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A Day with Ubuntu


Up until this morning I was a complete Ubuntu novice, I had never touched any Linux operating systems and, frankly, knew very little about them… apart from the amusing penguin logo of its predecessor… I liked that.

Over the weekend, I decided to throw myself in at the deep end and attempt to use Ubuntu without any help. So here’s my initial take on the Linux operating system from the point of a true beginner… Me.

To start things off my level of computing is relatively competent. I use both Windows and Mac for various tasks, I’ve got a few android devices at home and work daily with the array of tech Ebuyer has to offer me. Admittedly, I’m no tech genius so I struggle with complex programming tasks, coding or anything that requires serious thinking time… So as a litmus test for the ‘typical consumer’, I’m right in the middle.

For this review we used the Ubuntu installed, HP 255 G1. 

Out of the box


Getting set up with the HP laptop was pretty simple. The Ubuntu operating system asked for the usual names, pictures and passwords on initial set up, then played a jazzy animation to remind me I had not accidently bought a Windows PC.

Initial boot time was a little longer than on the Windows 8 Laptop I had setup the previous day, however this could be attributed to the processing power (AMD E1 vs Intel i5) not the OS. Overall the boot and first install took about 12 minutes without any major hassle… I was not scared off just yet

Initial Navigation

I liked it! Ubuntu feels like it’s taken the stylish designs, layout and tricks from Apple OS but kept the sensible things that actually worked from Windows. Admittedly, as a Windows 7 user, I was initially thrown by some of the features like the minimise/close button in the top left and simple tricks like ejecting a device in the recycle bin, but for starters, it was pretty straightforward.

My progress was slowed a little by some of the basics operational differences I found after years of Mac and PC use. It took a few frustrated clicks to realise a window doesn’t automatically jump to the front of the screen when selected and right click doesn’t unlock the world to everything.

Design and Layout

Ubuntu feels basic, but I think this stripped-down, almost retro style works well. I like that that it’s not pretentious with extra animations or gimmicky apps and tabs, if you want to find something it’s only ever going to be in a few places.

The search bar’s not hidden away, it’s there glued to the top of the screen which seems sensible to me. As for the ‘launcher’ or sidebar as I shall be referring to it as- I can’t decide if having the icons down the left hand side is handy or perpetually annoying? I’d probably need to use it for a few weeks to find my heart swayed either way.

Having said that, I do miss the spacious feeling you get on a Windows machine and the slick design you find with Mac OS, the Ubuntu felt a little compact and short of space.

Apps and Software


I’ll admit this is where I began to get a little frustrated so let’s start with the good bits first.

I love that you get free, open software built in. LibreOffice worked perfectly well as a replacement for MS Office even if it does lack a few of the flash extras you get on the Microsoft Original. I’ve got a lot of time for Firefox and frankly it feels more at home on the Ubuntu OS than on my other laptop, where I’m usually a Chrome advocate.

I was also impressed at how files were converted to Ubuntu-friendly versions automatically, no need to tiptoe around sending Word files or downloading clunky converters.

There are hundreds of free or cheap alternate bits of software in the Ubuntu Software Centre, where I’m sure those in the know could find perfectly suited replacements for mainstream programs.

This, however, is where I became a little frustrated with the OS. I found installing third party mainstream programs a little difficult. I tried to download a basic Skype package, which although it worked, insisted I added on patches and updates before it would even run- not something I’m used to after working in the universally accepted Windows world.

A few other simple downloads turned into a seemingly endless stream of patches and error codes. Admittedly most were solved in the end and due to my inexperience, however as a beginner put me off the OS a little. For someone with less knowledge, or patience, it could have been a deal breaker.



Ubuntu is super easy to the basic user. If you want to create documents, browse the net, watch movies, quickly edit pictures and all the stuff we do 90% of the time, Ubuntu is great.

However as I dug a little deeper, I found some tasks more difficult to master. This may be with my Windows/Mac blinkers on, but I found tasks that only needed a one-click set up on a Mac would give me a plethora of options and variations on Ubuntu.

It felt like the introduction was simple but getting deeper into tasks required an actual working knowledge of the OS. It was no longer simple clicks here and there, I had to actually think what programmes and files needed to be installed!

Who’s it for?

After my introduction to Ubuntu, I honestly think the Linux OS is versatile and accepting enough to be used by a range of users… but it’s not for everyone.

