Popular Linux operating system is stable and easy to install
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Ubuntu is an operating system that is both open-source and entirely free. This OS uses Linux as a foundation, which is the same stout technology behind most of the servers that power the internet. There are several Linux-based operating systems available, but Ubuntu is probably the most popular and commonly used since it has a wide following, many apps, and exceptionally easy utility. Many would argue that the utility, flexibility, and power of Ubuntu make it a comparable alternative to Windows.
It's difficult not to compare Ubuntu and Windows since they provide the same sort of utility for your PC. The main difference, of course, is that you must pay to use Windows, whereas Ubuntu can be used by anyone for free. Those who want to use the Ubuntu code to develop derivative technology can legally do so thanks to the open-source nature of the platform. That's part of the reason why it has such a cult following among Linux users.
If you really want to know the scale of the battle between Ubuntu and Windows, you only need to browse through the Ubuntu Software Center, which acts as the App Store for the platform. Of course, the word 'store' is a bit misleading since all the software is free. You'll find many games, apps, and system upgrades in the software center, all of which are available thanks to the tremendous amount of time Ubuntu has been available.
When you install the standard version of Ubuntu, you'll get a whole host of apps and tools to help you take full advantage of the OS. You actually get more initial software with Ubuntu than you do with Windows. It comes with a free productivity suite called LibreOffice, and that suite contains free apps similar to Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. It also comes with a version of Firefox that has been streamlined for the Ubuntu system.
Ubuntu uses a side menu bar that gives you access to a hard-drive search function as well as your most-visited websites. The File Browser works a lot like the Finder in Mac OS X systems, and the system can be configured and customized from the Ubuntu Panel.
If you have any familiarity with Linux systems, you're probably aware that most Linux-based systems rely on the terminal for coding and commands. However, this isn't the case with Ubuntu. You can certainly still use the terminal in Ubuntu, but you won't need it to perform most tasks.
Mac users will find Ubuntu to be relatively easy and intuitive since both systems employ a similar UI and general aesthetic. Ubuntu, of course, allows users to customize the software quite a bit more than is possible with Mac OS X. Windows users can even take advantage of software that will allow their Windows apps to run through Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is a Linux distribution designed as a general OS focused on ease of use built using only free, open source software. Although focus is shifting to add tablet and phone compatibility, it remains one of the most popular desktop distributions.
Ubuntu is available for i686, x86_64, and PowerPC processors, allowing users to install this OS on almost any PC or Mac from the past decade. ARMv7 and later processors are also supported, but not the older ARMv6 found in the Raspberry Pi. Depending on the platform, users can install Ubuntu from a CD, DVD, USB drive or from within Windows. It can also be used as a "live" OS booting directly from the installation media, allowing users to try it out before installing.
As with other desktop-centric distros, Ubuntu provides most of the software home users will need as part of a fresh installation. This includes Firefox browser, GIMP image editor and LibreOffice office suite. The Ubuntu Software Center makes it easy to install free and pay apps including software from Steam. Closed source software like Adobe Flash and proprietary video drivers are left out of the base installation, but these are available through the Software Center.
Recently, development has shifted to turning Ubuntu into an all-in-one operating system that is compatible with phones, tablets and computers. Central to this is the touchscreen-focused Unity user interface. Desktop users may find this interface annoying, particularly the Smart Scopes feature which searches both locally and from the web, giving results that are too generic and unhelpful. The animation-heavy UI can also be painfully slow on older computers.
Fortunately, there are ways to fix these problems. For instance, there are multiple forks of Ubuntu promoted and supported as separate distributions, but these can also be installed on top of a base distribution through the Software Center. Some forks are compatible with other desktop managers like KDE (Kubuntu) and XFCE (Xubuntu,) while others are task-specific, such as Edubuntu for education. Once installed, each user can choose the fork they want to use from the log in screen.
The developers name each version after the year and month they release them in. That is, regular versions come out every April and October, while Long Term Service (LTS) versions come out every two years. Ubuntu offers support for 9 months on regular versions and 5 years for LTS versions. Users can upgrade the entire system to the latest version using the Upgrade Manager utility.
- The Ubuntu install disk/image is "live," letting users try it out before installation.
- Easy to install, offering DVD and USB options as well as installation from within Windows
- Support for a variety of processors means it will run on almost any computer.
- A wide range of both free and pay software is available through the Software Center.
- Users can install forks of the main distribution and, thus, users can get the desktop manager and software they want.
- Common proprietary software like Adobe Flash and video drivers are necessary after installation.
- Some users may find Unity's interface grating, especially the search feature. It also runs slowly on old computers.
- Although it's easy to upgrade to the latest version, regular releases are only supported for 9 months.
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