they use.”

    “geekie-ness” has nothing to do with it. Linux is making very user-friendly OS’s and Ubuntu has made it very easy to install drivers.
    Linux doesn’t make the drivers, the company who makes the video card, sound card, printer or whatever make the drivers. So to place the blame on Linux is ridiculous. You want the pc to work with Linux out of the box?? Dell and a few others are now offering it preloaded. Buy one of those. A burned Linux distro is not going to automatically know what is in your pc. (neither will Windows if you build your own)
    So basically your argument is null.

    As for running KDE apps in Gnome. It will have to load some of the KDE libs to your hard disk taking up some room, but it will work. If you can find the app in the Ubuntu repository it will work on any of the platforms. (Gnome, KDE, XFCE, etc.) The actual base of Ubuntu is Debian, so it just has to be a .deb file.

    Comment by Philip — October 2, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

  21. I use Linux since Kernel 0.95pl7 and thus am used to edit config files and compile from sources.

    But have you tried to set up evolution on a 1024×600 screen? Or do anything with the gnome settings? Ok, one can count tab presses to get to the the right button which happens to be outside of the visible area, but that’s not much fun.

    To the hardware support in OSX and Windows vs. Linux issue, try to set up OSX and Windows XP on an EeePC from an USB thubdrive then tell me about the easyness of OSX and Windows 🙂

    Comment by Volker Hett — October 2, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

  22. Here’s a dirty little secret: there’s almost nothing you CAN’T do on a Linux box. About the only things you absolutely cannot do (as far as things that a computer can actually do) involve proprietary software or patent-encumbered technologies that FOSS developers just can’t touch from a legal standpoint.

    The only caveat to that is, how far are you willing to go to do what you want to do?

    Someone complains “I like this program, except it lacks this feature”. Say that about proprietary software, and there you are. Nothing you can do but look for another program. Say that about FOSS software, and you have options — recompile with some kind of patch, script a wrapper for the program, edit a config file, etc. But if you suggest any of this, someone starts screaming:

    “I shouldn’t have to use the command line or compile software!!! I’m a 21st century computer user!!! I want clicky clicky buttons!! WAAAAA!! Linux sucks sucks sucks!!!”

    Then don’t do it, and accept the lack of functionality. But realize that it isn’t Linux or FOSS that is limiting you, it is you who are limiting the software. “Can” does not mean “have to”.

    Back in my day, all we had was DOS, and we liked it! DAGNABBIT!

    Comment by Alan — October 2, 2008 @ 8:55 pm

  23. @Scott: “I am an avid Linux and long time Mac user and I have to say, I feel like I am fighting with the OS much of the time. Getting drivers to work is just one of my pet peeves.”

    I’m also a long time Linux user (coming up on eleven years) and I have to say I don’t feel like that. Sure I have to spend a little more time researching before buying any non-standardized hardware (i.e. something you wouldn’t necessarily see hooked up to every home machine) like the leadtek winfast usb tv tuner dongle I just bought, and my logitech g15 keyboard and revolution mouse took a one-off investment of time to get them to the stage where all of the features that work under windows also worked under linux, but I’m happy enough to spend half an hour of my time everytime I buy a new piece of non-standard hardware – it doesn’t happen often enough for this to add up to anything substantial. As far as standard hardware goes – well the nvidia card wasn’t overly difficult to install drivers for, and the last time I needed to install drivers to use all the features of say a motherboard (onboard sound, ethernet and udma) was about five years ago with some bargain-bin via chipset.

    Seriously, I’d love to be able to understand where you’re coming from saying that you’re fighting on a daily basis to get your OS to do what you want it to do but I can’t. The whole point of linux is that it is customizable – if how it operates doesn’t suit you then changing it so you’re not “fighting with your OS” anymore is probably a better idea than whinging about how a bunch of guys from different parts of the globe didn’t all get together to read your mind and find out what you wanted from a computing experience before sitting down and writing an operating system for free.

    Comment by dal — October 3, 2008 @ 5:59 am

  24. @Alan. I’m very unlikely to be able to add an auto-shutdown feature into any application any time soon. So are probably 95% of current Linux users and more like 99% percent for Ubuntu’s target audience.

