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Thread: Is Ubuntu for You?

  1. #1
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    Is Ubuntu for You?

    In light of a recent thread by a user who felt misled by Linux zealots, I thought it appropriate to create a thread to avoid misleading potential users. I'm telling it straight here.

    I'm talking to you, potential user. You've used Windows almost all your life. You think you know a little bit about computers. Maybe you know a lot... about Windows computers. Thought you'd give the most popular distro on DistroWatch a chance, eh? Well, let's see if Ubuntu's the right choice for you.

    Hardware
    First of all, keep in mind that any OS will have its hardware limitations. People have endless arguments about why Linux doesn't support absolutely everything. It does come close, but there are some gaps. I know that Broadcom or Atheros wireless can be a toughie. I've heard Lexmark printers are almost a no-go. I'd say in the vast majority of cases, you'd be surprised at how much Ubuntu does recognize without any configuring, but you may end up with too low a screen resolution or something.

    General distro rule of thumb: if the distro doesn't recognize more than two of your hardware pieces (say, the internet, sound, and screen resolution), you've got the wrong distro. Don't fight it. You can if you want to, but it'll be frustrating. Just get a new distro. Libranet was a pain when I tried to install it--no internet, weird screen resolution... it wouldn't even recognize my mouse. I tried Ubuntu and only my screen resolution was off. I tried Mepis, and it recognized everything.

    Software
    There are many Linux equivalents for Windows software, but not for everything. Some Windows programs can be run in Linux with some helper applications, but some programs are just hopeless. Find out. Ask questions. If you think you have some Windows-only programs with no Linux substitutes, pop a question into a forum, "I use Macromedia Shockwave. Is there a way to get this working in Linux?" Don't expect too much (Linux can't run everything Windows has), but don't expect too little either (Linux often has more variety, and some programs are even better in Linux), especially if you have money for Cedega or Crossover Office.

    By the way, it's always better to go with a native Linux application than Windows-only software. If you're planning to go Windows-only using Wine (a software compatibility layer that allows you to run some Windows programs in Linux), check out the Wine App Database first.

    Interface
    Can you copy and paste instructions? I mean literally copy... and paste? You can't? You hate the command line? You'd never want to even touch the command line once? You don't have any frends who are willing to install Ubuntu for you? Okay. If you answered no, no, yes, yes, and yes to those questions, then Ubuntu is not for you. You're probably better off with Mepis or PCLinuxOS.

    If, however, you embrace the command-line just for setting up Ubuntu you'll realize it's easy to copy and paste stuff that people tell you to type in, and that once you've got things set up, you can graphical user interface most of the regular programs (email, internet, etc.).

    Keep in mind that a lot of times people will post command-line instructions for a good reason, but that doesn't mean the command-line is the only way to accomplish said task. More details here

    Free Price
    Does the lack of having to pay for something (software, OS, or even shipping) appeal to you? Maybe Ubuntu is for you. A lot of other Linux distros will be free but have a more up-to-date edition you pay for, or some subscription that gives you a little more. Ubuntu is free, free, free--no money for anything. Of course, if you want to donate and you have the money, go for it.

    Free Software
    The software is also not proprietary. In practical terms that means you don't have to enter an activation code or limit how many computers you can install the software on. And if you're a programmer, you can even modify the code. However, you should realize that a lot of what you consider "basic" may, in fact, be proprietary. If you want Java support and MP3 support and DVD codecs right away, and you're not willing to copy and paste some simple commands to get them up and running, Ubuntu is not for you. One of the major draws of Linux Mint is that it has some pretty good out-of-the-box proprietary formats support. The legality of the proprietary-codecs-preinstalled version of Linux Mint may vary from country to country.

    Read more about Ubuntu's Free software philosophy here:
    http://www.ubuntu.com/community/ubuntustory/philosophy

    Community
    Ubuntu's community is amazing. We even (most of the time) put up with trolls and Linux-haters. You'll find the vast majority of users here are knowledgeable, supportive, responsive, and patient. There are a lot of HowTo's as well and some good links.

