I decided to install Ubuntu 8.04 beta, and try to imagine myself as a novice desktop user and how this may be the replacement desktop for my mother, or my wife or sister (note: all my brothers are geeks so I can’t include them) or a small business.
I downloaded the Desktop ISO image, and burned the CD. I placed the CD into the drive and rebooted my computer. My plan was to overwrite all existing information on the machine, and not be concerned with migrating data.
On boot up, I was presented with a screen asking me for the preferred language. I selected english and was then asked how I wanted to proceed. The menu options were quite clear for the initial install: Try ubuntu without any change to your computer, Install Ubunu … I chose Install Ubuntu. For the next 1 minute 58 seconds, I watched an ubuntu splash screen boot into the install section.
- Welcome screen. Simple enough, select forward.
- Where are you? Choosing a timezone, I am in Detroit. Click Forward (note: the map selection could be a little smoother or maybe zoom in as you click a region before starting the magnification mouse movement process).
- Select a keyboard layout. This is easy, but maybe it should default to USA/USA (or localized based on language selection on the boot menu) and the provide an advanced option, to reduce any confusion for the less knowledgeable users.
- Prepare disk space. Well, this would likely confuse a non technical user. My options were: Guided – Resise IDE2 master partition #3 (hdc3) and use freed space, Guided – use entire disk, Guides – use the largest continuous free space or manual. I know what I would choose, but thinking as an normal user, this should also be simplfied or the text should be more readable with terms like: Save my existing data, and install into free space. I chose guided use entire disk.
- Who are you? Enter your name, and login details. This seems pretty straight forward, and most people are used to logins now a day.
- Ready to install review. Click Install.
Well, 6 total steps is impressive. Just a few minor comments, but so far so good.
The installation finished, and the machine rebooted in 25 seconds before asking for the password, and was completely ready for use in under 1 minute! Thats nice and helps people think it to be OK to shutdown the computer. I often don’t shutdown my windows desktop, as I hate the boot up time when I just want to check something quickly (weather, directions, movie show times, email, .. ).
Next thing I wanted, was access to my network based printer, and HP Photosmart C6180 — Wow, setup was a breeze and just worked like you would expect.
Then I applied the updates that were waiting to be applied. A small window popped up alerting me that updates were available. I clicked installed, and waited while 256 updates were downloaded (5 minutes) and applied (20 minutes).
Then to top it off, I added my Linksys wireless card to the machine, and without an issue it was detected and up in running. This was a nice change, as I had to custom compile drivers in the past to get this working.
All in all, this has been my best Linux desktop installation and use experience to date.
The next part of this article will follow up with daily usage, after my wife notices I changed her desktop (she was a Fedora Core 6 user).