Ubuntu 12.04 is the newest long-term support release of the Ubuntu Linux operating system. It was released on 26 April 2012, and I've been testing it for the past three days. I have found that the new unity interface isn't something that I'd like to keep as my default interface; however I've decided to test it for a while and see how it goes. The interface can always be changed at the logon screen, using the combo box which has the option to load the Ubuntu classic interface. Gnome 3 is required for this, which can easily be installed through the software centre.
There have been several changes to the operating system since version 10.04, of which the first change I noticed in the installed software is with Firefox. Ubuntu 10.04 by default has version 3.6 of Firefox, while the new Ubuntu has the latest one by default. The new Ubuntu software centre also looks much better than the old one, although this wouldn't usually matter much, but in this case the new interface makes it easier to browse through the software catalogue. Besides the interface nothing much has changed in the software centre, so it still just as easy to use to navigate through the available options, such as software sources. The software sources feature is what makes it easier to add and remove repositories from the software catalogue; this may be a little difficult for a Windows user or a Mac user to understand. The basic idea behind the repository is that it provides software catalogue, which the user can set to automatically update the Ubuntu operating system and all the installed software.
The thing I don't like about the unity interface is that the window control buttons appear on the left top corner of the Windows, and I prefer them to be on the right top corner. The reason I preferred the right top corner is because I also use Windows, and it helps if the window structure is somewhat the same. As I'm not an experienced user of the unity interface, I don't yet know how to tweak it, customising it to my own specifications.
I haven't got around to installing much software yet, but all the essential software installed by default in this DVD edition of Ubuntu 12.04 - work perfectly. This includes office, gimp, media player and Internet browser (i.e. Firefox). I haven't got around to thoroughly checking any of the more advanced support features of Ubuntu 12.04, such as whether or not it supports the exFAT filesystem, without the need of fuse. It's not much trouble using the terminal to mount and unmount an exFAT formatted disk, but it would speed things up if it's built into the operating system by default, so that the user can right click on a device and safely remove it. If the feature does exist, it's not enabled by default, which ideally it should be. The same applies to plugging in an exFAT disk into the computer, in which case it's more convenient if the computer automatically detects and mounts to drive. If I don't find a way to enable a default exFAT support feature in Ubuntu 12.04 in the next two or three days (if I do find a way to enable an default support feature, I'll update my review with the details), it's safe to assume that I default feature for exFAT support doesn't exist in Ubuntu 12.04. So, the only way to use an exFAT formatted disk - would be to use fuse, and manually mount and unmount the drive through the terminal.
The default office suite in Ubuntu 12.04 is LibreOffice, which is very similar to OpenOffice. Although, I prefer OpenOffice. I've tried LibreOffice on Ubuntu 10.04 for a few months before; it didn't work as well as OpenOffice. OpenOffice is easy enough to install on Ubuntu via the software centre. The problem I had with LibreOffice in the past is that it crashed often; I've never faced this problem with OpenOffice. IBM Lotus Symphony is another good alternative to LibreOffice, and I've never known it to crash. However, it doesn't work quite as fast as OpenOffice.
There's still room for improvement in Ubuntu, which could do with built-in alternative to.net technology, which could be used to run software built on .net framework. There are still a few programs, which are designed to run on Windows - on .net framework, and using Mono doesn't always solve the problem for Linux users.
I found one thing about Linux that always keeps it ahead of Windows, is its level of security as well as there being only a few viruses available to infect a Linux system compared to Windows. Although, I don't think that Ubuntu has the most powerful firewall capabilities of all Linux systems, I find it to be the best overall operating system. This being said - I don't plan on using Ubuntu 12.04 on my current PC, because my PC is too old and only capable of running Ubuntu 10.04 with best performance.
If you have a powerful enough system, then I'd recommend you switch to a brand-new Linux operating system such as Ubuntu 12.04.
- Edited on 05/05/2012 to add the following information:
Its been a few days since I wrote this review, I didn't find a built-in exFAT support feature. I confirmed with Ubuntu and users in the Ubuntu community, the feature doesn't exist. Fuse is still required to use exFAT drives, which will work with reduced performance on the system. If a default feature was to exist, there wouldn't be this problem.
Over time a PC inevitably becomes clogged with all sorts of nonsense that even regular virus checks, adware scans and clean ups won't sort. All of this was bearable to me until I got a particularly nasty virus on my Acer Aspire One. This crippled my Windows XP and left me with fatal exception error that would require a complete reinstall to fix. The thing with netbooks is, that there is no CD/DVD drive and I refuse to pay out for an external one. As such I was left without a netbook and contemplating sending it back to Acer for a complete reinstall.
Fortunately, a quick google on my wife's laptop for a simple solution negated the need for this. I stumbled across Ubuntu a user friendly, Linux based Operating system as a free alternative to Windows. I have always heard good things about Linux but had been put off by the perceived need for genius level computer knowledge. Ubuntu promises ease of use and installation for even the novice user and the online guide is very straightforward.
Nicking a 2GB pen drive from across the road I was able to download the free netbook specific installation programme to it. A quick reboot and I was able to run it directly from my pen drive (albeit very slowly) and try it. After ten minutes I was sold as it seemed very easy to use so, with nothing to lose I did a complete install wiping Windows XP from my Aspire One forever! Of course there is an option to install it alongside Windows so you can choose which one you want to boot up each time. Unfortunately, I was bereft of that option thanks to my nasty little XP virus. It is therefore, a good job that getting rid of XP may well be the best thing I have ever done.
Booting Ubuntu directly from the hard drive is far, far quicker than any XP or indeed Windows installation I have encountered. Far less processor and resource hungry I am up and running in under a minute rather than minutes. Without the need to languish on a Windows welcome screen and then waiting for my virus protection, malware protection etc to boot up I am ready to go in double quick time. Ubuntu netbook edition 10.04 is (as all Linux based Operating Systems are) pretty much immune to all viruses as they simply do not have anything to work from. The fact you need to unlock administration privileges for any new programme (with your own created password) makes it hugely unlikely you will ever get a virus and in fact the less computer savvy you are, the less likely you are to get a virus.
