Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ubuntu Flaming

Can’t we all just get along? Who would have ever thought that those infamous words uttered by Rodney King on May 1st of 1992 would be used to parody a situation that has risen between Linux gurus and noobs? Between the hordes of positive Ubuntu feedback I see on a daily basis throughout the open source community, there is guaranteed to be flames from those that feel the Canonical offering to be less than deserving of the accolades.

These flamers are more than likely the same types that take pride in forum responses to queries with answers that even the message board moderator can not understand. These haters feel that somehow are above those that may be newcomers with interest in alternatives to the evil operating system they abandoned so many years ago. Somewhere along the line, these haters must have forgotten that they were these same noobs at one time looking for guidance in much the same manner.

I want to be clear that I’ve been involved with Linux for a handful of years and might consider myself to be somewhat of an intermediate level user. I’ve sampled well over a hundred different distros and force my family to use such distros as Ubuntu on a regular basis. I mostly became intrigued by Linux in the fleeing days of Red Hat Linux 9. I can remember jumping at an original Fedora Core project install as if it were a new toy I unwrapped under the tree at Christmas time. Since that time, I have experimented with and run servers using various distros along with searching for a viable end user friendly desktop alternative to Microsoft Windows for my household.

Those in the open source community that play a support role to anyone other than them can see the value and need of an end user friendly desktop alternative to Microsoft. Much like your calling circle with your cell phone provider, my computer network circle includes family and friends. I don’t know about you but I’m looking to convert as many people as possible to operating system alternatives and what better place to start with than people close to me. It just so happens that many of them are and or was a Windows user that I was constantly supporting for one issue or another over the years. For the non-technical user, ease of use is critical for conversion. A pretty interface only adds to the overall appeal. If all their hardware works and they have the essential software, most people do not care too much about what operating system they use.

Ubuntu bridges the divide or disconnect that many distros have with these types of end users while still maintaining the advanced user level Debian core for those that like to dig underneath. Regardless of the front end, Linux is still platform independent at the core. I mean there are differences in location of some files and package management between distros but the core usability is still the same. What I can’t understand is why a distro is worthy of hate speech just because it tries to appeal to the masses or recruit more converts to their alternative. It is almost as if a distro has changed in a way where by it doesn’t take you at least 3 days to install from the command line that the version is unworthy to be called Linux. That it is a mere imitation of Windows that is only trying to exploit users disgusted with Microsoft in some manner or another.

Many of those guilty of hate speech do fall into the Gentoo user category with the 3 day command line install and nothing else mind set or your not worthy attitude. I had more than my fair share of bad experiences trying to install Gentoo prior to version 2006.1. Ironically enough, the live installer that was able to make me a Gentoo user is the same installer that the same flamers trashed Gentoo developers for producing. Gentoo was trying to reach a broader audience for a number of reasons to benefit the overall project to only be bashed by their loyalists for doing so. The extremism in that camp doesn’t lend to the credibility of a product that takes days to install to eek out a small margin of almost unnoticeable increased speed through hardware optimization. Now go ahead and try to add something new or upgrade an existing package. I’ll see you in another few days.

I don’t want this to sound like Gentoo hate speech on my part and it seems to be turning that way. I respect the project and was a user for a short time until it cut into convenience. The beauty of Linux is that there is a wealth of diversity in variations out there to reach any user needs at this point. Because Ubuntu is the big dog on the block, there is no need to nip at their heels. There is more than enough food to go around without having to attack another. The community grows by the day and reaches new found respect at every turn. These accolades are in part because of the short successes of Ubuntu. Ubuntu has managed to raise awareness to alternatives. This awareness spawns more creativity and more interaction within all distros. In turn the whole community grows in power. More of these noobs than not eventually become more versed to the inner workings or less apprehensive about it. I guess it ultimately depends on your vision of the movement. I see it as more of a growing shared open community rather than an isolated closed gathering of conceded individuals. Funny thing is that I’m the “conservative” and I’m more open to the ideals than those isolationists that attack those that are trying to join the community.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Devil We Know

