As you may recall, outgoing PC Magazine editor Jim Louderback had almost nothing good to say about Vista in his most recent column. Just about everyone I know that has used Vista is going to stick with it and Information Week poses the reasons why that not so strangely, I agree with.
The main reason is Aero Glass, Aero Glass is pretty, windows fade in and out and there’s a glossy transparent look to it, who cares if you need a NASA supercomputer to run it? Gamers already have enough adequate hardware capabilities for it and we’re usually suckers for pretty shiny things that gives us improvements of any kind. Or you could accept Alexander Wolfe’s explanation of “With Aero, Vista has a professional user interface, and it just makes working on your PC a more pleasant experience.” Sure but it’s pretty, that’s reason enough for me.
It seems Vista also has some pretty good admin tools for recovering from unstable system configurations, problem tracking, hardware monitors and so on. As Wolfe points out most of these are transparent to the user unless Vista has a problem to fix or has a solution for a pre-existing problem, an example would include a driver update to fix a known conflict.
Despite those complaining about application compatibility in Vista the fact is that most programs designed for XP will run under Vista, simply click past the “Compatibility Warning” dialog or if it does have a problem, uninstall the program and install it using “XP SP2 Compatibility” mode, sometimes that works after it is installed as well. Adobe PhotoShop CS is not explicitly Vista compatible but runs just fine and I’m talking about regular old “CS” not “CS2″ or “CS3.” There are other examples of this as well, just pop in that CD for your XP application and install it in Vista, 99% of the time, it will work. Though this only applies to the release version of Vista, not the beta or RC versions which were a bit more touchy.
Vista is easy to install, no, really it is, from installation screen to booting the operating system takes about 30 minutes (usually slightly less). Best of all, you’ll find most of your hardware working, save for some printers and scanners or wireless networking devices that would require specialized drivers.
It’s stable, Vista has yet to crash on me and if it has crashed it was due to faulty hardware which is not a problem with the operating system itself, replacing the faulty hardware fixed the problem, every time.
He goes on to talk about a few things that could be fixed in Vista but by and large it is one of the best operating systems to date, more stable than XP if just a tad slower on some older systems.
Now, allow me to tell my story of attempting to use Ubuntu again, this time around I was actually able to install it because my new laptop has a nvidia graphics card and all my hardware worked right out of the install except for the special processor features which is a big deal to me because processor throttling will save battery power and produce less noise because the fan won’t be working overtime, Ubuntu insists that my Turion 64×2 processor does not support that feature and yet it’s perfectly supported under Vista. I have neither the time nor inclination to figure out just what they’re talking about on how to configure this in the command line, even then it’s not guaranteed to work.
Display resolution, I was under the impression that all features of my nvidia card would be supported right out of the Ubuntu install, they weren’t. Namely I could not set the native display resolution to 1440 x 900, after about 15 minutes of digging around I found that I had to install the nvidia-glx driver, if it is even a driver, I’m not sure but frankly, this should be included the the Ubuntu package because Vista requires no such special modifications and it is a “special modification.” Though the Synaptic package manager handled things like a charm, in this case.
Update installation was a breeze, what was not a breeze was getting the “advanced” GUI effects working, sure the developers would have you believe that clicking the “Enable Desktop Effects” button would work, it doesn’t and it’s expirmental but it’s barely Alpha in my opinion since not all graphics cards are supported. Then there is Beryl which Synaptic installed but I still can’t activate it, there’s some mish mosh command line workaround, no thanks.
Installing themes, oh this has to be the worst thought out feature of the whole thing. This requires almost exclusive use of the command line or at least most of the tutorials go through the command line. Either way the one theme I wanted, “Ubuntu Studio” (no I didn’t want the actual Ubuntu Studio because of its half baked text based installer) had to be installed using the command line, and surprise, it is either unavailable or doesn’t work, I really can’t tell because it spits out some odd errors. I could look them up but seeing as how I’m not going to search for a solution which would no doubt use the command line, I’ll pass.
The point is, doing almost anything cool or enabling any of the cool effects in Ubuntu require use of the command line (the terminal in Linux land) and frankly I feel that if there is a perfectly good GUI front end to something, use that instead because no home user is going to drop to a command line to do something cool and even advanced users hate using command lines (yes, me). I don’t claim to be an advanced Linux user but I am in the Windows world which I can completely avoid use of the command line in, Linux should be like that. Command line use should be ended completely in consumer distros of Linux, plain and simple, everything should have a GUI front-end.
Doing simple things, require dropping to the command line, some packages not on Synaptic required some weird extract, install, place in this directory command, which I usually ended up typing in wrong the first or second time and typing in a long cryptic command, twice, is, frankly annoying.
Let’s go back to Vista, pop in DVD, grab a soda, maybe order a pizza, oh look, Vista is installed and almost everything works and look, I can download drivers and double click them to install, what a revelation, why are such things lost on the Linux world?
I’m not saying to avoid Ubuntu completely but if you’re really expecting that seamless experience, forget about it and I still don’t even have Flash player installed so that should say something right there. I shouldn’t have to drop to the command line to install Flash player. Now, it’s just kind of sitting on a partition and will remain relatively unused, that’s space I could have used for movies, music or something more useful.