From Ubuntu back to MS Windows

May 28, 2007 at 12:29 am 11 comments

After one month of testing Ubuntu Feisty and having it as my primary operation system, I’m going back to Windows. Ubuntu disappointed me, again (since I tried every stable Ubuntu release so far). But it was the best GPL competitor I used so far.
Ubuntu isn’t able to increase my productivity. The opposite is true. Let me explain some things, the good and the bad.

Out of the box, using the live cd, Ubuntu recognized my NTFS disks (even the external ones), showed me a list of wireless networks in the neighborhood (and asked me for the WPA key) and had a very pleasant look and feel. Installing went quite well (I had to unplug my external disks first, since the partition editor didn’t want to show up).

Another nice thing: upon opening a video file in the default Gnome player, codecs are searched for automatically. Good! Not good however, is the disappearing of the video itself when the player isn’t moved around (when using .wmv files). Happened with this Gnome player and with VLC.

Since I own an Acer Travelmate 6003, my native resolution is 1400×1050. This resolution is standard: SXGA+, but Xorg didn’t recognize it. I had to install the 915resolution package, which patches some display modes at startup. Very ugly solution, but hey: it works.

Afterwards, I had to install the ntfs-3g package (why don’t they install this package natively?) and was very happy to be able to write to my NTFS disks. ‘Desktop effects’ (compiz) were ok (a little bit slow), but I didn’t like the wobble effect too much (started irritating after a while), and the maximize effect was too much, so I turned off the wobble effect. The 3D cube effect for the workspaces worked fine using the live cd, but once installed it refused to work, even when I changed my number of workspaces back to 4 (why did Ubuntu change it to 1 in the first place?). I especially loved the Apple Exposé effect and the one-click minimize all/previous state (in the lower left corner).

After installing my favorite programs and some debs from GetDeb (Pidgin e.g.), I started to configure Ubuntu the way I liked to.
I dislike the anti-aliased fonts in Ubuntu. Those fuzzy things are not only ugly, they are more difficult to read than the ‘normal’ fonts on Windows systems. But hey, I found the ‘msttcorefonts’ package, and changed some configuration files. Nevertheless, fonts were never as clear as in Windows. But I could live with that.

From any Operating System, I expect things to work out of the box. If it doesn’t, I’ll be happy to search our mutual friend Google for some minutes, but not for hours.
As they say, Ubuntu Feisty has become a competitor to Microsoft Windows, the command line should be seen as a handy tool, not as a primary way to change settings or to do something. You *cannot* expect users to use the command line for very easy, obvious tasks.
Let me explain:In my previous post, I explained how to install UT GOTY on Ubuntu Feisty. Everything went well, but upon starting the game, as described in the post, the cpufreq was too low, so I had to change it to the highest possible GHz. Why did the Ubuntu devs/community choose NOT to add the SUID bit by default? Users should be able to change their power scheme their selves without any hazzle. But since I love the command line, I could live with that too.

Next thing I noticed is how greedy the Ubuntu install was. I do like a silent computer (therefor I bought a Centrino, some years ago), but Ubuntu manages to use more resources than Windows, resulting in a noisy fan at all times. Even when the computer is idle for 20 minutes, the fan blows. This ain’t nice.

What I did like, again, is the GLSlideShow. However, by default, this doesn’t work: an .xsreensaver file had to be created and silly options had to be entered. Developing a front end for these things couldn’t be that hard! Even worse, my CPU fan blowed like hell at every picture change, which didn’t occur fluently.

When I wanted to put the computer in stand by (suspend as they say in Ubuntu), one time out of two the whole system just froze. I had to press the on/off button for 4 seconds and lost my work. Moreover, when it did succeed to suspend, I closed my laptop lid, and turned off the power of my external hard drive. Apparently, this is not a good choice: Ubuntu waked up from suspend mode upon turning off or removing a removable disk (even when it had been unmounted before). This is just stupid.

Another thing I use very often in Windows: selecting a word/phrase, dragging it to another application and releasing the button. This way, the text (or image) will be copied. In Linux, this works fine, but they didn’t implement it completely: when the main application is maximized and something should be copied using drag&drop to another application, the alt+tab behavior doesn’t want to work no more. Nor when I drag the thing to the other application residing on the task bar (it doesn’t show up). Annoying.

Now the click though bug. I just cannot imagine Feisty is released with this bug. E.g., if there are 3 applications maximized and you want to close the upper one, the second or third one could be closed instead of the upper one. Very unexpected behavior!

Then there is the lag. How irritating. E.g. try to select something in Firefox: in comparison to Windows the text will not be selected right away.

Gnome is known of its simplicity. I like simplicity, since it often goes hand in hand with intuitiveness. That’s the reason I didn’t install Kubuntu, the KDE version: it’s too bloated and settings are all over the place: they aren’t grouped nicely like in Gnome (Edit -> Preferences). But Nautilus, Gnome’s file manager (which I use very frequently) is just too simple. I like the detail view in Windows Explorer, and for photographs I like the filmstrip (and often the thumbnail view too). Nautilus doesn’t have a detail view. Well, it has a list with some options, but it’s impossible to sort files using the EXIF info of a picture (e.g. when it is taken) or the bitrate of music files. What a lack of features.

