Ubuntu 8.0.4 LTS versus Micrsoft Vista SP1 Business edition

In the past I have tried a number of Linux distributions. All those reviews ended with the feeling; “nice for a geek but I don’t think the rest of world wants to go back to the commandline and non consistent GUI’s”. Linux has gone a long way since then and now that Novell is claiming to have the Linux desktop for the masses and Ubuntu is distributed with some hardware manufacturers, I thought let’s take a look at Ubuntu and compare it with Microsoft Vista.

So I took an Asus F7E notebook with 2GB ram and plenty of diskspace and installed Ubuntu and Microsoft Vista. The claim that Linux now is easier to install, quicker, less memory footprint and as easy as Windows to manage so ready for the average consumer and maybe the workplace.
Let’s see.

Unbuntu 8.0.4. LTS

  • Install
    I downloaded the 32-bits Live version for the site and burned the CD (on a Windows machine). I could have tried the 64-bits version but my Vista version is 32-bits so I thought to keep it equal.
    Installation is painless. First question is whether you want to try or insall Ubuntu, second question is in which language, …, location, keyboard, use the whole disk or partial, name of the user, password, name of the machine. All obvious and clear.
    Conclusion: good. Was everything recognized? No, webcam and TMP chip were skipped.
  • First use
    Before I could start using Ubuntu I first needed to install a lot offpatches. Some patches needed conformation, most installed automatically but after installation a reboot was needed. All kind of error messages flashed on the screen (all text command lines). These had probably to do with the patches but reboot went smooth and the messages didn’t come back.
    After the first patches were installed I needed to install other programs. Ubuntu comes with a number of programs installed (Open Office, some music players and graphics programs) but it comes without stuff like flash player, the right codec for realplayer, mediaplayer, no Java, no java plugin for Firefox, no flash plugin for Firefox, no DVD burner software. Luckily if you search in the repository and you know what you are looking for you will find the right software.
    All in all it took me another two and half hour just to get that working and installed.
  • Customization
    After that I needed to customize the look and feel a bit. The display resolution was good but the fonts used were crap plus it was just strait gnome. Luckily you can change the visual effects and optimize the fonts used for LCD display. After that the display looked good.
  • Use
    Linux is known for its small memory footprint. Ubuntu is not different in that. 350MB used is very good. In the past consistency of design has always been a problem with Linux. A problem that still hasn’t been solved. For instance:
    If you use Evolution Mail and Office you notice the consistency in menu structures until you take a closer look. Why does OpenOffice Word use File – Exit while Evolution Mail uses File – Quit.
    Connection with the Internet, wired and wireless, works witout a problem.
    Working with sites like YouTube and other streaming media and flash using sites require some getting used to as not all media is started automatically. Sometimes you first have to click the header or player.
    Security is a bit like the Microsoft Vista implementation. You are admin but you need to confirm any change that is significant (install of applications, change of hardware settings, etc).
    Shutdown is fairly quick and coming back from suspend or hibernate is OK. The commandlines that keep on popping up are annoying.

Microsoft Vista – Business Version

  • Install
    Installation works without a problem as you should be able to expect from Microsoft. The product key decides which version is installed. I have a Business key so the Business version was installed. That version doesn have all the MultiMedia tools but does come with VSS which in a business environment is a big plus.
    Everything was recognized including webcam and TMP chip.
  • First Use
    Before gettings started with Vista you need to install a lot of patches. I had hooped that I could install SP1 and skip a number of patches but SP1 requires a number a patches installed before it can be installed. So I just let it go.
    Vista doesn come with a lot of business applcations so I needed to install Office 2007, Visio 2007, Notepad++, Acrobat Reader, Firefox, Java, Jzip, CDBurnerXP, McAfee. That took all in all another hour and an half including patches and a number of reboots (not required by Office but by CDBurnerXP, McAfee and Java).
    Installation of browser plugins is automatic.
  • Customization
    Vista doesn need a lot of customization. Aero works and if you have the graphics card does’t need a lot of cpu cycles. Vista uses truetype automatically and I didn’t need to change anything in the display settings.
  • Use
    Well, if you are used to Windows XP you will get used to Vista very quickly. The GUI is more flashy but I didn’t find it slower, something which is reported by some people.
    Security has been improved, if you choose to give your user account admin rights (which is against best practices) than you will see a number of confirmation messages when you try to install a program or start an administrative program.
    Memory usage is hefty. The base system (with all applications installed) uses something like 700 – 800MB. Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem to slow the machine down at least not as much as it did with Windows XP.
    Connecting to the network went effortless, wired and wireless.
    VSS works like a dream.
    Shutdown is not as quick as with Ubuntu nor is the waking up from suspend or hibernate.

I can conclude that Linux / Ubuntu has gained a lot of ground on the Windows desktop. The GUI is still not as mature but that can be fixed with a little borrowing. Major questions are; whould you advise you brother or sister to work with Ubuntu or Vista and would Ubuntu fit in the workplace. Answers; No and No.
Linux still is an OS which requires the user to be willing to learn, look and analyze problems themselves and live with the quirks of an developer product and not a consumer product. Linux in the workplace has a place as a good and stable server platform. For desktop platform most companies look for a platform which can support all major business applications and give them control over how desktops are used as tool. Think about policies, locked down desktops, templates, firewall setting, use of legit applications, image management, software distribution, roll based computing, etc..
I am sure that it is possible with Linux, I just don’t see it yet. There is a lot to be said about the quality of the Microsoft software, but it works and for now it sets the bar.

