The first question I hear Linux newbies ask is what is the best distribution to use? I think right now plenty of linux desktop options exist for newbies however a few things set Ubuntu ahead of the pack in my opinion.
Although exact figures are nearly impossible to gather, Ubuntu has been estimated to have over 10 million users and is by far the most popular Linux distribution. This makes getting help easier because places like the UbuntuForums and IRC-client are full of people that can answer any question a newbie throws at them. In addition to free support an increasing number of Ubuntu book, training CD, and training course options can be seen everywhere.
Ubuntu has a great team of people on board that have sacrificed a lot to get it to where it is now. Ubuntu has been built in an organized manner with a planned release every six months. Scheduled releases bring routine enhancements and new features to the operating system. In most cases I’ve found Ubuntu versions can be upgraded from within without any re-installation.
What other distribution do you know that has been developed in multiple flavors the way Ubuntu has? Having Kubuntu, as good as it is, around is excellent as many people use Kubuntu that would never use Ubuntu. Having Xubuntu and Ubuntu Studio release at the same time and all carry their own distinct assets just increases the user base of Ubuntu that much more.
I’ve listed only a few of the advantages to using Ubuntu. What are your personal reasons for using Ubuntu over the next guy?
For many, the web browser is one of the most important applications they use. This is simply because of the high amount of time most people spend entertaining themselves or working from the web browser. Some web browsers are very fast, some have add-ons, and some file browsing features. Doesn’t it make sense to use a web browser that meets your needs and works well with your hardware specifications? Linux distributions are compatible with plenty of good web browsers so don’t just settle for the default. The article of the day today at Lxer.com was written by Steve Emms and titled 10 of the Best Free Linux Web Browsers. It has some great information about individual web browsers and what they’re good for. Make sure to click on the browser links within the article to get the low-down. What’s your favorite web browser and why? Please comment explaining why you voted the way you did.
Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala now includes an installer slideshow. I’ve always liked the idea of rotating slides of information about the OS while it’s installing to give the users something to do. No matter what you put on the slides this is going to be more entertaining for users than staring at the progress bar. While installing Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 5 you may have noticed a similar feature has been added to Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. After entering information into the installer and clicking the Install button, users will see a slideshow of highlights, tips, and featured applications one after another. The one thing that sets that Ubuntu installer slideshow apart from others I’ve seen is it only plays through once. I found this to be a nice touch and I also anticipate many more slides by the final release.
Here’s a look at some of the slides I captured while installing Ubuntu 9.10.
What do you think? Is The Ubuntu installer slideshow useful for new users so they know what to expect or just a waste of time and space?
The Ubuntu-based netbook distro Easy Peasy was formely known as Ubuntu Eee. Easy Peasy uses the Ubuntu Netbook Remix graphical user interface and provides a mix of popular open-source and proprietary software. If you’re trying to stay away from proprietary software completely (not a bad idea) this ones not for you. I found it interesting that so many have commented on Easy Peasy working out of the box. Along with my questions about compatibility I was curious about the features, new appearance and day-to-day usefulness of Easy Peasy 1.5. Could the Ubuntu-based Easy Peasy be anything more than a toy?
Easy Peasy is easy to install onto a USB pen drive and now with Easy Peasy 1.5 you can install it to USB even easier. Easy Peasy 1.5 comes with a hybrid image offering .img and .iso at the same time making the process of moving your image to the USB stick with UNetBootin pretty easy. Of course you can also install Easy Peasy to the hard drive which is what I did hoping it would be my permanent OS.
After installing Easy Peasy i was pleasantly surprised by the login screen. It included shades of green and dark grey, a good mixture. I found it appealing, clear and easy to follow.
The desktop was equally stunning but I was less surprised as I had seen this running the live version. The desktop consists of a top bar, two outside columns that server as menus and a wider center column that displays results based on what is selected. The desktop is more of a graphical interface with a unique style that few other distros can be compared to as you can see in the screenshot below.
