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The Pros And Cons Of Changing To Ubuntu (Linux)
In this day and age of widespread computing, most people use either Windows or Mac OS. Those are by far the most popular and widespread Operating Systems, but they're not the only ones available. In fact, there are many alternatives - the most interesting of which is Ubuntu Linux.
As you may know, Linux is an open source Operating System: meaning it's a community project, created by users and freely distributed with no commercial interests whatsoever. Although it's just essentially one OS, Linux has several "flavors" (also known as distributions) with different names such as Red Hat, Fedora, Gentoo and Ubuntu, which is arguably the most popular and user-friendly Linux package available.
You see, at one point in time, Linux was regarded as a super advanced OS for techies. Installation was not too simple or straightforward, and learning how to use this OS took a bit of studying. Nowadays though, Linux developers have taken a hint from the most popular Operating Systems, and Linux distributions such as Ubuntu have become extremely user-friendly and intuitive.
In fact, Ubuntu now stands proudly as a free, viable alternative to commercial Operating Systems. More and more users are transitioning to Ubuntu/Linux; in case you're wondering if you should consider doing the same, this article will show you the pros and cons.
Big Reasons to Try Ubuntu
1) Free to Use
This is probably one of the most enticing and obvious reasons why most people change to Ubuntu: it's 100% free to use - made by users, for users. When you decide to try this OS, you can just download it from the official website without being charged a penny. All add-ons, apps, and system updates are also free, which is quite refreshing in a time of rampant commercial exploitation.
2) Easy to install
For an Operating System that used to be tricky to get up and running, Ubuntu sure has come a long way. It's now so thoroughly easy to install, that you don't have to burn it to a disc (although it's also an option). You are not required to putter about with partitions (although you certainly can). If you're using a Windows machine, you can take advantage of the included Wubi installer, which allows setting up and uninstalling Ubuntu in less than 15 minutes without making drastic changes to your current system.
3) Fully-featured OS
If you've never tried using Ubuntu, or if you haven't seen it in a long time, you're in for a surprise! Currently, this OS looks just as slick, polished and fully-featured as the latest versions of Windows or Mac OS. Fresh after install, you get all the applications you could hope for, wrapped inside an intuitive and really good-looking user interface. If you need additional programs, you can just use the built-in installer to fetch the software and get it running (all for free, of course). Looking great, and without pulling a sweat!
Possible setbacks of using Ubuntu
1) It's not your usual OS
Even though it's a fully-featured Operating System, Ubuntu is of a different computer lineage (so to speak) which can lead to some difficulties. For example, if you were using a very specialized program in your Windows machine, there's always a chance there's not yet an exact equivalent available for Ubuntu. In this case, work-arounds would be available. For example, Ubuntu includes a Windows emulator that allows using many Windows applications inside Ubuntu. But still, this is not exactly a practical solution, and for many users this kind of issue can be the biggest deal-breaker that keeps them from sticking with Linux.
2) Takes a bit getting used to
Ubuntu (as well as most of the other modern Linux distributions) features an extremely good looking user interface. When you get used to it, you may just realize it's more elegant and practical than the "mainstream" alternatives devised by Microsoft and Apple. Even though at the surface it's not so different from the user interface you're accustomed to, it still takes a bit of getting used to: after all, it's an entirely different Operating System! This is why many users who try Ubuntu will go back to Windows or Mac OS after a while: simply out of habit.
3) It's a whole new world
This is arguably the most notable strength and simultaneously the major weakness of Ubuntu: it's a whole new approach to computing. Whereas the major commercial Operating Systems are developed by big corporations, Ubuntu is developed, maintained and updated by a close-knit community of actual users: people who offer their skills to create what aims to be a perfect computing platform. While this is a commendable goal, it also means that diving into the world of Ubuntu equates with straying from the beaten path and favoring a reality where software is freely devised by the people, for the people. As opposed to a reality of commercial software that's thoroughly tested and polished in labs before getting released to the public. As you may imagine, both these approaches to software development have their own pros and cons.
Ideologically, changing to Ubuntu is most certainly a great decision, but on practical terms, it really depends on your use profile and willingness to try new things. In all case, you should at least experiment once with this Operating System: it's really simple to install, and you may just realize it's just right up your alley.
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