What this means is there is no need for resource hogging virus protection software (no Norton!), no need for constant spyware scanning and in effect no worries! In the massively unlikely event you do get a virus (there are thought to be less than a hundred viruses for Linux, sixty thousand plus for Windows) you can simply plug in your USB stick and reinstall in minutes. The whole setup is just so much more secure.
Ubuntu itself is a very user friendly Operating System although it will seem initially quite alien to the average lifelong Windows user. All the launched programmes, time, date etc are on a toolbar at the top rather than the bottom. However, it all operates very similarly and you can alternate between Windows opening and closing at well much quicker. The general interface is very straightforward with a toolbar (or panel) on the left side containing pretty much everything you will ever need to access broken down into sections including favourites, games and internet. All of these are customisable and adding and removing things from each one is often just a matter of clicking of a mouse click. After a while you will spend most of your time in your "favourites" panel which can be added to just by pressing the plus symbol on any programme giving you all your favourite programmes in one place.
Much like Windows, Ubuntu comes with a host of in built programmes and most of them are very useful. An in-built chat client kicks Windows Live's boot and happily links you to all your facebook chat, yahoomessenger etc accounts at once allowing you to gab away from one place in one window. A huge advantage is the lack of Internet Explorer in any of it's horrible forms replaced by the superb browser Firefox and if you don't like that it is easy enough to install Opera or something else. Of course if you do want Internet Explorer for whatever reason then you are screwed but then after five minutes of using Firefox I don't think anyone would want to. It is faster, fun to use and more secure. Amongst other things there is also the latest OpenOffice suite which is a more than adequate and free replacement for Microsoft Office.
If all this is not enough for you there is an Itunes like Ubuntu software centre were you can download trusted and secure software to your hearts content. It is really nice not having installshield windows and task manager windows all over the place and instead be able to download stuff in one place and of course this is all free too. You see the Linux community including Ubuntu is OpenSource meaning people contributed everything for free as group to make life better for each other eliminating bugs and crashes. A great goal that even this Capitalist won't protest against!
Of course, Ubuntu isn't perfect and some will not find it to there tastes. I am probably talking more specifically to gamers as there are a large proportion of PC games that simply won't work on any Linux based Operating System Ubuntu included. There are often ways round this (Windows emulation software like WINE is an example) but it is not going to be easy or as intuitive as installing to a Windows system. Of course those who have a dual booting system can simply switch between Ubuntu and Windows at will but gamers might not want to completely ditch Windows. Also, despite the sleek GUI (Graphical User Interface), you might still find yourself need to do a little bit of computer programming to make certain things work how you want them. This is often a matter of cutting and pasting google advice but it does make Ubuntu still not as totally user friendly as Windows is. Finally, there is certain hardware that might struggle for compatibility and drivers with Ubuntu. I set up my Wireless Connection very easily but needed to think outside the box to get my printer working with a fair bit of advice from a thankfully friendly Ubuntu forum.
However, all in all Ubuntu is a great and free alternative to Windows and is ideal for those who have either had enough of Windows slowing them down or have a low spec machine. Ubuntu netbook edition is absolutely ideal for anyone who wants to browse the net, view photos, watch videos or does some Office Work. It might be a long time before Ubuntu or Linux replace Windows for gaming but it outdoes it in pretty much every other respect.
After we had owned our PC for the best part of 4 years, it began exhibiting all the typical trends of a computer on the turn. It consistently took a good 20 minutes to full turn on, half that to turn off, everything you wanted to open/do on the computer became a chore and loading/saving files became a slow and annoying process. This is a fairly typical scenario for owners of Windows-based computers all over the world.
As we did not want to pay an extortionate amount of money for new software, we decided to back everything up onto a removable hard drive and install Linux from scratch. After analysing the various different options, we stuck with Ubuntu for its reputed quality of finish, a mostly graphical interface & user-friendliness. This has been the best decision we have made for our PC.
Having had Linux for a number of months now, it is incredible how our computer has changed. It now boots in 5-10 seconds to fully operational levels. I am sure that even with a brand new Windows and a Solid State hard drive we would not get near these times. Moreover, everything seems to work much faster and more efficiently. The computer feels brand new and is great to use on a daily basis.
Much like most non-Windows systems, there are some minor snags. You will not be able to play all your typical PC games on Linux. A number of printers/scanners won't have Linux-compatible drivers (although there are ways of bypassing this like we did with ours). Moreover, you will not have access to all your familiar software like MS Office, but again, this can easily be substituted for alternatives.
After getting fed up with Windows a friend of mine suggested that I give Linux a try and recommened Ubuntu. So I did, and i'm glad.
I am a fairly experienced computer user but was still daunted by the prospect of a lot of command prompts like the older versions of linux. But it was nothing like that at all!
I decided to install Ubuntu 10.04 as part of a dual boot system on my laptop because I still had a few applications which could only run on Windows which I needed to keep. Ubuntu even provide a Windows installer to do it for you! But only do install a dual boot system if you have enough hard drive space.
Once it is installed it is fairly easy to use. It also runs so much faster than Windows and doesn't use the same amount resources making it much more stable and less prone to crashing and doesn't use the run down the battery on my laptop as quickly.
Most of the applications that you will need for every day use are already installed and you can easily install more using the Ubuntu Software Centre.
Also if you have any issues there is a whole community of users to help however sometimes their solutions may seem a bit intimidating for beginners.
All in all I think it's great and it's free!
Getting your hands on Free and discounted software - Ubuntu
We all like FREE stuff, but can you really software for free? Yes you can, read on to find out how; there are several ways to access free software.
For anyone with a home PC or Home Laptop you can download and install free versions of Linux software, one in particular is Ubuntu available from
There are lots of resources out there for free for instance, take a look at this http://distrowatch.tradepub.com/free/w_make10 for information on how to get started with Ubuntu and yes it's free. "The Incredible Guide to NEW Ubuntu (Karmic Koala)"
Other Linux distributions:
Fedora, Kubunto, OpenSUSE, Debian, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS
------------- So why chose Linux -----------------
The first and probably the best reason is that it is free, and so is a great deal of software for it, it comes packed full of applications and games, including open office which is now compatible with MS office documents. Second it is nowhere near as vulnerable as Windows to attack or viruses, free antivirus and firewall software is available. Hackers normally attack MS products because they don't like the fact that we have to pay large amounts of money for products and also because MS was and is mainly a closed source program although some parts of Microsoft applications are open source but not a lot.
