1. Return journey to Ubuntu
I think of myself as a little geeky when it comes to computers but not really techie; I've no idea if there is a difference, other than I'm not happy doing much with computer code things but I am happy tinkering around with installing applications, making them do what I want and generally trying new stuff out. A little knowledge, I know.
So I thought I'd try Linux out yet again.
This was partially driven by the geek in me, I wanted to know if open source had managed to make a competitive (sic) and slick competitor to windows or macowsx. Plus I have a good friend with an older windows machine which I thought would appreciate a little linux love. Plus I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with proprietary everything, the power and control of government and big companies and I feel good things are to be had in and out of open source and community driven creativity.
Now I've looked at loads of Linux reviews and write-ups over the years, I've downloaded Ubuntu, burnt it to cd and may even have run it a few times on an old desktop Windows machine. But discovering linux hasn't been helped along by the fact that my computer use has been entirely mac based for ages now, so until recently I thought I had no cause for dissatisfaction, mac software works excellently and the specialised applications I use have all been mac based.
But Apple is becoming pure control freak, c'est la vie, the world is going that way, and consequently I've begun leaning towards open source for my software needs on the Mac, especially after discovering how excellent the most recent version of Gimp is, it's like Photoshop and also available for macs. I've also been using Firefox, Thunderbird, Blender and Freemind regularly on my mac, all of which are open source. Read up about Richard Stallman. This is a philosophical movement as well as a free product.
Apple App Store (AS)
The Apple AS is a pain. Take for granted that I'm aware of all the things you love about the AS -
Now what I hate about the AS is -
It turns out after some long thought and internal discussion that I don't trust Apple anymore.
And the libertarian in me hates the general direction of flow so much, that it's time to kick in a different direction. So Linux, and specifically Ubuntu, because Ubuntu appears to be the easiest 'way in' and most replete linux creation for new users in what is a very very geeky space indeed.
So that's decided, so where to begin. Now bear in mind that I think I'm fairly geeky and Ubuntu thinks it's a fairly easy way into Linux, but believe me, it's still not a clear nor easy path.
After a lot of experimentation I thought I'd share my linux trip with you, attempt to simplify your decision making if possible and offer a quick guide, with useful links to the various ways of trying out Ubuntu. So far I've only tried these two methods (see over there) on a Windows laptop and although the Ubuntu site offers redemtion for Macs too I've only tried Ubuntu on my Mac using an application called VirtualBox, of which more later.
Why oh why try linux?
Random interesting Linux links
2. Ubuntu download page
Bear in mind this guide is for normal people who want to try out the Ubuntu version of Linux (there are hundreds of versions of Linux) and see if there is anything there for them in an open source operating system to replace Windows or Mac OSX, not people who code or work in the tech dept.
The Ubuntu Download page would be the logical place to start...
... but before you go there take a little time to think about what you're doing. This is excellent advice. Then ...
Do A Backup.
On a mac there is no good reason not to be using Time Machine. It comes with your new machine for free and works well. It's a bare minimum.
On windows 7 Backup & Restore seems to get good press but I've not tried it. The official windows page for Backup & Restore requires you to install a plug-in called Silverlight just to view a video, take a look if you must.
Remember, Ubuntu like all varieties of Linux is an operating system not just an application or programme, it is designed to be a replacement for Windows or OSX. When you are trying it out you don't want to lose your documents or mess up your settings, this is one of the main obstacles to trying Linux out I think.
If you've done any searching at all about the subject of trying Linux out you will have read pages of dual-boot instructions and partition hints and tips tips and suggestions, most of which are daunting and almost designed to put total beginners to Linux off. Don't be.
Two easy ways to travel on Windows
There are two fairly painless ways to try out Ubuntu on on a Windows machine, which is probably two more than there would be to try out Windows on a Ubuntu machine!
Ubuntu on a Mac
This is not so simple. The problem is that to try something like Ubuntu out, us ordinary users need a strong sense of certainty. A sense of certainty that our existing computer world won't disapear, or melt, or just not work as it did before, won't be altered by the Linux experience and this is by far the biggest obstacle I think to a larger uptake of Linux.
And this is as it should be, Linux wasn't designed for everyone, it was designed for and by its existing users, and honestly, I love much about the OSX experience so why would I change? It's just that I can see the way both Windows and OSX are going and I don't like it. Many of my AS comments over there will soon apply to Windows when they finish playing catch up.
So I will keep exploring the possibility of a change to Linux, especially while Ubuntu keeps making strides towards a simple, safe Ubuntu try-out for us non geek intruders into what is an exceptional os if my experience with Ubuntu on a windows computer is anything to go by.
On my Mac however I have only been brave enough to try Ubuntu installed via software called VirtualBox. As it 'appens I followed the most refined psycho cat's virtualbox instructions and changed all Windows references to Mac as required.
Now VirtualBox+Ubuntu works, but not as well as the Windows Installer experience by any stretch. There's just too much software and too much messing.
As a solution to every day computing, VirtualBox isn't one. As a test bed for developers or testers of beds it must be most excellent.
Don't try it, really. Wait until you want to install Ubuntu instead of OSX or until you come across an unloved windows machine to experiment on. He He He Heeeee.
Using the Ubuntu Windows Installer method on a windows machine, I can say having tried it, this just works. If that's too worrying the CD burn root also just works for a quick looksie.
Using VirtualBox on a Mac makes neither Ubuntu nor your Mac look good it just makes you want to go back to OSX.
Do that for sanitys sake.