A newbie’s experience (secondhand) switching to Ubuntu


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I have been using Ubuntu Linux exclusively for nearly a year now, with one abortive attempt to return to Windows. For me, the transition has been smooth. But to date, I have not exposed anyone new to Ubuntu.

But recently, I hired a law clerk to help me with a few projects, so I bought a new desktop computer for her. I went with a Dell computer with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed, and when my law clerk showed up on day one, I just showed her how to log in, where to find my client folders on the network, and not much else.

After a week using Ubuntu, she has not come to me with any problems or asked me how to do anything. I am sure it helps that most of my practice management software is online, but she had no issues getting up to speed with OpenOffice.org, the Evince PDF viewer, or anything else.

She says it feels like a mix of Windows and OSX, which is pretty much what I think about the default Ubuntu interface.

So for those who might want to try Ubuntu, give it a shot. It is easy to get oriented, and it just works. Plus, you can download a LiveCD and try Ubuntu without installing it or affecting your hard drive.


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  • Greg

    I wish I could say the same. I like it a lot and use it on an older laptop that now has a bit more life. But it’s failed on a number of fronts, mostly Flash-related add-ons or plug-ins that won’t work, leaving me having to go back to Windows to get content off the web. Now, I haven’t given up, but my thought that this was finallly a seamless Linux application has not been borne out. But, I’ll still plug ahead.

  • Sam Glover

    Adobe has been slow and ineffective at porting Flash to Linux. The Flash plugin also seems to have some sound issues due to conflict with PulseAudio, which has not been implemented all that well as of 8.04.

    But I am surprised you have found Firefox plugins that don’t work. I am using a bunch with no problems. I wonder what the deal is.

  • Greg

    It’s actually mostly Flash. Because a ton of sites use it these days, it makes surfing a bit frustrating. I tried the gnash download but that didn’t work either. I’ll keep you updated, as it’s not a frequently used computer for me. I really do like the interface and ease of use, as well as many of the OpenSource applications that came with the install.

  • Sam Glover

    Try installing libflashsupport using Synaptic Package Manager (or “sudo apt-get install libflashsupport” in a terminal). That fixes the problem for a lot of people.

    I have an ATI card in my ThinkPad, though, and it just made the problem worse, so I had to remove the package.

  • Sam Glover

    You might also try installing the Flashblock plugin for Firefox, which you can easily install from the normal Add/Remove Programs. It is kind of an extreme solution; it blocks all Flash content and replaces it with a button so you can download it. Works great for videos, not so great for websites.

  • WPS

    Also, Flash 10 is coming installed in 8.10 due end of October. I’m using it now and I’ve had very few problems running flash applications. Many websites which didn’t work with Flash 8 now work well with Flash 10.

    Also, check out “seamless mode” in Virtualbox if you have applications that *must* run under windows; I run a Windows XP VM inside my Ubuntu 64 installation and it runs very fast. I love being able to reboot windows without rebooting my computer :)

  • Thanks for the recommendation. I was recently looking at laptops and considered one that was linux based but I was warned off by the store clerk. Should learn to listen to my own instincts better!

  • Sam Glover

    FYI, Flash 10 is now out, and you can download an Ubuntu .deb file from Adobe’s Flash site. (.deb files are similar to .exe files for Windows. Double-click to install.)