SPEED, Linux operating systems are very fast, personally I would say faster than Windows this is mainly because the code is lightweight, when someone creates an application for others to use and modify, others will generally improve it, removing bugs, making the code better and improving its overall performance. Linux uses your computer resources better too! For instance if you have 1GB of memory, Linux will generally use most of it, which is another reason why it runs faster, as the programs you need to use are probably already loaded into your RAM (Random Access Memory).
Just take a look at the mini laptops on the market many of them are now shipped with Linux because they are not as power hungry as MS products and they are faster!!!!!!
-------------- Open Source software --------------
Means that any programmer can download and access the files used to create the software, allowing them to modify and improve the features further, with a view to release the modifications to others. The open source projects are developed around the world by people who like to tinker with programming, testing their skills, whilst creating good software that is comparable to MS apps. If you need to know more just Google Open Source Software, it is also possible to install open source software on Windows, for some of the Linux applications you may need to install an additional software application first.
If you have ever wanted to use software for graphics, video and so on you will have found that you can get windows based programs for free, or you can try them for a month free, then you need to buy them. With Linux you can probably get hold of applications that do the same or better for free.
------------- Ease of use ----------------
How easy is it to install one of these Linux operating systems? Like everything over time it gets better, Linux is exactly the same; with the new Distro's as they are called, they have graphical user interfaces similar to MS Windows so it does most of the work for you. It provides user interfaces for common users as well as the well proven advanced users, there are literally thousands of sites out there that provide support for Linux for free, if you have a problem with your installation or with an application someone else will have already reported it and found a solution to the problem.
It is also possible to create a dual boot computer that will allow you to use both MS windows and Linux, the user chooses which operating system to load at the time your computer boots up. The selected operating system then loads and hey presto, so if you don't want to wipe your machine completely to try out this software you don't need to! WORD OF CAUTION - when setting up a dual boot operating system please Google how to do it, as with any installation of a new operating system it is easy to accidently wipe the whole drive thus losing everything you had on it. Once completed, you will notice the difference as soon as your computer begins to boot up.
Open office which is installed free as default is a resource rich package that has many of MS equivalent tasks, it is just like learning to use a new version of MS office (2003 - 2007) after a few weeks you will be a master of. Most computer wizards started out on MSDOS or Linux/Unix operating systems therefore if your child is really interested in working on computers, I would advise getting them to use Linux as well. This is because MS has tried to make the PC available to all, but it removed the need to have a lot of the knowledge away in order to use it. For most users this is a benefit, however in my opinion, it makes it more difficult to develop our future computer wizards.
--------------- Conclusion -----------------
My final thoughts are this, no one should tell you what software to buy or use as it is your choice however, you need to know about other options in order to make an informed decision. As I mentioned before if you prefer Microsoft products no problem, on the other hand if your computer is running very slowly and you have other things to spend your money on instead of a shiny new computer then think about trying out Linux and see if there is any improvement. I believe you will notice major improvements, first because you will need to wipe the hard drive if you want to use it permanently and second it will use the resources of your computer better. Hardware manufacturers now even provide driver support for Linux operating systems if need be.
I have been a user of Linux off and on from quite early in its existence; from memory, the first distro (a common abbreviation for "distribution") I ever installed was from a Personal Computer World (RIP) cover CD in something like 1997. It was quite hair-raising in those days, with any number of opportunities to get something wrong in the installation process and end up with an unusable computer and the requirement to reformat your hard disk and start again from scratch. As time has gone on, the advent of more user-friendly versions of Linux has meant that it is now reasonably easy for people with little specialist knowledge to use it as their everyday operating system (OS) - though I'll say right up here that you do need broadband, since installing new programs and OS updates is mostly done online, as is generally the case for Linux these days.
The most popular version of Linux nowadays is Ubuntu, named in honour of a southern African concept relating to the interconnectedness of humanity. It's been around for some while, and by now it probably has more than half of the desktop Linux market, helped in no small part by the company behind it (Canonical) and its founder Mark Shuttleworth having the resources to promote it relentlessly. Of course, as we know from various other fields, just being the most popular isn't always the same as being the best, so is Ubuntu worthy of its place as number one? Having recently moved to Ubuntu 10.04 (codenamed "Lucid Lynx", and often referred to in forums etc as "Lucid") from the Mandriva 2010.1 distro, which I liked in some ways but found rather bloated, I think the answer may be "yes, with only a very few reservations".
Installing Ubuntu is very easy, thanks to the Live CD model. You download an .iso file from the Ubuntu website, burn the image to a CDR and use it to boot your computer. This brings up a fully working, if rather slow, Ubuntu system, which you can test to your heart's content without committing to anything. If you don't like it, just shut down the PC (or Intel Mac) and reboot into Windows, or whatever your usual OS might be. If however you like Ubuntu enough to install it on your hard disk permanently, you click the "Install" icon on the Live CD version's desktop, follow the guided steps, and there it is. Provided you have the HD space, you can even have (for example) Windows and Ubuntu side by side, and choose each boot which one you want to use. And, of course, apart from the cost of downloading (and, I suppose, a CDR) Ubuntu - like most Linux distros - costs nothing at all, so you can try it (and install it) with no financial commitment.
Talking of the desktop, users of previous versions of Ubuntu will immediately notice that it *isn't brown*. Ubuntu's long-running brown colour scheme had become one of its biggest talking points, for good or ill, so it's quite something to boot up this time around and see that it's all gone purple! I prefer it, but then once you've changed the desktop wallpaper to your preferred design, it doesn't matter much anyway. Users of Windows and some other Linuxes will notice that you launch programs and suchlike from a bar at the top, rather than using the taskbar at the bottom. That's a feature of GNOME, the default desktop environment for Ubuntu. It didn't take me more than a few minutes to get used to that, though the decision to move the window control buttons to the top left after many years of their being on the top right is just bizarre. They can be moved back fairly easily, but I have no idea why they didn't just leave well alone here.