I recently got the chance to read a very interesting post on entitled Goodbye Ubuntu. The gist of the post was that gentlemen returned to Windows XP after a 15 month stint with Ubuntu. Despite his claims that his intent was not to start a flame war with open source advocates, his tempered post did just that. Coupled with the quick attack style responses to equally angered comments of his post, I tend to think that his intentions were aimed directly at angering Ubuntu loyalists and those in the open source community in general. As I started to gather my thoughts to post my own comments, I realized that my words began running longer than a typical comment and decided to share my opinions in my own forum.

The dirty little thing about this is that the owner of the post is entitled to his opinion. While freedom of speech is enjoyed in my country, the spoils of this freedom is not always enjoyed by the person that made the speech. My point is that you can say what you want, to a certain degree, but you must reap the consequences of your words because they are sure not going to be enjoyed by all. In this case, posting open source hate speech in an open source forum is sure to garner heated reaction. This brings me back to my original thought that his intention was to pick a fight despite his product of choice controlling the largest percentage of the market share worldwide. Rather than focusing on his intentions, I really wanted to examine his arguments as to why Ubuntu and or open source was inferior.

Let's face it, Ubuntu has been around for only a few short years. I'm not making excuses but I just want to put that into perspective when comparing to a company like Microsoft that has been around more than twenty years. I'd like to also point out that hardware driver support for the Windows product lines is the standard while very, very few manufacturers provide any support for Linux. It's also no secret that the greatest amount of commercial software is written for use with the Windows operating system as well. Despite these handicaps, Ubuntu is notorious for working out of the box with most hardware schemes and provides an abundance of free open source software that provide ample alternatives to commercial based Windows software programs. The fact of the matter is that a greater number of users will be searching for Windows driver discs for their hardware while the device support already exists on Linux in general. That in itself requires far less interaction with the operating system and limits the risk of media misplacement of all that is important related to your personal computer. Do you know where your Windows restore discs are? Not that I'm keeping count but I'd think that to be a strike in the favor of Ubuntu that your hardware is going to be recognized above the searching around to find all of your driver discs.

This brings me to the point of the average computer user. Can't we all agree that I think Mr. Roos is overstating the average computer user in general . I'm not trying to be rude but most users don't know how to change their wallpaper let alone change their screen resolution. If the icon didn't exist on their desktop, they would think that the program doesn't exist on their computer. Most users are so use to seeing Internet Explorer open to the msn page that if it opened to anything else they might think the internet is down. My workplace is a Netscape browser house and the greatest number of users don't realize that they can access the internet with Netscape because it's not Internet Explorer. That brings me to the point that users in a workplace tend to be even less intelligent about an operating system because we have the wonderful support of our IT team to fix all of our woes. I find it more about being simply the devil you know. As much of you that might not admit it, Microsoft Windows is not a choice. Microsoft Windows is what consumers are forced to buy and or use. I honestly think that given the true choice, alternatives to the Windows product line would only strengthen. And when I say choice, I don't mean the lackluster Linspire push in Walmart chains or only one box set of Suse Linux on the bottom shelf at Best Buy retailers across America.

What I found interesting is that the blogger even threw in a few political shots as well while trashing open source. Let me just say that I am a Republican and I love Ben and Jerry's ice cream. You see, if I kept tabs on stupid to me things like the Ben and Jerry ice cream political views, I wouldn't eat their ice cream. I love their ice cream too much to be riddled with their views on trees and the ozone. If you love trees and the ozone, good for you but how has operating systems become tied to political views. If we are really going to be counting, there are many more liberals in congress lobbying for Microsoft than allowing free alternatives like open document format that could contribute just a little piece to lower the deficit. Come on, we all know the Microsoft Office is not cheap and when was the last time that our Congressman needed to do anything more in Excel besides add to cells together or type simple letters in Word? If we really start politicizing everything, sooner or later I won't be able to eat or buy anything. And me as a Republican am thinking how can I stretch my dollar farther especially since my tax dollars are going to fuel Microsoft special interests that no other choice would be better for me than free open source software. I'm still not officially counting but the count is still in the favor of Ubuntu.

