Although Windows is the most popular OS (Operating System) for casual computer users, this does not necessarily make it the "best" OS. Ubuntu, which is a Linux distribution, has many features that make it a good alternative to Windows:
- It's free. True, one could download pirated versions of Windows. But that would be illegal.
- It's an open source operating system. This means anyone is entitled to download and view the source code to any/all parts of the operating system. Or change it, to suit whatever purpose they want to use it for. If they choose to distribute their modified version, other people can then go on to change that too, allow the software to evolve to serve different needs.
- It's community driven. This means that anyone can contribute to the effort, be it with programming, art, sounds, documentation, or answering users' questions on the Internet. It's not controlled by a Fortune 500 company with questionable legal practices.
- It's more reliable. Linux crashes far less often than Windows, unless you purposely overload the system.
- It's free software. Almost all of the software associated with the OS is available for free and can be easily installed with just a couple of clicks.
- It's safe. There are very few viruses written for Linux due to its relatively low user base (compared to Windows). There are only 49 viruses in Linux and most are patched in kernel updates (from Spatry's Cup of Linux).
- If someone were to write viruses for Linux they would have to be very sophisticated due to the fact that the virus could not be executed unless it were given root permissions.
- The virus would have to be run as the root user if it was intended to cause any serious damage due to the restrictions that normal users have by default.
- There are some viruses out there that can cause loss of users data. Just be extra careful when anyone tells you to run a command, and only take advice from trusted people/sources.
- Did I mention it's free to download, free to use, and free to upgrade, and will be forever?
But It's too geeky for me!Edit
Not at all! Ubuntu is getting more and more user friendly. Most users never have to touch a configuration file or command line if they feel uncomfortable with it. Also, Ubuntu has all of the graphical niceties that a modern operating system has, like dazzling visual effects, piles of graphical themes, and heaps of fun games (if you've gotten tired of Solitaire and Minesweeper).
The 3D desktop effects in Ubuntu have caught the eyes of even the most avid Windows user who only dream about such effects. The most striking example of how easy Ubuntu is lies in the fact that installation consists of just 7 easy steps which can be followed by even a beginner or non technical user.
Furthermore, even installing other softwares is very much unlike windows where all sorts of questions are asked while installation. And there is a surprise for windows users, even 10 or 20 pieces of software of your choice can be selected in a batch for installation.
The GNOME/Unity user interface is much more easy to use provided you are ready to unlearn some tedious things required in Windows.
Besides, as long as you are prepared to read manuals, any 'geeky' bits should be quite feasible - the command line looks difficult, old-fashioned and worrying, especially when you're not in a window manager with a black background, but once you've used it a little, you should find that it's really not that difficult. If you have experience with Mac or UNIX terminals it should be no sweat (no surprise, Linux uses the same thing). The same goes for other things - you may have to get used to something new and read a bit of documentation once in a while, but it shouldn't be too troublesome.
But I'd have to partition my hard drive, and that's scary!Edit
Again, not necessarily. This Wikibook is currently being typed under a Ubuntu virtual machine (VM). All I have to do to return to Windows is press Ctrl+Alt! This, however, might take some experience with computers.
Alternatively, there's an installation system called Wubi that makes having Windows and Ubuntu even easier. It installs Ubuntu into a folder on your Windows drive, completely avoiding partitioning.
Recent versions of Ubuntu have a user-friendly installer to guide you through installation - you can even just tell it to resize your windows partition and install in the free space. Be sure, however, to make sure that you don't damage partitions and back up your data.
For if you don't wish to install just yet, you can have a play with the Live CD. This will probably be slower than the installed version for you, but it's a good way to try the system out.
Alternatively, some other Linux distributions give an option to run from RAM, making the system run faster once it has booted. the downside of this is that boot time takes longer.