Garycycle's Weblog

29 September, 2013

Ubuntu 13 vs Fedora 19 (vs Windows 8): Sept 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — garycycle @ 23:39

Recently i decided to try out Ubuntu and Fedora on my windows 8 laptop.

I chose these 2 distributions of linux-based OSs, because they have signed their kernels with microsoft. This means that they can run on windows 8 systems with ‘secure boot’ enabled. Thats the mode that prevents any unsigned software from booting on that computer. Setting up triple boot on my computer was a steep learning curve, but eventually possible. There is no single easy to follow guide for making everything work. The process isnt straightforward. There is more than one way to do it, but the only way to find out which of those ways actually works, is to try it out.

Once installed, Fedora was ready to go but the Ubuntu bootloader had to be repaired so that it could boot when secure boot is enabled. Then it was also ready to go. Both Fedora and Ubuntu showed the other systems in their boot menu, but the links didnt work. It took some time to fix that. They both use the same bootloader, Grub2, so it was a coin toss to decide which one to fix and use.

Basically, it comes down to the amount of time it takes to expand the capability of the system, before its able to do what you want. That is, installing software, new features, changing the desktop environment to suit your old habits or learning the way of that system. In Windows 8, that time is very short, with exceptions. In Ubuntu, its longer, and almost to be expected. In Fedora, it becomes the experience of the OS for the first part of using it.

Out of the box, Fedora and Ubuntu worked reliably and had some basic things installed. Just like windows 8. You can start doing things straight away, but expect to learn some new software names and how to get around your system. Dont forget that the new Windows 8 startup interface also requires a bit of getting used to – about 1 or 2 hours worth. Then you will realise that underneath the new screen, little has changed. 

The fun states when you want to start adding new software and playing around with settings.

In Windows 8 it is reasonable to expect everything will work, and this is true up to a point. That point is when you want to start using it to do things like develop apps, modify phone systems and install the software needed for that. At this point you will start needing the terminal window, that throwback to the 80s where you control the computer using text commands. But you will get it working soon enough. However, there are still problems with Windows 8 that are difficult if not impossible to fix. Time will be spent fixing or finding a way around it.

Ubuntu is trying to catch up to windows. Its quite reliable, and there are many things you can do using a graphical interface (in a window not the text terminal). But, you will need to use the terminal window, starting with the most straightforward changes. You will learn a few commands. Most things will work quite easily and you can continue getting things done. However, there will be problems that cause things to not work and it can be difficult to find out how to fix it. Given enough time, most problems can be solved. You will read a lot of tech formums. You will learn a lot. I tried installing an alternative interface but it left me fixing bugs, so i returned to the default and learned how to use its features, such as switching and opening new windows.

Fedora, while quite stable upon installation, doesnt handle changes as well as Ubuntu. There are a few bugs with the default interface but it wont stop you getting things done, and sometimes they can be fixed. Making changes to the settings may open a can of worms, or it may not. Try it and see. Installing new software and features will require you to use the text terminal. There is a graphical software interface which is easy to use – when it works. On the other hand, i find the Fedora Gnome interface the best. At first I thought it was a featureless void, but i learned how to use it and i can say that its really easy to quickly open and switch windows – more so than windows or the Ubuntu default.

Theres one important thing to say about customizing your system.

I strongly recommend reading/watching the tutorials and giving the new interface a good try before trying to make it the same as what you are used to. Its annoying to not be able to do what you want straight away, but it really doesnt take long to learn the handful of new tricks the new system suggests. It is likely that you will learn a quicker way to do what you want and eventually save a lot of time by giving up old habits. New technology is increasing the ways humans can control the actions of devices, and many of the old ways are unnatural compromises that we allowed ourselves to believe were user-friendly simply because there was no other choice.

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