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Category: Operating Systems

What’s New in Windows 8.1

On the 17th of October Windows 8.1 will be released, it’s less than a month away (the preview version of Windows 8.1 can currently be downloaded here). For current Windows 8 users the new version will be available as free upgrade. Continue reading to find out what’s new in Windows 8.1.

 

Start menu

One of the common complaints that Microsoft regarding Windows 8 was the absence of the start menu, it’s back, sort of. The new start button is added to the familiar left corner, but it’s not a menu rather it takes the user back to the start screen of Windows 8.1. It’s understandable but still a bit weird since hovering the mouse cursor in the lower left corner until the start-screen thumb appears and then click on it has the same effect in the original version of Windows 8.

 

3D Printing

3D printing is here to stay, and Microsoft is betting on that the technology will be in people’s home in the future by adding 3D printing features to the operating system. Most people who have already 3D-printed know that it is often conversion between different file formats involved, sometimes the conversion makes you lose important data about the 3D print. In Windows 8.1 the user will just hit “Print” and Windows will take care of the rest.

The file format used will be 3MF ( 3D Manufacturing Format), the 3D printing software sends the data to Windows in 3MF, which then sends it to the 3D printer. Microsoft also claims that 3D printers will work with plug and play, as regular printers do.

To find out more about 3D printing in Windows 8.1 watch the video below:

 

Internet Explorer 11

A new version of Internet Explorer, 11 will be launched with Windows 8.1. New features in the browser include a reading view, do not track support , WebGL, enhanced developer tools, improved user experiences on touch devices and improved overall performance when it comes to loading objects and JavaScript.

In the reading view font styles, size, colors and zoom levels etc can be changed. The do not track options include an option of sending do not track requests to website visited, but also the option of limiting third party cookies and location data sent.

 

New mail app

Apparently there are still people who use a desktop version of e-mail, in Windows 8.1 Microsoft has revamped the mail app. The new design and features are more oriented towards Outlook.com than the previous version, according to the company.

Watch this video from Microsoft with some of the key features in Windows 8.1:

Have you upgraded to Windows 8.1 or are you running the preview version? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Cloud Operating Systems: Google Chrome OS (Chromium)

Everything is moving into the cloud and so is the operating system.  Previously Microsoft released the Windows Azure Platform,  also a number of smaller players such as Good OS (gOS), EyeOS and Glide have hit the market. Google is however surprisingly late to the game with the hyped release of Chromium better known as Google Chrome OS. Why the name confusion? Chromium is the open-source project connected to Google Chrome and Chrome OS.

GoogleChromeOSlogo

We downloaded the open-source version of Google Chrome OS, built it and ran it on a netbook using a USB-drive. It was also tested in a virtualized environment (VMWare). The version of Chromium we tested was 4.0.253.0, it is not a finished product so this review is more of a hint of things to come than a complete overview of a finished product.

Building the Google Chrome OS source-code is not easy for everyone; there are a couple of images of the system floating around on the net usually made for USB-drives or a virtualized environment. For example you can download Google Chrome OS image files from: or.

Chrome OS is actually built on the Linux kernel but with its own windowing system. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Google managed to get this product released and working avoiding the hurdle of device drivers that other operating system developers have to worry about.

Starting Chrome OS is very fast, it only took about 10 seconds to bring up the login screen. When launching it on a netbook problems started directly when trying to login, since the Wi-Fi networks password hadn’t been initialized it could not login using my Google account. Instead I had to connect it to a cable network, and then it worked fine. The login sequence is probably something Google will have to work on, if I had been on the road trying to connect to a secured Wi-Fi network it wouldn’t have worked.

When logging in to Chrome OS you are greeted with a Google Chrome web-browser window launching Google or your Gmail account. There is also a tab in the upper left corner containing shortcuts to different Google and Internet-services, such as Google Docs, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, Facebook etc. Very few of the applications in Google Chrome OS is native, most of them are run in a browser window. The calculator is the only app that runs from within Chromium and pop-ups in the lower right corner of the screen. Most cloud applications worked like a charm and they were fast to use. We used Google Wave, Zoho among others without any real issues.

