I am a huge fan of Ubuntu Linux ever since I installed it on my home desktop!! It has never hung up on me since then except once (that too due to some hardware problem). The GUI is very user friendly and is improving every time a new version is released. Normally Ubuntu releases new versions twice every year, once in April and other in October. The Operating System comes bundled with all the features like office, photo manager and editor, browser, email program, internet tools and much more – out of the box!!! So once you install it, you can immediately start working (unlike in Windows, where you have to purchase and install software including drivers to ready the computer for use). And like an icing on the cake — it is FREE!! I am a huge supporter of Open Source software like Ubuntu. I recommend people to come out of the Windows web and experience the freedom offered by Open Source.
Advantages of Ubuntu are:
- It’s free of charge (seriously, you can download and install it for free!). Go to http://www.ubuntu.com/ for more information.
- You’re free to do with it as you please (no proprietary / closed source apps, unless you install them yourself.)
- Support may cost. However, you will not pay for help from forums and online chat, which I employ and all my problems till date are solved.
- Ubuntu comes with a huge store-house of applications called repositories, you can download and use via package managers that make installing things a breeze.
- Once it’s up and running the way you like it, it pretty much maintains itself. There’s no defragging, virus-scanning, spyware scanning, or other maintenance. I am using 8.10 since October 2008 and have never had any problems whatsoever till date despite my computer runs throughout the day!!!! A rarity in the Windows world.
- Linux makes good use of older hardware. I’m running Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex with all the bells and whistles turned on on an old P4 2.4ghz box, and it runs smoothly and efficiently. Meanwhile, to get Win Vista running smoothly (with some of the bells and whistles on) I have to run it on on a dual-core 2.4ghz with 2gb ram.
Disadvantages of Ubuntu are:
- You can’t just walk into the software store and buy software for Linux (rare cases, like some games now support Linux, but for the most part, no). Not being able to play the most recent comp games on it tends to be a major turn-off for younger folks. However, now a days, Computers are mostly for file server/storage, internet, audio/video, etc these days instead of game playing.
- Things break-sometimes. Ubuntu tends to be “cutting edge”. If you don’t like it, you can stick with an older version (Ex: Hardy Heron 8.04 was pretty solid). Or, stick with their Long-term releases, which are more stable and supported for 3 years.
- Even when you install some things through their package managers (which have tons of different software), it can be a pain getting some of that installed software to work. Ubuntu developers have to improve on that one.
- You usually HAVE to run it on older hardware (like a year or so old at least) since hardware support can be hit or miss, especially with cutting-edge hardware. The hardware manufacturers are still pretty anti-Linux, and usually don’t make Linux drivers for their hardware. So, the Linux crowd has to reverse engineer or ad-hoc build some themselves.