The insecurities in Windows are real. Even will all the anti-virus, firewall, and anti-spyware programs in the world you have exploitable holes in the core code. Coupled with the increasing amount of zero day attacks, anti-virus isn't going to help either. I found it amusing that the gentlemen bashes FOSS and then professes how he has free programs on his computer protecting him from virus and spyware attacks. Once again, I'm going to jump back to the devil you know. The average user does not know free alternatives exist for anti-virus, firewall, or anti-spyware. Your average user is probably paying forty dollars a piece for this software and still getting infected with something that is going to require a hundred and fifty dollar Geek Squad house call within a few months. Last time I checked, there was one somewhat confirmed virus in the wild that affected Linux. If I remember correctly, the virus basically laid dormant on the one and only affected system ever discovered because it couldn't do anything anyway. I'm still not keeping count.

Prior to becoming a quasi computer ninja, I had virus and spyware ridden machines. I sold a laptop one time thinking it was junk. Looking back with my eyes now, I know that a fresh install would've saved the day. I'm not an average computer user. I don't look at a computer with the same eyes that the average and or casual user does. The reality is that most users will get a virus, not know how to install a program, and or never install Windows updates on their computer. I can't tell you how many people I've come across that had expired anti-virus for several months and opened Microsoft Word that second before the computer crashed. These users tell me that they don't know why the computer crashed when they were only trying to open Word. It's funny how they never noticed for several months the system tray warnings from Microsoft that the anti-virus has expired. I think it's great that Brent has never had a virus and has had complete smooth sailing with Windows but that is not the reality of most users.

Rather than drag this out doing a blow by blow comparative against Brent Roos' blog, I'd like to stress on the word alternative. I say this because Ubuntu has professed that they are not even trying to take on Red Hat let alone Windows. The Windows desktop will remain secure for some time to come regardless of the efforts of many quality Linux and BSD distributions. If your average user doesn't even know about free anti-virus solutions, the chances of them knowing anything about a free operating system is even more slim especially one that can run off a CD that doesn't even have to touch your hard drive. Most users would rather pay two hundred plus dollars to have a pretty Word icon on their desktop rather than even know that OpenOffice can read and save Word format for free. Regardless of whether Windows is more unstable, virus ridden, and expensive than Ubuntu, the masses will still line up like sheep to upgrade to Vista on their dinosaur machine and call me asking why it won't work or spend thousands of dollars to get the most cutting edge hardware to do casual internet surfing. The problem will always be in educating the end user. I don't doubt that Brent is an intelligent man. I only wish that more users were informed enough to make their own choices. Given the choice, I'm sure Ubuntu would be a much stronger force in the market.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Choice Distros revisited

It's been some time since my first choice distro review. Considering that several distros have had new releases since that review, I thought it appropriate to revise my list. As in the prior review, my main concern was with the overall ease of use. It is my hope to try to garner more Linux adoption with the average home user. My review is of Linux versions I feel that the average Windows user could implement in the home with little or no affect on productivity.

Cream on the top


Ubuntu continues to show why they top the Distrowatch hit list with their latest release code-named "Dapper Drake". Ubuntu formally named the release LTS (Long Term Support) due their intent to support software packages on desktop version for 3 years and the server version for 5 years. The developers have gone even farther in steps to make their product even more usable to the end user. The current version integrates a simple add/remove programs plugin to the Synaptic package manager that rivals Linspire's commercial Click 'n Run (CNR) product. Adding packages is over simplified to the point that almost anyone could add applications and or plugins with ease. Coupled with their highly touted support forums, the Ubuntu package couldn't be much more complete. If you’re thinking of switching, Ubuntu will make it happen with no regret. The latest version is a LiveCD with a hard drive installer built into it making it easy to test then install if you like.