The menu includes common categories as seen on Ubuntu but includes a few applications you won’t find on Ubuntu. Applications that I found useful were Skype, Banshee, OpenOffice 3.1, Picasa, Evolution, Firefox, and Pidgin.
After adjusting my microphone settings I tested Skype and it worked first try. The interface is a little different if you’re a Windows user switching over but all the options appear to be there and it took me very little time to find everything.
I also tested Flash content at Youtube, MP3s with Banshee, and photos with Picasa, all of which came turned out excellent. I didn’t see applications that I use on Ubuntu like GIMP and a few others however these can be added immediately by going to Administration — Synaptic Package Manager.
I had a very good experience using Easy Peasy and I plan on making it into something I use everyday. I hope you enjoy the screenshots and be sure to look at our Linux PDFs and manuals.
- Bug fixes
- Software update
- UXA by default
- New green visual appearance
- Linux kernel (2.6.30) optimized for netbooks with faster startup
- More supported netbooks
- Hybrid image file .iso/.img
- Smaller harddrive footprint
- ext4 filesystem as default
As a web designer, if you’re using Windows to create your projects you’re either spending a good chunk of change on software, pirating the software, or creating inferior websites with a free tool. Open-source software has come far enough to work effeciently, effectively and freely for your web design needs. Is there a learning curve? I guess that depends on how brainwashed you are.
Can you be comfortable working from a Linux environment?
Will I be able to replace/use my design software and tools?
To answer the first question. Yes. I am actually much more comfortable with the Linux desktop environment options. I feel like between the 20 most popular distros, anyone can find one to suit their needs. If you’re just getting started you’re probably well off with the plain-Jane version of Ubuntu. Currently, you will be able to find a lot more help if you stumble onto an obstacle, if you’re using Ubuntu. For those that are more adventurous I recommend trying these alternatives that cater a little more to people in the multimedia industry.
ArtistX – This is an Ubuntu-based live DVD that contains free multimedia software packages used for audio, 2D and 3D graphics, and video production.
Musix – Also a live DVD, the Musix distribution is based on Knoppix Linux. Musix contains music production, graphic design, audio and video editing free software applications.
To answer the second question. Yes. Applications like GIMP and Inkscape often come pre-installed on Linux distros with thousands more only a few clicks away.
When I made the switch to Linux I used GIMP and it completely replaced Photoshop for what I used it for. I didn’t find as perfect of a replacement for Dreamweaver but instead I found Wine, an unbelievable tool to run Windows apps like Dreamweaver on Linux! Also useful is Cross-over office which does something similar. For advanced designers that want to skip the WSYWIG, check out Eclipse with an html plugin and deploy with sftp, rsync or better yet subversion.
Here’s a more complete list of Linux applications you can use to replace Windows. Linux apps BOLD
Internet Explorer – Firefox, Opera, Epiphany, Konqueror, Lynx
Nero Burning – K3b, XCDRoast, Serpentine, Gnomebaker
Outlook Email – Kontact, Thunderbird, Evolution, Claws Mail
ICQ, MSN or AIM Messengers – Pidgin, Kopete, aMSN, KICQ, Gabber
FTP – FileZilla, Konqueror
3D Studio Max – Blender, Maya, Softimage, K-3D
Windows Media Player – MPlayer, Xine, Totem, VLC
iTunes – Amarok, XMMS, Audcaious Rhythmbox
GoldWave – Audacity, GNU Sound
Quark, Microsoft Publisher – Scribus, OpenOffice Draw
Dreamweaver, Microsoft Fontpage – OOWeb, NVU, KompoZer
Photoshop – GIMP, GIMPshop
Illustrator – Inkscape
Microsoft Office – OpenOffice, KOffice
This is only a small amount of the Linux applications available for you to use all for free. Switching from Windows to Linux definitely comes with ups and downs but web designers that take the time to learn free software now will undoubtedly be ahead of the curve as open-source software matures. Please post comments about your experience using these or other Windows replacement applications for the Linux desktop.