The user interface is very plain and light-weight compared to Windows 7, MAC OSx or Linux. If you compare it to other cloud OS interfaces it still is plain, both gOS and Glide look much better. To enhance the UI there are a number of available themes for Google Chrome and also the Google Chrome OS. In the upper right part of the screen there is a battery indicator, a switch for turning on and off Wi-Fi and Ethernet and an icon for controlling the rest of the OS. The menu-options are a mixture of the ones available in the Chrome browser and operating system specific options available in Chromium.

If you compare Chrome OS to other operating systems on the market it is minimalistic and not very flexible. Google’s intent is that Chrome OS is for netbooks, but there are plenty of situations using a netbook without any Internet access, for example on the plane. Chrome OS also does not give you access to the inner workings of the computer, there are not that many settings that you can change by default. Comparing Chrome OS So what Chrome OS got going for it is that it is minimalistic but it is also what works against it. Linux is so far a much better free alternative for netbooks than Google Chrome OS is. Google have partnered up with netbook manufacturer and we will probably see Google Chrome OS netbooks during 2010.

Another interesting user case for Chrome OS could be in a corporate environment, clients would not need any programs installed and the need for extensive administration would be gone. The problem is that Chrome OS cannot be used in a local network (EyeOS have this capability); it has to connect to Google. There will probably be extensions to get this capability though.

Of course the operating systems of the future will be more connected to the cloud than they currently are, however I think it will be highly dependent on the software and services available in the cloud. Most of the services available work quite well on netbooks (hence the targeting by Google), such as Google Docs and Zoho. But heavier applications and games still remain on the desktop, for example there are many photo-editing apps in the cloud but none with the advanced features seen in Photoshop. Graphics applications such as Inkscape and Google SketchUp also still remain on the desktop, and probably will for some time. However for average novice users requiring a word processor and the occasional web-surfing Google Chrome OS might be it, especially in a year or two when it has been more developed.

Cloud Operating Systems: eyeOS

eyeOS was first released in 2005; it is open source and has a pretty vibrant community behind it. The latest version when this is written is 1.8 named Lars. While Glide (previously reviewed) runs on Flash eyeOS use PHP and stores information in XML on the server. Using PHP means that it is easy to customize eyeOS, if you are a business and want to develop additional features it is easier in eyeOS compared to Glide. There is also an eyeOS toolkit for developers with functions and libraries available.

eyeOS Logo

Thanks to the toolkit and the community behind eyeOS there is a number applications out-there. Of course the number of apps is nowhere near as many as for Windows or Linux, but it still looks very promising. However all of the applications are on eyeos-apps.org, it would be nice with a package installer integrated into eyeOS.

The interface in eyeOS is very easy to grasp, it is more oriented towards Linux than Windows so Linux users will feel even more at home. The terminology is also standard OS language, there are no newexpressions unique for eyeOS, folders are called folders etc.

The desktop in eyeOS is very much like any other OS. At the top of the screen there are a number of tabs; Favorites, Office, Network, Accessories, Games, System and Places.  In the lower right corner of the screen there is a traditional start menu with applications, system preferences and a command line option.

In the system preferences it is possible to change the look of the desktop, there are about five themes to choose from. The desktop background can also be changed. It is also possible to change password and language (a surprisingly number of languages are available) from the system preferences dialog.

eyeOS comes with an integrated office suite, including a word-processor, a spreadsheet program and a presentation program. The OS also have an e-mail client, calendar and a contact manager.  Surprisingly eyeOS also comes with a web-browser, considering that you access the OS in a web-browser it is a bit strange. There are however advantages if you for example decide to lock your computers web-browser to the eyeOS site only in a business or public environment.

I have often missed to be able to access FTP on the go to be able to edit websites. Eye OS takes care of that with the built in FTP-client. It is pretty basic but does FTP uploading and downloading pretty good.  Both surfing and FTP is of course slower in eyeOS than on a regular desktop.

eyeOS is primarily intended to be hosted on a server; however there is a public demo server where anyone can setup an account for personal use.

