About 18 months ago, I had another catastrous crash on my PC that caused me to lose a host of photos, music and documents. Luckily I had a backup of most of my documents on an external disk. So I was not too concerned by this. I had experienced many crashes on Windows before and usually I was able to recover most of my documents and restore the system back to normal without too much effort.
This time was different however and to my horror, I discovered that Windows had somehow corrected my external disk as well. I had lost everything and was pretty angry about it.
I tried a number of data recovery programs but most of the files gone gone. Forever. What a disaster! At that point I decided that I would look for another alternative to windows and I thought I would give Linux another try.
A few years earlier I had experimented with RedHat Linux but had no real success with it as it had problems detecting my usb keyboard and mouse. Which was obviously a bit of a non-starter for me. I knew that big advances were being made in the Linux world so I decided to do a bit of research.
Linux is an operating system that is free. That is, it can be downloaded and copied and distributed without a fee. It is free in a deficit sense too. Most of the software is written under a license called the "GPL" which effectively means that source code is available to everyone for each and every component of the Linux Operating System. If you have access to the source code for a piece of software then you can change the program to fix bugs and make it better. Once you do this you are under obligation to make your new source code available to others.
This has worked extremely well and Linux is being developed by programmers all over the world to make it better and better. The progress is amazing!
In my research I discovered a website: distrowatch.com. This website keeps a list of the most popular distributions of Linux. A distribution is a collection of Linux software that makes an operating system. Each distribution contains different software and has a different focus. There are so many to try … Fedora, Mandrake, Puppy, PCLinuxOS, Debian, Knoppix, and the most popular, Ubuntu Linux.
I downloaded the ISO of Ubuntu Linux from the Ubuntu website http://www.ubuntu.com/ and burned it to cd (an ISO file is cd image that can be recreated using a cd burning tool such as Nero). I placed the cd in my drive and booted up my computer.
I was astounded!
Within 10 minutes my computer was running Ubuntu Linux without even having to install it! This was a "Live-CD" and it can be used without installing to hard disk – it can be run from a cd without affecting your computer at all.
All my hardware was detected and within minutes I was surfing the web using Firefox and getting my email using Evolution, chatting to friends in messenger and yahoo chat using Gaim, writing documents and opening spreadsheets in Open Office and listening to Internet Radio with RythmBox.
I was guided with the easy to use and gorgeous looking desktop. I decided to install it straight away and since then I have not looked back.
There is an abundance of free open source software just waiting for you to experience. The package management system – Synaptic, allows you to search repositories of software and download them. The quality of a lot of the software is incredible.
Linux is written from the ground up to a secure operating system. This means that you will not have to worry about getting viruses, spyware or any other kind of malware. My system is as stable as a rock.
Of course, there are downsides to running Linux. The main one is that there is a learning curve that can be quite steep. It is not windows so If you are trying to get something working, your windows knowledge will not help you.
You may need to troubleshoot problems using the Command Line Interface – similar to windows DOS, but many times more powerful.
Fortunately, help is at hand on the incredibly friendly and helpful forums at ubuntuforums.org
I have been running Ubuntu Linux now for 18 months and can not see any reason now to return to windows. Once you get past the mind set of using closed source software a whole new world opens up before you and you realize that amazing things are possible with linux.
I hope you found this article helpful and I hope it inspires you to try out Ubuntu Linux as I did. You will not regret trying it.
Here are some resources:
Distrowatch – News on the latest Linux distributions.
Ubuntu – Download the Ubuntu Linux operating system for your computer
Ubuntu Forums – Go here for help and advice
Linux on Wikipedia