How To “Sell” Ubuntu To Friends…

The title might be a bit misleading but the quotation marks are intentional. Windows 8 and the learning curve for its new user interface that is not everyone's taste offers an interesting opportunity to introduce some Linux goodness to those asking for advice when buying a new computer. Arguments such as Linux/Ubuntu being open source and users not being taken hostage by one software company or another are nice but usually do not stick with normal users. Fortunately I have accumulated a number of other arguments that I thought I'd recap in this post.

Boots fast: One of the main complaints I often hear is that despite Windows reacting strangely people are reluctant to reboot until it is really really necessary as shutting down Windows and rebooting it takes several minutes that seem to stretch into eternity while starring at the "welcome" message. Ubuntu on the other hand shuts down and reboots significantly faster. Not that it is often needed anyway.

Suspends fast: One of the things I find rather strange is that Windows 7 sometimes takes several minutes after closing the lid before it finally suspends to RAM and sometimes fails to do so at all. This is especially nerve rattling when you want to catch that plane or train or want to leave a place and you have to resort to putting the notebook in your backpack while the hard drive is still spinning and without knowing if it might just not suspend at all and dangerously heat. Ubuntu on the other hand suspends in a number of seconds. No guesswork.

No Viruses: Perhaps the biggest advantage is the absence of viruses. Not that the platform is invulnerable it's just that nobody cares. A strong argument for those having become infected before with all what it entails to get rid of the Trojan or virus afterward.

Network Manager: Windows 7 has done a lot to make Wi-Fi configuration quick and easy. But as soon as 3G USB sticks come into play third party management tools are required and mess up the process. Also, I have noticed over the years that Windows 7 seems to have a problem when switching between several Wi-Fi networks. At some point the driver hangs up and even disabling / enabling the hardware driver doesn't help. Only a reboot fixes things. Compare this to Linux/Ubuntu where everything is integrated into the network manager and things are straight forward with Wi-Fi, 3G and VPN connectivity all managed from a single drop-down list.

Skype stability: I use Skype a lot and over the years they haven't been able to develop a Windows version that doesn't crash after a while when frequently changing networks and VPNs, which is the case when you are mobile and want to be secure. What's even worse is that Skype hangs in such a peculiar fashion that it can't even be killed via the task manager. Only a reboot can fix the situation. On Linux/Ubuntu it crashes very very seldom and if it does it can be killed and restarted without a reboot.

Word/Open/LibreOffice: A number of years ago, this was a sore point as most people insisted on using Microsoft Office. But things have changed with Mac's having become more popular, people using OpenOffice/Libre Office a lot more and Microsoft Office versions now using several file formats. Document exchange has become a mess anyway due to formatting often being altered due to file format conversions and editing or correcting text by several people with different word processors. So resistance to move away from Microsoft Office is much lower than before. And one can of course take Microsoft Office to Linux / Ubuntu and use the license of the old PC there, either via Wine or in a virtual machine.

External devices just work without minutes of driver installs: Another irritating thing is that when Windows 7 is confronted with a new USB flash memory stick or hard drive it usually spends a long time installing drivers. What for? In Linux/Ubuntu the device is plugged in and a few seconds later the file manager pops up.

Updates do not reboot the computer: A frequent complaint I hear from Windows 7 users is that programs and the operating system constantly update themselves and require restarts. Ever had a monthly Windows security update that didn't require a reboot? Have you ever gotten stuck with an old Flash player because it has it's own update routine that is only invoked on reboot? Gone are the problems with Linux/Ubuntu that uses a central update facility for all programs including the web browser, flash and other programs constantly being updated. And unless a new kernel gets installed, no reboot is required. And even if, it doesn't nag you about it every hour.

Let's see if these reasons are enough to convince the uninitiated. I will keep you posted.

One thought on “How To “Sell” Ubuntu To Friends…”

  1. I ‘upgraded’ to Windows 8 but am not at all impressed with the interface that seems to add a pointless layer on top of the more familiar interface and I often find myself cursing having to navigate that extra layer for no real reason. I’m still getting used to it, so perhaps I’m still in Dummy Mode. Still, it has promted me to install Lubuntu on an old laptop and play around, so it’s not all bad!

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