This particular version of Linux did not make my list last time despite many sites raving about this distro simply because I had not tested it. I can tell you that I have since tested the product and I can agree with the glowing reviews it receives on Linux enthusiast sites. Despite still being in beta, this distro out-performs many commercial products available. This distro comes packaged in a LiveCD with a hard drive installer option making it easy to test and install locally if you should desire. PCLinuxOS uses the "K" Desktop Environment (KDE) and a very easy to use package manager for updating or adding packages. The interesting note is that they have one standard version as well as a minimalistic version. Surprisingly, I was more attached to the minimalistic version than the full version because I had more control over what packages I could include in my operating system. That being said, the full version is a superb product even in the beta stages as well. Their moniker revolves around ease of use and it is evident in the overall product. As the product matures, I could easily see it toppling some of the current distro giants.


Since my last review, PC-BSD has gone gold building on their short but solid reputation in the Open Source community. While PC-BSD is not Linux, BSD still captures much of the same ideology as their Linux counter-parts. PC-BSD uses KDE as the window manager along with a revolutionary package management approach that rivals the current process in BSD. There is still the traditional ports-style method but PC-BSD developers have created their on package installation method easing the process of updating or adding applications making it much more friendly to non-Linux gurus. It is a simple download and install similar to that of a Window’s executable file. The stability of BSD along with the KDE window manager and the first-rate package installer makes PC-BSD a nice edition to any computing experience.


Slax is a “live” version of Linux that can be burned to a CD or installed on a USB drive that is non-destructive to your computer hard drive. Slax continues to shine from one release to the next while still remaining small for easy downloads. What attracted me to Slax in the first place was the modularity. Packages can easily be added or removed along with the option to save settings making it an appealing mobile operating system. Since the last review, a handful of releases have taken place with countless updates and fixes making the distro more appealing than before. Slax has a few different versions available that are more geared towards window manager choices but can come in handy depending on the hardware restrictions on your computer. I continue to find Slax to be very useful in my everyday and I'm sure there are those that would agree given the opportunity. Slax is just a short download away.

Somewhere in the middle


It pains me to write my disappointment with the latest SUSE version 10.1. The fantastic strides made with the first community development release version 10.0 have had to take a back seat to the package management issues in the current release. I personally consider package management to be a very important consideration when choosing a distro and this is a key focal point to me with crossover adoption of Linux. It is fantastic that SUSE has scores of excellent packages but without the means to access them it is a moot point. I still hold SUSE to be “somewhere in the middle” because of the ease of overall use and the new version of network manager is quite impressive. SUSE still remains a highly revered distro but many of the current version hiccups make it quite difficult to showcase glories.


I admit that my last Gentoo rub was not very good but the current 2006.0 version has begun to change my opinion. In my opinion, Gentoo is still more for the Linux ninja but it has made huge leaps with the latest LiveCD. The LiveCD includes a GNOME desktop environment along with a beta version geographical installer! For the Gentoo truest, there is still the text based installer but the GUI installer opens to worlds of new possible contributors. Despite the beta GUI installer stigma, I did enjoy two successful installs since use of the disc. Still holding true to the Gentoo roots, their Emerge package installer/updater is still command line based but the advantage is the database is vast. While Gentoo still isn’t the friendliest distro, it is the challenge that calls some of us back time after time.

Not my cup of tea


Still topping my least favorite list is Mepis. Hate is a strong word and I want you all to know that I do appreciate the work that the Mepis developer does but the distro is just not my cup of tea. Now that the distro is piggy-backing on Ubuntu, there’s even less of a reason for me to like it. I even heard some rumblings at one point about charging for certain repository access and a possible commercial version. This could possibly push product support further or into the river. I admit that Mepis does a much better job handling proprietary drivers like Nvidia and has better wireless driver support than some others I’ve listed, the balance of the overall project leaves less to be desired to me. With the choices out there, I just don’t think they stack in favor of Mepis.

