As I’ve blogged before, I am in the search for a new computer and have decided to get a laptop and a desktop to meet all of my needs. I will probably end up using a Mirra or something similar (NAS) to get my machines in sync. On the laptop side, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a convertible Tablet PC. To me, a convertible Tablet gives you the best of both worlds – It’s a laptop that has all of the functionality of the traditional laptop and yet can covert to a slate Tablet when needed.
I’ve wanted to try-out a Tablet PC before I buy it and so my brother was kind enough to loan me his Toshiba M4 Tablet and it only took 3 months of begging, nagging, threats and the other usual incentives to finally get the Tablet. To annoy me, he installed the first beta of Vista Tablet on his machine which made it pretty much useless. In Vista’s defense, this was the 1st beta of Vista Tablet and the installer was my brother. I don’t think I need to say anymore. 😉
So I install Windows XP Tablet edition to really see what the magic is all about and I am completely in love. While I used the Tablet in a conventional laptop mode most of the time, I loved the fact that I was sitting on my couch reading blogs using my pen. While I haven’t tried it yet, I think reading an eBook on the Tablet would work really well and the mobility and folding form-factor would make it ideal for reading on the couch or in bed. My only hesitation is trying to figure out if I should jump now or wait for the dual-core Tablet PCs to ship.
On a whim and with no football on TV to suck up my time, I decided to install Ubuntu on the Tablet PC. The word Ubuntu is based on an African word meaning ‘humanity to others’ and it is a freely available Linux-based operating system with both community and professional support. Ubuntu is very easy to install and use and I am always amazed at how easy the install process and just how usable it is as a client machine. On the Toshiba M4 Tablet, I just reboot with the Ubuntu install CD in the drive and reboot. Upon boot, I answer a few simple questions about disk portioning and the installer goes away and installs the OS. While there is no support for Tablet like functionality in the Ubuntu at this moment, Ubuntu worked like a charm using the M4 as a traditional laptop. I shouldn’t be but I continue to be amazed as just how easy it is to use Linux on the desktop.
I haven’t been a supporter of Linux on the desktop as all the attempts in the past never passed my parents test – Could I install RedHat or Slackware or Debian or any other Linux distribution on my parent’s computer and leave them alone with it? I never thought so – Granted, they can’t fix all the Windows issues they run into but there are a lot more people that can possibly help them with that vs. Linux. And I consider myself a Linux guy. I’ve been running Linux in one form or another since 1991 when I built my first Linux server at Marquette University that was running v0.9x kernel as part of the SLS distribution. A few years after that, I ran the Marquette University webserver on my personal Linux box (386 – 40 MHz) for a few years before people ‘got it’ and officially started supporting my efforts. In fact, I have introduced Linux in EVERY single company I’ve worked for since the early days with great success I might add. So it’s great to see a Linux distribution that’s useable and pretty that rocks.