About the lack of features: there are programs on the Windows system I hardly can live without:

  • Adobe Photoshop. Don’t you *dare* to mention the GIMP as a replacement for Photoshop. Call it a replacement for Paint, maybe for Paint.NET, but not for Photoshop. In addition, the GIMP is very illogical. Why can I open a file in the main menu, but why can’t I save the currently opened file in the same menu? *sigh*.
  • MSN. Since all my friends are on MSN (Live Messenger), I’m there too. Pidgin is a nice replacement, but the features lack too much: no offline message support, no webcam support, … I know there are alternatives too, but I’ve always got a feeling that there is something ‘not right’, and I don’t have this feeling with Pidgin.
  • Microsoft Office. Again, OpenOffice.org isn’t bad, but it’s still buggy and compared to Office 2007, it’s no good.

Last but not least: Unreal Tournament ran at 14 frames/second. In Windows, I choose 16 bits color and the frame rate increases. In Ubuntu however, I was unable to change the color depth without changing xorg.conf. But I do want to keep 32 bits color depth in X, and use 16 bits in UT, just like I do on Windows. Not possible, at first (and second and third) sight.
Well, ok. I changed Xorg to use a 16 bit color depth and played UT. I had a ‘playable’ frame rate and I was quite happy. Suddenly, my screen started to do weird things, and my system froze. Even my mouse, ctrl+alt+backspace or alt+F1 didn’t want to work no more. I tried different maps, same problem.

So, well: goodbye Ubuntu, for now. I’d be happy to try again, in half a year. In the mean time I’ll keep using my Debian console only (ssh) servers 😉

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Entry filed under: Ubuntu Feisty, Unreal Tournament, Windows.

Unreal Tournament GOTY on Ubuntu Feisty Windows problems

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dario  |  June 1, 2007 at 7:11 am

    Hi,
    you will never find a linux that work out of the box.
    But Windows too…You always have to install something.

    You must have patience and go on, wait, install…
    you will be better and all will work because of you!

    Anyway, you know, Linux is not a replacement for Windows, if you are slave of MS Office or a video game.

    The best solution is dual boot…

    Bye!

    Reply
  • 2. pressworthly  |  June 1, 2007 at 11:56 am

    True, as I said I’m willing to search solutions to the problems, but if there are no solutions at this moment (e.g. the clickthrough bug, the 16 bit not settable in UT when Xorg is in 32 bit, the irritating lag, …), they (as in ‘the Linux community’) really shouldn’t claim that Ubuntu Linux Is an Ideal Windows Replacement.

    I’m not a MS Office slave, but OO.org really cannot compete to MS Office 2007, imho. The spelling and grammar check in other languages for example: it just sucks, MS does the job better. I’m happening to use this feature very often.

    I’m not a video game slave either, since the only games I’d like to play are Tetrinet, MSN Games (with my friends on Live Messenger) and Unreal Tournament GOTY (Classic). Tetrinet is not problem. MSN Games aren’t possible (at least with Gaim/Pidgin, I haven’t checked aMSN or other messenger clients lately). Then Unreal Tournament, the OpenGL game, did want to install after some trouble (but hey, no problem), but it didn’t run properly.

    Dual boot it is, but I haven’t really booted Ubuntu again. Why should I?

    Reply
  • 3. eventualmente  |  June 16, 2007 at 12:42 am

    You can’t complain with gnu/linux if there’s no substitute for photoshop. You must complain with adobe, as they don’t release a linux version of this program. And, overall, remember that the GIMP is free, while you have to pay thousands of dollars/euros for photoshop; but as for the mean user the GIMP is enough, I’m happy with it. The same arguments are valid for MS Office/openoffice.org.
    MSN: the audio/video codec is closed source and licensed, so it’s impossible to integrate it in pidgin. Again linux is not guilty.
    I agree with you about the fact that ubuntu is not perfect yet (there are too many bugs still), but is safer than windows (no viruses/adware/spyware) and the kernel is more stable. Otherwise it wouldn’t have been installed for the most security-critical applications.

    Reply
  • 4. Paul  |  June 18, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Heh, looks like another one of those times where Linux shows not to be for the faint of heart, not even Ubuntu. 🙂

    I’m just curious. I’m not going to argue or start teaching you stuff, but tell me: since when did you start using Ubuntu and Linux in general, and for how long have you been with it. I’m just curious :).

    Reply
  • 5. pressworthly  |  June 20, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve been using Linux in general in 2000. I configured my very first 2 servers in 2001 (Redhat at that time), and up to then I’ve been using Linux on a daily basis (i.e. screen+irssi).
    In 2002 I switched to Debian and I’m still using this operating system on my servers. I’m planning to switch to Ubuntu server in a few months (when a hardware upgrade is needed).
    Like I said already in my blog, I only used Linux in console mode. No Gnome/KDE, although I tried Gnome/KDE upon every major release of Redhat, then Debian and Ubuntu (from the first release). Feisty is the first release where I’ve been using the graphical front end for more than 2 weeks.

