Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Money For Nothing

Well, unless you've been living in the digital equivalent of a cave for the past little while, you probably know that Windows 7 has hit the computer scene.  Essentially, this is Microsoft's "apology" for foisting Vista upon the masses.  From all reports, they did it mostly right this time (although their commercial with the "average" little girl kinda churns my stomach -- what 4 yr. old can read that well, let alone computer reviews?).

Your Latest Trick
Personally, I tend to think Apple has a better perspective on this:  Windows 7 is probably just another "Trust me, it'll be different this time" offering from Microsoft.  But what options do you really have?  Face it, Apple is expensive stuff, and whether it's easy to move your documents, photos, videos and everything else you've created over to a Mac, it's also going to get pretty costly replacing the software you've come to know on the Windows platform.

Unless, of course, you've been following a blog such as this, and trying out Open Source software that you can take along with you.  Then you've just got the headache of moving to a pricier machine and reinstalling all that Open Source goodness.

So Far Away
I'm leading you somewhere, and you know it.  Tomorrow marks another big release:  Ubuntu Linux 9.10, codenamed "Karmic Koala", and it's a viable option for Windows refugees.  In my humble opinion, it's actually better than what Microsoft or Apple can offer, and I'll list my reasons here.

  1. Ubuntu Linux 9.10 isn't plagued with legacy bugs from older versions of Windows or Mac OS.  Granted, it's got it's own bugs, but you can take a hand in actually having them fixed.  Your input to the operating system and the applications on it actually counts.
  2. Every version of Windows ever released has promised to be better than the last, yet each upgrade promises better security and more stability.  As long as you keep your antivirus and anti-spyware updated.  Who made up this definition of secure?  Wouldn't a secure computer not be prone to malware?
  3. Windows or Mac, you're still going to have to go through some kind of registration process when you install the operating system -- whether you want to or not -- just to use your computer.  This should be optional or not required at all.  Ubuntu Linux 9.10 requires no registration at all, unless you wish to use the new Ubuntu One service -- you'll have to create a login to take advantage of the free disk space they're offering.  Aside from that, you are ready to use your computer from the moment you log in.
  4. No additional software required for basic functionality.  With Ubuntu Linux 9.10,  you get a word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, audio/video players, web browser, and more just from the basic install, and most hardware works "out of the box".  Unless you've bought a new computer, all of this software needs to be loaded on the other guys.
  5. Easy software installation.  With the Ubuntu Software Centre (or Center, depending on your locale), you can find new software easily, and download it directly from the Internet.  Not preloaded trialware, but actual useful things you can install freely and use permanently.  In the future, additional paid-for options may appear, but you'll know about it up front, and the free options will always remain just that:  free.
  6. Easy security updates.  Ubuntu Linux has always updated automatically over the Internet, when security issues arise.  You can set your computer to automatically update itself as often as necessary, and most of the time, no reboot or interruption to your use of your computer is required.
  7. Ubuntu Linux 9.10 (as with all versions of Ubuntu Linux) is free.  Most of the software that runs on it is free.  Support from the community is free.  The only fees required are for optional paid support, if you want a professional to work something out for you.
  8. Install each copy of Ubuntu Linux 9.10 on as many computers as you want, without licensing restrictions, without fear of being prosecuted, without the operating system warning you that you're using illegal software, and without any hidden spyware informing Microsoft or Apple of your computer use.  You can choose to participate in a "popularity contest" through Ubuntu Linux 9.10 if you wish, but the only data collected is how often you use each program installed on your computer.  They use that data to make the next version even better.
  9. Ubuntu Linux 9.10 is faster than the previous version of Ubuntu Linux.  What other OS can you actually say that about?  Without having to buy and additional RAM or CPU upgrade?
  10. Just to make this a "top 10 reasons to try Ubuntu Linux 9.10", I have to add, if nothing else, you can install Ubuntu Linux 9.10 right alongside whatever other operating system you already have.  Use it as a backup, when that other operating system hits a snag you just can't get past.  Or install it onto your USB stick (2GB is really enough for a very usable setup), and take your operating system with you anywhere you go.  Almost all computers can boot from USB now.
Walk of Life
Well, there's my slightly-biased opinion of Ubuntu Linux 9.10, for what it's worth.  I'll admit, I've tried Windows 7 briefly, and have played around a bit with Mac OS X in it's various incarnations.  But for sheer wow factor, right from the first boot, I'll stick with Ubuntu.