You may have heard the term “Ubuntu” in online discussions, often in the context of discussing alternatives to Windows. What exactly is it and why are people choosing to use it?
What is ubuntu
Ubuntu desktop is a Linux distribution developed by Canonical, and is one of the most popular distributions thanks to its ease of use. It’s also one of the best options for people starting out with Linux. the Server edition, which we won’t focus on here, also works on most internet servers.
So what is a Linux distribution? It is an operating system developed from the Linux kernel, a UNIX-like system created by Linus Torvalds in 1991. Linux distributions are usually free and open source, and many are great alternatives to popular operating systems like Windows and macOS.
The Ubuntu Foundation was founded in 2004 by the South African-British developer and entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. He wanted to make a more user-friendly Linux distribution than Debian, which was very popular with Linux users at the time. However, it was known to be difficult to install and the Ubuntu Foundation was working to fix this.
Since Debian was (and still is) open source, Shuttleworth took it as the basis for its operating system and named it Ubuntu. The word Ubuntu means “humanity to others” and “I am what I am because we all are”.
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Why do people use Ubuntu?
Let’s look at all sorts of reasons why Ubuntu is worth trying out.
As an operating system designed to get beginners on the Linux bandwagon, Ubuntu does an excellent job of accomplishing the same thing. While it’s quite different from Windows and macOS, it has a flat learning curve.
Ubuntu uses GNOME, one of the most popular desktop environments (DEs) in the Linux world. Think of the DE as a painting on a canvas, the Linux kernel. In GNOME, you and your computer interact in an intuitive and visually appealing way.
GNOME isn’t the only desktop environment you can get with Ubuntu, however. Ubuntu comes in many flavors called “Flavors” that come with other desktop environments such as KDE, LXQt, MATE and Xfce. This gives newbies a lot of flexibility to try and experience different DEs and settle with the one they like best, which makes Ubuntu a more flexible operating system.
In general, Vanilla Ubuntu with GNOME would be fine for a beginner. However, if you have an old PC that is struggling to run modern apps, then maybe you should give it a try Ubuntu-MATE, Lubuntu, or Xubuntu. If you can’t decide which DE to choose, we have a guide on how to choose between the different Ubuntu flavors.
Privacy and security
You may have heard that Linux is more secure than other operating systems, and they are generally referring to its open source nature and lack of Linux-directed viruses. When we say an operating system or software is open source, the source code is open to anyone to add code or make changes. Thousands of people and developers work together to fix problems and security vulnerabilities.
However, there have been cases where Ubuntu received a lot of backlash from the community. In Ubuntu 18.04, Canonical pushed Amazon apps and search tools into the operating system. Well, Amazon isn’t the most respected company when it comes to privacy and the pre-installed Amazon store often suggests affiliate links to users to earn commissions. Although it was removed in the later versions of Ubuntu, some people are still using the older versions of Ubuntu and they still have the apps installed.
Ubuntu can also collect your hardware information (RAM, CPU, GPU), location data, and usage data. However, you can log out during the installation process or in Settings after the installation is complete.
Software and apps
The most popular apps available on Windows and macOS like Chrome, Slack, VSCode, Spotify, etc. are also available on Ubuntu. The operating system comes with its store called “Ubuntu Software” which allows you to find and install apps with just a few clicks. Even if you can’t find your favorite apps, you might stumble upon their alternatives that you might like better in the end.
One of the downsides to using Ubuntu software is that you can only install apps in snap form. Snap installations have their advantages, but tend to be slow and require a lot of storage space compared to normal app installations. Because of this, some Linux users refuse to run Ubuntu.
But don’t worry, you’re not limited to just using Snaps. Most of the popular apps available on Linux offer a DEB installation file. Think of DEB as the equivalent of an EXE file on Windows or an AppImage file on macOS. All you have to do is download, double-click to open it, and hit “Install”.
Some Ubuntu flavors are light
Ubuntu variants such as Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu and Lubuntu are very light operating systems. If you have an old computer lying around collecting dust that the latest version of Windows can’t handle, you can install Ubuntu MATE and breathe new life into it.
Compared to the others, GNOME is a modern and heavy DE; Hence, it needs more RAM to function smoothly. It requires at least 2 GB of RAM to run without problems while the flavors discussed Above need about 1 GB.
Ubuntu is free to use
In contrast to Windows, Ubuntu is a free to use and ad-free operating system. If you’ve recently bought a new PC that you want to use for basic tasks, instead of buying a Windows license, you can try Ubuntu.
A great distro for getting familiar with Linux
While Ubuntu has some drawbacks in terms of privacy and snap, it’s an excellent operating system for people starting out with Linux. It’s easy to install and can run most popular apps with no problems. However, there are disadvantages to switching to Linux.
If in the end you don’t like the way Ubuntu is based on Debian, there are other distributions that are based on Ubuntu. One of the most popular Ubuntu-based distributions is Pop! _OS. You could try too Linux Mintthat many people in the Linux community prefer to Ubuntu. One of the reasons Linux Mint is so popular is that it doesn’t come with Snap and you can get Mint with the Cinnamon desktop environment that many people prefer over GNOME.
Once you’ve decided to give Ubuntu a try, you can do a full install or a dual boot. Dual-booting allows you to run both Windows and Ubuntu on the same computer. Don’t forget to back up your data too.
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