Ubuntu is not as much of a memory hog, at least on my PC, as Mandriva was, but it's still not a distro that could be called lightweight. I found that while my Mandriva installation used 213 MB for its base system, Ubuntu 10.04 occupied 160 MB. That's a handy saving, especially if you have relatively little RAM - but to be honest I would not recommend using either distro on a system with under 1 GB of memory. Ubuntu is however very responsive on ordinary hardware, with very little lag between selecting a menu option and seeing it open on screen, and you certainly don't need to have a computer built in the last year to see it at close to its best. My PC is about three years old with a Core 2 Duo processor and 2 GB of RAM, and it has no problems at all. Incidentally, the installation program had no problems at all with detecting my wireless setup, something which was a big problem in many older versions of Linux.
At this point I should probably mention that there are several distros based on Ubuntu for those with different tastes. For example, if you prefer the look of the KDE desktop environment, similar to that used in Mandriva, then you can install Kubuntu. There's also a version called Edubuntu which is aimed at educational users. For those with lower-spec systems there's supposed to be Xubuntu, which uses the XFCE desktop, but its developers seem to have got carried away with adding bells and whistles and it's now barely any lighter than its progenitor, so basically useless for this market. Instead, I recommend the newish and currently only semi-official Lubuntu variant, which uses the clean and simple LXDE desktop and occupies just 70 MB. I have that installed on an ancient laptop (a Celeron 500 with 384 MB of RAM) and although not lightning fast it's entirely usable as an office/browsing computer. That's really pretty impressive.
This distro is not too bad when it comes to the vexed question of "restricted drivers". These are hardware drivers that, not being free and open source, cannot be legally incorporated into the Linux OS itself. In some cases there are free equivalents, but (as with the Nvidia graphics driver) they are not as good as the official drivers, so you are given the option of whether or not you want to "contaminate" your system with proprietary stuff. Unless you're a really committed open-source advocate, you probably will. Much the same goes with support for things like Flash video and MP3 audio, while the rather absurd laws regarding DVD decoding mean that you have to follow indirect means to play back even legally bought commercial discs. This does mean that Ubuntu is unlikely ever to be quite as much of an "out of the box" OS as Windows, but its benefits (not least the zero cost!) are worth it to many people.
One of Ubuntu's biggest selling points (or giving-away points, I suppose) is its superb software support. Since it's the most popular distro, almost any Linux application will be made available as an Ubuntu binary package, thus saving the often hair-tearing procedure of having to compile programs yourself from source. Ubuntu's repositories include thousands upon thousands of software packages, most of which can be installed and configured with a single click. (Except for those programs which require a particular desktop environment, apps in these repositories are also available for related distros such as Lubuntu.) The 10.04 release gives you a choice of a simple (and occasionally overly so) installer or the more complicated (and occasionally difficult) Synaptic package manager. It's worth getting to know Synaptic, as it's not that hard really and is more flexible than the basic installer, but the latter will work perfectly well for most purposes.
Oddly, though, the selection of software that actually comes ready installed is some way from perfect. The strangest decision must be the omission of GIMP, a slightly complex but very good image editor, in favour of F-Spot, a far simpler digital photo manager; suffice it to say that GIMP was the first package I added. I also quickly realised that I needed GNOME Colour Changer in order to add a bit more contrast to the scrollbar, which I could barely see at all in the default theme. On the plus side, you do get an up to date version (3.2) of the increasingly excellent OpenOffice suite, which although it doesn't do everything Microsoft Office does is *easily* good enough for everything I want to do. There's also the PiTiVi video editor, which is pretty simple but seems quite effective. I'd also recommend installing the packages for WINE (which allows you to run many Windows programs directly), VirtualBox (a superb virtual machine application) and VLC (a media player which supports almost all the common formats).
Ubuntu 10.04 has the magic letters "LTS" after its name. These stand for "Long Term Support", and means that Canonical will provide updates for this version for three years (from its release date, April 2010) rather than the 18 months that is standard for non-LTS releases. This is useful for those users who need stability and predictability, for example using Ubuntu in corporate environments. (There are more of those than you might think: for example, the French gendarmerie intends to have all its 90,000 workstations running Ubuntu in five years' time.) It should be noted that the LTS designation does not apply to all of Ubuntu's relatives; for example, Lubuntu 10.04 is considered an ordinary release with the standard support cycle. It's worth noting, though, that there are very active Ubuntu (and general Linux) forums everywhere online, and these can be very valuable indeed, though do Google a bit before asking something that eight hundred people have asked before you!
I have now taken the plunge and run Ubuntu 10.04 as my only fully installed OS on my desktop (and Lubuntu 10.04 on my laptop); for the first time since I first had a PC of my own back in the 1990s, I don't have Windows installed on a hard disk. And, 99% of the time, I don't miss it. I'm not much of a gamer, so WINE's still less than perfect game compatibility doesn't bother me that much, and on the rare occasions I do need to do something in Windows I run an XP session in VirtualBox. Although there are little niggles (for example, I'd prefer a traditional separation between the root and normal users, rather than just having the "sudo" command) they aren't going to send me back to Mandriva in a hurry. This is a four-and-a-half star review really, but given that Ubuntu doesn't cost a penny beyond your internet connection, I think I have to give it the top rating.
This is a review for Ubuntu 9.10 the latest humorously named "Karmic Koala" release of this Linux Operating System. My first experiments with Linux were about 11 years ago with a Slackware distribution at University, and all I can say is, Boy!! Linux has come a long long way since then!!!
Over a week ago I installed the 64 bit Live CD Version off a cover disk a few weeks ago and have not looked back since.. The reviewed version comes with a graphical interface, known as GNOME, which offers a user experience that's not too different to Windows XP and its successors, alternatively you can choose a different interface called "KDE" but its down to personal preference.
My experiences of Ubuntu vary slightly from the good to annoying. the install was perfect and dead easy and over in a much quicker time than Windows without any crashs or driver problems, the start-up time is also quicker than Windows when compared on the same Machine, so you will be up and running faster than a Windows Install. One suggestion I would make before you start installing Ubuntu, and its mainly to make life easier down the line, is to ensure all your printers/scanners etc. are switched on during install. Ubuntu will try and detect them, and it has quite successfully detected and used my Canon Multifunction device, even though the documentation says its not supported!
