I use Ubuntu Linux and have for over a year now on my Dell laptop. I started out using PclinuxOS but found that Ubuntu seems to run on my system much better with more updates and upgrades that come twice a year. There also seems to have a much larger user base and with this larger community comes joint knowledge that you can tap into any time (or if) you have any issues. For the average user that wants to just surf the net and listen to music, Ubuntu has everything you could possibly want right out of the box. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put down any of the other Linux distributions at all. Fedora, Open SUSE, Mandriva, Sabayan and Debian are just a few of the best out there, they just don’t run as well on my system. Below are some of the reasons that I and anyone else interested should switch to Linux
It’s free. All you have to do is download an ISO file and burn it to a CD or DVD. Boot your computer with it and go from there. Keep in mind however that after installation, you can add many more features and software and the system will boot off of your hard drive about ten times faster. Many distros (slang for distributions) do not include java, flash etc. due to space limitations of the live CD. After installation those items can be installed within a matter of minutes also for free. Some retailers are now selling Ubuntu off the shelf for around thirty dollars or so. The software is still free, you are just paying for the an additional amount of support. Even then that thirty dollars is way cheaper than any Windows variation has ever been. Even when you do buy an OS like Vista, you do not own it, you are only paying for the license to use it. With any Linux distro if you have the knowledge and the ability you can change it however you want. If you have the time you can even come up with your own distro. This is one of the reasons that I think businesses will begin to embrace Linux is because they will no longer be required to do everything the way that Microsoft dictates and will be able to fashion the software they use in any way they want.
We have already established how much cheaper Linux is, but what about security? Is it secure? Absolutely. All my life I have heard about computer viruses and email worms, trojans, and other malware. Not to mention, software installed on your system that tracks websites and causes pop ups which just hogs system resources and bogs down your system. What I have come to realize is that it is not computer viruses, but Windows viruses; not email worms, but Outlook worms. These items simply do not run on Linux. There are anti virus software that runs on Linux but it is not to protect the system running Linux but to protect any system the it comes in contact with. The Linux OS simply will ignore a worm file in an email and send it right on with the email possibly infecting the unsecured windows system. I personally do not use anti virus software on my system because if someone is crazy enough to use windows and not have an anti virus program running, then they deserve it. So to add to my first point you will also save money by not having to purchase anti virus software and subscription updates.
Ubuntu and many other distros keep their free software applications in repositories which are accessed whenever you want to download and install an application. Ubuntu has literally thousands of applications. Software for educational purposes, networking, browsing the internet, playing music, burning CDs, and DVDs, backing up your data and working with different types of media. For just about any program that you would use in windows has its free counterpart that is used in Linux. For instance, for Photoshop there is Gimp, for Outlook, there is Evolution, just to name a couple. Also, these applications are free where their Windows counterparts cost an additional amount to “buy,” adding even more savings to the Linux system.
Another thing that has impressed me about Linux is the amount of people out there willing to help you with any problems you have. When I first started using Ubuntu I had a couple of issues with my wireless connection. I simply didn’t know enough yet to fix my problem. I posted a thread on Ubuntu forums and within a few minutes, someone answered my post with a solution that was really simple for me to do and understand. That issue has been fixed now even with the current installation and is no longer an issue. For the vast majority, their systems will be up and running within a half hour or so with no issues whatsoever, but it is nice to know that if there is an issue or if you just want to know how to do something, there are the individuals out there who have the know how and the willingness to help you.
I don’t know about you, but I used to pull my hair out waiting for my XP system to boot. It would literally take ten minutes or more. It would really drive me crazy. My Ubuntu installation takes maybe two minutes tops. It operates with much less of the overall system resources than windows did also allowing the applications running to run smoother and faster as well. Also, each new version of Windows requires more and more system resources to run it meaning if someone is to keep up with the times and ensure that their leased software is supported, they have to buy new equipment every couple of years sending older computers and equipment to the junk pile. Ubuntu and Linux in general runs just fine on older computers and servers and removes the need to upgrade you equipment as often saving you money as well as helping the environment .
So we have established that Linux will save you lots of cash as well as headaches and is better for the environment. Is there anything that windows does better? Well, it depends if you have your system mainly for playing games. Linux can handle any games that play inside your web browser, but anything that is installed like World of Warcraft, Spore, or Warhammer will not run on Linux without running in an environment that has a “compatibility layer” like Wine. To accomplish this is not for the average user and can be pretty difficult due to the fact that config files have to be edited which has the potential to crash your system if you don’t know what you are doing. I simply do not feel confident enough to attempt it. I do not believe that these games are written for Windows due to any performance ability but simply that windows was the only thing available for games to run. I truly believe that games could be written for Linux that would out perform games on windows but the market is simply not there yet. Computers can also be dual booted in which both operating systems can be installed and as the computer boots it will ask which one you want to use However with companies like Dell, HP, and some others now making available computers that have Linux preinstalled on it will only increase the use of Linux in the months and years to come. I think as soon as the mainstream computer using community becomes aware of the benefits of using Linux, Microsoft’s days will be numbered.