I recently started using Ubuntu 8.10 at my workplace as well. Till then, I have been using Ubuntu only at home. For me, Ubuntu@Work was very different from Ubuntu@Home. I mostly surf, blog, listen to music and play some games at home. But Ubuntu@Work was a completely different scenario.
Since I’m new to this linux stuff, it took me some time to configure things like static ip address, host names etc. But once everything was setup, things started moving quickly. I initially had doubt in my minds about the font rendering of NetBeans (or any swing app for that matter) under linux. I even wrote an post showing my frustration with NetBeans font rendering when compared to Eclipse. But with jdk.1.6.10, font rendering is smooth and NetBeans works like a champ! You can see some samples here:
But not everything is perfect at this point of time. For example, the combo boxes are not rendered properly. But apart from these minor glitches, NetBeans runs very well on Ubuntu.
I initially thought of using my already existing netbeans projects in a ntfs partition. But later, I decided not to go for it. I thought working on a native “ext3” partition would give better performance and I can say that I’m not disappointed.
With my projects in a “ext3” filesystem, opening projects and editing files are faster now. And with excellent subversion integration, working as a diverse team is not at all an issue. (I’m the only one using Ubuntu in my team so far. :-) )
So far, I have been doing Java development on a Windows XP machine and I can say with absolute confidence that Ubuntu offers a much more better development environment. I can connect to other Windows machines in my network using “Terminal Server Client” which comes with the default Ubuntu installation. Yes you can argue that Windows has “Remote Desktop” by default as well. But Ubuntu supports not just “remote desktop” but also “VNC” by default. With VNC, I can connect to linux servers and other old windows machines (2000, NT).
Just in case if you want to connect to that old operating system, it’s very easy with Ubuntu on your side :-)
And I use to depend heavily on WinSCP to share files between computers but I was stunned to see Ubuntu providing native support to ssh which is integrated into the nautilus file explorer as well. This feature alone saves me a lot of time!
What more, you get a powerful “Network Tools” which can do some simple operations like “ping” to scanning for opened ports in a remote computer.
There is an excellent partition editor as well in the form of “GParted” with which you can easily resize/create/delete/format partitions. I use this to manage partitions even in windows machines.
Remember that crappy “Disk Management” tool in Windows?. Yes there are tools like Partition Magic for Windows, but in Ubuntu, all these things are available by default and costs absolutely nothing.
Moreover, boot up and shutdown are very fast with Ubuntu 8.10 than with Windows XP. The OS itself consumes much less memory, so other applications get more resources. Especially when you have a system with minimal configuration, then Ubuntu Linux is definitely a better option than Windows.
Setting up a fresh system with Windows XP + drivers + other softwares normally take more than 2 hours but setting up a similar system with Ubuntu will take less than half an hour. And do I need to say that a default Ubuntu installation comes with softwares like Firefox, Pidgin, OpenOffice, GIMP etc. And you can find most of your favourite software in the Synaptic Package Manager. You will enjoy installing softwares like Picasa, Google Earth, Skype etc from within your operating system. No need to go to 101 sites to download 101 stuff!
And kindly note that Ubuntu Linux is not the only option you have. There are many other great Linux distros like Fedora, Linux Mint, OpenSuse etc. Since I use Ubuntu at work/home, I shared my views based on Ubuntu. I just installed Linux Mint for my wife which looks like a drop-in replacement for Windows. (Actually she couldn’t believe that it’s linux for quite some time)
With it’s excellent performance even on old hardware and with lots of bundled software tools which boosts productivity, Ubuntu certainly provides excellent environment for development. Add NetBeans/Eclipse/Intellij IDEA to this and you get a powerful java development environment that will cost you less and provide more value for your money/hardware.