Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. -- Winston Churchill

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. -- Galileo Galilei

I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell. -- Harry Truman

Location: Wichita, Kansas

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ubuntu Linux - Free At Last From Microsoft

Most computer users have been paying the exorbitant toll to Microsoft since the days of DOS. Even if you have never upgraded the operating system since you bought your computer with Windows on it, you paid Mr. Gates in the purchase price. For that that toll, you get bugs that never seem to end, vulnerability to hacking, viruses, worms, trojans, and spyware. You have to buy additional software to protect yourself from all of Windows flaws. And then to make your computer usable comes the cost of all the applications, including the ubiquitous Microsoft Office, at a price of hundreds of dollars.

There is an alternative that is both better and costs nothing, thats right - nada, nothing. That alternative is Linux and "open source" software. If you have not explored this option, it is certainly worth a try. There are lots of versions of Linux available, but my favorite is called Ubuntu. It is a completely free Linux that is stable, has an excellent support community, and is strongly committed to the open source concept. Here's a description from their website:

"Ubuntu" is an ancient African word, meaning "humanity to others". Ubuntu also means "I am what I am because of who we all are". The Ubuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.

Ubuntu is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. It is developed by a large community and we invite you to participate too!

The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Philosophy: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.

These freedoms make Ubuntu fundamentally different from traditional proprietary software: not only are the tools you need available free of charge, you have the right to modify your software until it works the way you want it to.

If you want to try it, just download it from the website and burn it to a cd, or you can even request that they mail you a cd - free of charge.

Most people who install it for the first time will take the option of making it a "dual boot". That is, it retains your ability to go to your existing Windows that you use now, or to Ubuntu, when you turn on the computer. This allows you to keep everything you have now just as it is, while you make the transition to Ubuntu as you are comfortable in doing so. For me, that means I rarely use Windows at all - it has been months.

At first it took a while for me to find all the open source applications to use to replace some of the specialized software and tasks I needed, but that process is behind me. Here is what I like best beyond it's being free.

Security, the Achilles heal of Windows, is great with Linux. Vulnerabilities are searched for by thousands of programmers all over the world, and once spotted, corrected. This has been going on for many years, and has made Linux much more secure than the Windows.

It updates the operating system, drivers, and all my applications automatically. Think about that one. No more having to check if you have the latest and greatest versions of everything, Ubuntu tells you about updates to everything and asks if you want to install it.

Technical strength, in many areas is superior to Windows. For instance, file systems don't need de-fragmenting - they are more efficient in the first place.

Stability is excellent. I just never have the operating system crash.

Applications available seem to be endless and are growing everyday.

OK, enough. You get the idea. It's free, better, and easy to use. For the newbie first timers, there are some things that are different, but the support is there to help you through it. Make sure to use the support community when you run in to a problem, especially the forum.

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