Installing eyeOS on a server is pretty straight-forward for experienced users, the server needs PHP 5 and preferably Apache web-server.  This enables any business or organization to setup their own free cloud operating system.  The eyeOS team mentions schools and public libraries as example users of the system, but a medium sized business can almost certainly use the OS in certain settings.

All cloud operating systems seem to have issues with connecting with other popular cloud apps, eyeOS has the same problem. However chances are that as more apps become available from the community, hopefully we will see integration with Gmail, Amazon S3 and other popular cloud services. Until then users will be locked in, but compared to Glide users of eyeOS seem to have a brighter and more open future ahead.

Cloud Operating Systems: Glide

Google recently announced the release of Google Chrome OS, which will be an operating system in the cloud. Glide is a fully functioning cloud OS from a company named Transmedia, it is already on the market, and it is even free. We decided to try it; can it replace everything you do on your client desktop? Read on to find out.

glideoslogo

Cloud operating systems is more than hype, they make sense.  Netbooks which is a best-seller are not that powerful, so a desktop solution in the cloud would enable you to sync your Netbook with your desktop.  It would of course give you access to your desktop from anywhere, and it would always be backed up.

Glide OS is designed to be used in a web-browser, which is achieved by using Flash. I am not a great fan of flash as it back in the day often was used to make overdesigned websites with little content or function. But Glide uses Flash beautifully; it even runs in older web-browser such as Internet Explorer 6. All it requires is Flash version 9.0.124.

Glide OS is basically a desktop environment which you can access from anywhere. It can be used from any web-browser, but also have client software for Windows, MAC OS, Linux and Solaris. Even more interestingly there are mobile versions of the client for the Iphone but also for Android, Palm OS, Symbian and Windows Mobile phones. It means that you will have access to Glide from any device.
At first glance Glide it resembles Windows or any other operating system a lot, except that it is in your browser.  A Windows user would instantly feel right at home in Glide, and so would a Linux or MAC user.

The Glide OS Desktop has a number of different features by default, such as Email (yes you get your own e-mail @glidefree.com), Calendar, word processing and so on.  At the top of the screen there are three tabs, Desktop, Glide HD and Portal. Clicking Glide HD will bring the user a file view with music, videos, documents, pictures but also RSS-feeds and a Calendar. The portal part of Glide is basically a flash based directory of websites mixed with stock quotes and chat features.

For some remote reason folders in Glide OS are called containers. Clicking a container will list all files located in there, clicking the small “Go” text in the icon will give you the bubble navigation. This basically gives you other options directly, for example if you want to upload files to the container. This is actually a bit unique, but partly resembles right clicking in Windows.

Glide OS comes with a surprisingly wide array of features and products. Most of them are consumer oriented, such as a media player or online photo editing software. The media player makes it possible to access your music collection from anywhere.  Well not your entire collection since there is a 10 GB storage cap, but the favorite parts could easily be uploaded.

The Cube is another media sharing tool where users upload their videos, music or whatever and you can browse it in a Cube-type interface. It looks very neat but there isn’t a whole lot of stuff in there, and to be quite frank there are better online applications out there for media sharing.

A neat feature, which I have been missing in every Windows version, is a sticky note feature. It is easily accessible in Glide OS from the menu in the footer, complete with color coding, take that Windows 7.

Glide has a number of features built in for collaboration. For example it is possible to share documents, setup online meetings and much more. The only down-side with the collaboration features is that all users engaging in meetings will have to have a Glide account; if you have client meetings it might be a little bit much to ask them to get Glide. It would have been neater if it was possible to use an existing account, with for example Google or Open ID.

Glide can connect with your PC using a desktop client, it is a lot easier than just using the web-interface, especially when uploading files to Glide as you just have to drag and drop the files to your Glide.

The Business side of Glide looks depressing; there are simply not that many features in there. Sure some of the consumer oriented stuff such as word processing and e-mail goes for businesses as well.  But all the media and music features are pretty much useless for a business. However one business application is Glide Crunch, a spreadsheet program. It is a weird application since it is not supported in the web-version of Glide, but it can be use from the client side on a local machine.  Glide OS features documentation, it is both a manual and a quick intro to the desktop, both in PDF.

