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4 hours, 3 OSes

Written by Alcides Fonseca at 1209215094

I feel pity for this desktop of mine. It has suffered a lot when it comes to OSes. So I had installed Mac OS x86 perfectly working, but I wanted to play Trackmania Nations Forever. As I wasn’t doing any work on the desktop, no problem, let’s format this.

First choice: Windows Server 2008. I heard it was more stable than Vista and it ran Trackmania pretty nice. The installation was one of the smoothest I have ever experienced. But I was almost giving up on this OS when I had to set for the first time the Administrator password. Whatever password I inserted, it always gave me the following error: “Your password doesn’t match the length, complexity or the history required by this computer” (or something like that). WTF??? Luckily Bruno gave me the solution: You need both upper and lower-case and numbers in your password. Mr. Server2008 Usability Guy should be punished for this one! Once inside, I installed the Desktop Experience and Wireless packages. Reboot. Another reboot. Nothing… I couldn’t access any of those features. And no wireless. Now what? Let’s see what’s new in Ubuntu 8.04.

Installing Hardy Heron was OK until the disk partitioning thing. By default it would erase all my disk. I had a Storage partition with all the documents I need. So I had to go to advanced. There I had to delete the old Windows partition (this was ok). But I hadn’t a button called “Install Ubuntu in free space”. I knew that I had to format a swap and a EXT3 partitions. But my father wouldn’t. One thing to improve Canonical guys ;) Now, inside the OS, it was similar to the previous version, including that reddish-brown color of the Human theme. One thing that I was glad to see is that now Ubuntu handles the 1280×1024 resolution in my screen. Sweet! Another thing that I missed, and since Ubuntu’s windows manager is a copy of Windows (that I understand to ease the switch), is the lack of closing the window by double-clicking on the icon. I have used it since Windows 3.1! Oh and it couldn’t authenticate in my WEP-protected wireless. I could have changed it to WPA, since all the computers in the house support it, but unfortunately I could play Trackmania in Ubuntu as I wished.

All of this OSes failed the Audio. Ubuntu couldn’t fetch the right drivers, don’t know why (in the last version it worked fine). And even in Vista I had to install the codecs from the official site and even a patch. Manufacturers and OSes should improve this experience. Each OS would have a repository of drivers that would be searched each time a new device is connected. XP had this, but it didn’t work. Vista has this working fine, but I had a few problems with Asus hardware. As for Vista, everything just works, which is fine. Except for the fact that is ugly as hell and isn’t straightforward. I just can’t go back from the Mac to this :/ And having a desktop only to play Trackmania… sucks!

A final note about Windows vs Mac OS X: Although many would say OS X is way better than Windows, I don’t think that’s such a big difference (and I’m comparing to Windows XP). There are only two things that I really miss: Spaces. It has changed my way of organizing windows and for me that’s a really cool thing. And I’ve tested a few solutions for Virtual Desktops on Windows and they suck. The second change is the most anoying thing for switchers: the keyboard layout, specially how cmd replaces your windows/ubuntu ctrl. For years I would use my little finger to press control and then use the S, X, C, V or whatever key I wanted. For about 6 months I have used Mac OS as my main os and using your thumb to press cmd and the other fingers to press the other key is a lot better for your wrists! And I don’t want to miss that.