Desktop Linux

March 20, 2009

So i finally got my Dell Mini 9, and hackintoshed it the first night I got it pretty much. I’m gonna write up a post on that later, because there were some really helpful resources I found for it and I might as well write it all down in case I ever need to do it again. However, I thought I’d rant about the state of desktop linux for a sec first.

So I bought the Ubuntu Dell Mini 9 because it’s cheaper than the windows one, and I was going to flash the hard drive for Mac OSX anyway. I did get to play around with the Ubuntu build for a while, and here were my impressions.

I used to run desktop linux about 5 years ago, before I decided to just put my life in the hands of the Apple Store. I liked the flexibility of the operating system and the power to customize it, but eventually the hardware incompatibility and my burning desire to have an iPod finally made me give up.

1) First of all, the interface is much nicer than it used to be. I’m not up on the latest linux things, but from what I could tell this desktop was basically a streamlined GNOME ui, with basic tasks grouped into different activity windows, and a windows style taskbar on the top to manage multiple windows.

2) Even though the UI was better, it still looks like crap compared to mac or windows. I can’t even describe it, but the actual window bezels themselves bother me.

3) The hardware compatibility is still an issue. This is of course not really a linux flaw, but it does limit its usefulness.

4) Dell makes potemkin software for this build too apparently. I tried their knockoff version of photo-booth, which is called “F-Spot” or something horrible, and it was really choppy. I thought it might be the hardware, but now that I’m running OSX, iChat’s video chat and photo booth apps run fine with no noticeable choppiness.

5) The core linux software that linux people are used to now is just not user friendly.

Basically, I was thinking if my sister or someone not very computer saavy would be able to use the Ubuntu build, and it pretty much fails for the hardware compatibility and basic software offerings. My sister would not be able to sync her iPod, manage a music collection, or video chat with her friends.

Right now I think the linux desktop is just not there yet, but it has made progress. At this time though, I feel like Dell is shipping this Ubuntu book as an open invitation to hackintosh it.


Written by Will who lives and works in New York. You should follow him on Twitter.