Never having tried Ubuntu (or at least, got it working), I decided to take the plunge and “borrow” a few gig of space from another partition to install Kubuntu on (I’ve always been keen KDE and wanted to play with KOffice.)
The install went smoothly enough, as you’d expect, and it’s great to have GRUB back to manage triple-booting between XP, Windows 7 and Kubuntu (when the Windows 7 beta expires I might restore Vista from my old Norton Ghost backup, or I might install OpenSolaris, or even QNX, I haven’t decided yet…)
The result looks horrendous, sadly. The fonts look good enough – the font smoothing technology is an order of magnitude easier on the eye than Microsoft’s headache-inducing “Cleartype“, even under Windows 7 – but they are far too big. The themes aren’t really that nice and I do seem to remember KDE looking much nicer under Linux Mandrake 7 (now Mandriva, and on a new 2009 version too).
DOSBox runs OK, but much faster on Windows 7 and can go full screen. Whether this is a DOSBox issue, or a Linux vs Windows issue I don’t know. It’s noticeably faster after installing the proprietary ATI Catalyst drivers, but only about 10% or so – whether the same is true with a 32-bit Linux I’m not sure.
There’s no 64-bit version of Flash for Linux, which is a downside – mainly meaning I can’t waste my time playing Playfish‘s excellent Word Challenge (Anagram Cyborg, about 73,700 points so far…) As the 64-bit platform gets more traction in the market place, and especially in the Linux world, where adoption has less high barriers than in the Windows world (ever tried to get 32-bit .Net 1.1 apps to run on Server 2003 64-bit edition?) this is a key battleground for Adobe – especially as the open source versions of Silverblight are already available on Linux, of course…
So the verdict? Well, I’m blogging this from within Kubuntu, and it’s looking good so far. OpenOffice is working well and playing well with others. Yes, I haven’t installed KOffice yet. Why? Well I did make one rather large mistake. Kubuntu needs a lot more than 3 gig of space. But I can fix that. I deliberately installed it in ext2 rather than any other file system so I can still use my usual partition manager – Partition Magic. (Another great company Symantec ruined when they bought it, but that’s for another day…)