Glide is ahead compared to the giants like Google and Microsoft when it comes to cloud operating systems. I think Glide is not far from what it should look like, but something happened along the way that makes it very confusing. It is absolutely packed with features, yet I can’t seem to figure out what I should use it for. One answer would be everything, just like Windows. But the point with desktop operating systems is that I can add applications as I want, in Glide I either just create links to other external webpages or use Glides built in apps.

For example I know that there are better cloud word processing alternatives out there, such as Zoho Writer. Yet I cannot use it in Glide, so what is Glide really good for? I love the effort that the Glide team has put in; it is really ground-breaking. But in order for Glide to be great it has to have some kind of main focus, right now it is all over the place doing nothing exceptionally good.

For consumers there is probably more value in Glide than for businesses.  It still has a long way from replacing the desktop operating system, but it still serves as a model for what a cloud operating system could look like.

My Ubuntu Experience Part 5: Is Ubuntu more secure?

Security is getting more and more important. We have all heard the security problems Windows XP, Internet Explorer, Quick Time and many other programs have been experiencing. By many people Ubuntu and Linux is regarded as more secure than Windows, if it is the truth I don’t know.

One thing that need to be understood is that far more computers (and I mean far more) are running Windows than Linux, so malware and viruses are often by default designed to attack Windows-based computers rather than Linux-ones. The Windows user-base might also be less tech-savvy than the persons using Linux, a lot of family computers are running Windows.

So what security features does Ubuntu use? I would say that the real difference between Ubuntu and Windows XP is the user account management. In Ubuntu you do not have administrator rights by default as in XP, which means that viruses trying to take over your computer will not be able to without your account password.

Windows Vista has a similar feature, User Account Control. UAC was attacked by users and media for being annoying and in the way when installing software and configuring computers. Ubuntu also has an equialent of UAC, it prompts for you to enter a password every time you want to configure something, however it is not as frequent as UAC in Windows. UAC and similar features are probably the best security measure that any computer can have, it really makes life harder for hackers and malware. But requiring the user to enter a password each-time is a bit over the top I think, creating a password free UAC is something Ubuntu should borrow from Vista.

All current Linux distributions have a firewall on a kernel level, it is called iptables. Iptables is an old style Linux product which does not include a GUI and it is pretty hard to configure and always allows everything by default. There are utilities to help you though, Lokkit is probably the easiest and most straightforward one. There is also one called Firestarter, which is an easy alternative. If you are already behind a firewall there is no reason to worry too much about Ubuntu’s lack of a firewall, but if you are using a laptop on the road or have your computer connected directly to the Internet you will want one.

A common Linux legend is that you do not need any anti-virus program because Linux is engineered so it is hard for viruses to run in the first place. But if you have files being used on Windows computers you will still want anti-virus. Even though infected files will have a hard time infecting your computer, the system will carry the virus to the next Windows computer. Obviously if you are using a dual-boot setup it will be needed even more.

There is open-source virus software, ClamAV. It seems very capable, but I went with AVG Free Edition for Linux just because I use it in Windows Vista and it’s great. AVG for Linux doesn’t do much else than detect viruses and scan for them. It can’t heal files, which is a bit weird but at least you know you are infected.

As you already know Ubuntu is open-source. In the media it is often said that open source is more secure than closed source. Some argue that open source applications are more secure since a large community has been able to test the code and find exploits. Obviously it can also pose a security threat if the community does not find the exploits and bugs first, so there are really two sides of the coin and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Using Ubuntu feels more secure, from a security perspective it is better engineered than Windows so at least you can relax somewhat. One should however be clear that threats directed towards Linux-computers will increase as Linux become more and more popular.

My Ubuntu Experience Part 4: Using IPods and Printers in Linux

One of the main problems when upgrading to any new OS is to get the peripherals to work. Microsoft took a lot of heat when people could not get their printers, network cards and what not to work with Vista. In my world drivers are the main responsibility of the device manufacturer and not the provider of the operating system, with that in mind I will not bash Ubuntu completely for the lack of drivers in the Linux community.

