Friday, April 3, 2009

Switching to Ubuntu

You have been using a computer and your definition of a computer is a PC. If you are old (and I mean old in computer use context), you started probably with Wordstar 4.0 (like me) or WordPerfect (don't know what version). The last version of Windows you have used maybe Windows 2000, XP or Vista.

You saw ads and reviews of Windows 7. You recently used Microsoft Office 2007. But you also heard of this "free" software called Linux, and you saw the seemingly impressive and Windows-like interface in particular of Ubuntu. You became interested.

You contemplate on switching to Ubuntu. I don't want to talk about the pros and cons, but I guess it can't be helped. I'll just probably discuss basics, then give you some things to contemplate on regarding switching operating systems.

  1. Ubuntu is free--like FREEDOM. Read.
  2. Ubuntu is stable.
  3. Technical support is available via paid (Commercial) or via Ubuntu Forums.
  4. Ubuntu is secure. Your computer will not do anything without your knowledge or permission.
  5. Impressive effects (right on the desktop!).
  1. Requires learning (but not so much, because the interface is very similar to combined Windows and Mac). Unlike previous Ubuntu versions, Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex (that's the codename) has GUI (graphic user interface, meaning menus you click) for everything. You don't have to remember command lines like you may have done with MS-DOS 6.11.
  2. May have compatibility issues (if you were using specialized software, such as non-linear editing software for videos or high-end publishing application like Adobe Pagemaker), but these will soon be resolved as the open source community is working on bridging the compatibility gap fast.
  3. Compatibility issue with people whom you are dealing with.
  4. Takes some effort in finding the application that deals exactly with your issue. This is because of the open source nature of applications in a Linux/Ubuntu operating system.
There are many things to really consider if you have specialized needs, but if you are a typical user of computer--that is, you use a computer to type documents, paste pictures, calculate using a spreadsheet, create presentations, maybe make a few songs or videos, Windows XP and Ubuntu 8.10 are pretty much the same.

Now comes the answer to your question. Should you switch? By all means, because I am an open source enthusiast! However, I do not recommend doing so without due consideration. I would suggest rather that you try it without throwing your current system all away.

And with Ubuntu Linux, you can. I did this by running the Ubuntu installation CD inside the Windows operating system.

Doing this is running Ubuntu Linux. You would forget about Windows running on the background because it will run everything that you can do as if it were running solely in your hardware.

While trying it, try to do the following:
  1. Try to do the things that you normally do with your previous operating system.
  2. Think of the worst thing that you would have to do with your previous operating system. For example, running ten applications at once (!).
  3. Try to do the most complicated thing that you have done with your previous system.
  4. In the end, try to do a cost-benefit analysis. Cost would be the learning curve and the effort to learn, and probably compatibility issues. Benefit would be continuous free update, secure system, and learning something new!
Read also the system requirements of ubuntu. As of this writing, Ubuntu 8.10 is the latest stable version, while 9.4 is in Alpha 3 stage.

Bare Minimum Requirements:
  • 300 MHz x86 processor
  • 64 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • At least 4 GB of disk space (for full installation and swap space)
  • VGA graphics card capable of 640x480 resolution
  • CD-ROM drive or network card
Recommended System:
  • 700 MHz x86 processor
  • 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • 8 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 1024x768 resolution
  • Sound card
  • A network or Internet connection (for your updates) (from, accessed April 4, 2009).
I have tried installing the Ubuntu 8.10 on a 4-gigabyte storage, 512-megabyte memory Asus eeePC. It works. However, it has to use a memory card for storage of files.

Happy experimenting! If something fails, you should know where to find me.

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