back to article Ubuntu seeks Android-packin' Windows deserters

If you're packing an Android smartphone, not an iPhone, then you're the kind of free tech spirit that Canonical wants for Ubuntu Linux – version 11.04, to be precise. Even better if you're a hacked-off Microsoft user running Windows and considering a move to Mac – the preferred escape route of many a Windows defector. The …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Mystic Megabyte

    Try before you buy

    This dual-core laptop has the ATI X1250 video chipset, it was not well supported in recent Ubuntu versions it being on ATI's legacy list.

    With Natty it is not only very fast but smooth too. I don't understand the new Wayland windows server but it definitely works well.

    There is also the option to log-in using "Classic Gnome" for those that dislike Unity.

    See the bottom of the screen after clicking on your username.

    FYI my new Nokia C1-01 as recommended by ElReg appears on the desktop via Bluetooth. Restoring contacts is a simple as this: gammu --restore my_contacts.lmb

    Overall, I think that I will play with Ubuntu 11.04 for a while yet.

  2. nederlander

    I'd like to drop windows but..

    I have an android phone and I run ubuntu, but I still keep windows 7 on the dual boot for two reasons. Firstly there are no decent games on linux. Secondly, I like to do a bit of programming in my spare time and java+eclipse just isn't as good as C#+VS. The java language and framework seems to be languishing while C# moves on in leaps and bounds. Death by committee I suppose.

    1. doperative

      re: I'd like to drop windows but..

      @nederlander wrote:

      > I have an android phone and I run ubuntu, but I still keep windows 7 on the dual boot for two reasons. Firstly there are no decent games on linux. Secondly,

      You buy a phone depending on what games run on it, isn't the screen a little small ?

      > I like to do a bit of programming in my spare time and java+eclipse just isn't as good as C#+VS. The java language and framework seems to be languishing while C# moves on in leaps and bounds. Death by committee I suppose.

      It says here Eclipse works with other languages ..

    2. Z 1


      I'm with you there. I dual-boot XP and Kubuntu and tried to use wine. For every game I tried to run it was like pulling teeth. "Need this addon", "Change this setting", "Recompile that line". Bloody thing, I just want to play the game and not get into a wrestling match with the OS!.

      To be fair, the wine devs have done a sterling job in getting a huge swathe of games to run. The problem lies with the game devs and publishers all writing natively for Windows, so we're stuck with having to use wine or similar. There was a little hope when the rumour about steam natively coming to linux was circulating, but that was soon squished. I suspect that backhanders and MS influence keeps the game devs locked to one platform. Ah well, we can still hope.

    3. Grifter

      Support linux gaming if you can

      The only way to get more games to Linux is to support the market, a good place to start is -- the third bundle is good for another few days. After that there's and and of course and to some extent

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unity is a lot better than you might think...

    I for one rather like Unity. I tried out Gnome3 and really didn't like it that much. Its as big of a rewrite as Unity, and a lot of Gnome faithful aren't terribly sure about 3. Unity is still based off of Gnome 2, and its actually considerably stable now, and its still in beta. After using it for about a week, and not being too sure about it to start with, I can say that it is actually really great. Compiz crashes every so often, but again, we're talking about a beta release. Let's come back to it when it hits stable.

  4. Goat Jam

    Just downloaded Linux Mint Debian x64

    I'm going to try it out over easter.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    But will the number of new adoptors...

    ... be more or less than the number of people who stop using the distribution due to the unpleasant new user interface?

    1. Chronic The Weedhog

      You may be right...

      Though, I think it would only be the absolute n00bz who don't understand Linux to begin with. The more seasoned users will know already that you can easily modify your default DM/DE.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Nothing changes after upgrade - it will still default to your previously selected login evironment. GNOME is to stay in Ubuntu for a while as a secondary DE I think.

      And if you prefer fresh installs, then you can choose GNOME 2 at the bottom of the screen when logging in with a 2 mouseclicks. I can't think how such thing might make anyone leave Ubuntu?

      At least not until GNOME totally loses interest in supporting it, which is unlikely to happen.

      Unless someone gets fed-up with Canonical's antics with Banshee amazon shop or some other part of ideology, I don't think introduction of Unity as default DE should cause anyone to switch distros.

  6. Liam Thom

    The beta is so fantastic...

    ...I switched to Mint.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If they want to get me to migrate away from windows, then they need to take gaming seriously.

    Try to make it so that WINE is in there by default and fully supported, try to work with studios to get them producing natively for the platform.

    Break the monopoly MS has on the PC gaming market and you'll convert those who want to leave Windows but don't want to use OSX.

