Hari's Corner

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My thoughts on Ubuntu

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted on Sun, Nov 21, 2010 at 18:28 IST (last updated: Mon, Mar 23, 2015 @ 20:25 IST)

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UbuntuSo I've finally switched to Ubuntu (10.10 Maverick) from Debian and I find it not that much different, particularly as I've been a Gnome user for some time now. I am, and will always remain a Debian fan and I really don't feel that Ubuntu is all that different (apart from branding issues and some system tools). Of course one immediate difference you notice is the sudo environment which I don't feel comfortable using. In Debian, I always prefer to log in as root to perform any administrative tasks and log out immediately afterwards. While I have set the root password in Ubuntu, I still want to be able to disable sudo completely and system-wide.

Other differences are mostly superficial. Ubuntu provides more GUI tools and restricted drivers than Debian. However, it's not THAT big an advantage because you can install the same drivers from the non-free repositories of Debian too. The bigger advantage however is that Ubuntu updates versions of software quicker than Debian (testing) and I already noticed (and appreciated) the improvements. The real benefits of Ubuntu are (for a new user):

  1. Lesser post-install configuration required.
  2. Desktop user oriented. Desktop effects can be enabled with a hardware accelerated video driver without any further configuration.
  3. No need to download more than 1 CD or DVD for the official software set.
  4. Plenty of GUI configuration tools for those uncomfortable with the command line.
  5. Software selection seems more up-to-date than Debian testing (the "testing/unstable" branch is commonly preferred by desktop users over "stable").

However, Debian does have certain advantages as well:

  1. More installation flexibility for power users.
  2. Net-install provides a basic system and it's necessary only to install the components you need after installation.
  3. Does not make any assumptions about desktop preferences since it's a general purpose distribution which can also be used as a server. All major DEs and WMs are available in Debian and you can choose to install any or none of them as you wish. (Update: I'm told on the Ubuntu forums that this is possible by choosing the other variants/alternate downloads of Ubuntu including a minimal CD.)
  4. sudo is not installed and super-user privileges follows the traditional *nix method of su.
  5. Really massive selection of software if you enabled contrib and non-free repositories as well. (Update: I've checked that Ubuntu's non-official repositories also have a huge collection so it's not necessarily an issue though the official repository of Ubuntu is much smaller than Debian's free collection)

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9 comment(s)

  1. I liked your post. I have been using ubuntu for 3 years and am pretty happy with it.

    However, some things are going to change and there will be a big interface update in the next version.

    They are not moving to gnome shell (gnome3), and instead they will use a mix of gnome and their own interface: unity

    My dad likes it already because is very easy on him (but i hes the target audience. Hes not a power user and barely uses the pc for web browsing / chat / email and some docs)

    If you want to keep, using normal gnome for the next release, then an alternative would be linuxmint, that will not change their interface. They are based on ubuntu and have all their advantages, but are a bit more polished in some aspects.

    They also have a new debian version, called debian mint, if you are into rolling releases.


    what i love about linux is all the options, there is something for everyone and it never gets boring :biggrin:

    Comment by manny (visitor) on Sun, Nov 21, 2010 @ 21:20 IST #
  2. Something I didn't like about pretty much anything non-Gentoo is that it didn't have a coloured terminal by default. I know that I do quite a few stuff via CLI and I can't stand how other distro's terminals are monochrome. That was the first thing I copied over (terminal configs) when I setup Debian on my vps :)

    Nice post though, would prove useful as now I do have a Debian and Ubuntu computer under my wing along with my Gentoo.

    Comment by Dion Moult (visitor) on Sun, Nov 21, 2010 @ 22:01 IST #
  3. manny, that's interesting! So Gnome will be deprecated in the next release of Ubuntu? If there are radical changes, I'm going to have to wait and see if I should go back to Debian or some other distribution.

    Dion, I also liked Gentoo's colour-by-default terminal. But yes, the fix is pretty simple for any experienced Linux user. :-)

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 @ 08:30 IST #
  4. well its only the main interface that will receive some changes.

    The interface called "unity" should be somewhat similar to this:

    Basically every distro will switch anyway to gnome3 at some point, just like they switched from kde3 to kde4.

    All programs will still work normally so no need to panic! hehe ;-)

    Comment by manny (visitor) on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 @ 10:07 IST #
  5. Ok thanks. I don't mind Gnome 3, but I assumed that Unity was some other DE that Canonical are planning for Ubuntu (based on Gnome). I like to keep things basic and simple and I prefer the standard DEs without frills and extra features.

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 @ 10:35 IST #
  6. I enjoyed your post. I recently went the other direction and threw Debian Squeeze on an extra hard drive. They are, of course, very similar Ubuntu being based on Debian. As for "sudo", that's easy to change. You just run "visudo" from a root terminal and then you can edit the sudoers file and add yourself.

    Comment by Homer Simpson (visitor) on Wed, Nov 24, 2010 @ 05:57 IST #
  7. @Homer Simpson,
    I enjoyed your post. I recently went the other direction and threw Debian Squeeze on an extra hard drive. They are, of course, very similar Ubuntu being based on Debian. As for "sudo", that's easy to change. You just run "visudo" from a root terminal and then you can edit the sudoers file and add yourself.

    Ah, but it seems to be harder to remove all references to the usage of sudo in Ubuntu. Is there any guide to completely removing sudo from Ubuntu?

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Wed, Nov 24, 2010 @ 08:40 IST #
  8. Learn it, live it, just sudo it!

    I'm a big fan of security, so I never use root directly or it's password, only in disaster recovery scenarios. :)

    Comment by Drew (visitor) on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 01:06 IST #
  9. But Drew, what I feel is not a safe sudo mode is to enable it by default giving full administrative privileges to the normal user created first. I still think sudo should be left to the sysadmin to configure and not in a default installation of the OS.

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 09:47 IST #

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