What is Ubuntu 10.10 like after 6 months use? Better than all previous versions of Linux and Unix. Better than Apple Mac Unix of a few years ago. Better than Microsoft Vista. Better than Android on a netbook. Slowly replacing Windows XP. Have not tried Ubuntu 10.10 against Windows 7 or the latest OSX.
Update May 22, 2011. All 10.10 replaced by Ubuntu 11.4.
I replaced all versions of Linux with Ubuntu 11.4 on all my computers. See Ubuntu 11.4 after one month use.
Update April 20, 2011. Gnome breaks.
Linux Gnome failed on one of my Ubunto 10.10 based computers. See Linux Gnome login settings lost.
Update April 19, 2011. Linux performance update.
Ubuntu Linux recently updated itself to a new version of the Linux core. Thunderbird and some other applications are now faster for some operations. The improvement in Thunderbird is very noticeable. There is another Linux update on the way with performance improvements for computers based on multicore processors.
Update March 31, 2011 at 6:00pm. Gnome update fixed update issue.
Ubuntu uses Gnome and the Gnome in Ubuntu 10.10 has had a problem updating the status displays in the menu bar. When Gnome fix fixed their code, Ubuntu will have has the major Ubuntu 10.10 annoyance fixed. The time will update updates. The battery status will update updates. The network status will update updates. Not everyone sees saw the problem. It span style="text-decoration: line-through;">depends depended on your exact configuration. When you do get the problem, you suddenly realise you no longer wear a watch because you always have a computer with a time display in front of you.
Linux has good security and a useless user interface for the security features. Changing a file status for Web display is easy but using the groups feature is still a real pain. Microsoft Windows is still yeaqrs ahead in that one area.
MythTV and other brilliant applications for Linux are way ahead of their documentation. You end up with a huge range of excellent applications opening up for you if you can find someone to follow the ancient installation instructions, almost non existent configuration instructions, and then teach you how to understand how the application works internally. This is probably the only other area where windows is years ahead.
Ubuntu 10.10 has a special netbook edition using a different user interface named Unity. The result is a disaster. Use ubuntu 10.10 desktop for your netbook. The next version of Ubuntu, 11.4, will use the new Unity interface for every edition. They will have to make some massive changes before I will switch from the current Gnome interface to the Unity interface. Based on the 10.10 netbook edition, Unity is the Vista of the Linux world.
An alternative to Windows 7?
Windows 7 is the obvious replacement for Vista if you have not replaced Vista with Ubuntu. Windows 7 appears to have all the speed of Windows XP but not the simplicity of purchase. XP had a children's toy version with no security and a Pro version with both security and NTFS for the rest of us. Windows 7 adopted the Vista approach of having millions of version without a single equivalent to the XP pro version. This is the main reason I never purchased Windows 7.
Windows 7 has a lot of versions that are too limited to be of any use, certainly not for professional use. There appears to be only two versions acceptable for professional use and both of those are bloated with junkware, both have bloatware prices, and neither lets you install Windows without Internet Explorer. You might as well jump back to the 1990s and use NT because Windows has not advanced since then.
Windows XP Pro 64 is the minimum Windows needed for professional use. Ubuntu 10.10 desktop is closer to XP Pro 64 than any of the Windows 7 versions I have looked at. I will stick to XP 64 or switch to Ubuntu instead of switching to Windows 7. Please add a comment if you found a better Windows 7 option.
Update April 4, 2011. I found some notebooks with a Windows 7 Professional 64 bit Windows that looks like XP 64 with a slightly different theme. The machines have 4 GB of memory instead of 2 GB and 4 cores instead of 2 cores, so should have more resources than are needed for Windows 7.
An alternative to Vista?
Slow. Crippled. I know some people report success with Vista when installed on a new computer by the manufacturer. I have worked on a lot of computers running Vista, including new computers designed for Vista, and in every case I had to upgrade Vista to Windows XP or walk away from the computer to protect my sanity. If you are presented with Vista, switch to anything else, Ubuntu, Fedora, Windows 7, Windows XP, even a Mac.
I mentioned Fedora earlier. Fedora is another distribution of Linux and is sponsored by Red Hat as a testing ground for future Red Hat changes. Fedora is sometimes ahead of Ubuntu in some areas of hardware compatibility. I find the Ubuntu configuration and management options slightly easier than Fedora. If all your friends and colleagues use Fedora instead of Ubuntu, use Fedora.
