Windows 7 (World) vs Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty (World) for a developer

May 20, 2009

Background

This initially started of as a blog posting about how wonderful Ubuntu is for a developer and the various pitfalls I found. However, since installing Ubuntu and initially being wowed I have gone back to Windows. So, I thought I’d offer up my thoughts as to why I made this decision.

For the record: I still use Ubuntu on my laptop because some of my problems with Ubuntu aren’t evident on my laptop. I do also have Windows on dual-boot for the times I need it.

This is not Windows vs Ubuntu

The (world) in the title is a hint. I am comparing my world when running Windows  against my world when running Ubuntu. This means that I am looking at not just the operating system but how I can go about doing everything that I do (mostly development work with a bit of gaming thrown in)

Ubuntu – The Good

So, what makes the Ubuntu experience better than Windows?

  • Out the box support for multiple desktops
    • That said, the apps for Windows that do multiple desktops are much more stable than a few years ago
  • Customisation of… everything
    • For example, on my laptop I have compiz set up to remove title bars from maximised windows – screen estate is valuable on a laptop
  • Automatic updates for everything
    • Nearly everything I install I use apt for. This then means it gets auto-updated with new features / bug fixes
    • Nearly everything in Windows has its own update manager… and I kill most of them as I don’t want them running all the time

Ubuntu being free isn’t such a winner for me – it only adds to the experience when you first install it and you don’t continuously feel the benefits

Ubuntu – The Bad

And… what makes the Ubuntu experience worse?

  • Initial fonts (in my opinion) are horrible
    • This isn’t really Ubuntu’s fault. Many websites are designed using Windows fonts and due to licencing the fonts can’t be installed by default
    • Solution: install windows font pack and various other bits and pieces
  • GIMP. I’m not a designer. I want to take screenshots, resize them and draw cirlces / boxes around things. I don’t want to learn anything new to do this
    • GIMP by default is the equivalent of using Adobe Photoshop by default – it’s a powerful tool but not the right tool for my simple tasks
    • In Windows, Paint.net is exactly the right tool for 99% of the image editing I do, and, I haven’t had to spend time learning it
  • Dual-screen support
    • This was a huge chore to get working right in Ubuntu – it defaulted my left monitor as my primary monitor and setting it otherwise was non-trivial
  • User interface sluggish
    • After doing some reading it seems my ATI card is to blame
  • ATI drivers
    • Couldn’t get these working… but installing/uninstalling them was a lot of grief – if ATI want me to buy another ATI card then they need to support Ubuntu better (I hear NVidia has far better support)
  • SQLYog doesn’t work as nicely in Wine as it does in Windows and I couldn’t find a linux alternative
  • No equivalent to TortoiseSVN
  • Customisation of… everything
    • A blessing and a curse. I spent far more time than is healthy playing around with things :)
  • Gaming
    • I play Team Fortress 2 to unwind – it’s not as simple to get started as it is in Windows

Conclusion

So, what made me can the Ubuntu experiment? Dual screens and the sluggish reponse. These are the only things that affected me on a continual basis, everything else I could deal with.

In defence of Ubuntu: most of the problems are not the problem of the OS but a lack of support from other people and a lack of linux equivalents to my favourite Windows programs.

I hope this is of some use to anyone with a similar lifestyle when deciding what OS to use :-) As always, comments are welcome!


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