Ubuntu 13.04, Mint 14, and VMWare
This is not a review. I haven't spent enough time on this to be fair. Based on my findings so far, I probably won't.
Every so often, I will read something or think of something that will send me on a too-late-for-a-school-night snipe hunt. Last night, it was a chance article on running Linux distros in Windows VMs. My previous experience with dual-booting taught me that it's just enough of a hassle to ensure that I just won't. I always ended up back in Windows because that's where most things run. But VMs are getting better and better so I decided to see what the hottest distro in the world of OS was looking like these days.
I used VMWare's free-for-personal-use engine as the host for the experiment. I could write a review for that but I'll leave it at "fast, free, & simple". Or, even more succinctly, "I didn't uninstall it".
I then downloaded Ubuntu 13.04 from their website. Dropped the ISO into a download folder, drilled to it from VMWare, installed it with all defaults, installed the VMWare tools, set it to full screen and, boom baby, I'm using Linux on my Windows box.
If you know my thoughts on Windows' Metro interface, then you'll probably guess what I thought of Ubuntu's Unity interface. Canonical has finally succeeded in creating the Linux distro for people who hate computers. Everything is oversized, customization is minimal, hidden, or impossible without third-party apps. It was, quite simply, not for me.
So, next, I downloaded Mint 14 with the Cinnamon UI. Now, that was a distro more to my liking. It was getting late so I haven't played with it as much, but I could see that as being a possible keeper. Of a sort.
Linux is still missing some of my favorite apps, like AutoHotKey, or limps by on weaker or unofficial apps, like Chrome or NixNote. The gaming options are improving, with the advent of Steam for Linux, but it's still not a fair fight. In short, I'm not really tempted to dump Windows just yet.
But with the simplicity and stability of modern VMs, it is certainly easy to keep an eye on Linux. Any day now ...