Monday, January 26, 2009

A Vista and Ubuntu surprise

I had the opportunity to simultaneously do a Vista Business and an Ubuntu install at the same time. I was replacing an old (built 6 years ago) desktop with something newer and faster. On the newer/faster box, I installed Vista business. So, what to do with the older system? The newer faster box is a Dell scratch and dent box - I am not very good with model numbers but it has a dual 3.0GHZ processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 256 MB Video card and a big old hard drive.

Obviously install Ubuntu and play with it. This isn't the first Linux box - I have had a Red-Hat server in my house forever it seems - and it is still doing its thing beautifully.

This was a chance for me to see if Ubuntu was ready for prime time.

Bottom line - yes it is! At least for the relatively frequent and mundane web browsing, emailing kinds of tasks. It is fast, responsive, obvious how to use it - in fact that is for quick and easy stuff, my go to machine.

I use Outlook and the whole Office 2007 suite on the Vista machine and it hums right along too. Painless install, painless moving of files across from its old XP cousin (that's the box that was Ubuntuized).

The place where the Vista box was easier for me was somewhere quite unexpected. I went through fits trying to install Ruby, various Gems, the whole Riby on Rails package, MySql, Apache... on the Ubuntu box. Took the best part of 24 hours because nothing worked quite right. I kept having to install and uninstall various bits of the system so it would work. Getting Ruby-Gems installed was one of the hardest parts. Eventually I had my Rails environment running on the Ubuntu box. And very nice it is too - especially with Rubymine (a very nice Rails IDE rom Intellij).

To get the whole Rails environment with the same Gems, etc. running on the Vista box was much shorter. On the order of 30 hours to my first working Rails app. And before you say, "ahh you learned it all from Ubuntu", I didn't. I did the Windows stuff first! Of course I may have had some wrong expectations, but I liked doing that installation and work on Vista.

So this is entirely counter-intuitive. I am doing my "geek work" on my Vista box and my day to day, don't have to think so hard work on Ubuntu.

Yes Ubuntu is ready for prime time for the normal tasks - nothing at all hard about it - until installation of development environments.

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