Damn Small Linux

I included this distro due to the fact that it continues to remain high on the Distrowatch hit list. Damn Small Linux is a distro that only consumes about 50MB making it extremely portable. Unfortunately, portable doesn’t always transfer to usable. While this distro does a great job of packaging some great applications into a tight wrapper, the biggest downfall to me is that it uses the Fluxbox window manager. I understand the reason behind it, but it doesn’t make it a great choice for new users to the Linux world. My issue is that the name is great and coupled with the ranking on the hit list will grab the attention of a new user. This would easily be the beginning of the end of the Linux experience for many new users. It’s not that I don’t believe that it is a good Linux offering, it’s just that this distro is not very new user friendly.


At the end of the day, there are so many good choices of alternative operating systems to Microsoft Windows, you hope it’s just information holding consumers back. During the short time I’ve been involved with Linux, the desktop has made leaps and bounds in usability for an average user. This community growth as yet to be stunted by various tactics used commercial products and will continue to grow. Even down to my least favorite distro, there is a world of usability for all personal computing consumers. Open is good. Closed is bad.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Windows can open Linux

Microsoft recently released information stating that critical bugs in Windows 98 will no longer be patched. The latest reports are that the next version of Windows, Vista, is not expected until the 1st quarter of 2007. Considering that there are already several recognized un-patched vulnerabilities in Windows code, all the Antivirus, Firewall, and Spyware programs won’t protect from eventual meltdown. My bet is that this will definitely happen sooner than later. Judging by that, I can foresee countless Windows 98 users being forced to purchase Windows XP machines because Windows 98 machines won’t run Windows XP. On top of that, many of these users will then upgrade to Windows Vista once the version is available at retail. Whether this is considered a genius ploy by Microsoft to generate revenue or not, there will be quite a bit of dollars thrown in Microsoft’s direction within the next year between operating system upgrades.

Let’s face it, if you running Windows 98 it is time to move on. I’m not a Windows 98 hater but the reality is that few applications are released with support for Windows 98. The side of the box may say Windows 98 through to XP but we know that running many of these applications without a high end Windows 98 generation processor (Pentium II and III) and the maximum amount of ancient RAM, you will have problems. Good luck running an office application along with an open web browser and having an attached multifunction printer. The world has grown up around Windows 98 and has matured at a rate higher than what that operating system can any longer handle.

My point is that if you are still running Windows 98, more than likely it is an economical issue. If it is an economical issue, it might not be feasible to scrape up the cash to buy a PC with the loom of an eminent operating system upgrade in the very near future. It’s like purchasing an item right before it’s about to go on sale or buying a product that is replaced by a newer model immediately after you walk out of the store. For those of you looking at this interim period with various concerns, I suggest taking Linux for a ride during this period.

The beauty of Linux is that it will run on your old hardware as if it was a new version of Windows running on new hardware. The chances are that much, if not all, of your hardware will be supported out of the box easing the relief of searching for solutions to non-functioning devices. Another point that warrants attention is that countless free applications exist that mirror the usability of their Window’s counterparts. Most versions of Linux include Microsoft Office clones that are compatible with the Office standards of Word and Excel. Countless other applications are a simple click away ranging from picture editing to advanced gaming and everything you can imagine in between.