12 Replies to “Ubuntu 8.0.4 LTS versus Micrsoft Vista SP1 Business edition”

  1. You should also write Compiz-Fusion which can be enabled really easily in Ubuntu and gives the desktop a “Minority Report” feeling! And the cost of the above programs…
    If i am not wrong, Ubuntu comes with Brasero for CD/DVD burning.

  2. Interesting read there. It’s a common misconception that Linux is like a “free version of Windows” and in fairness the Linux community don’t dispel this belief enough with their enthusiasm to convert users to their OS of choice.

    It’s probably worth reading:


    Your comments regarding Linux not being ready for the enterprise are quite unfounded though. There are some programs lacking for the Linux Desktop (in our organisation AutoCad is the prime example of this), but this is largely due to the software vendors of these products. Hopefully this will soon be resolved.

    For enterprise features such as those you mentioned, it’s worth noting that you have trialled a Desktop edition of software. Enterprise orientated products such as Novells Edirectory and Fedora Directory server are perfectly capable of managing larger structures than Active Directory on lower resources.

    The wind is changing and we are starting to see positive steps forward that will hopefully encourage creativity and growth through a little competition 🙂

  3. An interesting comparison, but you do have a machine that has 2Gb of RAM this is a must for Vista. With 512Mb or 1Gb see how Vista runs then by comparison to Ubuntu.

    My laptop is of lower spec and Vista is just hopeless where as Ubuntu runs slick. It is to be fair to both OS to do a scaled comparison.

    I personally won’t be upgrading the machines that have XP on them to Vista not worth the $ when Ubuntu does what I want for free.

    This is the beauty of PC’s you have a choice and all opinions are of value as long as they are of a balanced view.

    I do hope that the future is open and there is a clear and open competition to increase innovation rather than putting a pretty face on the same thing.

    Without true competition innovation doesn’t occur !!

  4. I agree with that Linux will run smoothly on 1GB or even 512GB ram. But that is besides the point. If you take a look at the type machines corporations and governmental institutions are leasing or buying you will see that they pick the average standard machines. Not the top of the range and certainly not the obscure old and underpowered types. The standard at the moment is a duo core laptop with 2GB ram and 160GB disk. Cutting down on the amount of ram won’t lower the amount of invested money very much. Standardizing and a cheap support process are.

  5. Free DVD decoders are easily available on the Internet, but before you actually click on the ‘download’ button, you need to take certain precautions because not all decoders will perform as per your expectations. Moreover, since the threat of spyware, viruses and other malicious codes is always present, you just cannot afford to download any decoder that is listed on the Internet.

  6. I think you left out a couple of key points on your Vista install:

    1) The download and install of the patches and service pack for Windows Vista will take more then an hour and a half. You must have already had the patches.

    2) Consumers buy off the shelf and are not savvy enough to get upgrades or even know that they need one. Windows Vista on 1 gig let alone 512 is a joke.

    Windows Vista needs to be just like Windows ME and get sweeped under the rug.

  7. One plus with Windows Vista is that the number of patches available is limited compared with Windows XP or even Linux. At least now.
    Installing all 960 patches of Ubuntu took me more than one hour. Windows Vista SP1 plus some new patches a lot less.
    Saying that you cannot run Vista on 512MB is an idiotic remark. It is a bit like saying “why do we need a 64-bit OS if we can do it with 16 or even 8 bit”. The cost or the amount of memory is not the issue!
    These days you cannot buy an off the shelf machine (laptop or desktop) with less than 1GB internal memory. And if you look at the professional market, every machine is equipped with 2GB and if you want less you pay more!

  8. Well, this is a pretty good review overall. There is a little bit of over simplification going on with the comments. First – What is a “professional” machine? There is no standardization for that term other than what any one using the term decides it should. All the laptops at my company come with 1GB of ram and 60GB hard drives. There are few companies I am aware of that consider 2GB of ram and 160GB hard drive in a laptop “standard”. Even desktop machines do not receive large hard drives or memory. You can say the price difference is small, however, leverage that small see why they choose to standardize on reasonable, while not necessarily optimal, values.amount against 5,000 machines a year and you can see why they choose to standardize on reasonable, while not necessarily optimal, values.
    Second, patches are patches and the time it takes to download them…who cares. Customization is a personal choice and frankly Linux offers a ton more options than Windows of any flavor, so who cares how long it took. Linux is much more usable than it was many years ago, it still does not have the polish of Windows in terms of consistency and that is ok. Windows has a huge base of largely mindless folks. Don’t get me wrong, I like Windows for somethings, and I have many friends who are extremely talented with computers that run Windows. However, at the end of the day the Linux/BSD/Unix/Apple crowd are typically smarter, more diverse, and honestly more interesting people to spend time with….why? Because, they have proven they can think and are willing to work.

  9. i read about linux that, in linux dial up internet is not supported. though i tried to run dial up internet in fedora 4 red hat.. is it possible to run dial up internet in ubuntu ?

  10. If you were able to install updates AND software on vista in only one and a half hours you are delusional! Give ubuntu a fair shot. I work in Govt’ using both ubuntu and vista. Personaly I chose ubuntu. But I will not try to claim it is something that it is not. Unlike this obviously biased comparison. Be fair and let people make a real choice.

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