    1. longbeast

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      Every time wine updates to make one thing work, three other things break. It's a horrible, horrible system to have to rely on.

      Watching people try to mimic windows by guesswork and documentation is like seeing somebody try to build a skyscraper by asking somebody to describe what it should look like over the phone.

      1. Rob Beard


        To be fair if you use something like PlayOnLinux it has scripts written for playing different games and it'll download specific compatible versions of Wine to run the games (or apps) so Game A will work with Wine version X and Game B will work with Wine Version Y and so on.

        It's not fool proof but it's a help. Plus there is Crossover Games which works reasonably well too.

        Maybe Codeweavers (or whatever they're called now) who build the Crossover apps could work with games developers to make their apps work out of the box on Mac and Linux (I know, wishful thinking).

        Mine's the one with the XBOX 360 and PS3 controllers in the pocket.


  8. westlake

    Never again.

    I had tons of fun with the Wubi installer last time around.

    The install would appear to hang when doing a hardware check on the hard drive and multi-card reader.

    The solution - not to be found on the Ubuntu or Wubi site - and not to be found easily - was to click on the "Cancel" dialog as many times as needed.

    75 times.

    But the greater disappointment was in software.

    What I wanted and needed in FOSS had been ported to Windows or begun as a native Windows app -

    Trivially easy to find and install through sources like

    What I want and have in Windows 7 are subscription services like Netflix. Free as in beer is overated.

    Free as in freedom as well.

    Ideological purity or political correctness were never my thing.

    Ubuntu's selection of games would have been embarassed the publisher of a shovelware Windows shareware disk ca. 1993.

    1. doperative

      re: Never again

      @westlake said:

      > What I wanted and needed in FOSS had been ported to Windows or begun as a native Windows app -

      What licensing issues does FOSS running Windows 7 have.

      > What I want and have in Windows 7 are subscription services like Netflix

      You also get to endlessly subscribe to online Anti Virus services ..

      1. Turtle_Fan


        I haven't ever paid for A/V, and haven't had anything bad happen to any of my boxes.

        Besides, using a normal account and having a regular backup gives me as much protection as I need.

        I've got 5 HDD's on my main box and 2 of those are replete with a gallery of distros. (My grub shows about 14 different options at startup)

        And yet, there's not one of them that can do anything simpler and/or better than my windows does.

        Games? I'll leave that for another day. And there's no shortage of freeware on windows either.

        @doperative: What effects does a user feel of the issues of FOSS ran under Win7? How do these affect a user directly/personally? I don't want to take the thing apart and mod it, I just want to use it.....

        This obsession with FOSS and licencing issue can be counter productive sometimes (GMA 950 lack of support all because of licencing issues and programmers throwing a tuntrum 'cause the code isn't handed over to them to play with, etc.).

        I've been a potential convertee, ready-for-the-taking for years but the only place where linux shines is in my ulta-under-specced netbooks that couldn't handle anything heavier. I genuinely want to switch but can't find a compelling enough reason.

  9. bill 36

    They have lots to do

    Take a look at the forums. Wireless networking especially on laptops is shot full of problems and it seems that the engineers don't want to know. Not our problem,,,must be the driver or the bios or some such excuse.

    Rfkill will ignore the rfkill switch on some laptops, permanently "hard disabling" wlan0

    While Ndiswrapper needs a top hat and a magic wand to get working in some cases.

    In my case, i know that the hardware is all working because it works as it should in XP pro.

    But in Ubuntu Maverick,,,,been at it for weeks.

    You are correct in saying that if the initial experience is not good they are likely to say that Ubuntu is crap and if the first experience is a laptop that needs wifi working..............

  10. Khaptain Silver badge

    Still a long way too go - 10 years maybe

    Why do so many articles seem to convey the idea that people are in some kind of urgency to leave the Windows platform/OS.

    How many of the Sheeple even know what Linux is, and more to the point how many even care.

    The various Linux distros are going to have do something that they haven't managed to do in the last 20 years since i've known Linux. STOP APPEALING TO THE GEEKS/NERDS.

    Your typical home/office user really couldn't give a shit about which OS is being used as long as it works. They really dont care about which Kernel version is currently "A La Mode", nor do they care about being able to customize boot loading times, changing file system block sizes, or optimizing strange TCP/IP stack parameters.

    They want to play games, look at porn, send silly messages to their friends and occasionally do some work. And guess what Windows, satisfies all of these criteria without having to have a degree in IT.

    I very much doubt that Linux will end up on users desktops, why, because it's always talked about it as though it was some sort of Geeks Wet Dream.

