Switching to Ubuntu

In the last month I decided to switch my primary Linux distro from Mandriva to Ubuntu. It will take me until the end of the year to fully switch over, mostly because my work laptop can’t really afford the downtime, and it is scheduled for replacement come November anyway. There were reasons for leaving Mandriva, such as:

  • Stuff doesn’t “just work” on Mandriva any more. Recently I was doing some work where I wanted to reevaluate IDEs. The monodevelop and eclipse packages that I could get for the distro fell over sideways immediately. 😦 Even f-spot doesn’t work out of the box.
  • The perpetual issue that it took a month after release for the package install mirrors to sort themselves out, and the club urpmi repository has broken ssl certs, so curl won’t work with them.
  • 2007.1 breaks 3D on my laptop, so I can’t upgrade. Even though it is only basic 3D, it is enough to run the test apps I need for my work. In the current rev of Mandriva, I’m SOL.

There were also plenty of really good reasons to go to Ubuntu:

  • Being familiar with what I’m handing out. 12 months ago Ubuntu became the clear winner in the “Hey new person at our LUG, if you want to try Linux you should start with this“. Canonical sends me a bag of CDs whenever I ask for them, and they make good give aways at the LUG. I’d say better than 50% of our LUG is now on Ubuntu.
  • Easy for schools. I started doing some work with public schools in getting free / open software into them. Ubuntu / Edubuntu is definitely a good place to start. Again, being able to help support these folks with what they are using is a good thing.
  • Mono Integration. Ubuntu has been staying on top of the bleeding edge of Mono, as they use it for a lot of their featured desktop aps. Mono/C# is now part of my day job, so having the latest and greatest is a good thing.
  • Mark Shuttleworth.
  • Launchpad. Unlike all the rest of the distros the Canonical folks are actually spending time on their own support infrastructure, which is really good. While I wish they would support hg in addition to bzr for source management, it is a quite good start.
  • Polish. Ubuntu installations only start from a Live CD, so you can know that your system works with Ubuntu before trying to install. This means your risks of having a multiday failed install are drastically lowered.
  • Mark Shuttleworth. Seriously, go read his blog. He is an incredibly inspiring guy, and has really provided a vision of Linux hackers / users as human beings instead of IT trolls snapping at users.
  • Raw numbers. The number of Ubuntu users are on the rise, quickly. For instance, nomachine offers Ubuntu packages for their NX software. This has the side effect that I’ll be able to create less custom packages, as many more folks are packaging for the platform.

I’m sure I’ll think of more reasons, and rationale as I progress down this new road. I’ll also post on various bits about Ubuntu I’ve found either good or bad in the process. Other than the lack of a service command (which I’m just going to build my own package for, as muscle memory on tab completing that is too hard to break), the transition has been very smooth. My home desktop was migrated last weekend, and the media server just a couple of hours ago. Once I get back from vacation, I’ll start hitting some of the boxes at work that I maintain.

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