Thursday, October 15, 2009

What is Ubuntu Linux

A computer is a means to an end. What that end is exactly varies depending on who that final user is. On my two personal computers I run Ubuntu Linux as my operating system. What is Ubuntu? This is a question I field several times a week. Ubuntu is an operating system - like Windows or OSX. It is what allows the computer to perform all those tasks that we use them for in our everyday lives.

One common misconception about Linux is that in order to be able to use it you must be a programmer. This is no longer the truth, using Ubuntu requires as much coding knowledge as using Windows does. Ubuntu is a fully polished operating system that has been long ready for everyday use. Some of the things I like to highlight about Ubuntu when describing it to people are the following:

Ubuntu runs faster than the Windows platform on the same hardware for many reasons, but in short the operating system itself has less overhead to deal with. As such it leaves more resources for your other applications to utilizes thus allowing them to run faster.

Ubuntu is immune to viruses and malware. Now this isn't to say if you download a file that is infected with a Window's virus it stops being a virus, its just that the code that allows a virus to run a muck on a Windows system does not work on Ubuntu due to the permissions a Linux based operating system uses.

Ubuntu "just works". To any of you who have ever (re)installed Windows you are familiar with what goes into it. After installing the system you have to hunt down drivers and gather all those programs (office, firefox, anti-virus, ect.) that you need to go about your everyday tasks. With Ubuntu most all hardware works fresh off the disk and productivity software comes pre-installed, what few drivers are required Ubuntu will find, download, and install for you in most cases.

Ubuntu is free. Yep thats right, free as in free speech or free beer. It is available without charge for anyone who would like to try it out. It is just a download away.

All that being said I would like to again restate my first sentence: A computer is a means to an end. If Windows works well for getting you to that end then I guess you can stop reading here. How ever if it does not(or does so slowly), if you are interested in trying something new, or any of the above information sparked an interested in you - please continue on. Is Ubuntu for you? Ubuntu is perfect for casual computer user and programmer a like. There are only a couple cases in which I do not recommend using Ubuntu in your everyday computing:
  1. Gaming - Try as we might gaming on Linux can be hard. Many commercial games do not have Linux installers and as such it can be hard to get some games to run on Ubuntu.
  2. Specific Piece of Proprietary Software: This one is along the same line as gaming, certain applications (such as Adobe's CS suite) are not 100% functional under Ubuntu.
If either of the above two situations apply then Ubuntu is not for you. How ever if you are like most computer users out there and use your computer for things such as the ineternet (instant messaging, web browsing), research, media (music & videos), office or schoolwork (spread sheets, power point, text documents) - then Ubuntu is perfect for you.

Some of you might be wondering at this point if all of what I say above is true why don't more people use Ubuntu? If it is really more secure, faster, and free why is it such an unknown platform?
  1. People are afraid of change, even though Ubuntu can do everything someone needs they are still resistant to using something new.
  2. Money. There isn't as much money in promoting Ubuntu as there is Windows. If the Geek squad can bank on your Windows system being brought in at least once a year for them to work on why would they recommend installing something that would change this?
Ubuntu is all of what I have said and so much more. For those of you who are interested it is a free download. For those of you who would like further reading I'd like to recommend:
Why Linux is Better

Linux is not Windows

Anyone with questions about setup or installation feel free to drop a comment or shoot me a message. Anyone with suggestions on things I can add or edit in this little article please do the same.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. wait, did i read something about free beer??

  2. After you install Ubuntu do you hvave to uninstall Windows? And how do you do that?

  3. You do not have to uninstall Windows to install Ubuntu. When you run the installer from the CD it gives you the option of installing Ubuntu along side Windows or to replace it entirely.

  4. Hello,
    I would like to say that this article could have been more generic in its naming. I mean, why saying Ubuntu when all of this applies to many more distributions. Plus, you are confusing beginners when Ubuntu and Linux are commuted in your article. Please stick to the same thing when naming.

  5. @Anonymous - Actually other than Linux Mint I would not recommend any distro other than Ubuntu to a beginning user.

    I only said "Linux" instead of "Ubuntu" in one place and it pertains there - because there are a few Linux distros other there still that you need to be a bit programmer to set up fully.