I realize that my original plan was to try out Ubuntu Linux using the Wubi dual-boot system, making sure that everything worked and then after a full month, switching over. But I lost patience — having Windows on my disk was slowing me down, consuming scores of gigabytes of space, and forcing me to postpone what was becoming increasingly inevitable.
As a result, I took the decision last night to spend this morning backing up everything I had of value in Windows, and then making a clean install of Ubuntu Linux 7.04. As of a few minutes ago, Linux is the only operating system on my computer.
See my earlier entries to see why I chose Linux in the first place and my experience in two weeks of using it. Below are some notes on the install for anyone considering doing what I’ve done.
These notes are in no particular order — just observations:
1. Wubi is not Ubuntu. There are differences. A couple that came up: Skype comes pre-installed with Ubuntu, but not with Wubi. gFTP comes with Wubi, but not with Ubuntu. I’m sure I’ll discover more.
2. In the middle of the install, there was a moment when the progress bar stopped. The on-screen message said something about ‘downloading’. Downloading? I was installing from a free DVD that came with Linux Format magazine. So I clicked on the icon for my wireless Internet connection, which worked, and the install proceeded. Every computer magazine on sale in Britain today has Ubuntu on the CD or DVD which comes with the magazine, but if you don’t want to deal with that and are prepared to wait, the people behind Ubuntu will happily send you a CD for free in the post. (I find this amazing.)
3. The longest part of the whole process, by far, was cleaning up Windows, finding what I wanted to keep, and backing it up to an external hard drive. Setting up Ubuntu took only a few minutes, though there was the added wait caused by 81 updates which I needed to download. (The automatic downloading of updates for all software is a fantastic feature of Ubuntu Linux. Having known people whose PCs have never been updated, who use the software which came with the PC out of the box, for this reason alone people who lack IT skills should use Linux instead of Windows.)
4. Ubuntu popped up a warning early on about some of these updates being non-authenticated. I’m not sure what that means and hadn’t seen it before, even though I went through a similar process with Wubi. This is not a helpful message, especially to newbies, and should be changed.
5. Moving the files I had created while using Wubi was quite easy — I simply copied them back from the external hard drive, and they nearly all worked without a hitch. My emails were retrieved, it found my old ones, my browser bookmarks and saved passwords for the web were still there, gFTP (once installed) found all my bookmarks, and so on.
6. I wasn’t able to restore data from GnoTIME, a time tracker program. Apparently these are held in XML format and for some reason didn’t survive the migration. Fearing that this might be the case, I printed out the results of the last two weeks before making the move. For the moment, I’m using a web-based time tracking tool, Harvest.
7. Finally, I thought I’d take a look, see how much disk space I now had. A few hours ago, I was down to 21 GB of free space on my hard drive, which is actually not very much. The machine ran slowly. Right now, I’m up to 46 GB of free space. In fact, I’ve got more than 80% of my hard drive free to use again. (And no need, ever, to defragment.)
With no anti-virus software running, the system works lightning-fast. I feel as if I’ve bought a new computer.