Naturally it lends itself to the highly specialised, computer lovers. The Linux bread and butter users, developers, programmers and the rest of the no OS lovers- These people won’t need persuading.

I think there’s a gap for basic users. Ubuntu is ideal for students wanting an all-encompassing computer with pre-installed free software, that does the same job a £100 Office package does.

I’m also going to throw another group of users out there, the older generation. I honestly think the Ubuntu system on a basic level, lends itself to simple computing. Bit of surfing here, maybe watch a movie, and create a written doc. It’s simple stuff on a simple system that is difficult to over complicate.

Am I a convert?

Honestly, no… but I won’t rule it out. I don’t think I’m brave enough to cut my Windows/Mac ties just yet. I like my mainstream games, software and programmes too much to go rooting around for the equivalent freeware, even though I really like the concept.

You know what Ubuntu is… It’s the Aldi of computers. Unbranded, well priced and surprisingly good quality once you get used it. It just needs a few more people to get on board so rookies like me aren’t scared off at the start.

For the time being, I’m going to stick to what I know, Linux is a step too far but I can honestly see why Ubuntu is getting more and more converts. It’s cheap, easy to use and allows more freedom than the Mac/Windows OS Monopoly.

I can also understand why more and more people are running a Linux OS on budget or low powered PCs, especially for travelling or simple office/online tasks.

I’ll be practising the next few weeks and will hopefully be won over by its charms.


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  1. Great introduction to Ubuntu, very nicely presented and nice to see there was no preferential treatment to Mac or Windows.

    For those who are unaware of how Ubuntu (and other Linux distros) works when installing applications – and it does it in a farrrrrr better way than Windows does – is to actually check what it needs and what’s already on the OS before installing the software you are asking for. This is called checking for dependencies.

    The Linux installation process has been written this way so that many applications (especially server setups) can be configured (even at compile time) with dependencies and functionality that other installations don’t or shouldn’t require.

    For example: FFMPEG can be compiled to work with different processor features, or it can have certain functionality turned on or off dependent on (for example) whether you are using the application as a desktop user or server environment. E.g. Why have desktop GUI clutter when you’re running a headless server? Easily solved: re-compile the application to not include any GUI stuff!

    Most Windows applications can’t be re-compiled, you get what you get. Yes, you can change many settings, but those settings are often not quite what you wanted, or there is a lot of unnecessary clutter if you only need parts of the application…!

  2. After trying many linux version (coming from a strong Windows background), the most ‘comfortable Linux I found was Linux Mint.  Apart from when I have to use my Desktop PC for specific windows programmes, my day to day is now using an old laptop with Mint and LibreOffice.

  3. Your experience exactly matches mine. I installed it, played with it, used it for a while then went back to MS. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s free, it works on the most rubbish computer, all the apps I need are there,  but it just doesn’t feel right. When XP is no longer viable I will move to Ubuntu.

  4. Nice post, it gives a good account of what it’s like to use Ubuntu for the first time, and reminds me of myself somewhat. That being, Linux, as an OS, is a wildly different experience to Windows; you’ll open a word processor and feel “Oh nice! Its pretty much the same” but then you’ll try and do some other task like installing a program or a codec and suddenly you have to learn what repositories are, and how to use packages or source code. I have a feeling that most consumers, even techies, are so used to Windows that they come up against these changes and switch back to their Windows partition or machine. Afterall, Windows does everything and you know how to use it to do so.

    My experience was similar, but I had no Windows machine to go back to. So I climbed that learning curve, and at the top I found that Linux is a joy to use, and responded to my needs more than a Windows machine. Plus, I started really understanding my computer and feeling like it was becoming a tool rather than an interface to tools.

    I hope that you carry on your Ubuntu journey and find out for yourself.

  5. I have been useing Linux OS (operating systems) such as Ubuntu and Mint since there invention! and I am totaly commited to the use of these systems, with over 50,000 programs written and free to be used, for many puposes who needs WINDOWS XX.
    Most people that use computers are stuck in a rut with Windows, and pay a handsom price for doing so.
    Linux is free, No anti virus is needed which you pay through the nose for in Windows,! Open Office or Libre Office is free and very professional, Email and web browsers Thunderbird and Firefox are brillient. You can add Picasa for photo albums, Google Earth, Google Crome, and many popular programs especially written for Linux.
    \always use the linux repositry to aquire program downlods, do not try to get programs from the internet unless you know what you are doing! Linux is used world wide by millions of people, Governments use it in many countries.
    You will never regret trying it, its well worth the effort, and has many rewards.
    UBUNTU and MINT are in my opinion the very best of Linux.