Performance wise, you will find it faster than Windows. Defiantly. It can breathe a new lease of life into older hardware that may be destined for the skip. However a big downside is you may find yourself missing Windows Applications that have not been ported onto Ubuntu/Linux (yet). This will hurt you particularly if you run a lot of Windows Games, but you may be lucky. There are many tools available on Linux to enable you to "emulate" windows to a degree, these may or may not be successful.
Linux Offers a wide range of free opensource applications, some of which are bundled with the Ubuntu Live CD, Applications such as Flash Player, Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, Skype and many more all come installed with Ubuntu, giving you a "out of the box solution" another big plus! To install new applications, a simple point and click "Software library" is available, "Ubuntu Software Centre" to enable you to download and install applications at a point and click. Ubuntu also offers a Update Service much like "Windows Update" to keep your system up-to-date with the latest fixes.
In conclusion, I am quite pleased with Ubuntu. Some parts may leave you pulling your hair out, particularly if you have some strange hardware, but there is an excellent user community out there on the internet to provide support. The best suggestion I can make is before overwriting your Windows install, use the Live CD under Windows, doing this means you will not loose your Windows Install or data before deciding taking the plunge. People that touched Linux a long long time ago may be pleasantly surprised at how much its changed!
Ubuntu (currently on version 9.10) is very easy to use - on all of our machines at home (2 laptops, netbook and main PC which I am planning to turn into a media center) this is installed, with almost no need to go back to Windows.
I've been using Linux in various forms (Mandriva initially or should I say Mandrake as it was known then - in about 2003) for a number of years and switched to Ubuntu as of version 7.10 from other distributions due to the hardware support, ease of use and community.
It can be run from the CD as a 'live' installation (no need to install to the hard drive - it is run from RAM instead) if desired, until you are ready to install it. The installation process is straightforward and was reasonably quick (only a few minutes even on a slightly slower machine).
The Ubuntu repositories contain a vast range of available software, with some software already coming as part of the default install (e.g. Open Office (substitute for Microsoft Office), GIMP graphics editor, Firefox browser, music player Rhythmbox, etc). Other software that is in the repositories but not part of the default install can be installed easily using the Synaptic Package Manager (or the command line). If possible, repositories are the recommended way to install (rather than download .tar.gz zipped archives, for instance) due to the fact that this will resolve any dependencies in the software.
For legal reasons, some "normal" aspects of use such as mp3 playback do not work 'out of the box' but if legal in your area, it is possible to install these from the ubuntu-restricted-extras or individually (the forums contain all the information needed on how to do all these tasks). Flash etc work pretty much as they do on Windows, with sites such as YouTube etc (and any site that uses Flash) working normally once this is installed.
There are many 'equivalent' applications to the Windows ones available, such as OpenOffice as the equivalent of Microsoft Office, Firefox for web browsing (this is also available for Windows and I would recommend using it!) etc. One thing to watch out for is DRM (digital rights management) for things like iTunes and protected .wma audio files, as it is generally no-go to access these. However iPods etc can be used with software such as Rhythmbox (similar to iTunes in terms of audio playback) with non-DRM files.
The older Linux distributions - going back a few years - did sometimes have a few issues with hardware support especially for external devices and wireless internet etc but most of these are resolved in the newest Ubuntu release. It also benefits from frequent software updates (though these are limited to security/bug fixes rather than actual whole "new" versions by Ubuntu policy).
It can be set up as a "dual boot" with an existing Windows installation if desired, as the install process asks in one of its steps about how to 'partition' the hard drive... ie what to assign to each part of the drive (operating system, storage, etc) allowing partitions to be changed if required. I would warn that this can potentially overwrite or otherwise 'mess up' a Windows installation if done incorrectly but the options supplied in the interface make it clear what you are meant to be doing!
My suggestion is to try out Ubuntu from the live cd, test that anything you want to use (e.g. wireless internet) works and once comfortable with it carry out the installation. If you already have Windows installed on the computer, it is worth keeping it as a 'dual boot' option for any of those moments where you have specific software that is Windows only and will not run in Wine (e.g. TomTom sat nav update software which I have resorted back to Windows for the moment!).
Let me first introduce Ubuntu and explain what it is. Not so long ago if you had a computer it was more than likely it was running a Microsoft operating system - namely a version of Windows be it 3.x, 9x, 2000, XP, Vista or the latest version 7 incarnation. Some people may have been running a Mac OS or perhaps a variant of Linux of which Ubuntu is a member but not many. Anyway just as you can choose which web browser you want to run on Windows you can also choose what operating system runs on your computer. First off Linux operating systems are nothing new. The name "Linux" comes from the Linux kernel, originally written in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. Various incarnations of Linux existed such as Red Hat and Debian. Linux I think it would be fair to say was very much seen as the choice of geeks and people who just didn't want to see Microsoft rule the world. The perception was that it was difficult to install and configure. It would be fair to say that they have only become user friendly for installation and to an extent usage in the last few years. Ubuntu, which now accounts for around a third of all Linux installations, has probably been at the forefront of "user friendly" Linux distributions for some time. Another important point is that like most Linux operating systems Ubuntu is "free".
To review an operating system could fill a journal. I could compare Ubuntu to the new Windows 7 in a toe to toe battle comparing everything from how it processes memory usage to the intricacies of the file system. And if you do this do you judge each operating system on how well it works as a home or how well it works in the office when connected to say a corporate network? I don't want this review to be too technical so I will approach this review from the following angle. I wanted to see if I could do most of the things I currently do on my Windows laptop in Ubuntu and how easy it was to do this while at the same time comparing the performance/speed to Windows. And then rather than emphasize what it maybe doesn't offer compared to Windows I will try and show some of the things its better at. You might also expect some hard figures on how much faster or slower Ubuntu is compared to Windows - again I won't do that. I will just give you my overall perception having used it on a number of different computers.
So I have explained what Ubuntu is and what to expect from the review. Let me now introduce the latest release of Ubuntu - version 9.10 better known as "Karmic Koala" which was released on the 29/10/2009.