To my desktop I have a Canon MP450 multi-functional printer, an external hard drive and my IPod. I also use USB-thumb drives and two digital cameras on a regular basis.

Using the Canon MP450 original software was out of the question since it requires Windows. To get the printer to actual print is impossible. Ubuntu recognized the Canon MP450 and displayed it as an available printer, but when you send print jobs to it nothing happens. I went to the Canon website trying to find some drivers for Linux, no luck. After some poking around the net I finally found a working driver called TurboPrint. TurboPrint is actually commercial software and costs 29.95 Euros; you can however try it for 30 days.

Since the MP450 is a multi-functional printer I thought it would be nice if the scanning worked. Ubuntu comes with a pretty neat program called Xsane Image Scanner. Xsane recognized the MP450 and I was able to scan, it even worked faster and was more efficient than the software that came with the printer. With the original Windows software you had to scan the images to an image-editing program, it slowed the process down dramatically. In Xsane it is possible to get previews of the scanned image and edit the scanned results.

The external hard drive and other USB-storage devices worked surprisingly well. When you connect a thumb drive an icon will appear on your desktop, it could not be easier.  When I briefly used Linux several years back I remember USB support being very limited, if it worked at all. It is great to see that the Linux-community has worked those problems out.

Getting my Ipod to work with Ubuntu is a different story. When connecting it a small Ipod-icon appear on the desktop, if the Ipod is formatted using FAT32 instead of HFS plus it is possible to manage MP3-files just as any other USB storage device. But the strength with the IPod is ITunes, and since Apple has not made a version for Linux you will not be able to use it. Tough luck, but there are a few Linux alternatives. One of them is gtkpod, which claims to be a GUI for iPods. The program keeps track of your songs, ratings but more importantly has the ability to import and read your ITunes DB from the IPod.

Obviously the whole IPod process is not as easy as in Windows or OS X. Of course Apple has no real interest in releasing a Linux version of ITunes, when looking at the market share Linux is not that far behind from OS X. For Apples perspective it probably makes sense not to give the Linux community ITunes, Linux might even catch-up.

A main-usage for many family computers is online-banking. Many banks have platform-independent solutions, such as dongles generating passkeys. They will work with Linux; some banks have other solutions such as card-readers or certain programs that needs to be installed. Chances are that many of them are not compatible with Linux, so before moving over to Ubuntu it might be good to check with your bank.

In the old days most devices had problems with Linux and were lacking drivers. It is clear that there have been improvements since then, most devices actually worked somewhat. However it is also evident that there are still more work to be done, the real question is however who is going to do the work. Most hardware manufacturers are not providing Linux-drivers for their devices, some will never do it. Why? Because Linux is still a small operating system compared to Windows.  Other device manufacturers, like Apple will probably not provide working software and drivers since Linux is a competitor to their own OS X. I think that drivers and getting devices to work is the main obstacle for Linux to reach popularity and a sizeable market-share.

My Ubuntu Experience Part 3: GNOME vs Windows

The interface in Ubuntu is actually not Ubuntu but GNOME. For those of you who don’t know the Linux world is divided into two major graphical user interfaces (GNOME and KDE) and one minor, XFCE. No matter if you choose SuSE, Mandrake or Ubuntu you will most likely use GNOME or KDE. Basically the kernel, software-updates and packaging is what is Ubuntu, not the desktop interface itself. However the Ubuntu team implements the desktop theme and decides on which packages (applications) and drivers that should be included by default.

So what are the main differences between Windows Vista and GNOME? Well first off there are three “start-menus” instead of one (Applications, Places and System). They are by default in the top-bar of the desktop, the open applications are in the bottom. Naturally you can move around the menus to make them suit your needs, windows-users might wanna move the three menus to the bottom location for better windows-resemblence.

Other than the default-layout there are few real differences between Windows and GNOME. However there is one neat feature in GNOME that Windows does not have, the ability to use different workspaces. When running out of room on the desktop in Windows the only option is to add another display. However in GNOME you just move to another workspace using the same screen, very neat. It is very odd that Microsoft have not implemented this feature in Vista, both GNOME, KDE and Apple OS X has workspaces.

