Joey Stanford's recent post about Ubuntu Ethos came at a perfect time for me.
Last night I did a fresh install of Ubuntu 8.10: Intrepid Ibex. I had avoided switching to the new Ubuntu version simply because I had a lot of things set up on my laptop that I use for teaching math and teaching programming classes.
After copying most of my home folder files to an external hard drive (I love the Western Digital Passport series), I did the install from the live cd.
After install, I did the usual updates and installed all the Linux applications I use for programming: things like Eclipse, Geany, IDLE for Python, Comix for reading comic books, and so on. I also installed the Sun Java 6 JDK using the package manager. After a nice little test of HelloWorld.java, I got the latest versions of BlueJ and Greenfoot and installed them.
Now this is where things were different than in the past. Back in the days of Feisty Fawn, I had to mess around a lot with the xorg.conf file and set some class paths for Java. I always considered these steps to be necessary evils and a small price to pay for a great, free alternatives to MS Windows.
This time, however, I didn't have to do any of those steps. None. Everything worked correctly right away. I even was able to turn off tapping on the touchpad without having to do anything on the command line.
I like the command line. In fact, I use it quite a bit. The point here, though, is that you really don't have to use it anymore. That's a good thing for helping spread Ubuntu. If you have ever considered Linux, but were intimidated for one reason or another, now is the time. The Ubuntu community can help you with the switch.
If you're a math or computer science teacher, you'll be amazed at how Ubuntu can help you with your job.