Apple have released and trashed more operating systems than Microsoft. Finally Apple settled on Unix, an open source version of Unix so Apple does not have to employ developers, a Unix with a BSD style license so Apple can slap the Apple brand all over Unix and pretend it is an Apple product. I wonder how the volunteer community developing Unix react to the billion dollars per month profit Apple make in part based on the free work by the community.
The Apple claim that you can run anything on a Mac is based on the Unix claim that you can run anything on Unix. That is not true. You might be able to download a lot of stuff for Unix but not everything. A lot of applications never work reliably on Unix because there are so many different version of Unix. A large number of Unix applications are offered as alternatives to Windows based applications but do not offer the same features.
The Linux versions are more likely to be usable because all distributions of Linux share a lot of common code and a small number of common file systems. You might be able to download anything for Unix, and therefore a Mac, but you can often only run it on Linux. Some of the best Linux applications are conversions from Windows and do not run on Unix or Mac.
The Mac hardware looks nice but no one is paying me to display the Apple logo in a movie so I will select hardware from the wider range of linux/Windows compatible hardware.
I do like to use a computer that requires a whole box of adapters and the Mac keyboard is just not good enough to tempt me over to the dark side. I will stick with Linux, convenience built in, and a better choice of keyboards.
Perfection is still a few years away
Ubuntu 10.10 has an annoying startup sound. A lot of people post questions on forums asking how to disable the startup sound. The answers show how far Ubuntu has progressed and how far it has to go.
Ubuntu 8, from 2008, attracted forum answers featuring cryptic 1950s command line actions. The Unix faithful dismiss command line actions as primitive and pathetic when used in DOS but recommend everyone use exactly the same in Unix. Ubuntu 10 attracts a mixture of the command line bigots and people who actually want to live in this century.
Extrapolating forward, in another two years we will have all the help forums and documentation filled with useful answers instead of voodoo, readable explanations instead of crud, and helpful people instead of people brainwashed by the Big Brother mentioned in the novel 1984.
We can currently do almost everything through a user interface. It will just take a couple of years for the forums and documentation to catch up. if only there was a way to tell Google to rank modern information ahead of the scratching of cave dwellers.
Thunderbird is creating problems again
Thunderbird has the same problem reoccurring since 2004. Despite repeated reports of the problem, it is not fixed. Most reports are ignored. Some are left to stew for a while then blamed on something outside of Thunderbird.
Thunderbird has a component named thunderbird-bin which uses 100 percent of one CPU, slowing down most computers and making Thunderbird almost unusable. If there is anything plugged into Thunderbird, the problem is blamed on the plugin but the problem occurs with any mixture of plugins and with no plugins at all.
The problem occurs almost randomly. The problem will suddenly start then continue for months then disappear. The start may be blamed on anything that happened to occur around the same time. The end will be attributed to any mixture of changes. Then the problem will start again a few months later.
The problem occurs on several versions of Linux and Windows. When you read about the problems on Windows, the Linux bigots chant about Linux being better but the problem is reported more often on Linux than Windows. The problem is more noticeable on Linux because Linux does not handle the choked processor situation with the same flexibility as Windows. Windows XP 64 bit, the closest equivalent to recent versions of Linux, lets Thunderbird choke then does a good job of letting everything else work in the other processor. The Linux in Ubuntu 10.10 lets the choked processor slow down everything no matter how many processors you have.
The problem is reported against Thunderbird 1.5 and fixed in 2 but then reported in 2 and fixed in 3 but then reported in 3 and fixed in ... I have the latest Thunderbird, as updated by installed Ubuntu, and the problem still occurs after seven years of reports.
When you format a disk partition as Ext3, Ext4, or ReiserFS, you can switch off the atime option by selecting noatime.
Switch off effects
Go to System, Preferences, Appearance. Select the Visual Effects tab. Select None then Close. Try it for a day. You will not see any negative effects. Some things will respond faster. Some of the distracting shading will be cleaned off your screen.
Do not use Thunderbird
As mentioned earlier, Thunderbird has a problem that chokes the whole system.
Ubuntu is better than most of the competing operating systems including every other version of Linux. There are minor problems in the user interface and that is leaping ahead every year. The documentation is lagging a couple of years behind. Ubuntu is the best choice, Fedora a close second, but use the Linux used by the people around you who will have to answer all the questions you will ask them instead of reading the instructions.