  6. I have been using various Linux “distros” for nearly 8 years and am a firm believer is the system.  I work with people from all walks of life including business, charities to the “elder generation”.  Have installed everything from Puppy Linux on a Windows 98 machine to installing a full business server (Centos) I firmly believe that Linux can be used for everything bar Gaming (although Steam OS is on it’s way).
    Many Windows programmes can be run using either Play on Linux or for business Crossover.
    Do not be taken in by the fud from Microsoft or Apple (which is based on BSD that’s very similar).
    Also don’t forget that Android and Google’s Chrome Books are Linux derivatives.
    For most people I would suggest Linux Mint or Mageia.

  7. Im am a computer OLDIE of over 83 and I have used all the Windows programmes from Windows 3.1, right through to Windows 8.
    I have been a Linux fan for the past 15 years, and if you use Linux sensibly, it knocks spots off Windows. What is more for under £7. can get the set up disk and use it on every computer in the street if need be. I’m fed up with supporting Bill Gates good causes.

  8. Admittedly I’m a techie, but your experience describe what I go through when I have to touch a windows machine. Linux just works if you go mint or Ubuntu, but you can customise it anyway you like if you want to – Gerry into arch and you can have the ultimate personalised experience.

    You dependency confusion is a common one, and there is no reason for the OS to tell you about it. The dependencies just resolve, and in the latest 14.04 release of Ubuntu the detail is hidden, so you simply one click and it installs.

    Repositories require some getting used to, but once used to it you stat cursing windows lack. What do you mean I have to download and install it myself?

    The other major shock to new users is the number of patches, seemingly daily. But remember those repositories? Well those allow all your applications to be updated with the OS.

    Stick with it, maybe try some other distros. Definitely move to Ubuntu 14.04 – really shiney.

    You won’t get me off my Linux now. It flies on my Macbook pro.

  9. Good balanced article.
    I have been trying to persuade people to swap to Linux for some time, but it is an uohill struggle as Microsoft spend so much time and money on advertisements that it frightens the end user away from something that is; after all; FREE.
    The only problem I have with Linux, and I am using Mint/Mate, is trying to watch BT Sport, which requires Microsoft Silverlight. I have read that Moonlight is available for Linux, but have been unable to get it to work.
    Otherwise I would say go for Linux there will be a version (Distro) suitable for you.

  10. Glad to see an honest evaluation of migrating to linux. Having started on unix 30 years ago I had to migrate in the opposite direction when working in places which insisted on windows. My choice at home is linux for the simple reason that if I do not like something I can change it for free – not just applications the whole user interface.
    Hopefully this blog will be continued to show readers how the writer overcomes the features he does not like.

  11. I’m not quite as old as Ronald, being a mere 82, but I too have been using Windows since 3.1 (and CP/M before that), although I’ve stopped at XP, seeing no value in subsequent incarnations. I would dearly have liked to switch to Linux, and have made several attempts over the past several years; but I’ve always found two big problems. The first was that I earned money using my PC and although I’ve never used Word anyway, there was no useful Linux alternative to Photoshop. The second was the requirement to learn what amounts to a completely new daily language; for example, when you’ve been calling things drives and folders every day for years, it’s hard to switch over to thinking of them as devices and directories in the hurly-burly of everyday working life, to quote just one simple instance; nor was I comfortable with the vast dictionary of wholly uninformative, made-up words used to describe applications – of which there were far too many for making easy choices. Great if you’re a geek, but in sum, for the rest of us there was/is no painless way to switch from one OS to the other and maintain productivity. That, I believe, is why Linux has failed to take a hold as I for one would have hoped. I wish someone would address that problem fully.