I like the three menus instead of one giant menu, it is easier to navigate depending on what you want to do. For example if I just want to open my word-processor I don’t want to try distingushing it from a number of other applications.  The applications menu in Ubuntu is divided in Accessories, Games, Graphics, Internet, Office and Sound&Video. The Places menu is where you have shortcuts to Music, Pictures, different drives and the ability to search.  All configuration and maintenace is done using the System-menu, there are also some fairly large help sections about GNOME and Ubuntu.

Windows Aero was apparently more for show than for real use, the Ubuntu team actually developed some 3D effects of their own to counter. If you turn up the detail level (System->Preferences->Apperance->Visual Effects) you will be able to see windows moving around like the wind and little ripple effects when you click something. The effects are not turned on by default. If you change from one workspace to another you will get a nice little cube-effect, how cool is that? The Apperance section also gives you the ability to change themes, fonts and general icons.

Desktop search is all the rage these days, Google and Microsoft is gearing up to own the search-engine on your desktop. GNOME is however way behind. First of all the search-engine is located in (Places->Search), so basically I have to click my way down to find it. It could have been placed somewhere more prominent, how about where the name of the current computer user is.  After all most users will probably know their name after all? Second the search-engine is slow, and resembles the horrible search functionality seen in Windows XP. It is impossible to search for shortcuts in the applications menu, and you can’t just start a program by entering the first three letters of it as in Windows Vista.

There is a “Show desktop” -icon in GNOME, and it has a much better place than in Windows. If you click the lower left corner the system will hide all currently open windows and show the desktop. Also the recycle bin has a more prominent position in GNOME, in the lower right corner.  Overall the effects in Windows Vista has a much better look than in GNOME, especially together with Dreamscene. But GNOME seems more productive in its layout, I love the extra workspaces and placement of stuff often used.  When it comes to desktop search GNOME is way behind Windows Vista, I actually miss the simple and fast search-functionality in Vista a lot.

My Ubuntu Experience Part 2: Ready, Set, Go

Grabbing Ubuntu was easy; it’s just a matter of download it from the Ubuntu website. It is possible to order free CDs with Ubuntu, but it is much easier to just download an .iso-file from the website. Then just burn a CD from the iso-image using CD Burner XP.

If Ubuntu wants to reach out to the average users just wanting to do their spreadsheets downloading iso-images and burning them to CDs is not a viable distribution method. There are other ways of getting Ubuntu, such as ordering it from a vendor, order the free Ubuntu CDs or buy a new Dell computer. Seriously though, average users should be able to download Ubuntu and get it on a CD or USB-stick with ease.

Most current Windows users would probably want a dual-boot setup, enabling to choose between Windows and Ubuntu. This is actually quite easy to achieve without much work. The key is however to install Windows first and Ubuntu last, since Windows will over-write the boot sector.

Dual-boot installation of Ubuntu, step-by-step

1) Make sure your Ubuntu CD is in the drive and start your computer. Enter the BIOS; select the CD-drive as the primary boot partition.

2) If you restart the computer Ubuntu will eventually show a menu. You can either select to install Ubuntu directly or try it out first without installing. I decided to try first.

3) After a while Ubuntu eventually booted (I takes time since it boots from the CD). The view you know see is actually Ubuntu running of the CD. It is perfectly possible to just browse around in the system and see if you like it. Check the examples folder for testimonials, there is even a video of Nelson Mandela explaining the concept of Ubuntu. If you like to make Ubuntu a permanent OS on your computer click the Install icon on the desktop.

4) Follow the steps in the Ubuntu installation (the usual stuff like time-zone, keyboard layout and so on).

The most important part is the partitioning of the drive; choose how much space you want Ubuntu to use by pulling the slider. A minimum of 4 GB is needed for space and the Ubuntu swap-file. Remember that you can store files on both partitions, so your reference should be how much software you eventually will use. I dedicated 180 GB to Ubuntu and the rest of my 500 GB drive to Windows Vista.

The Ubuntu installation will now partition your drive; this is a vital process which for me took about 20 minutes. Never pull the plug on the computer during this process, it can damage your drive.

