Reasons to Switch from OS X or Windows to Ubuntu

Geek!This is PrivateVoid’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

All too often, popular tech-blogs engage in the old and tired debate about why you should switch to OS X or stay with Windows. The argument has boiled down to one hip ‘Mac’ guy making fun of a ‘PC’ guy or Seinfeld talking with Gates about the proper fit of a pair of conquistadors. I would like to advert your attention to the following salient points just in case watching insipid ads is not enough to make you consider the other alternative. The other alternative, the one that both Microsoft and Apple are afraid to mention, is GNU/Linux.

Reason 1: Freedom

Apple and OS X offers freedom from choice. Microsoft and Windows offers you freedom of hardware choice. Ubuntu and GNU/Linux offer you total freedom. You can choose the graphical interface of your OS and are not stuck with what the denizens Redmond or Cupertino chose for you. With Ubuntu, you can choose the default look and feel of Gnome, KDE or Xfce. If the default style is not to your liking can customize your desktop. You can make it look just like OS X, Windows XP or Windows Vista. The choice is yours, not theirs! Beyond the look and feel you also have the freedom to choose between thousands of programs.

Reason 2: Secure

Despite the bleating noise coming from Cupertino about OS X not having any exploits and the daydreams of Redmond that Vista is now truly secure, neither solution offers the security of Ubuntu and GNU/Linux. The greatest threats to computer security are no longer viruses or worms. They are trojan horses delivered through clever social engineering attacks. Such attacks often depend on a user to run an install or agree to a pop-up. Windows XP had no built-in security to defend against these exploits. The security of OS X and Vista are similar, but still only require a user to agree to running the application. The ease of doing so results in most users hitting the OK button before they engage their brain. With Linux you often have to mark files as executable and you have to know that you want to run them with administrative rights before you launch them. While it is still possible to fool a Linux user into running malware, the likelihood is greatly diminished due to the number of steps it takes. For OS X and Vista the user experience still trumps security.

Reason 3: Lower Cost

To get OS X, you must purchase hardware that in most cases is $400 – $500 more than comparable non-Apple hardware. To run Windows Vista, you have to buy more expensive hardware due to the high system requirements. The system requirements for Ubuntu are the following:

Xubuntu requires 128 MB of RAM and 1.9 GB of hard disk space. Ubuntu requires 256 MB of RAM and 4GB of hard drive space.

Compare that to those for Windows Vista, which requires a 1Ghz processor, 1GB of RAM, a graphics card that supports DirectX 9 and has a 128 MB of RAM, a 40 GB hard drive with 15 GB of space.

Or with OS X, which requires an 867Mhz processor, 512 MB of RAM (1 GB of RAM if you want to use the developer tools) and 9GB of disk space.

While both Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X come with a nice selection of included software, neither can beat the vast software library available in the Ubuntu repositories.

Reason 4: Community

The Ubuntu community is a thriving global community that uses, supports and contributes to GNU/Linux. There are copious amounts of documentation on-line and thousands of people willing to assist with any problems you encounter or questions you have. When you elect to use Ubuntu, you join that community. When you buy OS X or Microsoft Windows, you become a faceless unimportant customer to a large company that will often treat you like cattle. Ubuntu has local community groups in all fifty states and over one hundred countries including Uruguay, Iran, Luxembourg, Georgia, Estonia, Norway, Belgium and Chile.

Reason 5: Ease of Installation

Contrary to popular opinion, Ubuntu is easy to install. You simply download the appropriate ISO and burn it to a CD or you can order an Ubuntu CD from On-Disk.com. Once you have the CD, you simply boot your computer using the CD and follow the simple instructions in the graphical installer. For most users, the process takes roughly 15-20 minutes and when it is done you are greeted with a fully functioning computer complete with productivity applications. The installation is much faster and when it is complete you will not spend the next two hours installing patches, drivers and applications like you would with Windows.

In the end, the choice of which OS to choose is yours. I hope that this quick top five article has opened your eyes to the very powerful alternative of Ubuntu and GNU/Linux.