The PowerBook G4 Mac in the house finally quit working. We splurged $300 on a brand new laptop recently. We got a 3 year old Dell Latitude D820 from Craigslist. With 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo, and 1920×1200 screen resolution – that makes for an impressive system with Ubuntu 9.10 installed.
The install was straightforward. You just download Ubuntu 9.10, burn the download onto a single CD. You then install from the disk – in our case by pressing F12 to enter the boot menu and select boot from disk. You just follow instructions on the screen to get it going, and that’s all.
The laptop came with Windows Vista. I considered dual boot, but decided not to waste otherwise perfectly good disk space. So 45 minutes later Ubuntu was finished installing. Performance is rather amazing. Boot time is 35 seconds, shutdown takes 7 seconds, and applications start up pretty much instantaneously. It amazes me why so many people prefer Windows when you can run so much faster on the same computer by installing Linux. In this instance of Dell D820 with Vista compared to Ubuntu 9.10 – the boot time and startup time of programs was about 2x faster on Ubuntu.
The Ubuntu install was turnkey. Wireless worked right after I put in the ID for the wireless network. Skype installed without a glitch. So did QCad, and of course Blender. There was a trick to Kdenlive, the movie editor, which I hope is fixed by the next Ubuntu upgrade. There was the broken sound problem when viewing videos in the project monitor. To fix this, I un-installed Pulseaudio, simply by using Synaptic Package Manager. I also had to go into the Kdenlive settings and choose Alsa as the audio device and the restart Kdenlive. That fixed the problem. Sound works now, and I have not had Kdenlive crash once yet.
Kdenlive in itself is impressive. Inserting video into it is instantaneous. Back on the Mac, it would take an hour or more just to insert video clips into iMovie to begin editing. Rendering is also impressive – about a minute of time for every minute of video produced, as opposed to 5-10 times slower than this on the Mac.
The sound is a little bit of a problem now that Pulseaudio was unistalled in Ubuntu 9.10. Now sound in Movie Player – a sound and video player – disappeared on me. So when I need to play videos, I just use Kdenlive to view them. This works well. I now use Rhythmbox Audio Player for audio.
For those of you who don’t know about Linux, there’s the powerful command line terminal – where you can start applications, manipulate the system, even surf the web in text mode – and do much more than you can do in the GUI. The fact that you can type in commands at the command line sounded geeky or unimpressive to me, until I tried it and found out for myself how useful it could really be. There are certainly situations where you want to go through the command line instead of the graphical user interface.
All in all, I am very pleased with the clean look and speedy performance of Ubuntu 9.10 on the Dell D820. Linux has come a long way, and now looks totally professional, especially on a high resolution screen. It certainly feels like I’m using serious computing power, and the fact that it’s open source, free, and so adaptable – is just inspiring. Thanks to the leagues of open source developers out there who created an amazing system, which in my opinion is clearly superior to Windows on the basis of speed, flexibility, and cost. I’d like to hear from others if they also have similar opinions on the speed issues – and if so – why isn’t everyone switching to Linux on the basis of that metric alone.