Unless you’re a real computer novice, or even if you’re somewhat of a techie, you might not know what Ubuntu is, but it might be worth taking a look.
Image via Wikipedia
When you first turn on your PC in the morning at work, or in the evenings at home, you see the desktop, which is part of the operating system (which I’ll refer to as the OS for the rest of this article). It’s the first screen you see after you log in and it’s known as a GUI. or “Graphical User Interface”. That’s the one with all the icons. You might not care which OS you have, which means that you may be happy with whatever OS you have whether it’s a PC with Windows, or an Apple with their graphical OS named either Snow Leopard, or Panther, or one of the others.
Apple has more customer loyalty and respect than does Windows, because Windows machines crash more often. And Apples seem to work better, and almost everyone you talk to will tell you that Windows PC are a lot less reliable. But there’s a reason for that, which I’ll get into in a future article.
But have you ever had a PC loaded with Ubuntu? What is Ubuntu? It’s the third most popular OS, and it falls under the main name of Linux. You may have heard of Red Hat Linux. That’s what Ubuntu is. Just another version of Linux. Now, I think if you ever get to see Ubuntu, you may not like it because it’s not the most attractive OS. But here’s the advantage of using Ubuntu. It’s complete and totally free. Windows 7 Professional costs $200 if you go to Microsoft.com but it’s cheaper if you buy it in a store. Apple? If you want to buy their latest OS, it’ll cost you $30 (much cheaper). But Ubuntu is free. And it’s also the most reliable OS of the three.
Image via Wikipedia
The best thing about having a copy of Ubuntu is that if you want software, like an office suite, or a professional graphics editing software package like Photoshop, that software is also totally free. But you don’t actually get Office or Photoshop. If you want to see a good example, go to http://www.osalt.com/ and see what’s available. Osalt stands for “Open Source As aLTernatives” and what they do is tell you what they have as alternatives. All you have to do is give them the name of the software you’re looking for, and they’ll tell you the name of the software that imitates, or copies it. For example, if you want Photoshop, you would download Gimpshop. Or AutoCad? Just download QCad Community Edition, or Archmedes.
And just because it’s not the original, doesn’t mean it’s not top-notch software either. It is. The only thing is that it doesn’t follow the same steps to accomplish basic functions. In other words, Gimpshop doesn’t have all its controls in the same place as Photoshop, or to accomplish something, you may have to do it a different way. But it works.
And it’s Open Source, which doesn’t mean as much to you as it would a programmer, but what that means is that you can look at the source code. Why would that be handy? Well, it means you can look at how the original programmer wrote the program. You can reverse engineer it. You can even write code to improve the program, which is Linux’s whole idea. All of the software was programmed by really talented and devoted people who have other jobs and who work on Linux voluntarily, and who love what they do. You can’t buy that type of dedication with money.
Now, you can get rid of Windows or Snow Leopard and install Ubuntu exclusively, but you don’t have to. Because the really good news is you can dual-boot it or you can run it on a virtual-machine. You can even load it on a thumb drive and boot it on different machines. And one more alternative you have is to download it to a CD, and boot to that CD. But that’s only if you want to look at it. It’ll run from the CD, but you can’t save anything or download programs onto the CD. Interested?