Hi, Leo. Can you please advise? I’m thinking of replacing my Windows 7 with
Ubuntu Linux? What do you think?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #27, I discuss Ubuntu, how it differs from Windows, and a
way to try it with no risk.
Well, the short answer is that it really depends on exactly what you do with your computer everyday.
I happen to have both: I use Ubuntu for a couple of things here at home.
- The important thing to realize is that almost all of the applications that you run under Windows will not run in Ubuntu… period.
There is something called WINE which is the Windows under Linux library. I’ve used it once or twice; the problem is that it is extremely slow, at least in my experience.
You’ll end up looking for applications that have alternative versions that will run under Linux. Many applications don’t: anything from Microsoft, you won’t find under Linux.
Open source software
On the other hand, there are what are called “open source alternatives.” I’ll point you to a site called OSALT.com. OSALT which is actually for Open Source Alternatives.
What you’ll find there are listings of programs, such as Open Office, an equivalent for Microsoft Office, or Libre Office, another version of the same. You’ll find various media players, editing programs, and so forth that are available under Ubuntu.
Ubuntu will be a change
Ubuntu works slightly differently than Windows. If you’re uncomfortable making the XP to Windows 7 change, you’re probably going to be more uncomfortable making the Windows to Linux change.
They are the same, but different. They are similar, but they are not the same. It’s really difficult to express in words.
There’s been a lot of changes made to the UI as you move from Windows XP to Windows 7. If that’s the kind of thing that has you uncomfortable, then I’m pretty certain that the changes you’re going to encounter as you move from Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux (or any Linux) are going to make you as uncomfortable.
Ubuntu’s a great operating system
That being said, if you’re up to learning a new user interface, Ubuntu’s a great operating system.
- It is free.
- It does update regularly.
In fact, I would claim that I get updates more frequently for Ubuntu Linux than I do for Windows itself.
The applications themselves run the range:
- From being truly and fully supported applications, like you might find on Windows (things like Open Office or Libre Office are well supported and documented.)
- To the unfortunately common scenario in open source where a program will work most of the time or support might be minimal.
It really varies; it varies a great deal more under Linux than it does under Windows.
Give Ubuntu a try
But, like I said, it’s a fine thing to try.
What I would suggest you do to begin with (to understand whether the user interface is going to be something that you care for) is grab a copy of the Ubuntu Linux live CD.
- It’s a CD that you can download and burn.
Then, simply boot from that CD without making any changes to your machine. You can actually run Ubuntu Linux without having done anything to your machine just to see how it feels and find out whether or not it’s going to be something you’re interested in learning to use.
It will be a little bit slower from the CD, which is fine. You’ll at least get a sense for the user interface and for the programs that come installed with Ubuntu Linux by default.
Once you’ve decided that you want to go for it, then naturally, I’m going to strongly suggest you backup your Windows machine and then install it and see what happens.
Next from Answercast #27 – Does having too many files on my computer slow it down?