Switched to Linux (again)

I last ran Linux as my primary operating system about four years ago. I switched back to Windows as I was doing a lot of Windows coding for my studies at Media Design School. After getting fed up with various problems I was having with Windows XP I recently decided to switch back to Linux again. Last time I was running Mandrake but I felt like something new this time round. After reading some reviews and checking out a few desktop screen shots I chose openSUSE 10.2. Ubuntu was a close second. It seems to be the Linux distribution of choice at the moment but I found it a bit too brown for my liking 🙂 Ultimately this screen shot did it for me. I thought this looked like a real clean, uncluttered and easy to use desktop. This is the default Gnome desktop, I’ve been a die-hard KDE in the past but I feel nowadays less is more. The new Gnome main menu looks reminiscent of the Windows XP Start menu. However there are a few subtle differences. For one, it includes Beagle desktop search. Not the Windows style search, more like Google Desktop. Type something in there and it will find applications, documents, email, web pages you’ve visited. Rather than opening up a huge hierarchical menu, the More Applications button opens up a page of more applications. No surprise there, but it’s more web like interface is quite nice to use. It also provides a search mechanism and convenient groupings to help with finding things.

That’s the default install. I’ve tweaked it a fair bit. For a start the default music player “Helix Banshee” didn’t work with my iPod Shuffle. I upgraded that to a newer version of Banshee that fixed that. I was quite intrigued by the features of Beryl. I was also finding the package management that came with openSUSE not that great. There seemed to be two package managers installed, Zen and Yast. Neither of which were that great, the main problem being that they were both incredibly slow to check for updates. Instead I installed a new package manager called Smart. It’s really fast and a breeze to use. Hopefully it’s included as standard in a future version.

Despite all the beta software I’ve installed it’s still pretty stable. I genuinely think that this desktop setup is nicer and easier to use than Windows XP. I can burn DVD+Rs again and my PC doesn’t reboot several times while trying to boot the OS and I can use ethernet without it dying every couple of minutes like it was on XP.

Although I installed a dual boot Linux/Windows configuration, I don’t think I’ve actually booted Windows since I finished reinstalling it.

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