For the last week, I have been using Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) on my personal laptop. I can say that the experience has been mostly transparent for me, even with the need for a complete re-build last night after an attempt to install a complex theme replacement.
I can say that it has been transparent because I have been using Linux desktops in one form or another on an intermittent basis since 1999. When business was slow in the Fall and Winter of 2001/2002, I was the Guinea Pig in my organization to see if Linux could be a corporate replacement for Windows for all desktops and laptops.
So, when I say that the process has been transparent, you will have to realize that I have been a technical user of these desktop interfaces for a number of years. But I can say that since my first positive experiences with the Red Hat Fedora and the Ximian Gnome replacement interface, things have come a very long way.
Ubuntu 8.04 is the first real interface that seems to work predictably, efficiently, and effectively with external devices and programs that are business friendly. This is especially the case if most of the tools are Web-based, as Firefox and Opera work seamlessly. OpenOffice 2.4 can open DOCX files, and media players support most of the files I want to watch/listen to.
It prints to the home network printer.
It accesses the home file server.
I can share and synchronize files among my computers using DropBox.
Some caveats to my positive experience.
- I work mainly on the Web
- I do not play games
- I have been using Linux in various forms and editions since 1999.
If you have technically savvy friend, or really want to push and expand your knowledge of computers and highly configurable operating systems, I would definitely suggest giving Ubuntu a try on the extra computer you have lying around. My laptop is at least 3.5 years old, and not anywhere near as fast as my work laptop running XP. However, with Linux, the two are comparable in speed and performance.
Go on. Try it. I know you want to.