Ubuntu Computer Review

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Very favorable first impressions

hi everyone -

yesterday and today i've been trying out the ubuntu linux computer (dell optiplex gx1 -- 600 MHz) being sold for $90 from pcretro.com, a mail-order company in the washington dc area.

this is one very sweet computer. it surfs plenty fast on the web using firefox. i have a slow cable modem connection at my apartment that is equivalent to a 768 kbps dsl connection.

when i go to a web site, there's a pause for 2 or 3 seconds, and then the web page loads quite rapidly. scrolling thru long word processing documents is fast. (i.e. almost no noticeably delay in scrolling thru a 100 page word processing document.)

applications launch relatively quickly. this computer boots faster than my new pentium 4 windows xp system.

for word processing and web surfing, this is a very usable computer. with both firefox and openoffice.org writer programs loaded in memory, i was using 121 megabytes of 251 available megabytes in RAM. that leaves ample free memory for running one or two more applications concurrently.

the 20 gigabyte hard drive on this computer has 15 gigabytes free. if this computer had itunes for linux installed on it, i'd be in heaven. (apple has not announced such a program, but wishful thinking sometimes produces results.)

the version of ubuntu on this computer is version 4.10, from late 2004. presumably newer versions of ubuntu would work even better.

i'm really pleased this computer is available to community members at such an affordable price. the small size of this computer is also impressive. it's barely wider than a foot ruler. (it's 12.5 inches wide and 14.9 inches deep.)

i'll be writing up a more detailed review that will include some photos and videos. just wanted to share this info early in case it could benefit any of you.

for families that have the new $15/month dsl service from verizon or sbc, this would make an ideal extra computer to have in the house. (or it could function well as a person's only computer, too.)

this computer has a built-in ethernet port, so it could share a high-speed internet connection using an ethernet hub or switch.

this computer doesn't have a built-in modem, so it would not be well-suited for dial-up internet access -- unless you found an affordable external usb modem or found an internal modem that could be installed in this computer. keep in mind that such modems would need to have a linux driver for the computer to work with them. if i hear of such solutions existing, i'll be posting further information about that here.

- phil

Phil Shapiro pshapiro@his.com

"Wisdom starts with wonder." - Socrates

(check back here for close up photos and videos relating to this computer. coming before the end of december, 2005.)

Ubuntu Below Zero Conference in Montreal, Canada.