Vista is "OK", says Ubuntu-converted teenager

Vista is "OK", says Ubuntu-converted teenager

Summary: Having finally gotten my oldest son a nicely-working install of Ubuntu on his laptop, I couldn't resist but wipe out his hard drive (saving his music, of course) and install Vista to get his impressions.He was perfectly content with Ubuntu once I had it all spiffed up.


Having finally gotten my oldest son a nicely-working install of Ubuntu on his laptop, I couldn't resist but wipe out his hard drive (saving his music, of course) and install Vista to get his impressions.

He was perfectly content with Ubuntu once I had it all spiffed up. It suited his needs and was quick and stable. However, we're rolling out some Vista workstations this coming year and I wanted to get his impressions as a typical teenager who has made it abundantly clear that he just wants something that works. "I just don't really care; Ubuntu's cool. Whatever." From the mouths of babes, right?

So away went Ubuntu (yes, I could have dual-booted, but his AV collection is growing quickly and the 100GB hard drive was much better served just single-booting; besides, I wanted to simulate a more typical experience using a single OS on a new computer) and on went 32-bit Vista Business. I had a 64-bit DVD, but decided to stick with the 32-bit to ensure maximum software support across the board (when will developers catch up with the chips, by the way?).

I took the opportunity to get him a Zune, as well, since he wanted one for his 16th birthday and Zunes really don't play well in Linux-land (surprise).

He's been using the OS for a couple weeks now. Here are his impressions:

  • Vista is "OK". Like Ubuntu, Vista works fine for him. He can do all of the same productivity software work with the added bonus of Microsoft Publisher. There are open source functional equivalents for Publisher, but none can match its utter ease of use.
  • His Zune works and all of his music is there, but the interface via Windows Media Player isn't nearly as intuitive as iTunes. However, he much prefers his Zune to his mom's iPod (I have to agree that the interface on the Zune itself is quite good, as are the built-in features).
  • Vista is pretty, but lacks all of the OpenGL screen effects that "amused him endlessly". Compiz is pretty darned cool.
  • Neither of us did any benchmarking, but his seat of the pants impression was that Vista booted faster than Ubuntu (surprising, although I did follow a number of reader suggestions and killed unnecessary services in Vista), but that Ubuntu seemed to handle multi-tasking a little better. To his thinking, the whole thing was basically a wash.

So what's the bottom line? If there aren't any Windows applications to which students are wedded, Ubuntu will be just fine for a typical teenager. On the other hand, so will Vista. As usual, it comes down to the applications and a careful assessment of compatibility needs in your particular environment. Just make sure that you choose Vista Business if you do head down the Vista road. Management is easier and it's a bit leaner than the typical off-the-shelf Home Premium install.

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Interesting...

    I find this experiment very interesting. However, there are a couple observations here:

    1) This wouldn't really be a typical experience for a typical user. Ubuntu has to be installed and configured; would he have done this (or been able to do this) without your help? It also sounds like you tweaked Vista a bit (cleanup).

    2) Would a typical user have access to Vista business? In this case, the typical user is a teenager. Most computers consumers purchase would have Vista preinstalled, with a Home Premium version at best.
    • This wouldn't really be a typical experience for a typical user.

      steeldestroyer, This man is doing IT for a school system. The machines are configured and then locked down to avoid problems. What the home user does or does not do is beside the point here.
  • =)

    "Vista is OK" says MAC OSX-converted teenager
    • Vista can be lived with

      As a Mac user who couldn't swallow the crippled MacBook Air, I bought a Sony Vaio TZ with Vista Business. After following Ed Bott's tweaks, I find it sluggish, but useable for travelling needs. The only problem seems to be that Vista does not sleep well in a laptop. With my Mac, I just close the lid and it goes to sleep. When I open the lid, it wakes up. The Sony needs to be reawakened manually, and a password entered. Part of the cumbersome UAC process.
      • re: Vista can be lived with

        When you open your lid it's not necessary to enter your password. In power options you can "change what closing the lid does" and tell it to not ask for password.

        And there are ways of minimizing UAC intervention as well. Best of luck.
  • Wait a minute

    Are you saying that a free OS is just as good as an expensive, feature rich (as MS likes to think of it) OS? Don't you realize how much time and marketing effort Microsoft has put into this? What about all the features from OS X they tried to duplicate? Doesn't that account for anything? How can something free be just as good?
    • It depends on the user's interpretation of "good"

      For some "good" indicates the unit can get email and surf the web, while for others it must function in a networked environment, or run the business tools / home software the user requires.