The good thing is that Linux will save a few dollars during this transition period between Windows 98 to Windows Vista while not altering you life drastically from computer productivity in any way. You never know, you might be inclined to convert especially considering the pricing Microsoft will propose on the new version and the new hardware requirements needed to run it. The kicker is that many of the new Windows version bells and whistles are already available in Linux running on your old hardware. Now that the plunge is looking more tempting, visit and toy with what’s been called the most user friendly Linux currently available. You won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Be a proactive Windows user

I am regularly called to a scene to recover a failed Windows operating system or repair one that is right on the edge of failure. The common denominator in most of these cases is usually a user that professes little or no working knowledge of their computer. While I admit that without the uninformed user I have no business, can’t we agree that Windows users need to take more of a proactive stance with maintaining their computers? I’ve included a few common sense things that users seem to ignore that can help prevent from having a Windows meltdown.

Make sure that your Antivirus definitions are not out of date. Don’t simply rely on Norton to do the job without any intervention. Do a little Google searching and you’ll find that Norton’s update many times malfunctions and users go days or months without even knowing that they have no antivirus definition updates. Hope that your Antivirus is doing the job but check once a week to make sure it is. The longer that virus sits on your PC, the more likely you’ll have an uncoverable system. If money is issue, use AVG Antivirus ( It’s free for personal use and that means you can load it on all of your computers at home.

Do a little house cleaning in add/remove programs on a monthly basis. This might sound weird but you might be surprised to find how many toolbars you have on your system from loading spyware ridden programs from the internet. The most I’ve seen on one computer has been eight so far but with every program including some kind of toolbar I imagine that number will go up. I would think it reasonable that you may need two toolbars at the most but more than likely only one if you even know its there.

That leads me to the next suggestion of being more aware of what you are installing on your PC especially if the source is from the internet. Even what you might think to be your most trusted programs such as AIM have their share of additional programs that load down on your PC if you’re not paying attention. Try to make sure you read through everything during the install process or you might find yourself with twenty toolbars running on your system at one time bogging you down.

Run Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter on a monthly basis. If you’ve never done it, a run through of one or both can make a big performance difference. Temporary files in general on your system usually are not a good thing when space is an issue. Fragmented files can lead to system failure. Both of these issues can easily be remedied by running those tools on a monthly basis at the very least.

Most problems can be avoided by creating user accounts with restricted privileges on certain accounts. The computers I’ve diagnosed with the least issues seem to be those that have security levels on the PC. This is very useful in houses with families that have children as unattended users on the PC. In general, it has been shown that restricted access seems to be a good thing across the board and is why it’s implemented in the workplace. The idea is not to protect them but to protect you from yourself. By creating different levels of users, it is not as easy to accidentally install unwanted software or delete/modify system files required for Windows to run.

These different items that I mentioned above can help to prevent you from paying more than the computer is worth to fix in some cases. It is not unreasonable to expect or want a Windows user to be more proactive with maintaining their PC. It is a price of equipment that you use on a daily basis that you invested in. If you don’t maintain your car, it dies. If you don’t repair your roof, it leaks. It’s reasonable to assume that a computer will need the same kind of attention. Simple precautions can lead to a long happy life with your computing experience.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Mandriva falls very short

I was recently surprised to find that my Linux experience dates back only about 3 years to the early Red Hat transition era to the Fedora Core Project. For some reason, I thought that I had been involved somewhere around 5 or 6 years. Regardless, in that short period of time I've been entrenched in the Open Source Community, I have had my hand at somewhere in the neighborhood of a 100 of these 300+ distros that are in existence. The popular Open Source site DistroWatch ( regularly posts the page hit rankings of the top 100 distros. Of these page hit rankings, I've always been amazed at the popularity of the Mandriva distro as compared to other offerings in the community.

Mandriva has consistently held the number 2 spot on this list over the past year. Mandriva was originally known as Mandrake until recent acquistition/merger with Conectiva and Lycoris. This particular distro was one of the original Red Hat variants placing emphasis on KDE (K Desktop Environment) as the default desktop window manager. Much of the inner workings of Mandriva mirror that of Red Hat distros as well as the package management.