    I enjoyed reading Danny’s blog, but I get the feeling that his problems with Linux are the same as mine…

  12. I really enjoyed reading this article, it was well written honest and most of all unbiased , Ubuntu is without doubt one of the best products no money can buy:)  I’ve dabbled with linux for about 5/6 years now and have loved many of it’s forms during that time particular favourites are Ubuntu and Mint .
    I’m not some tech geek i just like to tinker, however like many similar tinkerers out there and i suspect also the author, I seem to lack the commitment and dedication to truly persevere through the linux learning curve, if i can’t make it work, after a good few tries i run back to Windows, hence most of my devices are dual boot, Ubuntu or Mint and Windows

  13. Well written and fair article. I have now been using Linux for 7 years now. For the first six months I was constantly switching between Windows and Linux. Then, slowly I used Windows less and less. I can now do almost anything I want without Windows and have not even got it installed anymore as after a long time with no use there are so many updates to do that after about three restarts I’m just craving to get back to Linux and I’m still waiting for the computer to start. Main Problem for me is Photoshop. It’s perfect on the Mac, acceptable but annoying in Windows and a pain to use running through Wine (WINdows Emulator). I would say give it a try and you might grow to like it better than any other operating system.

  14. This welcome article illustrates an unavoidable fact about computers: if you don’t understand at least a minimum about how they work you will sooner or later come unstuck, The only extra information needed for Linux over Windows is that filenames are case=sensitive. Other than that, the required basic knowledge level is similar. The difference however is that because it is free, Linux does not concern itself with OS or application licensing and the like. My worst experiences with Windows have been in the course of moving my world from one machine to another. The combination of Windows Registry, hardware drivers and the ‘Genuine Advantage’ or whatever they call the copy protection is seldom easy to negotiate. With Linux you feel that your data is yours to move about and use as you wish, and its modular nature means you can have it vanilla and bland, or very spicy – highly adapted to your own needs. I started using it for mounting Windows drives to rescue data from machines that wouldn’t boot, and I would not want to go back to the old days..

  15. This quite a fair and balanced view of trying out Ubuntu. However, there are a couple of easier Linux options around. Mint Linux is particularly easy to install, configure and use. It’s based on Ubuntu, but has been tweaked for ease of use by beginners.

    If you’re going to “make the move” (and you should!) – it helps to have a Linux-savvy friend to help you at first. They can explain the idea of repositories (a sort of no-charge App Store!) and how to add or remove programmes. It’s actually very easy, but easiest of all if you’re shown how.

    Your only investment will be a little time and effort to learn the slightly different ways of doing things. You’ll quickly discover that Linux is beautifully consistent, utterly stable, fast, and very secure. The GUI can be configured to be very beautiful (my wife loves the look of Mint), and if you’re prepared to learn a little, you’ll find it very rewarding.

    Give it a go! Linux Mint [URL]http://www.linuxmint.com/ [/URL] is probably your best starting point. Good luck!

  16. People forget the difficulties they encountered when first exposed to a computer of any type. An MS operating system, if you’ve never used one before, is just as daunting as any other. If people started using linux (Mint, in my experience) as their first entry into IT use, they would become accustomed very easily and, in fact, a move to MS would identify with most of the problems described above.

    I moved entirely away from MS about 4 years ago, having had massive frustrations with many and various linux distibutions in previouos years. Now I use linux solely and find it extremely reliable. no need to fiddle with it once it does what you want – robust, stable, free, no visrus threats.

