Well, I took the leap to Ubuntu...again,for maybe the tenth time. It seemed that everytime I installed Ubuntu in the past, I uninstalled it due to frustration with the OS. I recently bought a new Dell desktop last summer, and after using Vista for half a year, I thought it might be time for a change. I tinkered with the OSX86 project, but unfortunately the installed didn't support my SATA hard drive and AMD processor. Still anxious to start anew with a different operating system, I gave Ubuntu another shot.
This time, I expected my experience to be a more positive one since my new computer had fairly common drivers and I wasn't dealing with wireless. My onboard Nvidia card was recognized instantly and booting intoa 1440x900 resolution was no problem, and my onboard Ethernet allowed me to get online effortlessly. So far, so good.
I started toying around with some of the features and programs that Ubuntu offered, and I came to an interesting realization. Everytime I use Ubuntu I always manage to confuse myself with command line operations in the Terminal, and for some reason I always forget about the availability of the Ubuntu repositories. Wow, I cannot say enough about the application installation experience. Who would've thought installing Opera or VLC player would be as easy as checking a box and clicking Apply?
However, if I was going to be using Ubuntu as my primary OS, I'd need to start incorporating it into my daily life and see how well it would hold out. First off - getting things to display properly in Firefox. Turns out all I needed to do was copy all my Windows fonts over to Linux and everything worked fine.
Next, the problem of docx incompatibility. I know OpenOffice is a Linux equivalent to Word, and I know docx isn't an "open" format, but the truth of the matter is that docx is becoming an increasingly popular format. The IT department at my college installed Office 2007 on all the computers on campus, and since Office 2007 saves in the OpenXML format by default, I better be able to open those files on my computer. Sadly, OpenOffice was able to open docx files with the converter plugin, but the files did not display exactly the same as they did in Word 2007. Wine doesn't work with Word 2007 either, so I'm left in a bit of a rut here. The Linux community seems to be pretty bitter about the docx format, but unfortunately, it's going to become a standard soon because Word 2007 natively uses it, so someone's going to have to figure out how to make it work perfectly in OpenOffice. (EDIT: I heard that OpenOffice 3.0 will natively support OpenXML...good news)
I tinkered with the Beryl/Compiz effects, and I have to say they're pretty awesome. The stretchy windows and multiple desktop effects are impressive to say the least, and they're definitely better than what I experienced on Vista. I'm also using Avant Desktop Manager, a Linux version of the OSX dock. So far, so good with that application as well, though I've only been using it for an hour or two.
Seeing no viruses and no ads are definitely refreshing. I remember AIM used to show banner ads inside the buddy list - I can't tell you how annoying that was. Everything is clean and easy to read in Ubuntu.
The only problem I see with Linux in the future is that it might be difficult to adjust to changes in the tech industry only because many big-time developers develop for Windows first, then OSX, then (possibly) Linux. Therefore, Linux is always playing catch-up. However, as of right now, it seems to be fitting in well with my lifestyle. I'd recommend it to anyone with a pretty standard system such as my own, but as for more complex systems like small Dell laptops with integrated Intel chips and wireless, it might be better holding off because of some negative experiences I've had in the past with battery life and getting laptop-special features to work correctly.