Wednesday, May 06, 2009

New Operating Systems

I've been playing with two new OSes the past couple of days: Ubuntu 9.04 and Windows 7 RC.

Yesterday morning I upgraded Hobbit, my MSI Wind netbook, from Ubuntu 8.10 (it dual boots XP Home) to 9.04.  I used the built-in upgrade function of the Update Manager.  Everything seemed to go OK, except for the Applications > System Tools > Root Terminal shortcut.  When I click on it the program launches, I get prompted for my admin password, then crashes after I click OK.  This is annoying but not fatal, as I can just use sudo from a normal terminal.  If I figure out what's happening and can fix it I'll post a follow up.

Aside from that I'm not seeing a dramatic difference between 8.10 and 9.04.  More refinement than anything, though it seems a bit snappier.  XFCE in particular seems noticeably faster and more responsive than it did in 8.10.  For Ubuntu 8.10 users 9.04 may be a good upgrade but it's not a must-do, at least for now.  That said, I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone setting up a basic PC for web, email, and light office tasks.  The GNOME GUI is at the point where it should be very usable, even for non-techies.

Windows 7 Release Candidate is of course Microsoft's latest version of their follow on OS to Vista.  This morning I installed it onto a PC in my lab.  It's a pretty generic box with an Intel mobo, 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo, 3 GB of RAM, and a SATA hard disk and DVD-RW drive.

While Vista is a turd, W7 is very promising.  When I use a machine running Vista I feel like I'm dragging my cursor through molasses.  In contrast, W7 is very fast on equivalent hardware, easily on par with XP.  The one thing Iike about Vista is the aesthetics, and W7 retains this.

Unlike prior versions of Windows, W7 strips out things like Windows Mail, but provides a shortcut in the Start menu for you to download them.  This is good as it reduces bloat and removes potential security holes.

MS is making Windows 7 Release Candidate available for free to everyone for at least a couple of months, and will allow you to use it unfettered through March 2010, after which time it will shut down every hour or two.  The final deadline to purchase it will be June 2010, when the RC will be disabled.  According to media reports, W7 will be released this Fall, but if you get it now you'll be able to use the RC for almost a year.  If you run Windows in a business, I recommend installing it on a spare PC and testing your apps before the deadline.  Eventually MS will discontinue support for XP, so it would be prudent to identify any issues with your existing apps and W7 as soon as practical.

I'm going to continue to play with Windows 7 on my test box, and I'm giving serious thought to replacing XP Home with W7 on Hobbit.

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