  17. Personally I’m a believer that every system be it for pc or phone has its upsides and downsides. Though if you love your tech or just have a curious mind it’s always fun to try different things and go against the norm.
    Personally I tried and stopped with Ubuntu, it was good and pretty fun at times. It had been due to desperation at how windows was seemingly playing up, though that turned out to be hardware as the issue persisted in Ubuntu.
    I found it fairly easy to navigate, to find the alterative programs to replace windows ones. Such as Skype(had to download from webpage) IRC replacement, torrent program, chromium(chrome), GIMP(advanced program akin to PhotoShop) even Stream could be installed later on for games. Bluetooth worked but with extra effort than was used to, but network ethernet or wireless was just as simple as you’d expect. I loved the idea the Linux is about as immune to viruses as you can get. However despite having gotten programs to do all my usual stuff, I drifted back to windows. Now run Windows 8.1 and unlike most people I’m happier with the experience that I get, than I have been for a long time, if not ever. Having apps works for me, and having a gaming pc and a nettop for my media and general day to day works well for me.
    I did however own a Aver Ferrari One netbook, which I quickly discovered grew slow and unusable running Windows. I installed Ubuntu on it wiping Windows clean off and passed it on to my 50yr old mother. By no means a expert with little computer experience before it, had been given a laptop for work but could barely handle running just one internet without freezing. So I gave her Ubuntu, she could browse the web and create documents(with no idea how to find them later) and send some email but that was about as far as it went in her ability. While her overall ability never improved her confidence did. Knowing she couldn’t infect the computer was a great comfort to her. LibreOffice was easier for her to use than Microsoft’s and with Firefox and chromium every ready on the sidebar had no problems browsing. Funny party was if her boss came round he had no clue how to use it whatsoever, which of course does wonders for your confidence and ego.
    Over the course of 2 years she got pretty used to it and loved it. Though never had interest in expanding and exploring get skills and Ubuntu. Now the Ferrari One has pretty much died and 3 months ago was given a new laptop from work, running Windows 8 .1 I said give it a go. Slowly getting used to it with the promise of Ubuntu if it doesn’t work out. Since it came with full Office 365 I figured she should at least give it a chance. With her experience from Ubuntu boosting her confidence she plays with it and is getting used to it. Though needing antivirus comes as shock to the system.
    I know this is about Ubuntu and I perhaps drifted more than necessary. So essentially even when you have all that you need sometimes you just can’t fully commit. Limits are in your face and benefits at times hard to remember. To an extent it is the perfect system for the less computer savvy, once everything is installed it pretty much takes care of itself, can be used to Skype, browse and handle your media quite well. Could be good for putting on older machines for kids, no worries about infecting the system and kids often adapt easier to new things. More than capable of handling homework as well

  18. Just another happy Linux Mint 17 user. I run dual boot systems with Mint 17 / Windows 8.1, my wife, a teacher, uses Linux mint standalone on her laptop. Linux is a great OS evolving all the time, with a worldwide community of support and development. Give it a try!

  19. I was an IT technician for over 30 years and I moved to PCLinuxOS about 7 years ago and have never regretted it.
    For me it boils done to to freedom, security and ease of use.
    Freedom to choose the way I work. I once wrote to the maker of Puppy linux giving a few suggestions. About 3 hours later he wrote back, said “That’s a good idea” and implemented it. Ever get a reply from “Bill”?

    Security, no endless battles with viruses.
    Ease of use. Want a new program? Open synaptic, search, download, sorted. No trying to find a program and then trying to find if it is safe, the right version etc.

    Ease of use, all the stuff I want already there if I want, or “Minime” for a slim version that you can add what you want. If I change my hardware I don’t have to contact MS and say “Please I have changed my hardware will you let me use my computer again”

    I have tried Mint, Puppy etc (all very good) but I always come back to PCLinuxOS. Like any OS there are sometimes problems but there is a very helpful and friendly community, great magazine and a large repository.
    I have never had to compile a program in 7 years.
    If you are desperate for some Windows program you can always install a virtualbox
    and run it from there.
    I recently gave up fixing Windows machines after a Windows 7 computer refused to allow me to create a folder on a friends machine called “tonys music” it said there was one already called “my music” and did I want to merge?. I said no and it reused to create it! Who want’s to be controlled by there computer like that?
    Go on give PCLinuxOS a try and free your computer and your mind.

  20. This article shows the authors (admitted) lack of knowledge. It also reveals a trait that everyone attempting to “cross the line” suffers – they compare it to Widows. Don’t!

    Windows is Windows and Linux is Linux. Accept you’re going to do things in a slightly different way. Don’t expect Linux to be a clone of Windows – thank goodness it isn’t. Linux is a rock solid operating system that will suit most home level users admirably. Those that mentioned Linux Mint – I fully agree. If you want a drop in replacement for Windows XP, that’s your baby.

    Two caveats; As one post already mentioned, if you need Photoshop, stay with Windows. That’s not Linux’s fault, it’s down to Adobe refusing to port it over. That said, Photoshop can be (with effort) made to run on Linux, but it’s a serious pain to achieve. Note: for all but Photoshop power users, the Gimp will do all you need and more. If you’re a heavy gamer, stay with Windows until Valve gets fully into Linux. Then try a Valve (Linux) machine and experience a speed you’ve never seen before!

    Finally, do I use Linux? As you may have guessed, yes, for about the last 15 years and I NEVER want to see a Windows system ever again.

  21. I haven’t used Linux much in recent years, but when I gave dabbled I found it much more user friendly than it was almost 20 years ago when I used it all the time.
    I think almost anyone could use it now as the distros really do hold your hand while you install and then use it.
    I also think it’s worth looking at Gimp for a photoshop alternative, Jeff.

