The Linux Newbie

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Journey with Kubuntu

I have actually been very disappointed with Linux. The Ubuntu series is supposed to be some of the most newbie friendly out there, but it doesn't seem to be that friendly to me.

Now I consider myself relatively computer savy, and it has been a struggle from day one just to get some of the basics of Kubuntu to work. Kubuntu uses the KDE desktop, where Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop. It was interesting to me, that as I searched through the forums, posts, and comments about these two desktops, it felt like I was walking through a wasteland battered by war. By war I am referring to forum flamewars. Over and over again I read something like, "Not to start a flamewar..." or "It just comes down to personal preference." There didn't seem to be anyone giving some basic facts about either desktop to compare the two. I was disappointed that something so basic for a newbie coming into the linux world would have created such a civil war that nothing objective was said about it. Coming from a Microsoft background, I just wanted to know the functionality of each, pros, cons, and so forth.

Basically what I have found is this, Gnome is a "not so pretty" desktop that allows for changes on the computer to be made very quickly and efficiently. As there is no "OK" button or "Apply" button to make changes. Also Gnome feels more like mac. When you check (or uncheck) a box for a change, it is made immediately. KDE on the other hand seems to have more "eye-candy," which I personally like, maybe a bit more "Windows-like." It seems that a person coming from Windows might find the Kubuntu version of KDE easier to learn than Gnome. Now, I am talking about a super Windows newb, and even with a little more patience the Gnome desktop would seem just as easy. So maybe Gnome = flexibilty where KDE = eye-candy. Though both can be flexible and both have the eye-candy.

Ubuntu and it's _ubunu counterparts are based off of the Debian distribution, and uses .deb packages for installation. Synaptic (Ubuntu) or Adept (Kubuntu) is the graphical interface for the apt program (from Debian). Basically, the apt command ("apt-get") allows a person (especially the uninitiated) to install something, like Amarok, and the apt command finds all the necessary other little apps that will allow it to run on Linux. One simple example is the ClamAV Anti-Virus application for Linux. If you go into Adept (on Kubuntu) and search for "clamav" you will get a number of programs relating to ClamAV. If you choose to install Clamtk, which is a GUI (graphical user interface) for ClamAV, Adept will go ahead and install clamtk, clamav, the libraries needed to run it, and a background program to keep the viruses updated (and a few more I don't remember). All this to say, the apt-get command makes installing new programs very easy.

Overall I have been both impressed and extremely frustrated with Kubuntu... It doesn't always work, but then I will stumble across a forum thread that talks about my exact problem and with a little new knowledge I can fix the problem at hand. I am looking forward to seeing the Ubuntu line of Linux distributions continue to improve. However, they are a long way from being toe-to-toe competitors with Windows, XP or Vista.

And so I continue my journey...

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