may be the most popular Linux distribution available today, with
a share of the Linux user base that is reportedly as high as 30%.
Ubuntu is designed to be as easy as possible for the average user to
install and use, even if they have no experience with Linux at all. It
is also designed to be as secure as it can be for new users; by
default, the user does not have root privileges and can not make
changes that might render the system inoperable.
Upon installing the latest version of Ubuntu, 9.04 (codenamed "Jaunty
Jackalope"), the first thing that you are likely to notice is how
incredibly fast it is. One of the chief complaints that users had with
Windows Vista was with its slow speed, particularly on machines that
were a few years old. This is not the case with Ubuntu; applications
load quickly, and switching between windows is practically instant.
Another strength of Ubuntu is the amount of software that is available.
Although no operating system can compete with Windows in terms of the
sheer number of programs that can be purchased or downloaded, there are
a great many software developers writing code for Ubuntu currently, and
much of what is available is open source and frequently updated. All
software updates can be downloaded and installed through the included
Update Manager feature, which foregoes the typical (and often
confusing) command line interface that Linux frequently utilizes.
Ubuntu can be used on virtually any hardware platform. It shines
equally on desktop and laptop computers, and can even be used on the
low-power inexpensive netbooks that are becoming more popular; in fact,
many netbooks come with Ubuntu pre-installed. No matter what platform
is chosen, the operating system's speed is certain to impress.
Ubuntu is not without its downsides, however. Users who are completely
new to Linux will still find that, in spite of Ubuntu's focus on ease
of use, that there will still be some hurdles to overcome that are
inherent in trying any new operating system. For example, if root
privileges are ever needed in order to make a change to the system,
this is accomplished through a command line interface that is
guaranteed to be confusing to anyone with no prior Linux experience, as
the commands bear no resemblance to those used in the DOS command
Anyone who uses a computer extensively for productivity applications,
web browsing, email, or social networking will find that there is
software available for Ubuntu that is functionally equivalent to what
they are using now. Unfortunately, the same is not true of games. When
new PC games are released, they are slow to be released for Linux, if
they are ever ported to Linux at all. However, dual booting is always
an option; the Ubuntu installation process makes it easy to set up a
new partition for Ubuntu to reside on while the Windows installation
remains available if needed.
Another drawback of Ubuntu, as would be the case with any Linux
distribution, is the sometimes spotty compatibility with some older or
obscure hardware. If you use your computer to record music and use a
synthesizer or recording device that is not manufactured under a major
brand name, you would be wise to confirm that Linux drivers exist for
your device before installing Ubuntu.
No operating system gives users freedom from expensive commercial
software in the way that Linux does. Many major Windows programs have a
functionally equivalent Linux version that is open source, and
completely free. Ubuntu is highly recommended for anyone who is
considering giving Linux a try.