ubuntu is here!

At last! Freedom from Microsoft. Live free or die!


I really like ubuntu. I can recommend it if you are a user with no specialist software or hardware. If you have existing hardware that ubuntu can't handle, or need to use software like Microsoft Access, Samsung Kies or Tom Tom Home then it might not be possible to change entirely to it just yet.

Open Source
What is an operating system?
UNIX history
The ubuntu operating system
Details and history of ubuntu
Ubuntu out of the box and suggested add-ons
Types of ubuntu
Unix shell commands
Ubuntu drivers
What you can't do in ubuntu
Practical notes about ubuntu

I have used Unix on and off for decades, but not much. I have had my own Unix system for training and played with various flavours including Whitechapel and Slackware. I have examined various excellent Unix systems including a legal firm in Norwich and a school in Cromer. In my paper archive I even have theThe Unix Report written by Digitus in 1985 discussing the market prospects for Unix in the UK.

Mostly though, I have always used Microsoft Windows, not from choice but necessity. Yes, Windows is inefficient, bloated, insecure and unstable but it is easy to use and most people use it. There are many silly things about it like having to reboot when installing updates or applications. Many of the packages I wanted to use, like Access, Dreamweaver and Photoshop, only run under Windows. I was weaning myself off Microsoft software as much as I could, using Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP and LibreOffice, but I was still stuck with Windows. Five years ago I bought the OpenSUSE Bible. I am fairly computer savvy but it wasn't a good experience and convinced me that Linux was not for me.

It was the imminent abandonment of XP that got me thinking. XP was as near acceptable as a Windows operating system could be. Windows 7 just had a few bits of eye candy and 8 was a complete mess, satisfying no-one. I have now tried out Windows 10 on a netbook. What is all the hype about? Apart from cosmetics like tiles, the only difference seems to be touch screens. When I had to go through the time-wasting involved in changing operating systems, and forking out large sums of money, finding new drivers and discovering which of my favourite bits are no longer there, I started looking around.

Then I came across ubuntu. I bought 'The Official ubuntu Book seventh edition' by Helmke and Graner and ran ubuntu from the disk that came with the book. I was astonished at the quality of the user interface and the ease with which it found my network and networked printer. I bought a low-specification desktop for less money than the retail price of Windows 7. I downloaded ubuntu 13 from the ubuntu site, burned it to disk and installed it. Installation was very smooth and took about 20 minutes.

Of course I had to learn the differences, but the Unity desktop has a familiar feel. Out of the box it comes with LibreOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird, and software to handle music, photos and video. For many people that is everything that they need. The built-in ubuntu Software Centre gives you access to an enormous and searchable repository of software, most of which is free, financially and in licence terms. Wine allows many Windows applications to be run under Unix but at present Access 2010 can't be used.

Ubuntu, and Linux in general, is developed under the Bazaar principle. To understand what this means read this document which contrasts the Cathedral method of software development used by Microsoft, Adobe and so on with the Bazaar used by the GNU/Linux community. It is an eye-opener.

However... there are several items on my main computer that do not work in ubuntu. These include hardware that I am not ready to replace and several bits of software. No doubt this will change but I can't junk Windows completely yet.


(C) Peter Scott 2013

Last edit 8 October 2016