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Wubi!

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ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13

I am just back from Ubucon (more on my talk there soon) where I discovered a brilliant project: Wubi.

The idea: install and uninstall Ubuntu just like a program on Windows.

While this might sound like a strange or unattractive idea, I was truly seduced after a short look. The reason it is so interesting is that it requires no partitioning by the user. I could rapidly tell by the conference of René Dittmann and a brief look at the website that these are people who have an excellent understanding of what Windows users want, namely:
1. Ubuntu as a dual-boot, keeping Windows behind for a few months at least
2. No partitioning. This is crucial: they don't want to mess around with partitions and this is often a blocker (it was also my biggest concern when I made the switch)
The advantage over the live CD is that it's a full install, therefore running at full-speed and with file-saving enabled.

I have seen a demo live, on a medium-power machine, and it was very nice. The app asks only two questions, then re-boots and installs a dual-boot of Ubuntu without a single dialog. The install takes a long time (it was hard to judge though); the Windows partition is mounted automatically. Upon re-boot the Grub simply shows "Windows" (default) and "Ubuntu".
The killer-feature is the un-install. It can be done from either the Windows so-called "add/remove" or a simple wubi-uninstall.exe double-click. It takes ten seconds. No re/de-partitionning to do, nothing: Windows just as before.

Problems:
- it's still beta. I don't know what bugs need to be solved
- it doesn't work with Gutsy yet
- it requires de-fragmenting before use, but does not warn (yet) if this is not done
- it allows writing to Win NTFS partitions, which is quite dangerous.

As you can tell I am highly enthusiastic about the project. I think it really is what Win users are looking for and believe there is a lot of people we could be throwing at Wubi. It would fit well with GGL in my opinion.

Since we are busy on other projects right now, and that Gusty is not supported by Wubi yet, I think we could wait another month before we do something. But afterwards I would be ready to adapt GGL, especially the "try or install" page accordingly.

What are your opinions?

Olivier.

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Joined: 2007-10-20
http://goodbye-microsoft.com

http://goodbye-microsoft.com

Smiling

i never needed such things. when i switched to gnu/linux, i just installed it and never looked back. for some, i can see it as a need, but then again, i feel that as long as there is a means to go back, they will go back. thats just my opinion, though.

EDIT: edited for clarity.

Gustavo's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-11
Hi. I had heard of Wubi

Hi.

I had heard of Wubi recently, through LXer.

It's indeed a powerful tool, yet risky as sakuramboo has pointed out. I however think it's worth the risk, but we should wait for the first stable release; keep in mind that if something goes wrong, "Linux sucks"... So I think we shouldn't talk about it yet.

Cheers.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I do think it's an exciting

I do think it's an exciting project and so far I'd say that it would help spread the word about GNU/Linux because:

  • Someone tries Ubuntu through Wubi and is impressed.
  • (S)he then tells someone else about how impressed (s)he is about it and how easy it is for them too to try it.
  • Others try it too and the process repeats

Because of the sheer ease at which people can try it out it could obviously be an excellent viral marketing tool.

However, as sakuramboo said, there is this disadvantage of it being just too easy to remove at the first sign of any kind of trouble. In a way, just as easily as it would come, it could go away too.. When people actually go through the whole install (or get a PC with a fully installed Free OS on it, they are more likely to keep trying even after a few little difficulties and therefore more likely to stick with it long term.

So.. perhaps a good way to try to remedy this with Wubi would be for it to encourage people to install Ubuntu fully and present Wubi itself as just a "trial" - in some way aggressively (but not too intimidatingly) get people to the idea of installing fully and leaving Windows behind more and more, rather than just having Windows be sort of a host.

Btw, does goodbye-microsoft.com do a full install??

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Joined: 2007-10-20
it does a net install of

it does a net install of etch, so you can specify how indepth you want the install to be.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
I think we really should

I think we really should not be afraid of people switching back to Windows. Freedom of choice is an integral part of the free software philosophy. If people stick with free software because it's too hard to go back, then we're on the wrong side! ;-)

From a purely pragmatical point of view, sure, Wubi will enable many a switch-back to Windows.
But it will also bring in many new users because:

  • no partitioning, no partitioning knowledge to have
  • no fiddling wih BIOS in case PC doesn't boot from CD (for Joe, partitioning is techy, but entering the BIOS is outright excluded)
  • a fully-usable dual-boot straight away, with no questions
  • the guarantee it's easy to remove

Believe me, the argument "you can remove it anytime all by yourself, in 10 seconds" is a killer feature.
Who doesn't hate a mailing-list that's hard to unsuscribe from? Or these charities that never leave you in peace once you made a donation? Or anything you can't get out of easily if you change your mind?

Using open standards and free software, we're bound to always "lose" people that way. But showing honesty (we're not trying to lock people in) is a good thing. And Ubuntu Gutsy is of sufficient quality to impress the user anyway :-)

Providing that Wubi becomes stable and secure, is it ok then if we replace the live-CD sections with it?
If you agree then I will try to get in touch with the Wubi community and show some support, to perhaps encourage them. I am convinced that it's only a matter of months before this becomes the standard way to install GNU/Linux on computers.

[edit: typo]

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Good points I have to say.

Good points I have to say. Well I agree with presenting Wubi to people, but I am not sure about completely doing it on the expense of livecds. Some people might still prefer livecd way of doing it, but the biggest argument I'd offer in favor of still keeping a mention of livecds is because Wubi is currently Ubuntu-specific while a lot more distros have livecds.. It would seem slightly unfair perhaps to give Ubuntu such an advantage..

So.. maybe if we're to dump livecd mentions we could do it when Wubi kind of technology becomes sufficiently widespread to be considered a livecd replacement, at least for Windows users, but not yet.

Cheers

Gustavo's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-11
I also think you made good

I also think you made good points, Olivier. Altough I fully agree with libervisco in the message above.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
Great, I think you're

Great, I think you're right. In the meantime I've posted in the Wubi UbuntuForum to wave a them a little ;-)

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