      For some little old lady in Florida, I am sure the 1960 VW is just as every bit as good as a 4WD vehicle for going to church on Sunday, so to her "it is just as good".

      Now in Alaska, I am sure there is no comparison between the two, the VW falls short, the truck worth every penny being asked for it.

      Same thing here.
      • In Alaska...

        the VW is just as common and just as cool as the 4 wheel drive. Seriously, if you know how to drive, it doesn't matter what you're driving, it all still works. I drove an 84 Ford Ranger with bald tires year round when I was in HS and I never had any problems. Ironically, when I was driving my dad's explorer (with 4 wheel drive) I got in a head in collision (caused by black ice) and totaled two of three cars in the wreck. (I'm from Alaska btw)

        But, your point is valid and it goes both ways - for the basic user, both are just as good - but for the techy, who can get under the hood and tweak stuff - both are just as good (or nearly so) again.

        It's the people who have a lot of "needs" but they don't want to be bothered with how it works. Like half the idiots in the world who drive sports cars and don't know a thing about taking care of them.
  • RE: Vista is

    Why would you force your kid to use a horrible OS like linux? His computer will be incompatible with that of his schoolmates. He will lack the computer skills needed to make it in today's world by having little known applications. Meanwhile all his friends will ask if he's played the latest games or used the latest software and he will respond with no. Not to mention he will need to check versions of software with the websites, download the source code, hope it compiles cleanly, then look for the executable file and hope it runs without segfaulting. Lets just say you did him no favors by forcing him to use linux.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Valid Points...

      In all honesty, this is a whole additional level of issues that comes up for casual users who have been forced, or turned to, the Linux relm. If you go into any store, nothing you can buy there will work for it, let alone the point it's pretty limited if your a Mac user in most stores for that matter. While open source is all in good, a number of others external issues exist for a mass movement to ever occur.

      Still, it doesn't amaze me that he think's Vista's OK, I mean, I think the vast majority out there would say the same thing if they used it for some measurable amount of time. Also, what services did you disable?
      • Agreed

        Just putting linux on there and saying ok you are good to go does nothing. Wait until he really starts using it or tries to do things with his computer that all his friends are doing then he finds out he can't. Linux will set you up for failure and disappointment.
        Loverock Davidson
        • For a teen Linux would be a mixed bag.

          True there are things it won't do among them is DRM.

          Of course the kid did want a zun which is why pop put Vista on the machine. Interesting choice there. No ipod. That's got to have a lot of people spinning like a top.
      • Try Ubuntu or Suse 10.3

        Linux has grown up on the desktop...installs are really easy in Ubuntu or Suse.

        BTW, I am typing this on a new Vista laptop...Vista is having a hard time keeping up with my keystrokes...I have to stop and wait for the bloody thing. I'm damn close to putting Ubuntu on it or even XP Pro.

        I have to write code for Vista, so I am stuck with it as a programmer, but I never do anything personal on it...I just don't trust's gone belly up too often, especially when I use deep and obscure features of the OS and commonly-run applications like Office 2003.

        Vista, the original Vista, was scrapped because it was even slower than today's Vista (it was written in .Net, no kidding!)...the project leader Allchin was shown the door and MS started looking for a quick fix to avoid losing face. What we today call Vista is some off-the-shelf Win Server 2003 code with a new GUI slapped on top of it in a panic to get the thing out to the public fast. That's all Vista is: it's a coverup for a failed software project passed off as a new OS. Check it out!
        PC Programmer
        • Vista is having a hard time keeping up with my keystrokes...

          Dude! What the heck are you running Vista on?!

          Unless you have the super energy saver on or maybe the handicap function this is hard to believe!!
    • Using your favourite segfault line again...

      Brother Haterock, change your favourite segfault line once in a while, OK? Everybody knows already that it is utter nonsense, and now it isn't even amusing anymore.
      • Just telling it like it is

        You can either accept that linux does have segfaults or be like most of the linux community and live in denial. You will probably go for the latter.
        Loverock Davidson
        • Go crawl back into the woodwork you came out of.

          Mister FUDmeister is at it again.
          • And you are not?

            I see you have changed your name once again.
            It is obvious to many now that Leopard wasn't the success you hoped it to be, so
            I would have been embarrassed too if I had the nomenclature you did. I can see why you changed it.

            We look forward to the many months of laughs generated towards you once Snow Leopard is released. ;)
          • LOL - very good.

            I also noticed once leopard came out and all of the reviews and boos you didn't see "it" right any more ... kind of funny. I thought I was the only one that noticed that.
          • Look - the pot calling the kettle black again...nt