Installation was rock-simple. I burned the ISO to a disk, then booted from it (burning an ISO isn’t simple for everyone, of course, but in a perfect world you could buy this on a store shelf).
It booted to a fully-functional Ubuntu install, with an icon on the desktop helpfully called “Install.” I clicked on this and answered a few questions and, 10 minutes later, it had formatted a 120GB drive and installed itself.
It is, without a doubt, the slickest Linux desktop distribution I’ve ever seen. It’s well-configured, intelligently set-up, and I have complete confidence that my Mom could use it. All the pieces are here, and the previous confusion that accompanied my other attempts at living with desktop Linux are gone.
It’s no Mac OS killer. It’s not even a Windows killer, I don’t think.
I don’t say this to slam Ubuntu. Indeed, Ubuntu is a huge, huge leap forward in desktop Linux. But there are still rough edges that detract from it and don’t hold up well to other OSs.
Example: here is a screenshot of the CNN homepage in a default Ubuntu installation. As you can see, it looks….goofy. There are font issues here, I think. This is a drag because — small fix as this probably is to a geek — regular users can’t even comprehend what a font is outside of a WYSIWYG editor, and they would have no idea how to fix it (confession: I have no idea how to fix this…).
In the end, what I like about Ubuntu is that I have a desktop install that approaches the polish and ease-of-use of other OSs, but has underpinnings that are very close to the Linux server environments on which I work all day (yes, yes, I know Mas OS is based on FreeBSD, but it’s expensive…).
I now wait patiently for Joe to leap to Ubuntu’s defense. I’m interested to hear his point of view. Since he went on vacation and left us all to do his work, he should have a lot of leisure time to think up a good response.