I was never all too impressed with Mandrake in general and Mandriva has left me with the same opinions. I find their overall site visualization to be poor and the general navigation to be somewhat complicated leading me to wonder why the page would be an interest to a new user considering an operating system overhaul. Although there are many areas that leave me less than happy with overall Mandriva operating system experience, the foremost would be the exorbitant cost of the “required” club membership. I say that the membership is “required” because without paying a cost to Mandriva in the form of a boxed retail version or through this club membership, you will be unable to use the package manager to update your system. I'm sure you could exhaustively manage this distro the “old fashioned” way taking up a great deal of time but I'm sure that would make the distro even less desirable than it already is to me.

Notwithstanding my opinion, Mandriva has remained a strong distro in the community but I can't help but wonder why. Considering the other alternatives available with the same or better ease of use that are completely free, it's amazing to me that the company does well. If I'm going to open my wallet that much, why not just buy Windows? If I'm going to pull the cash out, why not purchase the lesser costing Linspire with more ease of use crossing from Windows not to mention the fact that Linspire has better integration with many more Windows programs? Why not keep the cash in the pocket and run away with SuSE which makes with the same offerings and what I believe is to be more considering the vast SuSE community support as well? As I've stated, Mandriva is a big thumbs down for me but I invite others to dispute and or share their loyalties to Mandriva so I can better understand the appeal. I feel Mandriva to be an inferior product that reaches too deep into the pockets of it's users and is a poor representative of the Open Source community.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

SuSE v. Ubuntu

My latest battle seems to be surrounding on which version of Linux I want to use as the main distro in my household. I enjoy dabbling with various versions of Linux but always find myself coming back to SuSE and Ubuntu. I’ve been trying to convince myself to adopt one distro and fully commit to it but both of these versions of Linux have their appeals that have made it difficult to abandon one or the other.

I am a big KDE fan and that is a huge draw for me to SuSE. The eye candy appeal of SuSE is second to no other distro in my opinion. I like the “look over the shoulder” appeal SuSE commands when someone realizes that I’m not using Windows. I consider Novell/SuSE to be the stand along side Red Hat enterprise distro. That being said, SuSE is has the “look” appeal to pull a Windows user into a Linux environment. As for the normal use, it is not that difficult to toy with the repositories and add what I need to get the multimedia goodies I need along with most other packages I’d want to add to my operating system. I’ll admit that the look and feel is the paramount draw to SuSE but GUI ease of use for wireless networking is a strong sell as well. If I stumble along the way, there are quite a few strong forums available to aid me.

While I’m drawn to SuSE, Ubuntu is so hard to pull away from due to the overall ease of use. The apt-get package management is second to none and the wealth of packages available easily satisfies any user needs. I am not a fan of GNOME but KDE isn’t a far stretch away with Kubuntu but I’ve been forcing myself to use GNOME again lately. I began with GNOME desktop in Red Hat 9 but slowly abandoned it for KDE after some time. Ubuntu has oddly drawn me back to GNOME and it easily runs better on older systems than KDE. Unfortunately, not every PC in my house is of Pentium 4 Hyper Thread processing capacity and KDE doesn’t play as nice on the older less RAM machines. I’ve also come to find that sudo is a very nice friend in the computing world of Linux. While I realize that sudo is available in SuSE, you have to jump through a few more hoops to get it functioning to your needs. The biggest appeal of Ubuntu is the support. The Ubuntu forum is the single best support I’ve ever seen for a Linux distro and it’s free.

As you can see, each has their strengths and either of their weaknesses are so trivial or easily circumvented that it doesn’t permit complaints. Currently, I find myself dual booting most machines in my house. The older machines though typically get the most Ubuntu use while the newer machines access SuSE. If I didn’t have such an eclectic hardware environment, I may be running SuSE only but that’s hard to say because so much time is spent in Ubuntu as well. It really comes down to the plunge as I can do what I want in either. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the beauty of open source and run two operating systems at the cost of zero dollars. I don’t know what’s better, that fact that the choices are so good or the fact that I don’t have to make a choice at all.