Life is full of surprises. Some, like the sliver of plastic you find in your half-eaten sandwich, aren’t very pleasant. Others, like escaping a visit to the dentist without having a cavity filled, just remind you how much more stressful your day could have been

This week I installed Ubuntu 6.06 LTS on my company-issued HP-Compaq tc4200. It was definitely a surprise of the latter variety. I gritted my teeth, prepared for the pain that is a Linux install…. and nothing happened.

Let me just cut to the chase: it just works.

At work I use everything from Gentoo (my desktop machine) to Redhat, Fedora, and SuSE on our servers. Ubuntu, at least in terms of getting up at running quickly and painlessly, blows them all out of the water.

Ubuntu installed on my tc4200 in about, oh, 6 clicks. Power management just works. CPU Frequency scaling just works. Wireless… just works. THE PEN…. just works. Jaw dropping I tell you. And I didn’t have to set anything up, edit any files in /etc, or slog through pages and pages of configuration tools.

There are a few things that don’t work, but they pale in comparison to what does work: xrandr doesn’t work, so I can’t flip the screen closed and be off and drawing. Suspend mode doesn’t seem to resume correctly, but I don’t think it works in Windows either, so I’m not really complaining. And finally, there is no Wireless Manager like the Mac’s Airport tool or even Window’s horrible wifi network browser. But the networking control panel is so easy to use, I don’t really care. Oh, switching network location profiles seems a bit spotty and slow, but really, it works well.

If you are going to try Ubuntu, I would highly recommend reading Unofficial Ubuntu Starter Guide as soon as you get it installed. Which won’t take you long at all.