As I said previously at one point one of the biggest gripes for installing any Linux based system was how complicated it was to install compared with say Windows. Certainly this is no longer the case with 9.10. I shall quickly describe the Ubuntu install procedure now but at the same time I need to point out something quite important with it - you don't actually need to install Ubuntu. Let me explain. You can also run Ubuntu directly from a CD or USB stick rather than actually installing it on a computer. This has a couple of advantages. Firstly you can try it without installing it but secondly it allows you to carry your operating system around with you to use on different computers. One advantage of using a USB stick is that this media is writeable unlike a CD-R. To give an example my work laptop does not allow me to install any software so for example I can't use Firefox. However if I boot my work laptop off the USB stick I have my own operating system with the stuff I want, bypassing the corporate Windows system. I can also use this USB stick on pretty much anybody computer if I'm travelling and take my "desktop" and files with me. Using the USB stick key keeps any changes you make - for instance colour changes, saved documents, Firefox favourites etc.
To actually receive Ubuntu you have 3 options. Firstly you can download a 690MB ISO image file of the software from the Ubuntu web site to burn to CD for installation. You can also pay to receive the CD in the post quickly or better still if your not in a rush ask for a free copy which will take a couple of months to arrive. Once you have your copy you are ready to run or install Ubuntu. Let me describe briefly the installation routine so you can get a feeling of how easy it is to install -
Boot from the CD you have created (or better still sent)
Ubuntu actually loads from the CD at this point so you can just try it to and use it if you want.
Choose the "Install Ubuntu 9.10" off the desktop
We now have 6 steps -
1 - Choose language
2 - Choose where you are (pick region or click on the map)
3 - Choose keyboard layout (including a box to type in to test)
4 - Prepare disk space. In theory this is the most complicated step depending on how you want to configure your hard disk. For instance on my machine I already had Windows XP installed. So the Ubuntu installation asked if I would actually like to keep this and run both. This is one option or you may want to split the hard disk into different partitions (perhaps to have the operating system on one and data on the other). My advice would be to follow the suggestions you are offered unless you have a good reason not to).
5 - Who are you?. This includes - What is your name, what login name, what is your password, what is the name of your computer and would you like to login automatically or with a password.
6 - Migrate documents and settings from Windows. In other words if Windows is already installed on this computer your documents and favourites from Internet Explorer etc. will be brought across.
That's it and ready to install. On a fairly old Dell Latitude D410 laptop this whole installation procedure took me less than half an hour to complete.
On completion you are ready to use Ubuntu. Ubuntu uses a graphical user interface just like Windows with everything available via a mouse click. Certainly the basic usage of Ubuntu should be no problem for anyone who has used a GUI based operating system before.
As I said previously rather than review every single feature I just wanted to see if I could do pretty much everything I did in Windows on Ubuntu. What I wanted to do was run Ubuntu for a week and see if I needed to revert back to Windows. I will briefly run through this list and then describe how I felt I got on.
Wi-Fi - my first test was to make sure I could use Wi-Fi so I could connect to the Internet. I tried the Ubuntu on 3 different laptops with 3 different types of wireless card. Each one worked fine.
My headphones - used for listening to music and making Skype calls. I plugged them in and after right clicking on the output icon and just choosing my device the GN 2000 worked correctly.
USB drives - Ubuntu detected all of the USB drives I plugged into the machines correctly.
Using the Internet - The Firefox web browser is included as default. That's not to say you have to use it. Plenty of other browsers are available from the Ubuntu software centre such as SeaMonkey. That said Firefox worked just fine for me.
Skype (sometimes with video) - A version of Skype is available for Ubuntu. It works fine for voice but unlike the Windows version there is no support for video (i.e. webcams). I did try another application called Ekiga which offered both voice and video calls but I didnt think much to the sound quality. So not the fault of Ubuntu as such and I dare say Skype will add video in the not too distant future.
Spotify - No version is available to run on Ubuntu. The website recommended trying to run it using an emulator called "Wine" which allows you to run Windows applications on Linux. I tried this and in theory Wine does run Windows applications. However I found I had jumping sound problems. A bit more investigation may have fixed this problem.
Xmarks - My favourite Firefox add-in. Not available under Ubuntu.
YouTube - Didn't work as default with an error that Adobe Flash was missing. Installed Adobe Flash and now works fine.
BBC iPlayer - Installed and worked fine
Play MP3 and music CD's. This automatically associates with "Movie Player" although I did have to download an add-in to be able to play MP3 format. MP3 and audio CD's can also play with the built in Rythmbox which has an iTunes feel to it.
CD burner - I often burn data to CD's especially creating music albums from MP3 files. Two different applications where available - CD/DVD creator for standard files or Brasero Disc Burner for more complicated things such as creating music CD's. Both worked fine.
An office application - I should say that Microsoft Office is not actually part of Windows. Having said that I wanted to check a viable office type application was available to use. You have a couple of choices with this. If you have Internet access you could use online services such as google docs. However Ubuntu comes with OpenOffice that has "Presentation", "Word Processor" and "Spreadsheet". You can also save the documents in MS office format.
Adding more software - Just a quick note on this. Most people from a Windows background will be used to having to go to web sites to search for and download extra software. Within Ubuntu you have the Software Centre. With this you can search for an application by name or by type - for example Accessories, Education, Games, Graphics etc. Once listed and chosen you just click install and the software is downloaded from the Internet and installed for you.
In conclusion then everything I have needed to work so far pretty much has done. As far as how quick everything felt I would say it was generally comparable if not better than Windows on the older machines I tried. I should quantify that by saying it felt quicker than say Windows Vista perhaps not quicker than older Windows operating systems such as 98 or XP. So basically this brand new version of an operating system seems to work quicker than the latest Microsoft Operating Systems on older machines. On a brand new high specification machine with loads of memory the Windows Vista and 7 operating systems where comparable to Ubuntu.
The bottom line then is if you have a new PC or laptop that has come with Windows preinstalled you may as well use it - Windows 7 in particular is a really good operating system. But if you just want an alternative, don't want to have to pay for an upgrade to say Windows 7 or just try an up to date operating system on perhaps an older PC or laptop I would recommend giving Ubuntu a go. As I have said you don't need to actually install it to try it out and even if you do it can co exist with your previous operating system so why not give it a go?
