Wednesday, 26 March 2008

It just works

My son's PC is very rarely booted into Windows now. He seems to prefer using Ubuntu Linux to Windows, I wasn't expecting that. He commented that it was quite like his friends Apple machine, which I though was a very insightful comment on his part, since Apple's OSX is based on BSD UNIX so could be expected to be more similar to Linux than Windows.

I was expecting a lot of 'Dad how do I make it do...?' type questions, but there's been none of that at all, on the whole it just works. I asked him how he was managing with connecting his iPod and he said that was fine, he just plugged it in and something like iTunes just popped up. He showed me, he plugged it in and sure enough Rythmbox popped up with his iPod contents there ready for use. When I asked what he used windows for when he did boot into it, he said mainly to get to files that were in the windows system (although on install it copied everything over from his windows ID, it seems that items on the desktop do not get pulled across). So I showed him how to mount and unmount the windows drive in the file manager application, now he only rarely needs to access Windows.

My 8 year old daughter is finding her way around the old Celeron box OK too. I added the music player to the launch bar for her so that she could get to the music easily. Later that day I found that she'd added her favourite game to the launchbar too. She's quite capable of using the machine and is enjoying the the Tux Type typing tutor as well as the games and the Internet. So it seems that Linux is easy enough for an 8 year old to get to grips with.

Once its up and running on your hardware, Ubuntu is a very workable alternative to Windows. So in the case of my sons PC this has been totally painless. However if the hardware is not readily recognised by the default installation, as in the case of the wireless and graphics card on the old Celeron machine, it can be challenging for a non expert. That said its currently possible to by a new 'Linux ready' machine for only £130 from eBuyer (at time of writing), that would be perfectly suitable for office use.

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