Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Ubuntu Party

The latest semi annual release of Ubuntu took place last week. This particular release is of particular interest by virtue of the fact this one is a Long Term Support (LTS) version: it's meant to be supported over the next five years, and by virtue of its nature and the way it was made it is also inherently more stable than the other three Ubuntu releases in the operating system's biyearly release plan. However, an event that would have been a cause of much anticipation, the release of the latest Ubuntu LTS saw me relatively indifferent.
There are three main reasons for my less than excited welcoming of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (also called Precise Pangolin):
  1. Unity: The Unity interface that has been dominating Ubuntu releases for the past two years is a pain in the @ss. Hard as I try, and I do give it a chance every six months, I simply do not see how this interface is helping me as a user; it actually achieves the exact opposite, coming between me and the stuff I want to do with my computer on a regular and frequent basis.
  2. Performance: While Ubuntu is still slick and smooth compared to Windows, it is not the slick performer it used to be. Particularly not when running on netbooks, an area where Linux used to have a clear performance advantage.
  3. The Mac factor: My personal perception of the world of computing has changed significantly since I got myself a Mac. The Mac seems to be offering the best of both worlds: stuff that's available for Windows is generally available for Mac as well (with the notable exception of games, but that does not bother me personally); while stuff that's available as open source software for Linux is generally available for the Mac, too. In addition, Mac OS X offers Ubuntu's biggest advantage over Windows: the ability to forget that you're dealing with a computer and just do whatever it is you want to do with the computer.
    The Mac is not perfect in this department. Security is an issue and then there is the very bothering fact it is owned by a company with a track record of self interest and disregard for its users: a company that, for example, will not admit to vulnerabilities such as Flashback till hundreds of thousands of Macs have been compromised, and even then fail to respond adequately. Being of true open source nature, the way Ubuntu is, comes with definitive advantages. Problem is, most of the time one doesn't see these advantages; one tends to be blinded the easy life that comes with owning a Mac instead.
The picture is a complex one. I am using Windows, Mac OS X and Ubuntu all the time. I cannot, however, escape noticing that my Mac tends to be the computer on which I try and do the bulk of my computing activities at home. From pleasure to work, the Mac consistently provides the best platform for me to do my stuff.


Image: Ubuntu

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