    As Evan pointed out, it may well be one of Linux’s most appealling features that’s keeping developers from adding this in anyway. For now, I’ll try and monitor downloads and shut the machine down manually. If I end up seeding torrent for a bit longer than I used to, that’s a very ‘ubuntu’ thing to do I guess.

    Comment by Roy — October 3, 2008 @ 10:29 am

  25. @Roy. “I’m very unlikely to be able to add an auto-shutdown feature into any application any time soon”

    Yes, but in the Linux world you can submit a bug-report asking for it, and talk to people about it, and sooner then you think, if people like the idea, someone will come around and implement it.

    Comment by ifb — October 3, 2008 @ 10:21 pm

  26. As a recent Ubuntu convert, I cannot understand why people think linux is “just for geeks”. After struggling to restore Vista on my Dell Inspiron (a separate driver disk?), a friend suggested trying an Ubuntu live cd. It found all of my hardware, installed all of the basic software I needed, and I was up and running. More software was available by choosing “add/remove programs” from a menu. This is difficult? I have since installed Ubuntu 8.10 on my laptop and another desktop at home. I’m sure other linux distributions would also be successfully installed on most systems.

    Comment by roszyk — October 5, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

  27. I don’t like the idea of auto-shutdown filesharing clients after downloading, because it violates the idea of filesharing.

    Grab all what you can and then run away fast has nothing to do with sharing.
    It is more than stealing from the community.

    If all people would act like you want to do, you would not have anything to download.

    Comment by Rainer — October 7, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

  28. Wow – heated thread.

    I just wanted to add that a lot of Windows tweaks require registry hacks. Linux uses human readable config files which I find much easier to edit. I would almost argue the opposite that you have to be a bigger geek to use Windows if you are not happy with it out of the box. On Linux you can tweak tons of stuff via GUI apps that you can’t tweak in Windows. Another grate example is drag and drop. Windows XP changes the default behavior of dragging and dropping files based on the source and target drive. To alter the behavior you have to hold down ctrl alt or shift while dragging. In KDE it just ask you whether you want to copy move or link after you drop the file. Much more intuitive in my book.

    I think what is needed is an interactive Linux Demo that walks users through different features of the various desktops and helps them decide what is most intuative for them. In Linux you have lots of options unlike OSX and Windows. Unfortunately you have to be a linux user to know what those options are.

    Comment by regx — October 13, 2008 @ 2:47 pm

  29. i need the software or some coding to make like your tags. i’m very happy with that flash..how you make it??

    Comment by LiEy — October 13, 2008 @ 4:39 pm

  30. @Rainer: I always share up to a 150% ratio before having the client shut down my PC. I don’t think that’s being very anti-social. Expecially not since power consumption is a bigger threat to our society than poorly seeded torrents…

    @LiEy: Why not have a look at the develoment version, available from wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-cumulus.

    Comment by Roy — October 13, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

  31. ok… no offense.. but no matter how you look at it… indows is better. (XP i mean)

    Comment by Ciprian — October 21, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

  32. Ciprian, care to elaborate? In my personal experience, Ubuntu is easier to install, operate and maintain. Compiz Fusion offer more eye candy than even OSX, and its free.

    Windows, for most users, is familiar. Not better. That being said, I’m proeparing a post about Flash performance under Linux, which I’ve found to be sub par. That is my only real issue with Linux right now, everything else has been smooth sailing so far…

    Comment by Roy — October 21, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

  33. I agree with regX. Windows is not user friendly and every new ‘service pack’ makes my dell laptop that much more unstable. Unstable meaning the drivers and software start crashing more and not less. Seems service packs are made to make me to buy a new computer or run vista. Instead of laying out all that coin Ubuntu or Kubuntu work excellent on a perfectly good laptop I already have.
    Furthermore although MS Office 2007 is a nice product, it sucked the life out of my dell laptop. I use outlook and it is the most bloated and slow program in the world. I’m sick of Microsoft sending more and more crap down their pipeline to me. As such I’m switching to Linux.

    Comment by bt — November 2, 2008 @ 8:39 pm

  34. Debian, Ubuntu 8.04 and LinuxMCE (64 bit 0710 RC2) / Kubuntu 8.10 user. Yeah, I also still dual boot XP at tax time and so my kids can play some of their games. Oh, grow up.

    I have a nested LAN configuration at home, to keep a business network separate from the LinuxMCE network.