The next time you re-boot you will be greeted by Ubuntu. Or not quite, you will actually be greeted by Grub (Grand Unified Bootloader) which is a boot loader allowing you to choose if you want to boot Windows or Ubuntu. Grub is the most common boot loader for Linux, and to be quite frank it is not a pretty sight. Visually it looks like leftovers from the old Unix-era. A little annoyance is that Grub is set to load Ubuntu by default (if the user does not take any action), I wanted it to boot Windows Vista (or Longhorn which Grub names it) by default.

Using a normal simple Windows PC (or Apple for that matter) I could have just clicked an icon or pressed a key or fiddle around in a menu and make it happen. But changing default settings in Grub is a little bit more complicated than that. After searching the handy Ubuntu user community I found the solution, which includes changing values in configuration files..

A very typical Linux experience, but I got what I wanted. I am no expert on boot times but Ubuntu does seem faster to boot than Windows 7.

When trying my new operating system the refresh rates was terrible compared to what I was used to in Windows 7. After a while I found a box where it was possible to change the rate, the terrible low refresh rate (50 Hz) was however the only option. Of I went trying to help my already strained eyes.

It turned out that System -> Preferences ->Screen Resolution is not the correct location for changing the refresh rate. Instead it’s done in the Nvidia-settings menu; the problem was of course that Ubuntu didn’t recognize my computer’s Geforce 8600 GT during installation. However it was quite easy to install the Nvidia drivers using the integrated Ubuntu Add/Remove programs functionality. When changing the settings in the Nvidia-menus the original Screen Resolution menu still displayed 50 Hz, but you could tell that the refresh rate was much higher.

I feel that Ubuntu still has a long way to go when it comes to configuration and changing settings. You often have to use the terminal window, which for Windows users would be a flashback to the Windows 3.1-days. While a lot has been improved in Ubuntu compared to older versions of SuSE there is still some work that remains to be done before the average user can install and configure his or her own Ubuntu installation.

My Ubuntu Experience Part 1: Why Ubuntu?

After using Windows for sixteen years I thought it was time to try something new. For the next couple of months I will describe my transition from Windows Vista to Ubuntu in this blog. Not that I feel that there is anything wrong with Vista, but maybe the grass is greener on the other side.

I know that Linux and preferably Ubuntu a number of dedicated followers, so it certainly seems to be something in there that people want and like. Ubuntu and Linux is also the only wide-spread free alternative to Windows and Apple OS X. So if you want to know about the highs and lows for a Windows user moving to Ubuntu be sure to follow this blog. Naturally I will put up some postings with the usual software picks between sharing my Ubuntu experiences with you.

What exactly is Ubuntu then? In theory Ubuntu is not more than a derivative of Debian, it is meant to be easy to install and user-friendly .The Ubuntu project is funded by Canonical, which is a company owned by Mark Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth is a South African billionaire, most known for being the first African citizen in space. According to the Ubuntu wiki Shuttleworth is not in Ubuntu for the money, rather he wants to create a free and sustainable desktop OS.

Sounds good and noble, doesn’t it? But the fact of the matter is that in order for Ubuntu to be sustainable some cash needs to be brought in; according to the Ubuntu wiki the project gets income from customization of Ubuntu distributions. The Ubuntu website also sell t-shirts and mugs, take that Microsoft!

In 2004 Canonical released the first version of Ubuntu (version 4.10) Warty Warthog. The Warthog reference is made to describe that the version was still rough around the edges and probably needed more updating. Ubuntu took a comfortable market share from then very popular Linux distributions, such as RedHat, SuSE and Mandrake.

New versions of Ubuntu are released every six-months, each version is supported with patches for 18 months. Every two years the Ubuntu community is blessed with a new LTS-release.  When was the last time Microsoft or Apple used version numbers and abbreviations in the names of their operating systems? In the open-source world it is natural with version numbers and strange names, no one questions it. How about introducing names like Ubuntu Home Edition or Ubuntu Small Business? It sure sounds more inviting for an average user than Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition.

Anyway, be sure to check out syntax30.com to follow my Ubuntu experiences.

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