Slide Show: Round 1 Of The World Series Of Linux5:34 PM EST Thu. Dec. 13, 2007
Canonical's Ubuntu 7.10 competed first. The latest version, known as Gutsy Gibbon (in keeping with the distribution's tradition of odd animal names), made Linux look very easy. The community support is extensive, and there is a lot of built-in functionality. [Read More]
The desktop is very clean and uncluttered. All the menu options are neatly arranged in the top taskbar under Applications, Places, and System. Users can drag any icons to the taskbar to make a shortcut.
On the upper right, there is an icon for updates, network, sound, and date. Icons for all external devices and media appear automatically on the desktop. Files, images, and folders appear as thumbnails be default.
All system administration is accessible in Control Panels like applets under the System menu. Engineers checked under Printing to make sure the printer was detected, under Synaptic Package Manager to download OS updates, and under Network to check network settings.
The Synaptic Package Manager searches and finds all the OS-specific packages that need to be installed. Users can also search to find tools that haven't been downloaded by default, such as compilers and version control software.
The Add/Remove Software applet is organized in a manner similar to the package manager. Engineers used this to install a variety of other applications, such as games, multimedia programs, and editing tools.
The Officejet Pro printer was detected automatically and appeared under the Printer applet. Through this panel, engineers could set access control policies, check on printer status, and get printer information.
Xandros is the only enterprise product in the Debian League. For $99, it promises a whole lot, such as the ability to run Windows applications (even Microsoft Office), Active Directory support, built-in PPTP VPN to connect to the office, and security features. Unfortunately, it couldn't install on the test hardware and was automatically disqualified. [Read More]
Xandros has a look and feel much closer to Windows than the other distributions. If it had installed, engineers could have tried out desktop search. Xandros has a lot to offer, and the Test Center will be keeping an eye on it.
Freespire is this round's Cinderella. The free version of Linspire, it showed off its clean interface, feature-heavy menus, and easy-to-use desktop. It came with the beta version of CNR, its portal for updating packages and installing new applications. [Read More]
Ubuntu went for the minimalist look. Freespire seems to go for the "As Much Like Windows As Possible" look. The Computer and Network Share Manager icons are remniscent of the My Computer and Network Neighborhood icons in the Windows world. Unlike Ubuntu, the main taskbar is at the bottom, and relies on icons.
The first menu option is very similar to the START button in Windows, and has a lot of the high-level menu options and recently used shortcuts. While Ubuntu has a more logical approach to its menus, Freespire will be an easier transition for Windows users.
The icons next to the main menu are all tool-specific menus. The Trash icon opens up a menu of options specific to the trash, the Terminal icon next to that will have terminal specific options, Open Office and Firefox all have their own personal menus on the task bar.
Control Center gives a single interface to see what hardware is installed, how networking is configured, security, and other administration tasks. In order to check on the Ethernet card, speakers, and Printers, engineers started from Control Center.
The printer applet provides wealth of information. Freespire makes it easy to switch between different printing systems by listing supported system in a drop-down. Engineers stuck with CUPS. Engineers can also set personalized options, such as creating a banner page unique to each user on the system, setting up printer quotas, and setting up user access control policies. Users can be denied from using the printer depending on username or by time of day.
Scoring each of the Debian distros on installation, ease of use, and driver and network support, Ubuntu clearly dominated Round 1. Deploying it and integrating it into an office environment isn't the dirty job that desktop Linux used to demand.
Ubuntu will face either SLED 10, Fedora 7, or PCLinux OS in the championship round of The World Series of Linux. [Read More]