    As a hybrid Core/Media Director I use a Walmart $299 W3644 Gateway/eMachine with 64 bit Sempron (at 2.1 GHz, 512KB L2 cache, 1600MHz system bus), 1Gb dual channel DDR RAM, nVidia GeForce 6100 series integrated video with 128 Mb shared video memory, 160 Gb HDD, DVD-CD RW.

    Integrated into my LinuxMCE home automation network are Greyfox wired analog cameras, Bluecherry video capture board, X10 automation with CM11A serial port controller, HTD MA-1235 12 channel whole house audio amplifier (set-up for nested 5.1 surround sound), ViewSonic Cine5000 Home Theater 720p Projector, Jandy pool controls.

    I use a Buffalo Network Attached Storage, and a RAID 5 Netgear ReadyNAS. These devices are vital to my networking.

    I programmed software for multiple military projects, and have networked university and large businesses. I have used VMS, Unix, DOS, Windows, Apple operating systems (including OS X) and Linux. I have networked using Novell, AppleTalk, NFS, Samba (Windows protocols).

    I am currently dabbling in Beowulf processing (cloud computing) and am interested in *nix based distributed supercomputing at locations like Lawrence Livermore laboratories.

    I prefer NFS networking (Linux), which is much more robust and reliable than other protocols. However, due to Windows and Apple PCs remaining on various networks, I also use Samba (Windows based) and Bonjour/Renedezvous protocols (Apple based).

    Recently I have converted several networks to primarily Ubuntu (servers)/ Kubuntu (desktop) networks with groupware and internally managed services.

    I had attempted this in the past with Windows servers, but this was cost-prohibitive and caused a significant amount of down-time, angst, and loss of productivity. Previously I ran two businesses (for several years) on Windows XP Pro, and liked this OS. However, a plague of rootkit infections knocked out a series of boxes and Microsoft refused to help (without significant amounts of capital outlay) to repair the systems. Further, hardware failures were difficult to accommodate in the Windows paradigm, whose operating system licensing is tied to hardware components. Furthermore, the purchasing department bought several PCs with Windows Vista, which did not work on the network and was not compatible with networked operations. After 2 months of attempts to accommodate Windows Vista, they were returned and replaced with XP Pro machines. These problems lost my business tens of thousands of dollars.

    Because of this I then switched to Linux based systems. Since that time, I have not had a single similar problem on any Linux machine. My business is now approximately 80% Linux-based, with some 20% of legacy machines not yet converted from Windows. Initial lack of acceptance of conversion by Windows users to Ubuntu Linux has been overcome by using Kubuntu as the desktop. Now, acceptance is immediately achieved.

    Most of my business PC desktops now run Kubuntu Hardy on them, and my home PCs (and laptops) have Kubuntu Ibex. My servers are all Ubuntu (generic) servers with LAMP installations (although I am trying postGREsql, which isn’t as well integrated into groupware solutions yet).

    Richard Stallman is my hero. Linux Torvalds is second.

    Comment by Perspectoff — November 6, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

  35. Link: Ubuntu versus Windows | Computertaal
  36. I ‘ve been reading good things about Ubuntu for ages and did try out the original version a couple of years ago but was not too impressed then. So I was hopeful that things had moved on apace…

    I have an old XP Pro PC that I thought was a bit slow and since it was just a spare PC I thought I’d put the latest Ubuntu on. The partition was blown away and I started with a virgin install. The install went really smoothly and I was quite impressed and looking forward to be a great new system…

    Trouble is that the PC is a whole lot slower than with the XP Pro. It is dreadfully slow. Rubbish in fact. The old chestnut that you can run Linux on a Windows box and see a huge performance boost is yet again shown to be a myth.

    It’s like the idea that MAC’s are so much more user friendly than Windows, that’s another myth. You cant even maximize a window on a MAC. I mean come on, that’s basic stuff. Single mouse button is naff. I’ve been using a MacBook Pro with OS-X Tiger on for a while now and it is just not that impressive. The hardware is great. Beautiful keyboard and screen and some nice touches here and there but overall I would prefer to use XP Pro over Linux or MAC or Vista any day. Vista is a disaster for Microsoft IMV. I hope that Windows 7 gives us something stable and usable. In the meantime XP Pro is the king. My 2 cents. 🙂

    Comment by JackK — June 10, 2009 @ 12:46 pm