Written on: 07/06/2012 by Freeky (39 reviews written)
Linux has moved on much from its early days when it was for geeks, it still has some geeky bits, but then so does Windows. Linux is now the de-facto operating system for servers preferred by most webmasters and is rapidly expanding as the operating system of choice for home pc's.
Linux Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick) is available as an iso to burn to CD creating a bootable disk that boots to a fully working operating system with applications (office apps, browsers etc etc) without any install (i.e. you can try it fully without changing anything on your machine) This aspect alone shows up how poor Microsoft products are, anyone that has had to install or re-install Windows knows of the nightmare trying to get all the drivers for everything working, Ubuntu gets (mostly) everything working on its own from the one disk.
If upgrading from windows you'll be pleased to know Linux can read all Widows disk and file formats (though Windows can't read Linux format disks) so you can still access your old data, through Thunderbird you can also copy all your old outlook email files across (Linux can be installed alongside Windows, it does not have to replace it). A big plus is Linux does not have the virus problems of windows, so there is no commercial anti-virus to buy, the inbuilt security in Linux means your safe. If there is some windows software you must have (like Photoshop) Linux has a Windows compatibility layer allowing you to install & run many.
I`m reviewing Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick) here as apposed to the latest release (12.04) as I find it much easier to configure just the way you want, something that was lost with version 11 & its unity desktop. Basically you can make Maverick look exactly the way you want, like Windows 7, no problem, like a Mac, easy or take the best bits of any you want (I love Docks).
One big advantage of Linux is speed, on an old machine that had slowed to a crawl under Windows it will wiz along with fast boot-ups/shut downs too. And if your machine has a half decent graphics card you can enable enhanced effects like transparency, wobbly windows, transition effects etc.
Ubuntu includes software center which has a very large repository of applications you can search and add (most free) with a single click (or un-install with one click too) and unlike windows, once the install is complete you can use things immediately, re-boots are thing of the past.
The downside, it can be awkward to get some more obscure printers working and older scanners have little support. If your still relying on dial-up for your internet connection then you'll really struggle. But there is also a mass of help out there, as with most open source applications.
The cost of this fantastic package, NOTHING, its open source so free, though the authors would appreciate a donation once your enamored with it.
My advise, try it now, you'll be very pleasantly surprised.