    Reply
  • 6. Skinny  |  July 17, 2007 at 8:04 am

    You seem to judge ubuntu on how well (or bad) it replaces windows, which isn’t quite fair IMHO. You seem to take Photoshop, MSN messenger and other apps as if they are the only viable options, and then judge how well an OS runs them. Small wonder Windows would be better. It would be like an Ubuntu user judging windows on how well it runs Linux apps or reads/writes EXT3 partitions out of the box.

    If you want a photo editing app, Gimp really is a (more than) credible alternative to photoshop. If you are overwhelmed by the user interface (as I was), I suggest installing GimpShop which is a skin for Gimp that mimics the Photoshop UI. If you know PS, you’ll feel at home right away.

    If you want an instant messenging app, there are literally dozens to choose from, many of them compatible with MSN messenger. I hate MSN messenger, but thats just me.

    I’m also unsure what your beef is with OpenOffice. I find it quite superior to MS office in many regards, in so far I even installed it on my Windows partition. Now I do recommend you remove it after installing ubuntu, and download/install OO from their website. The one bundled with ubuntu seems incomplete and gives some weird issues. Reinstall from OO site and you should be fine..

    Now I agree with some of your criticism, most notably the power management features which seem not to work well with ubuntu. Suspend or even hibernate is a big gamble on any of my 3 machines. Hope they sort this out quickly. . But you did forget to mention some of the most important advantages over windows:

    1) its free. You do realize how much windows + office 2007 costs right? You do know how much Photoshop costs ? Now add an antivirus, the extra RAM you need to riun windows and you are looking at the cost of a cheap PC!

    2) its completely virus and spyware free. That alone is the biggest productivity boost for me. No matter what firewall, AV, Antispyware I use, I end up having to reinstall windows every x months because it will slow down, get infected or corrupted.

    3) It comes with TONS of free software. Did you check out what is available in the add/remove program database ? Thousands of games (some of them really quite decent), productivity apps, media apps, graphic utilities, video editing,.. Many of them are absolute gems, for instance I discovered Inkscape recently which is a CorelDraw clone, only done better (and again free).

    4) its fast. Its noticeably faster than XP, it is orders of magnitude faster than Vista.

    And yeah, I still do have a few windows apps I find it hard to live without , so I still dual boot until I find a good replacement, but if I had to chose between deleting my windows or my Ubuntu partition, the choice wouldn’t be very hard anymore.

    Reply
  • 7. Matt  |  January 26, 2008 at 10:41 am

    You cannot say “waked up”; it’s “woke up”. Tenses wrong. Yes we’ve all had our problems with our operating systems but the truth of the matter is that you’re to Microsoft bound.

    I spot bias in this article.

    Reply
  • 8. sankz  |  July 12, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    You’ll find quite a list of windows software equivalents here:

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SoftwareEquivalents

    I’d tried shifted from XP to Ubuntu about six months back. Except for certain MS applications like Visual Studio and a few high res games, everything else runs well on Ubuntu. Stuff like Photoshop, Corel Suite, Flash… can be run under Ubuntu using Wine. Check out: http://winehq.org/ And I can play my old dos games with the help of dosbox: http:// dosbox.com

    I dual boot Ubuntu 8.04 with XP and it works like a dream…

    Reply
  • 9. Mark  |  October 17, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    @Matt: If you’re correcting someone’s grammar, might want to double-check your own 😉 (“toO Microsoft-bound”)

    Anyway, as mentioned, you really have to go into Ubuntu with a fresh mind set, and forget what you expect from an Operating System. Some things Ubuntu does completely differently than windows, so it feels weird, but sometimes it’s a superior way of doing it.

    Speaking of which, I use OpenOffice.org on both my Windows machines and Linux. If I had the choice, I’d still choose OO (I’m a broke college student, so I don’t really have a choice ^_^).

    But if you’re getting used to linux or expect certain applications, dual-booting is definitely the way to go. (Or, if you’re like me, having a Windows PC and a Linux laptop. I use the desktop for gaming, and Photoshop. I use the laptop for coding, note taking, and “office” stuff)

    Reply
  • 10. Jo  |  April 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve found Linux to be much more relaxing to use than Windows. Windows already has some sort of pop-up whining or demanding that you do something or ‘else’. Sure, some of the annoyances come from third party apps but they are Window’s apps.

    However it is true that Linux applications are still lacking when it comes to certain things like Image editing — Get a new UI already GIMP! Home studio audio and AVI/MPEG to DVD … In windows you click a few buttons wait and burn in Linux you go through hoops to convert, place, and then burn… — And even then it might not happen. 🙂

    But besides those small issues I prefer Linux myself.. It feels more relaxing, stable and fast than does Windows.. . especially Arch ;D

    Reply
  • 11. avi converter  |  June 16, 2010 at 7:07 am

    An useful review

    Reply

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