You’ve heard of Linux. It’s that little open source Operating System geeks are always snorting about. In the world of computing you’ve always had Windows and the Mac OS. Now there’s this third OS that’s finally become mature enough to be used by the average person on a day to day basis. Linux, an Operating System with numerous “Distro” names such as Ubuntu or Debian or Red Hat, has a massive community of developers and users that are dedicated to providing a Mac and Windows-like experience. But is Ubuntu Linux for you? Are you ready to begin using Linux every day at home or in the office? There are several factors you must consider before making the plunge.
The Pros and Cons of Ubuntu Linux
The pros of Ubuntu Linux
It’s Free – Linux is free. Mac computers are expensive. Windows Licenses are not cheap. If you have multiple PCs, you could spend nearly $1000 on new Windows installs and upgrades.
Easy to Install – Ubuntu is one of the fastest and easiest installs of any Operating System. The days of configuring on command lines are gone (unless you want to). Download the .ISO file, boot to the DVD, click install and answer a few simple questions, and then sit back and wait for it to complete.
Very Familiar Interface – The first thing you’ll notice is how Windows and Mac-like the graphical user interface is. While it is a different Operating System, you’ll quickly be able to navigate and perform tasks just as you would in Windows.
No Viruses – We’ve all had to battle viruses and spyware over the years. Linux frees you from the burden of having to be a security professional. While this doesn’t mean you can forget about all exploits, Linux will not expose you to the quantity of attacks prevalent in the Windows world.
Productivity – Ubuntu has everything you need to get started. It has a word processor, spreadsheet, movie player and editor, web browser, email, disk burner and many other tools you need each day. You also have access to Ubuntu Software Center, a place where you can quickly select and install thousands of other applications.
Dual Boot – Ubuntu makes it stupid-easy to dual boot with Windows. Just pick how much space you want to allot for Linux and it will install right alongside Windows. Each time you boot, you will have a screen asking whether you want to use Windows or Linux.
Community – Linux has a thriving community of intelligent and friendly people who inherently want to help you. If you have a question, just ask and you’ll likely get dozens of answers.
The cons of Ubuntu Linux
Compatibility – While Linux and Ubuntu have made massive strides in popularity, not all manufacturers are creating Linux drivers for hardware, such as printers and scanners. Before installing on your hard drive, “run” the operating system from the disk and see if all of your hardware works.
Tinker Factor – If you are not a tinkerer or do not have the patience to solve little problems as they arise, then Linux might not be for you. There are always going to be minor things to contend with.
Gaming – While it’s getting better, you might want to hold off on installing Linux if you want to play the latest hardcore PC games.
Can’t Run Windows Programs -If you have invested hundreds of dollars on programs like Photoshop, you will not be able to use them on Linux. Unless you dual boot, those programs are useless and you’ll need to find open-source alternatives such as Open Office and Gimp.
Linux doesn’t have to be an “all in” adventure for you. Install it on an older machine or dual-boot it with Windows. It’s already a very viable option for many users, and as it continues to mature it will only become better. Learn as much as you can. Linux can be as simple or as advanced as you want it to be. Read more about Ubuntu on their website.