I have been a firm advocate of RedHat or CentOS for servers for its reliability and ease of use. However, for the desktop, I did not find a good substitute for Win* other than Lindows or Mandrake (now, known as Mandriva).
When I got some interns to do a bit of research on using the GSM Modem on Linux, they came across Ubuntu. It was still at beta during those days and from the screenshots, it looked promising as a Win* replacement for those going the Open Source way.
Anyway, I decided to install Ubuntu on my aging P3 800Mhz Intel box which still had some life left. This old box was previously running Centos 4.3 but after it displayed a "kernel panic" message for some odd reason and so, I decided it was time to change distros... (^_^)
The problem I had with this machine is that it is situated in my room, quite far away from my Router/WiFi AP and so, I had to use a wireless USB device in order to get access to the Internet. Now, the fun part begins... that is, because my wireless USB device has not been certified to be supported by Ubuntu yet. (o_0)
However, after a little bit of Googling (I love Google!), I found out about this little application called "ndiswrapper". This little utility is an open source network driver which implements a Windows kernel to dynamically link NDIS APIs with the network driver. In layman's terms, it helps use the Windows drivers you get with your wireless network card to work in a Linux environment.
Now, Ubuntu's installation did not take very long, it was well under an hour (far shorter than Win XP's installation) and it didn't ask many questions. Primarily, it asked me the following:
- Who I was
- What was the current time/timezone I was in.
Shocking, right?? (o_0)
Anyway, here is a screenshot of my Ubuntu machine...
It did not take me very long to get my Wireless USB device to work, although it did involve a little bit of command-line work but what are a few command lines when you're in the *nix world. ;)
Frankly, I think Ubuntu is just great. It is a good start for those who want to have an alternative solution to Win* due to hardware or $$$ issues. However, if you do want user friendliness because you're not a very savvy computer user, go Win*.
If you can't keep yourself away from Win* for whatever reason, there are a few emulators out there like WINE (WINdows Emulator) and VMWare which can emulate Win* on a *Nix environment.
I should be posting up some resources on how to get your USB Wireless Adapter on Ubuntu soon, which is a gist of what I've discovered when I setup my machine this afternoon.
P/S: I only had to reboot Ubuntu once, and that was when the installation completed. After that, you could use Ubuntu right away. (^.^)