    For 20 years I've tried various "flavors" of Linux and I just keep coming back to windows, Linux never offered me the capacity to do things any more comfortably.

    So who can explain to me, who are all these people just waiting to jump on the Linux/Alternative bandwagon. Personally I do not know any.

  11. tardigrade
    Thumb Down

    My desktop is not a phone.

    "..if you're a hacked-off Microsoft user running Windows and considering a move to Mac.."

    You will take one look at Unity and run screaming.

    My desktop is not a phone. I don't want big blocky fisherprice icons on a 24" monitor, a dock I cant resize or move or just get rid off permanently. The implementation of the global menu sucks and any program that's not in the dock now takes several more clicks to launch. Even switching workspaces has had an extra click added to it. Why?

    Everything else Canonical has done to improve the Linux desktop experience has been laudable 10.10 is a good desktop release that wins hands down over Windows for me personally and 11.04 looks like it has some solid improvements under the hood.

    Unity however is not ready, its 18 - 24 months and several re-writes away from being ready. It was obvious 6 months ago that it would never be ready in time for 11.04, there are problems everywhere. Gnome Shell has similar issues. In terms of the user interface both seem like regressions to me.

    I think Canonical will be disappointed in the response they get. (Dis)Unity already seems to be splitting the community down the middle. I think I will stick with 10.04 for a long, long time.

    1. Chronic The Weedhog

      I agree on all points

      My experience with Unity, Gnome 3, 10.10, and 10.04 have been the same. I've belayed testing 11.04 until the actual release of final code, but from what I've seen in the 10.10 netbook distro told me much of what I needed to know. Granted, there will be somethings fixed in 11.04 that were broken or unsavory about 10.10-netbook, but personally, I hate the Unity desktop, and I've been using Linux in one form or another since 1996.

      10.04 is a great release, and quite possibly the best Linux release I've ever used, because it's solid, fast, secure, and I can morph it into any kind of installation I want with ease. 10.10 is great too, but I hate Unity, so I use it with Gnome 2 instead (I have it installed only on 2 systems, both of which are USB based), while I have 4 servers at home and 3 servers at work running 10.04. I stick with Ubuntu because I like how well integrated everything tends to be, unlike Debian (which I also like, alot, but it feels a bit archaic in comparison).

      Anyway, getting back to my point, I did a couple of installations of Ubuntu 10.10 on netbooks over the past few weekends (I do custom system design as side work in the evenings and on weekends, just to keep my skills razor sharp), and by the end of each build, both the system owner & I agreed that Unity was too 'android / iphone like', and that it had no place on a serious system. While I prefer Gnome, I also like LXDE & XFCE alot too, and in the end, that's what we went with for the default desktop environments on both netbooks. I really hope that by the release of 12.04, all of these issues will either be resolved, or at least, I hope that Gnome 2 is forked, and continues development under a new project name. Primarily, because I would hate to have to drop my fave distro due to a lack of insight on Canonical's part. But also because I have no intention of ever using a PC like it's a phone... perish the thought.

      That said though... on an Ubuntu based tablet, such as the Tenq P07, or something similar, it might be much more acceptable.... but then there's another issue... I really like Compiz, and Unity throws out Compiz in favor of Mutter, which isn't bad looking, but I like my cube desktop. I like having a desktop that I can see thru to other layers of running applications.

    2. Pawel 1


      How much time would it take you to click on on the desktop environment selection combobox at the bottom of the login screen and get Ubuntu 11.4 with GNOME2? I reckon under 2 seconds.

  12. andy gibson

    Already has converts

    When the Orange San Francisco budget Android phone came out and was a popular choice for ROM upgrading because of its low price, there were dozens of users reporting problems connecting their phones to the PC because of driver issues.

    With Linux (and Ubuntu in particular) it "just worked" and was very easy to do, and gained a lot of new users who might not have decided to give Linux a try.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      I don't understand this

      Do you really mean to say that "several dozen" people in the SF area changed their operating system "just" because that couldn't get a driver for their telephone working ?.

      What the hell are they doing with their telephones/pcs that merited such drastic measures.

      I presume that they never play games, don't use MS Office and have almost no applications other than what the basic OS offers then. ( No music production applications, no Photoshopping stuff, no 3d Stuff etc etc ). Because moving from a Windows platform to a linux platform is not an overnight affair. Relearning all of your application on another platform is a PITA.

      If these people were able to change so easilly, I presume that they would never need anything more than an Ipad.

      1. Turtle_Fan

        Facepalm icon not available (yet...)

