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Why Use Ubuntu?

I grew up with Microsoft operating systems. I’ve been through MS-DOS 5.0, Win 3.1, Windows 95, 98, Millenium Edition, NT 4.0, 2000, and XP. Notice how I stopped there. After over a decade of Windows, I decided to give Ubuntu a try and now have no reason to install Vista. Here are some reasons I have collected about why you should use Ubuntu.



Performance

I think its pretty ridiculous to require at least 1GB of RAM, a dedicated graphics card (Aero), and additional USB thumb drives (ReadyBoast) to be able to run an operating system. Vista I’m looking at you. Ubuntu simply runs faster and does not demand that much hardware to do so – thats the beauty of the Linux kernel.

Applications out of the Box


The Windows’ application set is pretty weak right after a fresh install. You get a calculator, notepad and other archaic remnants of software developed in 1995 when Windows 95 was released. Ubuntu comes with Open Office, The Gimp (image editor), GAIM (instant messaging), and RhythymBox (music organizer) just to name a few.

Package Manager


When I do need to install software, I can search for whatever I want from the Universal Repository in Ubuntu. I can install or remove batches of programs in a single run. Not only this, but all my software updates automatically because Ubuntu (or Linux in general) uses the concepts of packages. In Windows, installing removing, and updating programs is painful and a lengthy process. A package manager makes things quick and smooth – not to mention software in the universal repository has been tested by the community to not break your system. You can’t garauntee that in Windows when you’re downloading executables from anywhere on the net.

Security

I don’t have to worry about viruses or spyware. Yes this sounds like an Apple fanboy thing to say, but its true. Linux is a derivative of UNIX which was built on the foundation of robustness and security. I’m not going to get into the details as to why it is more secure unless you want an operating systems lecture – but not having to run additional scanning software I get my beloved CPU cycles back, giving me better performance.

Windows 7 is no more secure than Windows has ever been. Is it better than Vista? Sure. Is it faster than XP? Not so much. Does it run a ton of popular applications? You betcha. But is Windows 7 still prone to an endless array of malware programs and stuck with a pre-Internet security model? Yes — yes, it is.
I'm able to keep a Windows PC safe. I run my own Windows PCs and servers and help with friends. While I'm good at computers, I'm sure anyone who's reasonably smart can manage it as well. But I'm lazy: I don't want to always be keeping my eye on Windows threats; I don't want to worry about being hacked while shopping online; and I don't want to be careful about avoiding clicking on a crooked link in yet another malicious e-mail letter.
With Linux, I can be lazy and safe.


A Real Terminal

Use bash, the default terminal in Ubuntu for five minutes and you’ll see just how powerful it is compared to the Command Prompt. In fact the command prompt can’t really do much except for launch applications without having to install perl or other GNU libraries on top of it. With Bash I can write scripts gallore to extend the functionality of Ubuntu and make my life easier.

Restarting Your Computer Sucks Part 1


Ubuntu hardly ever requires a restart, but in the case you do need to restart its usually not the kernel that froze but your window manager. In Ubuntu I can restart my window manager without restarting my entire machine by pressing CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE. This is about a three second process. What happens when your screen freezes in Windows? You warm up a bowl of Easy Mac while you wait while Windows restarts.


Restarting Your Computer Sucks Part 2 

Updates are a good thing, they patch up holes in software and make things run smoother. Whats bad is having to restart your computer when you have to make an update, ahem – Windows. In Ubuntu you can receive thousands of updates without having to restart your computer, in fact you can even download a new kernel and still be running the previous one. This is what software engineers dub “robustness.”

Six Month Release Cycle

Ubuntu is released with better features every 6 months. I would be pretty disappointed to have waited 5 years for Vista to see that its merely a dumbed down version of XP with a skirt.

No Pirating Necessary 

With Ubuntu I don’t have to pirate my operating system. Its free. So is the included software. Even if you don’t pirate Windows you still feel the backlash from Microsoft because you are forced to download spyware such as Microsoft Genuine Advantage which verifies that your software is legit. Even if you’re the good guy you’re stuck paying over $200 for an operating system with spyware installed by default.


Choice

The Linux philosophy is about freedom. I have a choice between which window manager I want to use, I can extend any part of my operating system, I can tweak it to perform and look the way I want. Ubuntu is a reflection of me. In Windows you’re pretty much stuck with one interface, and no individuality. Maybe this was acceptable for older folks, but for those of us who are Generation Y – self expression are our strengths.

Community

Ubuntu stands for humanity to others. The Ubuntu community can help me answer any questions I have or solve any problems within one day. Thats a very quick response time, and the amount of knowledge in the forums, wiki’s, and blogosphere is astounding. I learn more and more every day. Granted, there are lots of Windows help on the internet, but nowhere is it as close to being streamlined as the Ubuntu team.

Cheap

I'm also cheap. I use older computers until they fall apart. I have Ubuntu 9.10 working great on a 1.4GHz Pentium IV HP with 512MB of RAM — a machine I got back in 2000. I could no more get a decent version of Windows 7 (Home Premium or above) to run on that box than I could get my old Toyota RAV-4 to break 100 MPH on the highway.
But forget about the hardware: let's talk upgrade prices. You can get Windows 7 now quite cheaply. For example, Windows 7 Home Premium lists for $119.99 as an upgrade, but you can do a clean install for the same price. With some shopping around, you can easily get that version of Windows 7 for around $50. Compare that to Ubuntu, where the price is... uh... zero.


Hardware compatibility

There is a persistent delusion that Linux only supports a limited set of peripherals. Wrong. Ubuntu Linux supports pretty much every piece of hardware out there. Yes, there are some items, especially graphic cards and chipsets, for which you may need to download a driver to get the most out of your graphics.
What does this have to do with comparing Windows 7 and Ubuntu? A lot. Even though Microsoft did a much better job of supporting hardware with Windows then they did with Vista, it still has gaps in supporting commonplace devices.
For example, there's the already infamous iPhone synchronization problem, which seems to be a combination of 64-bit Windows 7 and certain high-end motherboards that use Intel's P55 Express chipset. Or how about this one, which I find hard to believe but it's true: many HP printers still don't have Windows 7 drivers.
How can this be!? The last time I checked with IDC, HP still had 54% of the U.S. printer market. Amazing. Simply amazing.

Applications

Conventional wisdom is that Windows has the software advantage because it has more polished applications than Linux does. And it does. But how many of those do you use? Sure, if nothing but Adobe Photoshop will do, then you're not going to want to run Linux. Of course, my question to you then is why aren't you running Snow Leopard on a Mac — but that's neither here nor there.
But, with the exception of games, I don't see any reason to favor Windows. Ubuntu Linux comes with a free office suite, OpenOffice. If you want an office suite for Windows 7, you're going to be paying extra for it. Want an e-mail program? Outlook Express doesn't come with Windows anymore. Ubuntu has Evolution, the best e-mail and groupware client on the planet as far as I'm concerned. Need to back up your system? Both can do that, but only Ubuntu has its own online back-up service, Ubuntu One, with 2GB of storage.
Want a program that doesn't come with the operating system? Easy. Use the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu's new one stop application "store." I put store in quotes because it's all free. With Windows, you know the drill. Go to your local store, poke around what's available on Download.com and Tucows, etc. etc. Just be sure to have your credit card ready since a good deal of Windows software isn't open source or free.

I don't expect really to convince any Windows fans out there to switch. What I do hope for though is to give you some food for thought. Give Ubuntu a try; there are many easy ways to try Linux without changing anything on your Windows PC. You may just fine that Ubuntu or another desktop Linux will do everything you want to do on a computer with a lot less trouble and money.

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