Friday, March 27, 2009

Ubuntu: Linux for Human Beings?

That is practically Ubuntu's motto. This article makes an interesting case for Ubuntu, claiming it has the XP-Factor:

Ubuntu: Linux with the XP-Factor
Ubuntu is Linux for normal people. It's the Linux OS with the XP-Factor. Let me explain...


For most people, Windows XP is their favourite Windows. If asked to express a preference, I'll probably agree, despite the fact I'm an open-source guy. It's a solid and functional operating system.

Somehow Microsoft got everything just right with XP, but it's extremely hard to quantify exactly what. The gut reaction is to say that it's easy to use, but I don't think that's true. [...]

He goes on to describe many of XP's shortcomings. It's hardly perfect. Yet it's probably Microsoft's most popular operating system. Why? Read on:
[...] So how about this for a definition of why XP is so universally admired: It doesn't do anything stunningly well, but with a little effort it will do a wide range of things reasonably well.

Doing things reasonably well is good enough for most of us. It's all we need. We don't require anything else. [...]

Faced by customers clinging to Windows XP, Microsoft has had no choice but to avoid shooting it in the head. It has extended support until 2014 (it should have ended this April), and given manufacturers permission to offer a bizarre option on all computers they sell, whereby they install XP instead of the newer Vista. I'm told this "downgrade" is far more popular than it should be.

But pretty soon XP will be a vague memory to most users. Microsoft may have slipped up with Vista, but you're gonna get Windows 7 whether you like it or not. [...]

I have a solution for your XP woes. Unless you've been lobotomized, you might think you've guessed what it is: Linux. But you would be wrong. I don't generally recommend Linux. I recommend Ubuntu. You see, Ubuntu is a special version of Linux. Ubuntu is Linux for human beings. That's their tag line, in fact, and it needs some explanation.


If you switch to Ubuntu you're still gonna have to learn stuff. That's just the way computers are. But Ubuntu also has that magical "Windows XP factor" - it's as functional as you need it to be, yet is still accessible. It 'just works' too - there's usually no need to install drivers, or add-on software. You install, and go. Everything comes together very nicely.

I'd argue that Ubuntu is unique amongst version of Linux in this regard (oh boy, am I gonna get into trouble for saying that - should you stumble upon my beaten corpse, tell Laura I loved her).

I don't even think of Ubuntu as a version of Linux. I put it in a category of its own, and I'm not alone - there's an increasingly common consensus amongst the internet digerati is that there are four operating system choices: Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu, and 'other Linux'.

In short, there's never been a better time to give Ubuntu a try. [...]

The whole article is worth reading if you are thinking of making the switch to Linux.

I've tried Ubuntu. I really like the way they configure the desktop. But I have found some configuration is needed for multimedia, etc. Not impossible or terribly difficult, but it could still be a struggle for some people.

My favorite Linux at moment is Linux Mint. It's based on Ubuntu, but I find that it's a bit more polished, and more ready to use right away, without as much tweaking as regular Ubuntu needs. Also, the way Mint configures it's Gnome desktop, is a little more similar to windows XP than regular Ubuntu. XP users would probably find it a little more comfortable.

A few months ago, Andy was having major problems with XP on his laptop. I put Linux Mint 5 on his computer, so he could dual-boot and use Mint, until he got his XP problems sorted out. Well, he's given up on XP on the laptop. He can do everything he needs to do on the laptop with Mint, and he says it even does some things faster. He likes Mint a lot.

Recently he's had problems with XP on his Desktop too. I put a dual-boot on that as well with Linux Mint. Now he says he's not interested in XP anymore.

The interesting thing about this is, Andy isn't a Linux geek or anything; he just wants to use the computer to get things done. He's found Linux Mint to be a pretty easy transition. Even though I offered Linux as a temporary backup, he's come to prefer it as the path of least resistance.

He does have a few windows programs that he wants to use occasionally, like video editing software and a few games, so I'm considering setting up XP to run on Linux for him, via VirtualBox software.

If you like XP, yet are finding it increasingly hard to maintain, but aren't interested in migrating to Vista or Windows 7, you should definitely check out Linux, particularly Ubuntu or one of it's popular variants like LinuxMint. I think you might be pleasantly surprised.


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