        The Orange SF is a branded version of ZTE's blade. Nothing to do with the SF bay area.

        As for having a linux distro side-by-side to your main one, it's not that difficult. In fact you can have your ubuntu on a USB and use it on demand.

        Actually, ZTE has provided some very nice solid drivers for their phones; just their direct downloads are rather crappy. But ZTE drivers are widely available and work as planned even on x64 systems (I own an SF, unlocked, rooted and modded from the get-go and it works a treat on all my O/S's)

  13. duelingpianoman

    both Unity and Gnome 3 are a big...

    ...FAIL. I want a multi touch ipad-like device running Linux as much as the next geek but not at the expense of ruining my desktop computing experience. If you dumb down the desktop only dummies will use it.

  14. Graham Wilson

    I wish it were so. For most PC users, Linux is a dead duck.

    "The thing that'll bring Windows converts to Ubuntu 11.04 – due on April 28, as the company is expected to confirm on Thursday – is its new Unity interface."

    I wish this were so but I'm afraid it's just a pipe dream.

    No matter how it's dressed up, Linux--the less than 1%-er--will always remain so because it's not Win-API compatible or even operationally close to Windows, thus for the great unwashed masses of Windows users it'll always remain too hard to convert to (at least so on the PC).

    Using a dressed-up Linux on a smartphone is another matter altogether as the operational paradigm--user environment/experience--is considerably different, furthermore, there's millions of dollars involved to ensure Android's success and to iron out and hide its ugly UNIX heritage. Simply, an enormous gulf separates Android from its raw (and free) Linux/Ubuntu origins, thus comparisons are essentially meaningless--at least as far as the user is concerned.

    A lesson from ancient history illustrates this point well (the paradigm being nearly identical to the Windows/Linux one except the situation is essentially reversed). About 30 years ago, the Tandy TRS-80 computer--the prized high tech toy of its day that reigned almost supreme--came with its native disk operating system, TRSDOS. TRSDOS, like Windows, did the job adequately but it didn't offer extended features that many users wanted. (A TRS-80 with disk drives invariably came TRSDOS in the same way as a laptop today invariably comes with a copy of Windows.)

    Into this TRS-80 O/S market came a feature-rich competitor to TRSDOS called NEWDOS-80. NEWDOS-80 was not only fully operationally (functionally) compatible with TRSDOS but it was also API compatible as well as being packed with many very useful extensions not found in the former O/S. As it was both easy to use--no retraining necessary and as all programs would fully run without modifications--the outcome was obvious and immediate, nerds and the cognoscenti saw it as a no-brainer and in droves they hastily switched to NEWDOS-80 despite it costing considerably more than TRSDOS. Almost total compatibility was the fundamental key to NEWDOS-80's success--but it's something still fundamentally lacking in Linux.

    Most objective analyses of Linux/Ubuntu conclude that it's better technically than Windows, however for the average Windows user that's far from being a significant issue; to them, UNIX-like O/Ses suck big-time in just about in every conceivable way.

    For example, one just can't install Linux/Ubuntu over Windows and expect everything to continue on as normal as was the case with NEWDOS-80. Disruption is guaranteed and there'll be months--if not years--of pain before the new Linux O/S is fully bedded down and its user completely comfortable. This is just observable fact.

    Fundamentally, no matter how Linux/Ubuntu is dressed up to look like the Windows environment, it remains vastly different. Existing Windows programs won't continue to work on Linux, its filing system is different, its directory system strange and hugely frustrating for Windows users such as there's no direct equivalent of Explorer because of the 'peculiar' Unix/Linux 'root' system and the way disk drives are integrated into it.

    To a Windows user, even installing programs in Linux/Ubuntu seems absolutely arcane and bizarre and the UNIX permissions system becomes a first class enemy whenever he/she tries to copy system files or copy to the 'root' to store a file etc.--things that every power user of Windows does naturally and with ease in Windows quickly become nightmares in Linux. Maddening annoyances pop up from everywhere to block and delay the way. Simple Windows commands and concepts give way to geekish Linux jargon such as 'copy' is no longer 'copy' but an obfuscated abbreviation sent to annoy the user. Moreover, most Linux O/S instructions seem so illogical that they've no connection with any normal reality let alone the clarity of English and done with seemingly little or no justification other than the nerdy UNIX community deliberately did so to keep outsiders away.