    The thing I really liked about Linux was how configurable it was. You don’t like the look of something then you can install another display manager or edit some scripts to tailor things to your taste. You have some obscure hardware and you can no longer get windows drivers for it. Chances are someone has got it working under Linux.

  22. I have to say that after reading this article/review it inspired me to give Linux another go. I had previously installed Linux for evaluation a few years ago (from a PC magazine cover disk) but I can’t remember which Linux it was. Anyway, I installed it, looked at it, didn’t know what to do with it, and uninstalled it!

    That was back in the days of Win 95 I think, and many other people around that time did exactly the same as me and were put off Linux! These days there seems to be a lot more people trying Linux, realising they like Linux, and are prepared to help other Linux ‘newbies’ through any initial difficulties (there is also a vast amount of well written help online now). I was swayed and I decided to give it another go.

    Over a couple of weeks I installed and played around with many Linux distros. I found some were too basic, some were too difficult to set up, some did not meet my needs and others I simply didn’t like the look of.

    My choices were based on simple personal preference or my lack of any real computer skills. I am a normal computer user and as such I can navigate menus, select options and do very basic digging under the bonnet (and only then if it is simple and well documented, using regedit or similar).

    I actually felt a bit disappointed. I wanted a version of Linux that I could install, get working with a minimum of fuss, and use productively on a day to day basis. I am not a gamer (Linux is poor in this respect) so I was sure there must be at least one distro that would suit me. Ubuntu almost fit the bill but it needed too much tweaking and I really didn’t like the look of it.

    Then I tried Linux Mint 17 (I settled on the Qiana, Cinnamon, version) and I have never looked back! I prefer the way that the Mate version performs searches, and if Cinnamon had it too it would be my perfect OS! I also love the way that open source equivalents of all commonly used programs are INCLUDED in the install.

    The reformatting of my hard drive, setup, installation and updating process took about 40-45 minutes. My PC now boots into a fully up to date, completely free, very secure and good looking OS. What’s not to like? The first main difference I noticed was that my computer seemed to be running a bit better. I’m not sure why but it seemed ‘zippier’ than before. At the time I just put it down to having a fresh install of an OS.

    The next couple of days were spent finding where things were and getting the OS to look just how I wanted it. Finally I removing some apps that I didn’t really like and replaced them with similar apps that I did (this was just personal preference). I needed help to do this but the Linux community are very helpful and someone was always prepared to guide this stupid Linux newbie by the hand. Brilliant, thank you all.

    Linux has improved a lot over the years. OK, so have Windows and OSX, but Linux has matured and has left the ‘geeks OS’ tag a long way behind. Years ago it felt like you were a member of a secret sect if you used Linux but these days you are simply using a different OS to the Windows mainstream, but the mainstream is changing in the direction of Linux/Unix. OSX is a relative, Android is a variant and the internet runs on it.

    I may seem over enthusiastic towards Linux but I freely admit Linux feels ‘strange’ at first, but sometimes that ‘strange’ is actually an improvement. Nonetheless, even improvements still seem ‘strange’. However, once I got everything looking and working the way I wanted it I haven’t had to touch it! It is very reliable.

    The other day I had to do a little job on my mothers Win 7 laptop, I didn’t like it. It all seems ‘wrong’ and things aren’t where they should be! Her Windows laptop also seemed a bit sluggish compared to my Linux desktop (and her laptop has better specs than my old desktop). My desktop still seems ‘zippier’ than before, so the increase in speed can’t have purely been due to the fresh install as I first thought.

    I been using Linux Mint now for about 4 months, but for my everyday usage I won’t be using Windows again! I still have an old Windows laptop, which I use on the rare occasions I need to use the 2 old programs that I still have on it, but I am so happy that I read this review and tried Linux again. Thank you!

  23. Chromebooks (and Chromeboxes) are the way forward. the days of having things stored locally and having to worry about backups are long gone.

    Since getting a Chromebook, I no longer need Windows. Its Linux underneath, but the desktop stuff is done so much better than any Linux distribution I have seen.