I recently set up my computer to dual boot between XP and Ubuntu. I had used Windows since I had a computer and was interested to see what the fuss from the linux brigade was about. I was initially confused (as I think most windows users are) by the seemingly odd way of doing things but it wasn't long before I was getting used to it.
One thing that was a problem was that I don't (or didn't then) have an internet connection. This meant that I couldn't use the software installer that comes in the package and that I couldn't use any other software unless I knew enough about programming (I didn't) to compile the programs from the source code that is available online (and that I could download using a different pc). This also meant that I couldn't get the CoDecs needed to play music or watch films and so, as that was what I mainly used the computer for, I had to go back to windows.
The operating system does come with a lot of impressive programs pre installed. These are much better than the windows equivalents and allows you to edit photos and .wav audio tracks with the GIMP and Audacity respectively.
I feel let down by the OS but then again I didn't really get to give it a fair trial. You seem to need a lot more experience with computers to get the most out of it.
Ubuntu! what is it and should I use it? I know that is what I would think if I heard the word Ubuntu. Well it lets your laptop, netbook, desktop computer run a different set of software products that don't come from Microsoft. If you did try to install it on your computer, you could do so without any cost as it is free. Yes! Free, free, free!
It founder is an extremely successful African entrepreneur called Mark Shuttleworth, he set up the Ubuntu project in In early 2004 which aimed to produce a free, high quality desktop OS for everybody. From their website you will find this statement "Ubuntu is and always will be free of charge. You do not pay any licensing fees. You can download, use and share Ubuntu with your friends, family, school or business for absolutely nothing".
You can get Ubuntu by downloading it or filling in your details and requesting a copy of it to be sent to you, they pay for the expenses! To try it you will have to burn the media, stick it in your computer and and boot up from it. There is no need to worry about it overwriting anything on your computer as you can try it "live" running from the media you have booted from. Doing this will identify any hardware compatibility issues you might have, I have found that a lot of computers work without any intervention. If you do decide to install it properly on your computer be careful that you have a copy of any data you want kept saved on a memory stick or external hard drive as it may not be there after the installation. It is not Windows and needs nothing from windows to make it work, so don't expect any remnant of windows to remain.
If you get this far you will be surprised by the speed of your computer, it is very well tuned operating system with and very advanced file system. The file system is the underlying way data and programs are stored on your computers hard drive. This file system is called ext3 and is very efficient, you will not need to defragment your hard drive as you have to with windows and you will find that accessing files is faster.
It comes with an email client called Evolution, the Firefox web browser and the Open Office software suite installed installed as standard. Open Office can be compared to Microsoft Office and you can save files created in Open Office in the native Microsoft format so there is interoperability between the two products. It comes with media burning software and Multimedia capabilities but as Linux has lots of software available if you don't like what you have got try and google for an alternative. Installing software can be done from the Synaptic Package Manager which supports a desktop gui or command line interface. Much of the software comes from the GNU Project which was launched in January 1984 by Richard Stallman. Since then some of the software products are very mature and widely used. If you are interested in digital imaging, I would definitely recommend you download the GIMP (GNU Image manipulation program).
If you have an older computer this is just getting a bit too slow, maybe try it with Ubuntu, it might just give it a new lease of life. Ubuntu is virus free so you don't need to worry about anti virus software and there are lots of very helpful support forums to turn to if you run into a problem. This review was written completely on Firefox running under Ubuntu on my laptop so you have here some proof that it works.
Ubuntu is a Linux operating system that is available for free for home use from http://www.ubuntu.com
Being a Computer Science student and avid Windows user, I was told to give Linux a try. The flavour I opted for was Ubuntu Linux. At first I was astounded at the impressiveness of the operating system and all of the features that came with it. Ubuntu visually can be far better than the interfaces offered by any other OS as it is fully customisable, a feature I loved. Furthermore, Linux has a large community who are willing to help with all issues you may have with the OS.
As it is Open Source, most of the software you can use with Linux is catalogued and available for direct download and install from a categorised list accessible from the desktop.
There is one main problem with Linux. Because it is so different to Windows and Mac anyone moving from the OS will find it very difficult to use. Furthermore, because a lot of the drivers are written by everyday folk you will often find that a lot of your hardware will not work with Linux. I found this incredibly annoying as I spent 5 days trying to make my wireless card work to no avail. Eventually, and with great sadness I had to return to Windows something I knew I could rely on for hardware compatibility and that I did not have to mess around with before I could perform basic tasks.
Ubuntu is an open-source OS that provides pretty much unlimited possibilities for your computer. Ubuntu is based upon Linux and new releases usually come out once every six months.
So your original OS goes belly up (assuming you were running Windows) and you are too poor to buy a new version of Windows. What's the answer? Ubuntu of course.
Now before I actually look at what makes the OS good and bad this is NOT Windows and no matter how hard you try it will never be Windows.
So first off Ubuntu is free and open-source which means if you're stuck and need help or are completely new to the OS you can find loads of resources to help you get somewhere with this sometimes temperamental OS.
(NB: for those not in the know OS stands for Operating System and enables the computer to be useful)
Now as I said earlier it is NOT Windows, as a result you can expect some real compatibility problem even worse than with Mac OS X but no fear help is at hand. If you have a Windows app that you just can't do without you can use an emulator called Wine which allows you to run applications that run natively in Windows with no trouble at all. If you do still have Windows and want to test a program or something then you can run a virtual machine and install Windows into that allocating some 'virtual' hard drive space.
Say you have a graphics card or some other piece of hardware that the inbuilt driver updater just does not pick up; most manufacturers now provide drivers for Linux so you can be sure that your components will run fine under Linux
So now we've cleared up the biggest annoyance that is compatibility what now. Well what makes Ubuntu so great? Well I dislike Microsoft so anything that is cheaper than an Apple Mac and not Windows does it for me.
Ubuntu is great, it loads fast it has some cool features like 'wobbly' windows when you move them around plus it comes complete with Firefox as standard also Open Office which means you don't need to use Microsoft Office to get that report completed. Some other great features are the "send a message" feature that means if one of your colleagues is using Ubuntu and they are out but you want to give them a message you can do so on the lock screen and when they log back in it shows up.
