Moving to Natty Narwhal: The Switch
Since the day I
was born started using a computer, my OS has alwasy been Windows. Moved from Windows 3 to 98, ME then Vista. Mac OS X never seemed right for me and I still stand by the statement that it’s not practical. And that is when Ubuntu steps in, as an open-source OS running on Linux. They recently released Ubuntu 11.04 – codenamed Natty Narwhal and gives in a much better interface compared to previous versions of Ubuntu with the same functionality of the Linux OS.
Installing Ubuntu is a breeze – not to mention free – only if you have an excellent internet connection. But living in Malaysia with such inconsistent connections and also where ISP don’t really deliver what you pay for, it may take hours or if you’re unlucky, days. It took me roughly six to seven hours of banning everyone else in the house to use the WiFi for me to get it downloaded. Ubuntu has introduced Wubi, which downloads and installs Ubuntu 11.04 as a program in Windows and allows you to dual-boot your computer without having to manually partion your hard disk. This certainly made the job much easier.
My first impression of Ubuntu, awesome! The interface was great. Actually it looks more like OS X especially the top bar. The launcher (which is the new addition to Ubuntu) is great and it didn’t take me long to get used to it. The Ubuntu dash, which acts the same way as the Start button on Windows is also useful. The only biggest in switching from Windows to Ubuntu is that you actually pay less attention to the bottom of your screen as the important things are located at the top and left of the screen. The launcher on the left disappears when you have an application running which in a way gives you a bigger screen as compared to the view on Windows.
This means goodbye to Notepad
If there was one application on Windows that I actually loved, it would be Notepad. I didn’t only use it for my html and css coding, but also the type any random things or documents. Not to mention, it’s one of the only Windows applications that hasn’t changed since its first version.
Honestly, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Notepad. In fact, I didn’t realise that moving to Natty Narwhal would mea googbye to Notepad. Anyways, the closest replacement for Notepad I got on Ubuntu was the gedit – which is also the official text editor of the GNOME desktop environment. Gedit is actually a great text editor, it allows you to type in plain text or choose various languages such as C, C++, HTML, CSS et cetera. The interface is simple and the top bar features the common New, Open, Save, Print and Undo buttons. It actually provides more features than Notepad without losing its simplicity.
Moving out of Microsoft Word
Am I one of the few people that actually liked the Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 interface? It had great features that were displayed well with the use of the Ribbon. The default office application on Ubuntu is LibreOffice but you can also use OpenOffice. And since I don’t intend to download OpenOffice for the time being, let me just talk about LibreOffice.
LibreOffice comes with Writer, Calc, Impress, Math and Draw. Writer is alot like the OpenOffice interface, confusing at first go but manageable at second. What’s really missing is the Ribbon of course, so you actually have to find this features through those drop down menus they have. Most of the features come in as extra windows, which can get annoying, but you can move them to be part of the tabs. And if you want to have the usual Microsoft fonts such as Times New Roman and Trebuchet MS to be available you have to download them. Which was what I had to do for better web experience.
It can get really confusing, especially for first time users. I managed to get used to Writer but I find Calc and Impress a pain – maybe because I was more used to the interface of the Microsoft Office versions. So it shall probably take some time for me.
Where is my Control Panel?
The very familiar control panel that we have on Windows is known as System Settings or Control Center on Ubuntu. It has almost the same features as it’s Windows counterpart. The features can be added by downloading more settings from the Ubuntu Software Center. Not to mention, it actually looks much better (and less confusing) compared to the Windows Control Panel.
One difference that I noticed was how Ubuntu doesn’t display the hard disk as separate partitions but as one whole hard disk drive. This makes it slightly hard to view program files and to see what is actually on your system. I can’ really view how much space is actually taken up by my Windows either. However, I can view files that were saved on my Windows if only they are saved to my D:drive.
So basically the switch was quite nice, considering that I was looking for a way to get out of Windows without buying an Apple product. And it didn’t take me long to get used to Natty Narwhal. Anyways, this isn’t the end of my move to Natty Narwhal – be sure to read the remaining two parts of this post. Till then.