Wednesday 20 May 2015

First Impressions of Linux from a Windows User

I recently decided to try out Linux for the first time as a primary operating system for my media PC. And I'm finding it a bit of a mixed bag... Not bad. But somewhat frustrating. Certainly not the Linux computing utopia that some claim.

I have been a Windows user most of my life - starting when my parents picked up a second hand PC with Windows 95 way back when I was 12. I’m very comfortable and competent working with Windows, and I genuinely like Windows as an OS.

But recently I’ve been thinking about moving some of my PC’s onto other systems. I’ve always had a bit of an interest in Linux (dabbling here and there with live CD's), and certainly feel that Microsoft could use a bit more competition in the marketplace. I also haven’t been very impressed with Microsoft’s moves to make Windows a closed ecosystem. Finally, I had been using Windows 7 on the Media PC, but as Windows Media Centre no longer comes free with Windows if I want to be able to record live TV on future media PC builds (or upgrade to a more recent Windows version) then I’m going to have to find another solution anyway. Or pay Microsoft’s MCE tax on top of the price of Windows. So why not try Linux?

So two weeks ago I installed the latest Ubuntu (15.04) on my media PC. As a long time Windows user, and complete Linux newbie, I wanted to post my first impressions of using Linux as a everyday OS.

Linux Media PC Specs

My media PC is a repurposed desktop PC connected by HDMI to a 1080p Samsung smart TV. The PC has the following specs (with everything running at stock);

CPU: Core i5 2400
RAM: 8GB G.Skill Hyper X DDR3 1600mhz
GRAPHICS: Saphire Radeon HD 5750
STORAGE: OCZ Agility 2 Series SSD (SATA-300)
TV CAPTURE: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2200
INPUT: Logitech G700 wireless gaming mouse, generic Microsoft wireless keyboard

I chose vanilla Ubuntu using the stock Unity shell over a straight up media centre distro like Mythbuntu or Kodi because I ultimately still want the option to use the media PC as a full desktop PC with little fuss. The computer will also still be used for occasional gaming (thank you Steam in-home streaming). As a complete Linux newbie I don’t understand the limitations of the purpose built distros, and people often cite Ubuntu as the best distro for starting out, offering the minimum of complications and the best environment for learning.


As is very apparent at this point, I am coming into Ubuntu as a complete novice. With the exception of some very shallow use of a Raspberry Pi, I know nothing about it.

That said, I’m certainly not a computer newbie. I’ve been repairing and maintaining systems since that first Windows 95 desktop back in 96, and upgrading/building my own systems 2004. As a gamer I’m very familiar with tweaking systems (both hardware and software) to get the best performance. I always sort my own computer problems and never take my systems to a shop. But I’m not a power user or coder, and certainly don’t know what actually goes into building an OS.

I also feel that I need to say that I’m not necessarily worried about open source versus closed source. If the software works then I’m happy. I’m also not worried about paying for software - if people want to make money from their efforts then who am I to complain?

First Impressions of Linux

(Here I’m going to outline my first impressions of Ubuntu after using the OS for two weeks. I will update this post with future impressions as I get more acquainted with Linux).

- First Two Weeks (21.05.2015): Headaches with first time setup, and an appreciation for the GNOME desktop.

- First Three Weeks  (03.06.2015): Attempts are made to setup a MythTV DVR, which ends in frustration. Ubuntu is abandoned on the media PC in favour of Windows 7.

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