    In essence, the various UNIX-like O/Ses (Linux/Ubuntu etc.) are perceived by Windows users as the complete antithesis of Windows--complicated, deliberately obfuscated, totally incompatible with Windows, obsessed with security [1] and extremely nerdy. As an IT manager, over many years I've tried many times to introduce Linux into the work environment and except for some exceptions such as servers and niche technical areas, Linux was quickly killed off by frustrated and annoyed users--so annoyed that they'd even go en mass to the CEO to have it removed and Windows reinstated.

    From long experience, it's become very clear to me that unfortunately Linux will remain a niche product confined to servers, technical institutions and universities etc. Especially so as dyed-in-the-wool Linux users are just as entrenched with Linux as it is, selfishly they've absolutely no desire to see Windows-like enhancements introduced to their cherished operating system even if its already tiny user base were to fall.

    I say this with sadness as I'm a long-time critic of Microsoft and I'd dearly love to see its O/S monopoly broken which would vastly benefit millions of users.

    Frankly, it ought to be obvious to even the most blinkered Linux users that the MS monopoly will never be broken until another 'NEWDOS-80' comes along to provide Windows users true competition by providing fully seamless operational and technical compatibility--or, alternatively, until the PC becomes obsolete or redundant in its present form. And that's highly unlikely to happen anytime soon as there is no contender on the horizon, and the chances of Linux branching off a regurgitated API-compatible clone of Windows are nigh on zilch.

    Whilst to some extent the smartphone and book reader etc. are making inroads into the traditional PC arena, it's the direct descendants of the original IBM PC that are still very much in control at the core of personal computing. Ipso facto, so will Windows.


    [1] Many Windows users consider Linux security as excessively restrictive and cite it as a major reason for not adopting Linux--'can't do anything without being blocked this way and that'. Unfortunately, this very prevalent attitude amongst Windows users was forged by MS in the early days of Windows and is still very much alive and well. It mitigates strongly against their adoption of Linux as for many if not most Windows users, ease of doing something far outweighs security considerations.

    1. alphaxion


      Fully agree.

      Traditionally a Windows sysadmin but with plenty of experience with OSX, RISCOS, AmigaOS etc, while being unemployed I decided to do more than my previous superficial flirtations with Linux and try to replace my home server 2003 based active directory/exchange setup with ubuntu server powering openldap/zimbra.

      During this scenario it was brought home to me just how much effort MS have put into their server OS when it comes to easily administrating things and setting services up - that's not to say it doesn't have its issues.

      In comparison to the relative ease of getting Windows services up and running, it was sheer frustration with linux while trying to figure out why things refused to work, searching google and the ubuntu support documentation for the arcane commands I needed, the incredibly poor interfaces and --help text, discovering webmin was a godsend!

      If I were a normal user, it would have been ditched as a bad idea! However, the masochistic side of me (you need it to work in IT) persisted and eventually won out and can say it was worth the effort and challenging my knowledge, but that's something you'll *never* get a user to do.

      There's a reason why "it just works" is one of the most powerful selling points around.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Oh yes

        the windows so-called "sysadmin-technicians".

        You know what, to do your job really quickly and efficiently on a larger scale, you would need to write custom scripts and often learn new commands/language to do so. Regardless of whether you're using Windows or Linux or Solaris or OpenVMS.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      All you need

      is Linux at school. The file system/permissions are not bizarre - they are different. But I guess you can't teach new tricks to an old dog.

  15. John B 1

    Got Linux? Everything you own is now a paperweight

    I have an oldish printer, an Epson C1100. Cheap to run, good quality. Installing it in Windows takes under a minute. Installing it in Linux takes 30.

    I've got a phone with bluetooth. It's proprietary phone manager allows me to compose texts, sync with Outlook, create notes, move and copy files and play music. On Linux, it just doesn't work. Well, I can browse it, after spending hours downloading the packages, binding the rfcomm port, and spoofing bluezutils.

    Scanner? 6 years old, has always worked in Windows, has never worked in Linux.

    After the last Ubuntu upgrade, anti-aliasing in Firefox just...stopped.

    Why do I persist? Well, if you want to move partitions about, having 2 systems renders it less likely they'll break. It boots like lightning, which when you want to browse RIGHT THIS MINUTE is handy.

    1. homercycles

      You must be doing something wrong

      ...because I have scanners and printers that either don't work (period) on Windows 7 64-bit or for which you need to download humungous drivers. If you have such devices that don't work on Linux then perhaps you're using some bizarro serial-port requiring special parity bits printer or something, or perhaps you're using some evil proprietary HP SCSI scanner card.

      Having said that: Unity can shove off. It's disgusting. I'll be sticking with Lucid Lynx until the next LTS release or I'll go back and give KDE another try (having left it when 4.0 came out).

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like