Sunday, April 05, 2015

Switching to Ubuntu from Windows

Long ago, I wrote a post ( when I switched from Ubuntu to Windows on my mini laptop. I got a few passionate comments on that post, but that is OK, such is expected. From that day, I have always used Windows on my home desktop, although at work it was mostly Linux and Mac. This was primary because my parents were comfortable with using Windows, and it served the purpose then. But since the passing away of my mother, the desktop machine is hardly used. My dad is now more comfortable using his Windows phone and an Android tablet.

So the week before I decided to switch to Ubuntu by nuking the Windows 8 installation all together on my home desktop machine. Since then, I have had not much for a chance to evaluate the change though, as most of my work now gets done either on my phone or when I am at work (where I have the Mac, and connect to a remote Linux box over ssh). But here is my initial impression on a few days of use:

1) Now that this is Ubuntu, I can do a hell lot of things. Literally. A lot of software stack that I wanted to try but was just not too great on Windows can now easily be done with Linux. Theno (, being one of them.

2) Still needs proprietary software to work. MP3/ Flash is still around, so are a huge number of codecs - have they got more since 2008? The biggest gripe is however the graphics drivers. I have a Nividia card on my machine. And that is where the problem is. The default nouveau drivers are usable. But usable is a big word to use for those drivers. There are simply too many crashes. What is more, the Firefox is a pain to use the moment I open > 5 tabs or open the wonderful Flipboard web app. That made me to switch to Chrome. Chrome was great, but the scroll experience was anything but choppy. Finally, I switched to the Nvidia binary driver. It solved some problems and created others: the boot and the shutdown screen are now non-pretty. The issues that I had in 2008 seem to still around in 2015.

(The story however, seems better with new Intel hardware. The driver support on Linux on the latest Intel CPU / GPU combination is probably a lot better than what is on my 2007 Intel Core 2 machine with Nvidia graphics)

3) It boots a lot slower than Windows 8. That is quite surprising to me. I would have expected Ubuntu to boot a lot faster than Windows. But looks like Windows 8 (and now Windows 10) has done a lot of work to improve boot speeds, which makes it comfortably faster than Ubuntu on my desktop PC.

For now, I continue to use new installation without major issues. I will keep updating this post as I more regularly use the desktop for stuff that I do.

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