suitability for business
the place my mother works is wanting me to set up a simple computer system to keep the books in order. they want it to be easy to use. since i don't use windows on a regular basis, i'm going to use a linux distro so i can easily maintain it. i was wondering what people thought of ubuntu's suitability for this sort of environment. i use gentoo personally, but the time to set that up might piss them off (it needs to be working yesterday or you have failed). does ubuntu have much bloat and is it reasonably fast?
If they want an easy to use system, then almost any system with KDE and Gnome is acceptable. If they want a system that is easy to administrate, the number of distros will get narrowed down a lot. But there are more things that you should ask them before you install anything.
1. Is the latest software a must or will some "older" software be okay? If it is the latter one, then options like CentOS or Debian should be in the back of your head.
2. Is stability a TOP priority or not? In that case, Debian and CentOS should be again an option you might want to consider.
However, if they want an easy to administrate (!) system with good stability, then I would use other distros like Mandriva. Speed is btw very similar on all distros. The differences will be maybe 10 seconds here and there. Not a real factor for choosing a distro in work-environment. And the bulk-thing... well, every distro can be as bulky as you want it to be or as slim as you want. It's up to you. Out of the box, Ubuntu is not really bloated, but it has some "features" that I find really annoying in case you need to do administrative tasks (e.g. launching init 3 doesn't work!)
Mandriva: administrative ease of use 5 pts, stability 4,5 pts, ease of use 5pts, up to date factor 3,5 pts
Ubuntu: administrative ease of use 3 pts, stability 4 pts, ease of use 5 pts, up to date factor 4 pts
SUSE: administrative ease of use 4,5 pts, stability 4 pts, ease of use 5 pts, up to date factor 4 pts
Fedora: administrative ease of use 3 pts, stability 4 pts, ease of use 4 pts, up to date factor 5 pts
CentOS: administrative ease of use 3 pts, stability 5 pts, ease of use 4 pts, up to date factor 3 pts
Debian stable: administrative ease of use 3 pts, stability 5 pts, ease of use 3,5 pts, up to date factor 3 pts
These are MY thoughts. Others will have different opinions and they are entitled to them. But I install Mandriva systems (free edition) since some years for new users to Linux, both at home and in offices- for good reason - and only once encountered an unhappy "switcher" (a 63 years young user who returned to Windows where he felt more at home).
Even though I really like the latest Ubuntu, I'd go with CentOS which has lots of extremely useful RedHat configuration utilities. We've used Fedora (switching over to CentOS) for over three years now, and my folks have taken to them with relative ease. I agree with Kojak about sticking with Gnome or KDE. Both are familiar enough to Windows users to be navigable but different enough so they don't wonder where the blue "e" is. ;)
just so you guys know, this isn't a massive business. it's going to be a standalone machine with OpenOffice on it. i'm considering Kubuntu (for its familiarity to windows). i just want to make sure it loads stuff up fast enough to keep my mother (who'll be using it) from complaining about stuff. i'll be the one administrating it (it's just a small business), which is why i don't want windows. chances are, i'll be buying the PC parts and assembling it too, unless they go dell (shudder). my biggest problem is going to be openoffice, as i know that it loads pretty slowly on most distros (pretty fast on gentoo though).
my current line of thought is to go with gentoo if they are willing to wait a couple of days, or just put ubuntu on if they aren't. i'll have a look at the centos site and see what i think.
If OpenOffice is your only concern, then there is one question that roams the back of my head: Have you tuned OpenOffice already? OOo is primarily "slow" because people forget to boost the RAM for OOo in its config-tools. By default, OOo uses some 16 MB RAM. Once you change the value to e.g. 64 MB or 128 MB, it opens pretty fast.
Agreed. With RAM set higher that the default, OO flies along pretty nicely. We use it exclusively on all our Linux computers, and even on our few Windows boxes.
Tools > Options > Memory.