XP vs Ubuntu, the beginning

28Jul08

I have recently purchased a new computer, by parts, to build it by myself. I was terrifically excited and nervous, since I’ve never built a box by myself, really.

Well, there was that one time in Florida, when a lightning fried our house, melting my modem and scorching the motherboard. Then I bought some junk stuff from Computer Renaissance and put it together. This is different. I got to pick what went into it. I got to spend many agonizing hours fretting over whether the CPU will jive with the motherboard I picked.

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about.

Pretty much every CPU now comes with support for 64-bit computing (x64, or AMD64 command set), so I decided to load it with x64 OS, since I am so forward. Additionally, I decided to dual-boot Ubuntu and XP Pro, since I really liked my previous experience with Ubuntu, when it was still known as Feisty Fawn (7.04). It has now grown up to Hardy Heron (8.04).

First, I installed XP Pro (following a suggestion that Linux’s GRUB loader is far superior to its Windows’ counterpart), and after I got that running, I installed Ubuntu. And in the process, for the first time really, came to realization that Ubuntu is more user-friendly out of the box than XP.

When first installed, XP did not recognize my wireless network adapter (Linksys WMP54G v 4.1) and motherboard’s audio chip. Then came the fun part. Linksys doesn’t have a 64-bit driver, even though the chip manufacturer RaLink does. That chip is pretty much the only thing that matters. The rest of the card is basically an antenna. Way to get on the ball, Linksys.

It’s a good thing I was familiar with the whole chipset debacle, since I had to deal with it in my first attempts with Linux.

Audio chip drivers at least came in 64-bit format on a CD with the motherboard.

Even then, however, wireless doesn’t work very well. Windows waits for 10-15 minutes before deciding to connect. In the meantime, it just hangs out, refusing to even detect any networks.

Then, I installed Ubuntu.

First of all, its formatting utility, GParted, is awesome. Resizing partitions was a snap, whereas Windows set up one partition, and then pretended the rest of the hard drive does not exist. Not to mention that GParted was willing to set up any kind of file system.

Installation was run entirely through GUI, no scary CLI craziness.

And then everything worked on the first install – wireless picked right up, without an arbitrary waiting period, and so did the audio. I only needed to manually configure network security settings – the adapter itself was detected automatically. (By the way, network configuration is much more stable now, it didn’t work at all for me in 7.04.)

In the end, it left me even a bit confused. It was over too quickly and too easily. I kept feeling like there’s something else I need to do. But there wasn’t. (Excepting personal setup things, but that’s nothing to do with OS.)

I know it’s been said a myriad times, but now I’ve really seen it.

Out of the box, Linux beats Windows. Easy.

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6 Responses to “XP vs Ubuntu, the beginning”

  1. I had a similar experience installing XP vs. Ubuntu last year. One thing I did was I timed my install. I should add that I partitioned my harddrive before I installed anything. Windows XP took 3 1/2 hours to install off the CD, install the drivers (which I had already downloaded), install the Service Pack (then SP2, which I had already downloaded), download and install the updates, and install the things that I need to make XP “safe” (anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, etc.). By contrast, it took me 45 minutes to install Ubuntu and then download and install the updates. Less than two hours after starting the install process in Ubuntu, I had all of the programs I wanted downloaded and installed. You can read all about it at http://www.corfyscorner.com/node/195

  2. There was definitely a lot less hassle with Ubuntu.

    And let’s not allow this detail to go with little notice – when installing windows, acquire / back up all drivers (definitely video / network / chipset) ahead of time. Oh boy do things get unawesome if you don’t do that.

    Another neat thing. NumPy (a matrix calculation library for Python) in its 64-bit format installed straight from repos on Ubuntu. On Windows x64, the installer fails, and you have to compile them manually.

  3. What about Vista? XP is 2001 technology so it’s a bit unfair to compare it with an OS from 2008.

  4. That is good point. However, this is a matter of packaging, not technology. If anything, Windows XP should have a huge advantage in the drivers department, since the OS has been around for a long time, and all hardware manufacturers develop for XP, whereas few develop for Linux. This comes back to what many in the Linux community fault Windows for – code bloat. Ubuntu, which comes on a CD, carries a huge set of drivers, an office suite (Open Office), and an advanced graphic design program (GIMP). XP comes on DVD, and carries only the OS and a limited set of drivers. Vista certainly hasn’t gotten any smaller than XP.

    My experience with Vista happened shortly after Vista came out, and like many at the time, it an unpleasant one. I think my current machine still wouldn’t fare well with Vista, unless I turned off all the extra stuff. Plus I understand Vista doesn’t like GRUB loader anymore.

  5. Nice to read that more and more people are finding the ability to switch to a Linux-based OS easier! =)

    Oh, and erdaron… in post 4 do you mean that Vista comes on a DVD and not XP? Truly is shocking that Vista has all that space and yet finds itself doing worse in the drivers area than CD-based operating systems… I’d be embarassed if I was M$! XD

  6. You’re right, I stand corrected – XP comes on a CD, and Vista on a DVD.

    Well, what do you expect – all that new software needed to make you safe requires space, right?


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