Over the years I've made quite a few tests on Ubuntu to see whether it was ready for general consumption. Until now, it's never lasted more than a few hours on the device I've loaded it on because I've either had no time to test it properly or I've become too frustrated with driver setup problems to continue.
This time, I loaded it on a laptop which just didn't seem able to run Windows XP. The results were astonishing.
For a start, the laptop which has 512 mb of ram runs quite well now. On XP SP2, it took literally about 5 minutes to boot, under Ubuntu, it take about 15 seconds.
Google and Firefox
Similarly, Firefox was already installed and all of my favourite google apps and bookmarks worked a treat.
VPN and Remote Desktop
I found some instructions for VPN setup and was remote desktopping onto my work PC within a few hours. Between Remote Desktop (to Windows) and the web apps that run in firefox - and of course Open Office which was also already installed, I've got 90% of what I need on the laptop.
Wireless Network via PCMCIA Card
Tried it, found very little assistance on the internet and gave up. I'm going to stay "wired". I can live without it.
The web is full of pages which tell you how to install Notes on Linux and I tried installing according to several different versions of instructions but they were all a bit unclear and since I'm being a "typical unthinking Windows user with no patience and no Ubuntu experience", I figured it best to forge on without trying to learn anything.
I don't know much about Linux at all, and about all I know is how to extract the Tar to a folder and then run it. The Notes installer started working then suddenly bombed out with a message "The installer is unable to run in graphical mode. Try running the installer with the -console or -silent flag."
I tried the -console flag and things looked promising for a little while. Then it failed with the same message.
I can live without Notes on the laptop. It would have been nice but I can live without it.
This reminds me of an old adage from my information science days;
"If it's harder for people to obtain information than it is to go without it, then people will go without it."
This is true for systems too. I don't know if I'm looking at a Notes problem or a Linux problem - probably a bit of both. In any case, that's why they both "fail" the dumb user test (IMHO) for now. I believe work has been done on Notes 8.5, so I'll give that a go eventually.
Ubuntu is ready for use by low use computer people (or retired people, like my parents) who only want office and internet apps. It's not really ready for people who use their computer for other types of applications, or who rely heavily on Windows integration.
If I could sort out the Notes problems - and I'm sure that in time I could... I just wanted to install as a moron for this test - then I feel that, Ubuntu would be suitable for several people at my office. Perhaps I could use it to revitalise the older laptop fleet?
All in all, Ubuntu has come a long way but it still needs a good look-over by someone who specialises in UI's.