  24. A good article but there are some hidden gems in Linux that you have not yet uncovered. The first is reliability – crashes, programme failures, hangs, etc. are virtually eliminated and if there is a glitch is doesn’t take down the whole OS but the app just closes (and sometimes even restarts and restores your last window for you). Apple can do similar things but MS is a long way behind. Then there is security – if the user accounts are created correctly (i.e. WITHOUT admin permissions) then the machine is virtually bullet-proof (there should be one dedicated admin account with a different name and passwrod that is ONLY used when managing the system). You can achieve the same on OSX but only the Pro variants of Windows give you this control. Finally, there is true multi-tasking – you can run any kind of job/window as many times as you like and barely even notice any impact on other jobs/windows (you can even do a system upgrade in the background whilst playing YouTube videos and writing documents, and not suffer multiple reboots, for example). Windows doesn’t even know what multi-tasking means and the way OSX is configured, you are blanked out from other tasks when updates are taking place. These are just the big-hitters and there are many more little gems in there. I am an IT consultant and I use OSX (Mac), Windows (XP & 7) and Linux on a more-or-less daily basis and I sell custom configured machines to end customers (as a sideline..!). I even had one customer who’s desktop machine physically failed after quite a number of years but it had never had any kind of software fault running Linux in that time.

  25. Well thanks to steam, I’ve got to the point where my next gaming PC won’t have Windows installed. I plan to turn my old i3 Intel into the media player PC and windows legacy PC gaming machine. But I am now only buying games that support Linux. As soon as the parts arrive and I’ve finished building the New PC out of eBay auction parts, I plan to ONLY use Linux. It will be Ubuntu Studio which uses XFCE not unity.

  26. In case you are interested in trying out a version of linux go to distro watch (just search google for that). There are reviews, and links to many of the hundreds of different Linux “flavours”
    If you want a small distro that will work on very old spec machines but give a full user experience try Puppy Linux.There are a number of different versions of this from the most basic that will run in 64mb or less to full KDE desktop versions.
    Puppy on a machine from the last few years will install in just a couple of minutes or you can run from a CD (obviously slower) or a memory stick without having to install to your hard drive so you can test it.

  27. What I know of computers could be written on a grain of rice, with a paint-roller. I have paper logs going back 60 years, now. I wrote then into a DOS program over 20 years ago It stores the data in a compressed format which I can’t transfer without magic or diabolical agency. Is there any way this could be maintained, or at least, read were I to take the plunge and try to use Linux ? The thought of typing the lot out again frightens me. Reading the above thread, I am left with the feeling that there are more varieties or versions of Linux than anyone could shake a stick at, and it seems like using the word “language” to mean only the one you use, be it Mongolian, Klingon or Interglossa. Are these mutually intelligible ? Does any of them understand DOS programs ? Thanks in advance for any reply. – Mort

  28. Where Ubuntu wins hands down over Windows is the installation to a clean hard drive. Ubuntu is installed and running in no time at all. If updates are needed they are downloaded during the installation. I installed Windows 7 and Office 2010 on a desktop two days ago and it took over 30 hours to download and install all the Windows and Office updates. The frustration is intense. Leaving Windows to update overnight is not an option. Some updates require user intervention and will not advance until authorised to do so. It’s incredibly annoying that the pop up pane seeking user authorisation generally appears behind the Windows update progress screen and the whole process waits for the user to realise this.

  29. Wow were you paid to make ubuntu seem hard to use? I’ve installed skype on at least 20 installs of various ubuntu and other linux versions and it’s FAR simpler than windows. Go to the software center find skype, click install, start using it. That’s IT. I have no idea what was going on with your laptop but my retired mother and people with NO I.T. knowlege have been using linux for years with no problems and praise how much faster and easier it it.

  30. A similar experience to mine. Though as for ‘watching movies’ if anyone can tell me how to get digital sound out of a usb port I’d be grateful

  31. You miss the point. Take your crappy old laptop or desktop that’s so slow you can’t use it because it’s been filled up with windows memory resident junk and bloatware. Reformat the hard disk, install Linux. If there’s enough power/memory instal Ubuntu. If it’s older instal Mint, if it’s as old as mine install Puppy Linux, and if it’s turn of the century or earlier install DSL (Damn Small Linux). You will be gobsmacked at the speed it will load and start running productively. You can kiss goodbye to the 5 minute start up hassles of windows and you can kiss goodbye to Bill Gates. Often you can turn what is effectively a brick into a damn good PC, and the cost? Zero!

  32. Good article on Ubuntu. I have used it since the Boozy Badger, and 99% of the time it all works fine.

    I do have other hard drives in my PC with Windows 7 and 10 on them, so that I can use them when I find Ubuntu cannot do things as well, like Blu- Ray.

