At least 5 years ago I tried to install the Linux operating system on a PC. After a morning of fiddling and reading, I gave up. It was just too much hassle.
Reading about the great advances in Linix simplicity I tried again last year with "the best for the common man" version, Ubuntu. I saw login screens and menus but, ultimately it failed.
Last week I watched a video from Digg in which Nelson Mandella explained the meaning of "Ubuntu". I don't know if he was referring to the Linux for "everyman" but he certainly seemed to know his Zulu.
I downloaded the very latest version of Ubuntu. Burnt it onto a CD. Put the CD into my drive. It loaded, right there. Straight into the "live cd". This means you can see Ubuntu working and play with it without it actually installing anything on your hard drive. Clever. It seemed just like Windows ... but different.... faster and distinct. Its hard to explain what I liked about it, but there was this button on the desktop "Install". I clicked it... and it started installing.
It did everything , it was so simple. It even made a partition on the hard drive... seamlessly and added a boot chooser.
It rebooted, I got to choose between Windows or Ubuntu. So simple. So simple.
I fiddled with it for a bit after install (And I didn't go OS Blind) and then I fiddled with it some more. It comes with Firefox installed, and its the same as the Windows version. Uses the same extensions and all. I added the brand new Google Firefox Syncroniser (which absolutely rocks) and now its just automatically syncs between my laptops, home and work PCs. So, I am writing this in Writely in in Firefox Ubuntu but I could be on an XP machine.
Apart from high end games, anything you can do in Windows or Office you can do in Ubuntu. It comes installed with Open Office, email, Outlook equivalent etc etc and if it isn't installed with Ubuntu there are zillions of free programs available to be installed from within the OS (see below).
I wont try and explain what its like as an experience, if your curious download it it from Ubuntu.com and slap it on a CD to see for yourself. But these are some key points:
- XP File System - I cant seem to access my windows hard disks. I don't know if me or if this is possible but it sucks right now. I have had to migrate all of my files using a pen drive. Maybe I'm a klutz but this needs to be solved.
- Fonts - I don't like the fonts but apparently you can have clear type like in Windows.
- Graphics - The resolution for the display isn't as high as on Windows, but again, I think that's a driver issue I should be able to fix.
- Its free and open source - this has to be the future. Given the choice between A and B where A=B and A is Free I think you would chose just like me. Ubuntu is to Windows what Fair Trade Organic Vagetables grown just down the road are to genetically engineered mass-produced-grown-in-a-vat on the other side of the planet vegetables
- Application Installs - So many applications that are easy to install. The application installer user fullis like I tunes.... you don't need to visit any websites, its all done for you. You want a game: You see all the available games and install the ones you want. Same with any application. I was really impressed by this.
- WINE - I have some programs in windows that are written for windows and I use them daily, Password managers and other "portable apps". In a matter of seconds you can install WINE (Windows Emulator) and run these apps. Its a life saver for small but useful things you need.
- Easy - Its easy to use. I think easier than Windows. It seems to be more.... guiding.
Why would you move to Ubuntu from Windows?
You are sitting reading this on your desktop that came installed with Windows XP. You have all of your documents and applications and media and... all that Jazz. You know it works with your digital camera and your printer. Its what everyone else you know uses. Why should you change to Ubuntu?
I think you shouldn't.
There is no point moving from a system that is working well for you.
There is a high chance however, that you will move to Ubuntu at some point in the near to middle future.
When will you move to Ubuntu?
- When your in the store and there is the Dell with Windows Vista on it that costs $200 more than the one with Ubuntu on it.
- When workplaces realise that they can a) be more secure and b) save thousands upon thousands with little or no loos of functuionality pr productivity.
- When your friends start using it and selling you its virtues.
- When rather than upgrade you insert the Ubuntu CD and go that way. When you friends start using it.
- When Google adopts it as its operating system of choice. The idea, often mooted, that Google will develop it's own Operating System is preposterous when there is Linux, especially Ubuntu. Web Services need an operating system. Web services are the future.
- When you try it out using the Live CD. Safely install it and use it occasionally but increasingly because you know, and everyone is telling you, that Windows is a dying operating system.
Given the choice between A and B,
Where A is better than B,
and A is Free
I think you would chose just like me.