A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Taking the plunge with the penguin

Posted by Alan on October 29, 2010

A little while ago I finally took the plunge and purged Windows XP from my netbook. As an IT nerd, I have had experience with Linux in the past, but never got past the tinkering for fun stage.  This time, I’m actually using it for real. So, what do you get? First up a pretty normal looking desktop:


Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu Desktop


Some stuff is in new places (such as close/minimise/etc – all in the Apple Mac style top right) and but generally it’s not very scary menu browse to application system. The biggest difference is the software centre – it’s a place where you can pick up free apps to use. There’s quite a few covering many things.


Software Centre

Ubuntu Software Centre


Wander outside of the software centre to find applications and it’s a very much more scary place though. Still, for general use the software centre does the job nicely. So in terms of apps out of the box, there’s a standard set covering word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, email, internet browsing and social networking.


Social networking client


Personally I tend not to use gwibber as my social networking client – it’s a little clunky and by default only refreshes every 5 minutes.  Still, it does integrate into the OS itself meaning any updates are subtle when minimised and once setup you get single sign on.  The office type applications are much like Office 2003 – not very scary, but less familiar now that I use the MS ribbon interface all day work!


Word Processor


Browsing the internet with Firefox is pretty much the same as it is under Windows.


Firefox - Web Browsing


As you might expect, the OS does include some image integration – it’s easy to pick out photos etc through it.


Pictures - as per windows XP


Overall it’s really good.  The wireless connects instantly and holds its connection well. Even my o2 dongle works. Best of all it’s free! These screenshots are all from Ubuntu 10.04 – but 10.10 is available now which has some minor enhancements. The most noticeable being that they changed the font – pretty irrelevant really! I have found it really helpful that Thunderbird 3.1 is part of the software centre – local calendars are the way forwards – especially if you have keep a close eye on your schedule.


4 Responses to “Taking the plunge with the penguin”

  1. Jasioni said

    Hey great blog, i’ve been using ubuntu on our desktop for about 5years and have never had any major problems, I run Lubuntu on my netbook, a AA1 it uses lxde instead of gnome and is alot snappier only uses about 80mb ram when idle, and chromium as a general browser not perfect but defo worth a try.. J

  2. Alan P said

    I’ve got Chromium on the netbook at the moment – because it uses much less screen space for the menu options it is pretty good. However, there’s a really odd bug with the BBC website (which is where I go for news by default), meaning that some of the DIVs are overlaid and it gets really hard to read.

    The biggest issue I’ve found is that sometimes the USB mouse is forgotten! Otherwise it’s very useful, quick and cheap to run.

  3. Must admit you lost me quite early here, but I am interested and faintly pursuing as I have a little netbook that is constantly clogging up, and I was wondering if switching to linux might answer.
    If so, ‘how?’ will be a bigger question…

  4. Alan P said

    You need to download Ubuntu from http://www.ubuntu.com/ – you can even try it out in advance following their instructions without installation! The installation guide is quite helpful – just make sure you back up any files you want to keep onto a pen drive or CD before you start.

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