In terms of Operating Systems these days, there are about three major ones to chose from – each with different versions. What you eventually chose will depend mainly on your budget and what you wish to use it for – as well as personal preference. Today I will just cover Ubuntu, but over the next few days I will also cover Windows, Chrome, and Apple.
This Operating System is probably the least heard of but it is free, and the latest version out is 13.04. so, if you have an old machine lying around and it doesn’t have Windows or Apple, or it has a very old version of either, you can turn it into an Ubuntu machine for free. Simply burn a DVD image from the website,insert it into the computer, follow the steps and you have a fully operational machine!
It roughly has the same feel as Windows 7, except the main bar of icons is on the left side of the screen – and it has the system menu at the top, just like an Apple. It comes with Firefox as it’s standard browser, but you can download Google Chrome and Safari.
So, you can surf the internet on it, and thanks to it sharing the same NTFS file system as Windows you can play movies and music and look at all your pictures on it as well. It also has a very robust core (kernel) so viruses aren’t a problem, and it has several built in tools such as the disk checker to help you keep an eye on the health of your drives. But what are the downsides?
The cons of this operating system are that as it is not Windows or Apple; it cannot run applications designed for those platforms. This means no Microsoft Office, no games, and no iTunes.
On the upside; it’s free, robust, and incredibly stable. There are several other types of Unix operating systems such as Unix, Linux, KUbuntu, and Red Hat (to name a few) but they are more experimental and not really designed for home use. As an example of how stable Ubuntu systems are, people mainly use Ubuntu for home servers and there is a lot of open source server software available for Ubuntu.
If your computer lacks the minimum requirements required for running the latest version of Ubuntu, you can try an earlier version or alternatively use the Lubuntu (Light Ubuntu) 13.04 version. If you want long term support the latest version is Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) 12.04, which means they guarantee it will be unchanged for 2 years.
In short, Ubuntu is a good free alternative Operating System which doubles as an effective home media server platform and is remarkably stable and virus free, but will not run standard Windows or Apple applications. It also takes a bit to learn a new Operating System when you’re used to Windows or Apple, but it is reasonably intuitive and well documented online for super users.