    Not Windows
    Do you want an OS that's Windows without the spyware? Linux isn't for you. Linux is not Windows. Linux can perform tasks that Windows can perform and even more, but it is not Windows. If you can't come with an open mind to Linux, then don't come at all. It's kind of like going from Windows to Mac. There's a learning curve. If you don't have time to learn, just cough up some money for anti-virus and learn more about securing your Windows computer. I've done it. It's not that hard.

    I know this generally sounds like a downer. I say use Mepis. I say use Windows. I say something may not work, or you may have to do a lot of copying and pasting to get something working. I just want to warn you. I don't want you to come in with weird expectations about Ubuntu. Please don't twist what's basically a marketing slogan ("Linux for Human Beings") to mean that just about anyone can actually install Ubuntu on any computer and not have to learn anything to get it working. You can't even say that about Windows. If you want to complain about the first thing that goes wrong, don't even bother, because I know you'll complain even if nothing goes wrong. You have to have a positive attitude.

    However, if you can get past all that and say, "Yes, I do want a free OS. I don't mind copying and pasting a few commands in the beginning. I want something stable and a little bit different. I don't mind learning things and being part of a supportive and fun community," then dive in! The water is nice. Ubuntu can be a wonderful experience. I used Windows for twenty years, Mac for six years, and Linux for four months (tried more than twelve distros), and here I am using Ubuntu.

    P.S. - try it out
    You don't have to reformat your hard drive to give Ubuntu a try. The Desktop CD comes as a live CD that won't affect your Windows installation You can also set up a dual-boot whereby you can choose whether to boot into Windows or Ubuntu. And Wubi allows you to do this without even repartitioning your Windows installation.

    P.P.S. If you don't have internet access (or have dial-up and little patience with hours of downloading), then please don't use Ubuntu. Software installation and updates will be painful if not impossible without internet access. Debian is a better distribution for those without regular internet access, since it has about 14 additional software CDs.
    Last edited by aysiu; March 12th, 2010 at 10:19 PM. Reason: Updated from three years of outdated information

  2. #2
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    Yep. It is.
    =)

    Good article though.

  3. #3
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    This one need a sticky and a dublicate in the Absolute beginner talk forum IMO.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Artificial Intelligence
    This one need a sticky and a dublicate in the Absolute beginner talk forum IMO.
    Agreed with above post.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    Very well written.
    This account is not active.

  6. #6
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    Clear, easy to follow, and kindly phrased. Yep, that's a good article. Thanks aysiu.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    asyiu, permissibility to reproduce as a quoted article?

  8. #8
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    Great article. The thing is, although some things can be tricky to set up - sound and wireless networking in my case - if you're willing to put in some intial work you'll get the rewards at the end. Up until 3 months ago I was competent windows user but linux scared me, particularly the command line. I'd played with a few distros about a year ago but couldn't seem to get anything to work.

    The thing that makes the difference with this distro is the community support, and by becoming an active member of that community I've learnt a huge amount in the last few months, and my systems now purring like a ***** cat. I'm even growing to like the speed and flexibility of the command line! What really frustrates me though is that although the software is open source I can't customise it without programming skills. So, I've just done something that I'd never dreamed would interest me - I've signed up for a nightschool class in C++ - and what's more, I'm looking forward to it.

    So yes, there is a learning curve, and that's the price you pay for free software. But there's a lot of satisfaction in learning as well, so if you're prepared to put in the effort, go for it. But don't expect a completely free ride, there's always some price to pay.

  9. #9
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    Quote Originally Posted by aysiu
    In light of a recent thread by a user who felt misled by Linux zealots, I thought it appropriate to create a thread to avoid misleading potential users. I'm telling it straight here.
    In light of that thread your post is a good read for someone who has heard someone speak well of Ubuntu and is interested. Articles like this are good for people who want to try "Linux".

    I wouldn't go "yay! sticky this!" though since this is too specific for people like the newcommer in that thread. Perhaps dig up several "Is Ubuntu right for you?", "Who should try Ubuntu?", "Whose desktop is Ubuntu ready for?". "How to switch without too much pain?" articles and sticky a combination of their different points and perspectives.

  10. #10
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    Re: Is Ubuntu for you?

    Quote Originally Posted by BB
    Agreed with above post.
    Thirded

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