why I use Ubuntu

April 20, 2013

I have conflicting feelings about proselytizing anyone regarding operating systems.  In fact, one of the best things about Linux is that it’s a relatively small community of people who are interested in and mostly knowledgeable about computers and are passionate about open source software.  Bringing new users to Linux introduces problems after a point, since one of the main reasons there are no wild viruses for Linux is that so few people use it (depending on your source and your country, roughly 1% of computer users).  On the other hand, I love Linux, and Ubuntu specifically.  Coming from 20+ years of Windows use, Ubuntu was still very intuitive to get to know and use (much more so than MacOS for me).  It looks good.  And it’s free!

The main reason I switched to Ubuntu is because it’s free and open source.  While ideologically the latter is important to me, in all honesty it was the former that made me switch.  I was tired of paying hundreds of dollars for an operating system I didn’t love.  When I installed Ubuntu, I had been running a pirated copy of Windows — even though I had 4 Windows licenses for home use.  But these had come pre-installed on purchased computers, and after years of moving, hard drive crashes, and OS problems, I just didn’t know where any of the licenses were, and since all my computers were out of warranty, Microsoft wouldn’t give me the time of day.  Since I didn’t think it was right to pirate an operating system, I decided I’d check out something I could use for free, rather than spending hundreds of dollars replacing something that technically I still owned.

Another reason I switched was the instability of Windows.  I rebooted my computer pretty much every day between programs crashing my system, getting a Blue Screen of Death because of a driver or Windows Update problem, or just having to install new batch of Windows Updates that were so poorly written that every one of them required a restart, even though you should never have to restart your computer for an update that isn’t to the OS kernel, a driver, or something similar.  I’ve had a couple crashes with Ubuntu, but they were all either hardware problems (a video card that’s probably damaged) or because I tried to run lesser-supported Windows programs through Wine, the Windows emulator for Linux.  However, probably even more than the stability, the speed of Ubuntu has won me over.  Ubuntu is a little more bulky than, say, Fedora, but it still outperforms Windows in basically every way.  On my desktop Ubuntu takes about 30 seconds to boot, compared to 5 minutes for Windows XP.  On my laptop Ubuntu takes 15-20 seconds, versus Windows 7’s 2-3 minutes.

My biggest fear with switching to Ubuntu was the old hand-wringing of “What if I can’t use my programs??”  I eased myself into it by switching (while still using Windows) to less proprietary programs that ran on both Windows and Linux.  I started using Pidgin instead of AIM (a huge improvement since Pidgin supports all sorts of chat protocols) and LaTeX instead of Microsoft Office for text documents.  When I switched to Ubuntu, lo and behold, I was still able to do everything I could do on Windows.  I could still use Pidgin and TeXWorks, I found the default Document Viewer much faster and more stable than Adobe Acrobat, and OpenOffice filled the gaps left by leaving MS Office behind (though I still use TeXWorks for pretty much any text document).  As a musician working in two online collaborative projects I do a lot of file sharing, so I was pleased to find that Nicotine+ uses the Soulseek server for file sharing.  My old friend Google Chrome was still available, and I found a new music player — Audacious, which I’ll talk about in more detail in another post.  In short, everything I was afraid of about switching permanently to Ubuntu turned out to be a non-issue.

Personally I think everybody should try out Linux, and Ubuntu tends to be the distribution people find most user-friendly.  Ubuntu isn’t for everyone; if you have to use proprietary software that only runs on Windows, it’s not a perfect solution to have to reboot a dual-boot system or open a virtual machine running Windows.  And it’s definitely true that you MUST be comfortable with the command line if you’re going to use Linux.  As far as many modern distributions have come, you still either must or should use the command line for some tasks.  But for people who aren’t afraid of a few text commands and are willing to try out the open source alternatives to proprietary software, I think Ubuntu is the best operating system currently in heavy use.


7 Responses to “why I use Ubuntu”

  1. anthonyvenable110 Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this as you made some very salient points regarding Windows. One of which is that while you spend your hard-earned money for it, you never really own the program outright you basically are renting it, and are subject to their monopolistic view regarding even that. Whereas with Linux you have choice to use the operating systems or programs as YOU see fit, and that really appeals to me. Thanks for taking the time to write this post and I look forward to seeing more from you.

  2. anthonyvenable110 Says:

    Reblogged this on anthonyvenable110 and commented:
    honesty is awesome

  3. nabbasan Says:

    I think this is an excellent overview on why people should try Linux.
    I love Linux! Why pay for an operating system has a 75% of crashing, when Ubuntu rarely ever fails?
    Ubuntu definitely is the distro for people trying Linux for the first time. It seems like your switch was quite simple.
    One of my computers, a 3 year old Dell laptop, originally ran Windows Vista.
    So, after 3 years of frustration, I installed Ubuntu.
    No regrets 😉

  4. theyoungergeek Says:

    Excellent overview of the benefits of Linux to the average user. In recent years user friendliness has improved immensely in distros like Ubuntu. Hopefully this continues to a point where new users are not required to venture into the potentially confusing world of command line. Personally I use Windows because I am comfortable with it, but honestly if I was faced with the choice of buying an expensive copy of Windows versus installing a free distro, I’d go with Linux.

  5. Samantha Says:

    Lol the reason your Windows machine kept giving you problems is because you were using a pirated version. Who knows what kind of malware anf modifications were done to the OS. Hidden backdoors invisible to an Antivirus being the smallest of all issues. In my experience, Windows is far more stable, reliable and faster than any Linux distro out there.

  6. Ryan Denzer-King Says:

    Clearly you have had a different Windows experience than I. I will note that I have bought no fewer than 6 Windows computers; the vast majority of my time with Windows was using completely legitimate copies. The experience I described above was after having Windows crash so much that I had to reinstall — only to find that I had lost my activation key(s).

    I’ll close by simply saying that one of the things I love about Linux is that after years of dealing with the dreaded Norton and McAfee and then switching to the free but still resource-intensive AVG, I don’t have to worry about malware or viruses anymore.

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