Network installation from Windows was almost trivial, though InstallUbuntu.exe would be welcome. The only non-trivial part was partition resizing. I’m completely comfortable setting up partitions (e.g., with fdisk), but based only on installer feedback, I was not certain it would attempt to resize a Windows partition, so I backed out and resized before installing.
I was very happy to find that the display, sound, ethernet, wifi, and hibernate (suspend-to-disk) all worked with no manual configuration, a minor miracle based on past experience. However, this is on a three year old computer (Dell Inspiron 2100). (Sleep/suspend-to-memory didn’t work under Windows 2000 and I haven’t tried fixing it under either OS.)
The most annoying thing about Ubuntu Linux is having to semi-manually install proprietary code for Flash and various media codecs. However, ubuntuguide.org provides exact steps (usually only a few) for installing any of these. Overall I consider this an improvement over the multimedia situation on Windows, where Windows Media Player gives uniformaitve messages about missing codecs and one is often reduced to downloading codec installers from completely untrusted websites. (The most annoying thing about installing an OS, including Windows, is usually getting all of the hardware recognized and working, so I’m happy that proprietary codecs were the biggest annoyance, but here’s to open formats anyway.)
The only other real annoyance is that I don’t like the Evolution 188.8.131.52 mail/groupware client as much as I hoped (I used it as my primary mail client around 2001-3 and missed it), perhaps because I didn’t use it with IMAP previously. Evolution has no mechanism for switching to offline mode immediately,and occasionally can take many minutes to go offline. Furthermore, Evolution often gets confused when going back online, (perhaps) particularly after awakening from hibernation or switching networks, requiring closing the program, which can take several minutes in its confused state, and relaunch. Thunderbird allows one to go offline without syncing folders and never gets confused when going back online. I may switch back to Thunderbird, though I’d miss Evolution’s vFolders and calendar support.
I’m really looking forward to Ubuntu Linux 5.10, though the real test will be installation on a newer laptop.