Ubuntu 10.04 LTS - A Microsoft Windows Alternative
Let's face it, running Microsoft Windows whether it be XP, Vista or the latest “7”, can be a frustrating experience at times. If it's not the occasional BSOD (“blue screen of death”) or system lock-up, it's some malware/spyware being covertly installed while you surf the Internet with Internet Explorer. That's not to say that the list of applications available for Windows is anything short of astounding. At some point, however, you've got to ask yourself “isn't there anything else out there that I can use instead of Windows?” Something that would be more stable and less prone to those darn spyware/malware attacks but still offer an abundance of apps?
I know, I know... at this point all the Apple fans out there gathered around the punchbowl will be shouting “Mac OS X, Mac OS X!” Sure, Mac OS X is a good choice and is based on FreeBSD so stability and security are far better than under Microsoft Windows. But let's face it, unless you've got a large amount of spare change jingling around in your pocket, shelling out $1,000+ for a basic Apple Mac or Macbook just to enjoy the benefits of Mac OS X is a bit ludicrous. (Apple licenses Mac OS X to only run on Apple-approved hardware -- read as, buy Apple hardware or you can't run Mac OS X)
Enter Linux, more specifically, Ubuntu Linux. A low cost Microsoft Windows alternative -- actually it's free -- for use on your existing PC or notebook hardware without having to break the bank to enjoy a more stable and secure operating system. I myself currently run Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid) on my ThinkPad T510 notebook and have been for almost a year now – BTW, the LTS stands for Long Term Support, meaning this particular release will be supported for up to 3 years by the folks at Ubuntu. I have also been running Ubuntu Linux on my desktop PC for well over 3 years starting with Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty). In case you're curious, all Ubuntu releases have nicknames such as “Jaunty Jackalope,” “Lucid Lynx,” “Maverick Meercat,” etc.
And don't think you'll be giving up all those great Windows apps by switching to Linux. The default install of Ubuntu comes with Open Office, an excellent open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. It can read and write all the latest (and oldest/obscure) MS Office files you own. In addition, Ubuntu comes with the Firefox web browser and the GIMP Image Editor as well. The GIMP is essentially an open-source version of Adobe Photoshop. All this and more and it's free! Ubuntu Linux even comes with built-in automatic updates from the Ubuntu host servers via the Update Manager, just like Windows automatic updates. If that's not enough, the Ubuntu Software Center app allows you to install almost any application available for Linux; well, any application that happens to be in the Ubuntu repositories – FYI, the Ubuntu repositories contain over 30,000 application packages.
Sure there will be a learning curve as with any new piece of software. But here, Google is your best friend. There are literally thousands of helpful articles and how-tos for Ubuntu out there and all of them are available at your finger-tips via Google.
If I've piqued your curiosity and you want to give Ubuntu a try, you can download the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installation CD image (ISO) here. Simply burn it to a CD, put the CD in your CD/DVD drive and reboot. You'll also be happy to know that you can even try-out Ubuntu straight from the CD without installing anything onto your hard drive – this is what's known as “LiveCD mode".
Bam! You're running Linux. Now that wasn't so bad, was it?
Reviews of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: