Ubuntu: An Alternative to Windows
Ubuntu: An Alternative to Windows

I think Windows release of Vista is a turning point in the desktop environment landscape. People are going to start looking for alternatives instead of trying to relearn how to use their computer, all the while dealing with the fact that it is slower than it ever was.

Windows has been on this train for a while now. Their entire business model has pretty much been; build a product, ship it, support it for a little while, ship a new product and force the user to upgrade. That is why you went from 95, to 98 (to realize it was 95 with bugz), Millennium (if you were really unlucky), 2000, and then XP. And now you are considering ‘upgrading’ to Vista. So what have all these upgrades been giving you? Features… Ya, thats pretty much it. You are getting an extra 101 things that you will never use. Since the interface can only support a set number of features, they have been trying to cut down on space by replacing text with images. These images are getting more and more ambiguous. For example, my uncle is an average computer user whose new laptop came with Windows Vista installed. He worked his way around it for a little while learning where everything was that had changed since XP. When he went to shutdown his computer he was confused. He couldn’t find shutdown. He called tech support to figure it out (and the person at the front desk couldn’t figure it out either, so she had to transfer him to an actual technician). Is this realistic? I don’t think so…

Its not just the interface either. Windows has been developing most of its software with Moores Law in mind. This is basically the idea that every 18 months computers will have a substantial improvement in resources. Because of this, they have been building systems that are more and more resource dependent. When the Windows OS (Operating System) loads, it takes a large chunk of your resources and never frees them. All of your actual processing is done with the remaining resources.

I didn’t believe that this was the best solution available, so about 2 years ago I started looking for other options. This is when I came upon Ubuntu. Its a Linux distribution that has been written with the user in mind. When I started using it 2 years ago the project was relatively new and had some minor annoyances. Now it is a completely different story. From the 10 minute install, to the improved speed and functionality, I could never go back to Windows. They have really thought out what the priorities should be for an OS and have implemented the requirement beautifully.

Ubuntu and all the software you will use on it is free (for the most part, unless you run Windows software on it). There is a repository system that you get all of the software from as well as Ubuntu it self. Once installed, Ubuntu and all installed software will be kept up to date with the most recent releases through an online package management interface similar to Windows Update. The major difference between Windows Update the the Ubuntu approach is that EVERYTHING in Ubuntu is updated through this package manager. So if you need to change drivers, install new software or just keep your system up to date, everything is done through the same interface. This is beautiful because all of the dependencies are taken care of behind the scenes so you just have to tell it what you want and it will take care of everything else.

I know that some people will not be able to part with some of there Windows software, but you don’t have to. You can actually run Windows software on Linux through a program called Wine. A good example of how much better Ubuntu is than Windows is my experience with World of Warcraft. I wanted to try the game, but my Windows machine couldn’t run it because the system did not meet requirements. I figured I would give it a shot in Ubuntu to see if I would have any luck. I installed it without too much difficulty and after tweaking some graphics settings I was playing WoW on my Linux machine (the exact same system that could not run it using Windows).

I could go on and on with a list of reasons why you should switch, but I will just get tired and you will get bored, so I will just give you a few links to consider.

Ubuntu Homepage: This is the Ubuntu homepage where you can download the Live CD from. Once you burn the Live CD you will be able to load Ubuntu without installing anything, so you can try the OS without changing anything on your current system. Once you decide to install Ubuntu you can just double click on the “Install” icon on the desktop and it will walk you through the install. 10 minutes later you will be a Linux user (probably with Windows on another partition)…

Ubuntu Forums: These are the Forums for Ubuntu. There is a great community of people who can help you with any questions you have. This is a great resource that doesn’t even exist for Windows users…

Ubuntu Starter Guide: This is an incredible resource for solving just about any problem with Ubuntu. Once you install Ubuntu I would recommend checking out this page. This is probably the best guide for anything you could ever want to do with the OS…

Happy Computing… :)

August 6, 2007
929 words

Linux Ubuntu

Will Stevens (swill)

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