Okay, well, back to Ubuntu!

In my post Returning to Windows After 15+ Years I wrote that I was switching to Windows 7 after using various distributions of Linux or FreeBSD for over 15 years, and provided a brief explanation for the move. After several months it became apparent that the honeymoon with Windows 7 was over, and I wrote about that in my post Life with Windows 7 (so far). Well, I ultimately made the switch back to the 64-bit version of Ubuntu with the 10.04 LTS release.


In case you’re not familiar with Ubuntu’s Linux distributions, here is a quick overview. Ubuntu uses the last two digits of the calendar year for the major part of the version number, so all releases in 2010 start with “10.” New versions are released every 6 months – in April (the fourth month, the “.04” version) and October (the tenth month, the “.10” version). In even numbered calendar years, the first release of the year is a “Long Term Service” release, or “LTS,” which means that Canonical, the company that produces Ubuntu, will provide updates, security patches, and bug fixes for 3 years for desktop systems and 5 years for servers. So, the April, 2010, release is Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. My desktop PC has a 64-bit AMD dual core processor and 6 Gigabytes or RAM, so I needed the 64-bit version.

One of the problems I’d had with running Ubuntu – or any other Linux distribution – on my primary PC was the availability of drivers for the wireless network adapter and sound cards in the laptop that I was using. Since that time I’ve switched back to a “real” desktop PC as my primary computer so those aren’t nearly the issue they were with the laptop, which had a non-mainstream sound card (which never worked well with any distribution of Linux I tried). The wireless network adapter in that particular laptop used an Intel chipset that is well supported by the Linux kernel, so that was never an issue.

The other problem I’d had with Linux on my primary PC was not really Linux’s fault. As I’ve mentioned before, I rely heavily on Oracle’s (used to be Sun’s) VirtualBox software to run both Linux and Windows in virtual machines. I sometimes need to have those virtual machines be able to use a USB device that I plug into one of the USB ports on the actual, physical machine. I don’t know whether Ubuntu changed the way they handle access to the USB ports (done via a facility known as “udev”) or if VirtualBox made some changes in their code – or perhaps some of each – but VirtualBox version 3.2.6 r63112 running on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is able to use all of the USB devices I’ve tried so far (not that many really) without any finagling on my part.

The only downside to switching back so far has been the lack of Adobe Flash support for 64-bit Linux. Yes, I know Adobe claims to have a version available but I’ve never been able to get it to work reliably. And, yes, I know that there are some open source Flash players, but I’ve never had much luck with them either. The saving grace is that Google’s Chrome browser – which I use and highly recommend – includes pretty decent support for Flash without any add-ons or plug-ins. Using Chrome, I’m able to watch most of the web-based videos I want to see.

I’ve been using 64-bit Ubuntu 10.04 LTS for 6 months now, and I have no thoughts of going back to Windows as my main desktop OS! But I might be able to be convinced to try out a Mac Mini with OS-X “Snow¬†Leopard” – if I had an extra $1536 lying around (don’t let the $699 entry price fool you, I’d need the faster processor, more RAM, more disk space, and a few other “extras”)…

Andy Anderson

Andy Anderson

The Information Technology "Renaissance Man." With a formal education in Computer Science and over 33 years of professional experience, Andy lived through the personal computing revolution and into the Internet Era. While still providing and managing mainstream commercial products, he now specializes in applying Open Source solutions and virtualization technology to small business IT issues.

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