Since I often upgrade, trade, or even occasionally build new machines, I pick up spare parts on many of the deals by allowing people some credit for usable older parts. I did really well on such a deal yesterday, and built the machine I’m typing this on from the results, with spares still lying around.
I am no Linux expert, or even advanced user, but several times when I have built such a machine, I install some version of Linux, and play around on it just to make sure everything is working. Or that’s the excuse. Really I do it for fun. Previously I’ve used versions of Red Hat (7.3 was the last one, but that’s been some time), Fedora (a couple of different versions), DSL, which I put on an ancient laptop with 32 MB of RAM and a 350 or so MB hard drive, and DSL-N which I also put on a machine with limited memory.
All of these installations had good points and bad points. Now I’m not claiming that I have the experience with any of them to make a professional comparison, but I would say that Ubuntu provided the easiest installation experience of any of them. If I was asked for my recommendation for someone who is not extremely strong on computer skills, it would be Ubuntu.
Starting with the hardware correctly assembled and functional, I simply downloaded the CD image, burned it on my Windows machine, carried the CD over and booted the new machine from that. Installation had 7 steps, but each step was very simple. The most complex thing was choosing the partitioning options, but the automatic setup was great for what I’m doing.
When installation was completed, I rebooted to the hard drive. Not only was connection to the internet complete at that point, but I was able to browse my network. I checked out editing documents from my desktop machine using OpenOffice.org 2.2 which was installed as part of the default. All network functions worked perfectly.
This is looking like software that could be used by a small business, as long as no Windows specific software is required. I’m impressed.
For what it’s worth, I’m posting this from the Ubuntu machine–free hardware, free software, what a deal!