    What is nice about Ubuntu is that you can run it in memory alone, to see waht it is like before installing it.

  33. What are you people doing to Windows that makes it “slow” and “unusable”??
    As, supposedly intelligent, Linux users, you know, as should any supposedly intelligent Windows user, that its good housekeeping that keeps ANY operating system, up to speed, stable, and most of all, SECURE.
    Don’t mock Windows just because you switched to Linux.
    I don’t mock Linux users because I prefer Windows.
    Go with an OS you like. Treat it nice. Life will be good.

  34. This is an old article. I read it last year when I bought an HP laptop from ebuyer with Ubuntu installed. It is no longer for sale. Why reprint it?
    I looked at Ubuntu. I didn’t like the look of it. Internet search revealed that it was an old Ubuntu. I downloaded the latest version – 14 LTS (long term support). It was far better. I love it. It was loaded with commonly desired programmes. The equivalent to the start button is top left of the screen. Programmes are now closed or minimised at the top right of the window. Everything looks familiar when you use a programme. You easily forget that you are not using Windows Try the latest Ubuntu and be pleasantly surprised. Then download LibreOffice. It can open any MS Office document – 2003 or 2007 etc, and save in any form you wish.

  35. I use Ubuntu about 5 years, because Ubuntu works great with Blender 3D software for creating computer graphics. This exists thanks to the great work of the many talented people who have created wonderful software and shared it with the whole world. In times when we have to pay for everything, that’s great and I’m very grateful for this! 🙂

  36. Nice review, I want to talk in about one point. Old people and using Linux for common tasks, like some browsing, skype. My grandparent is old and has old computer, never been using one all his life till some time ago. He uses it for Skype and some web browsing. He is afraid of computers, and when a window opens in wrong side of a screen it makes him suspicious. For two year’s he’s been using computer – it was with Windows XP, but with 512 mb ram it booted slowly, opened apps slowly, had problems with overheating, and lately starting apps became hit and miss. I have no idea what’s wrong with his computer, but my solution to solving most problems with responsiveness and overheating was – I’ve put Linux Mint XFCE edition on it. Set up some shortcuts to mainly used programs – like Skype and Chromium. Grandparent did not notice the difference in usage, there was no learning curve at all. But what he noticed is that it is much more stable than previous Windows XP installation. Anyway this is just one niche case, but I’m glad there was Linux – free, stable, works on old hardware, no need for resource hungry antiviruses, and does not slow down over time. This is not to say that Linux is all peachy, it has it’s edges as we all do.

  37. I’m 61 and I’ve been using Fedora for 10 years since version one, it’s up to version 22 now. Never had any problems with any virus or malware. Tried several other flavours of GNU/Linux. It’s just a matter of taste. I like knowing that if anyone tried to make my computer work against me, say by including a “bad” feature in an app, then one of many hundreds of programmers out there would be able to find and very quickly fix the problem, and make it available to everyone. I have donated small amounts of money to support these things, but I could have got it all at no cost, and we all have this choice.

  38. It’s nice to see that you gave it quite a fair trial. Persist with it, and you may well find that going back to MS or Apple feels somewhat retrograde and limiting!

    Your “Aldi” analogy is poor, however. Linux is more like Selfridges or Harrods – it’s got everything in it, and it’s mostly of very high quality! Ubuntu might not be the best choice for a beginner – I usually recommend Linux Mint (it has all the multimedia goodies built-in by default).

    You shouldn’t complain about the Linux propensity to download patches and additional software – unlike those other proprietary Operating Systems, patching, mending and improving is a continual process and developers want to distribute their “latest and greatest” as soon as possible. It’s not uncommon for there to be several patches issued every day – you get used to it (rather than a big download on a “patch Tuesday”!).

    Stick with it and you’ll get used to it, and find that it’s actually a Rolls Royce OS, rather than the Trabant you seem to see it as!

  39. The problem is not the core Ubuntu system, its the desktop interface….Unity. Its simply too different to what Windows people are used to. It would make far more sense to install Ubuntu with a ‘classic’ desktop such as MATE, XFCE or Cinnamon. The familiarity of these environments would make the majority of newcomers feel much more at home and be immediately far more productive. Or install an Ubuntu derivative such as Linux Mint.


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