The other thing I love about Ubuntu is the look of the interface and although the taskbar is at the top it seems the most natural for it to be. Even as a dedicated Windows user for many years with about 1hr of exploring the features I was a competent Ubuntu user.
"Wow, this sounds great" I hear you cry, well it would be if it was that simple. Most of the Windows keys found on most standard keyboards does not work like the Windows Logo button for instance, so it's to the mouse to open up that 'start' menu. Also for some odd reason it does not like my Wi-Fi card on my laptop nor my graphics chipset. I can't find drivers for either and the one solution I did find refused to play so alas no funky 'wobbly' windows or internet for lappy. My desktop fared better with Ubuntu recognising my Belkin G Wireless dongle and I was, after much huffing and puffing, able to update the driver for my Nvidia GeForce 8600GT so I now have some good graphics features like the 'wobbly' windows I was talking about earlier.
On the plus side however everything else works a treat and I am quite impressed.
So now I've fed your mind with the faults of Ubuntu and of Linux systems in general, why on God's great earth would I go out of my way to get this OS. Well the answer is simple you can do anything in Linux and I mean anything so if you are a programmer or network administrator then it is ideal and is incredibly easy to diagnose faults. A programmer friend of mine is currently carrying out a project for a company and all they are using is Ubuntu from servers to actual workstations, everything is Ubuntu based which he can find faults and customise everything for the clients specific requirements and also drives down the cost of software which would probably total more than £10,000.
So there you go, Ubuntu in a very large nutshell. In my opinion I think it is worth getting just to experience the OS, dual booting with Windows is what I do but obviously if you have no OS then Ubuntu is fine on its own.
I'm going to look at pros and cons individually here.
I tried Ubuntu on a separate partition and the operating system is a fantastic idea. At no cost, you get an operating system that is as good as Windows in many respects and even more fully-featured out of the box. You get OpenOffice, a fantastic office suite, which compares well to that offered by Microsoft for over £100 and Firefox, arguably the best web browser instead of Internet Explorer. There's a convenient program to download various software packages to do any task and they're all free.
On the other hand, Ubuntu might never be a threat to Windows purely because of compatibility. People are conservative: Windows is what people are used to. So people spend years buying software that they grow to love, which is only compatible with Windows. Office is extremely popular despite its price and now features the Ribbon UI, something OpenOffice doesn't offer. Other popular software includes that from Adobe, which also isn't compatible with Ubuntu and many more, e.g. iTunes. Finally, while recent versions of Ubuntu have improved in terms of hardware recognition, I had a problem with video card drivers, preventing me from choosing the correct resolution for my monitor.
Ubuntu's probably more secure and more stable than Windows and offers more customisation, but it's not what people are used to and doesn't have the big names behind it, making unlikely to take off in mainstream technology. The Linux threat might only come with Google Chrome OS because the Google name has power and fame, but it will be a challenge even then. Look at the Google Chrome web browser: it is steadily stealing users from IE, but it is still miles behind because, for most people, the Internet is Internet Explorer. For most people, an operating system is Windows.
A couple months ago I made the decision to change my laptop OS from the notorious Windows Vista to Ubuntu 9.04 and I definitely don't regret doing so. Vista had come with my laptop but I was experiencing so many issues with it I decided to look around for a viable alternative, which is where I found Ubuntu.
I burnt the image to a DVD+RW and booted it up. I had a number of issues getting it working which led to me reinstall it at least twice. That said, these might be specific issues with my computer or just me being an idiot.
uBuntu comes kitted full of open source alternatives:
GIMP - Photoshop
OpenOffice - Microsoft Office
Rhythmbox Music Player (although I prefer Banshee) - iTunes
(the vastly superior) Mozilla Firefox - Internet Explorer
And so on.
I had a problem in Vista moving large files between computers or from a drive in which it would take ages to "Check the files" or something and then take a ridiculous amount of time to actually move. If you were lucky it wouldn't freeze. This is totally not the case in Ubuntu. When you move something it immediately moved You can do two large move operations to different locations at the same time which almost certainly would have spelled death on Vista.
The UI is great and in my opinion, far superior to Windows. The desktop has two thin task bars at the top and bottom of the screen. You can basically do everything from these. In the top right hand corner, there is a button marked "Applications". It has all your applications split into helpful sections (Games, Graphics, etc.)
You can also install/remove programs here using the "Add/Remove Applications" tool. This is very simple. You uncheck the programs you want to remove, check the programs you want to add. Once that is done, you press apply. All very easy.
However, it would be nice if they included a "Date added" header to organise your installations by.
Next to the Applications button is "Places" which lets you access various parts of your computer, search for files etc. Then the "System" button which lets you monitor and configure uBuntu.
The explorer has tabbed browsing so you don't have to open two separate windows just to open two folders. There is also a pretty nifty tool which allows you to switch between two "Desks" which is helpful if you have a lot of windows to organise.
Installing software is quick and easy as they are all opened by the package manager which installs them at a click of a button. Also, since it is all open source there are no terms and conditions to sign.
The Terminal (which is similar to ms-dos) enables you to enter commands and can help you get things done quicker. However, this might all be a bit too confusing for some.
Even though there is an alternative for almost every Windows application, it can sometimes be tricky to find appropriate software, for example if you have an integrated webcam I found Cheese Webcam Booth was the only application that worked with it. The other available webcam applications didn't pick it up.
I very rarely have programs crash or freeze on me and when it does happen there is usually an obvious excuse. There are also (as far as I know) no viruses for uBuntu so there is no need for fiddly anti-virus software.
On the downside, I found it extremely hard to run games since most of them are designed for use on Windows or Macs. The windows emulator, WINE can be used to run them but does not work all the time and although uBuntu does come with a load of games these are all windowed games like Solitaire and Minesweeper.
A very handy application is VirtualBox OSE which enables you to run just about any operating system inside a window. This was especially handy for me as I wanted to stream music/video to my Xbox like I could before and it was especially difficult to do so in uBuntu.
In summary, this is a great free OS which is superior to Windows in many ways but I'm afraid it's not for gamers.