Last year, around this exact time oddly enough, I tested out the Linux waters with Ubuntu, I will admit at this time that I went into that review wrong. I didn’t know much about Linux, I’m a Mac user who used to be a PC so while I may be a tech head my operating system experience is limited to XP and before and OS X (version 10.2-10.5.6), I went in comparing Ubuntu to those and to be honest I realize a month or so ago that I basically did an exact comparison of Ubuntu to OS X and Windows…and while they are all operating systems they all do the job very differently and I didn’t take that into account, automobile reviewers don’t do a direct comparison between a VW Passat, a Saturn ION, and a Scion Xb, and I shouldn’t base a review of Ubuntu on how it stacks up against OS X or Windows.
Last year I said that it felt like an unfinished, unpolished piece of software, I didn’t appreciate what Linux is. What a difference a year makes, I got older, a little more laid back, and a little more open minded.
I stated, I just didn’t get Linux, it wasn’t on par with OS X or Windows and that I really couldn’t understand really why the Linux crowd was such a staunch proponent of it, and as I look at that review I realize that I was judging the user interface and lack of commercial/supported applications that I had. I was wrong for looking at it this way, I was wrong about the entire Linux experience, in fact I might have even been classified as something I’m not a big fan of, a Mac snob. But the bottom line is (or was) I was wrong about it and here is Linux Review 2.0.
As a non-Linux person myself I’ll speak to that demographic in this review, Linux is an open-sourced operating system that comes in many different distributions and some are much more easily learned when coming from a Windows or Mac environment than other, Ubuntu is pretty much labeled as the everypersons Linux distro and even that comes in a few different flavors, i installed a few different versions to check out and if I was to recommend a version to someone it would probably be (depending on their computer comfortability factor) plain Ubuntu.
The great thing is right out of the box if you are switching from Windows is that you just prolonged the life of your “older” PC and you just switched to a much more secure operating system without the need for extra software.
- leaner system requirements needed, this means that older PC is going to run fine on it and you’ll probably even notice a performance increase
- free software (office suites, graphics programs, email, etc)
- easy user interface, feels very familiar and in most cases easier to use than Windows
- frequent free updates
- more secure than Windows
- it is open-sourced and not as “polished” as Windows or OS X (this goes for the software as well)
- you can’t use programs that you have already bought for your PC (we stick to things because we was familiar with them and this goes for software as well)
- slight learning curve
- sometimes you have to hunt for drivers for components, and occasionally they just aren’t there
- it isn’t what you are used to
It is free, it is more secure than Windows and it runs faster because it isn’t loaded down with bloatware or spyware but it isn’t Windows or OS X, the latest version of Ubuntu 9.04 is very nice looking and provides an easy to get used to interface but it is pretty big change especially for a Windows switcher. One of the cooler things about Ubuntu (and many different distrobutions) is that you can actually download them, burn to CD or thumbdrive, and run them without installing them in LiveCD form before you make the full plunge, they are also normally bundled with web browser and drivers so you experience it as if it was installed but when you are done you can just reboot into your installed operating system. When it comes to actually installing it on your hard drive it is like any other software, a few bits of information (username, password, etc), a few next buttons, and setting a time zone and you are ready to go.
Ubuntu, like OS X is designed with the user in mind, and installing and removing programs is very easy and as I stated above while they software offerings like Open Office and GIMP aren’t as “polished” as the current versions of Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop they are in fact very impressive offerings especially when you realize that by installing these two suites you just saved almost $1,000 suddenly an older looking user interface isn’t necessarily that bad. Sure open-sourced software is available for all operating systems it is when you realize that you don’t have to run antivirus and other “protection” software in the background that the full open-sourced Linux beauty comes through.
Linux used to be the operating system of the command-line crowd, the uber-geek if you will, but with Ubuntu and other user friendly distributions available it is the perfect operating system for students or those who just use their computers for email, surfing and homework.