Free and Open source software (FOSS) have come to play a large role in my PC use. On a daily basis, apart from my Ubuntu Linux operating system itself, I use at at least seven open source software on the average. So much so that when I do find my self on a windows machine (which happens once in a blue moon), more than 60% of the apps I use would still be Free or open source. That’s how far I have come to love FOSS – for very cogent reasons.
No doubt FOSS is playing a very big role in the tech space at the moment. Most importantly people are being brought together from different sphere of life and location to collaborate to create innovative applications – that is so wonderful.
Linux is the prominent incarnation of FOSS philosophies, and so is almost the default example of what a FOSS is. As a result of its very nature Linux comes in different flavours (commonly called distributions or distros): Ubuntu, Redhat, Fedora, Zorin and the rest. Among the above listed distros, Ubuntu is my favorite. But why? Let me explain.
#1: SIMPLE AND QUICK INSTALLATION
Ubuntu is easy to install, with clear and intuitive clickable options – without the need for too much configurations. Which would be attractive to newcomers. The first time I installed Ubuntu (this was 11.04) it was so simple using the now defunct wubi installer that it was as if I was installing another windows application. Though the wubi method of installation has been discontinued but an Ubuntu installation is still relatively easy. If you are new Ubuntu installation would not be a problem – yeah, even if you have not done it before. And it takes an average of about twenty minutes to install Ubuntu normally.
Ubuntu is a very popular Linux distribution used in Nigeria. If you meet five Nigerian user about four out of them would be an ubuntu user. Its so popular that I’ve never met a non-ubuntu Linux user in Nigeria. One of the recently commissioned federal universities in Ekiti, Western Nigeria have a full computer lab/classroom that run on Ubuntu. And to add to that, the electoral commission’s voters registration software stack run on Ubuntu.
#3: MANY DERIVED (UBUNTU-LIKE) PRODUCTS.
Though Ubuntu itself is a derivative of a solid distro Debian, Linux distributions like elementary, Bohdi, SOLUS project, Mint, Zorin are derived from or based on Ubuntu. And also Ubuntu has many flavours with tailored for different purposes e.g Lubuntu (a light weight Ubuntu), Ubuntu studio (for digital music production), Edubuntu (specialized for educational purposes), Kubuntu (Ubuntu using the KDE desktop environment),Ubuntu-gnome (Ubuntu with the gnome desktop environment) and so. The upside of this is that a familiarity with Ubuntu would make the transfer of knowledge to these other derivatives would be easy and smooth. For instance software management and installation, file system and interface would look very similar across board.
#4: LARGE COMMUNITY SUPPORT.
The Ubuntu user community is very diverse and ‘welcoming’. There are a lot of Ubuntu online fora that can prove very helpful when one run into some issues with its use. A simple ‘googling’ of any Ubuntu-related problem can testify to this fact.
#5: LONG TERM SUPPORT EDITIONS
The traditional release cycle for Ubuntu is about six months. That means every six months new improvements are added and released as new versions (or subversions) of the operating system. Yet canonical (Ubuntu’s parent company) releases long term supported (LTS) editions. An edition that is supported with security and bug fixes for a period longer than the release cycle – usually at least five years. The LTS editions would be attractive to people that do not want to be going through upgrade re-installation every now and then.
#6: SOFTWARE PACKAGE INSTALLATION.
Most Linux newbies that are coming from the windows world highly expect (among many other things) software installation to be similar to that of windows: download and click/open the executable (.exe) file, follow the “click-through” instruction and then you’re done. Software applications (most times non-open source) that are available for Linux are in most cases downloadable in two Linux package formats: .rpm (for Redhat) and .deb (for Debian). Since Ubuntu is built on Debian, it uses the .deb application packaging system. When freeware (software that are provide for general use without source code) are ported to Linux, Ubuntu is their first bus-stop (and only for some). The only alternative available for some users would be to compile the application from source code (if it is provided) – this is not something that is attractive to most newcomers to Linux. If it is not provided the user would have no option than to switch back to using widows.
Ubuntu is a blessing to me personally, and I’ve come to love it very much. It might not be the best choice for every situation, but I well know that if given a chance it would blow your mind as it did mine.
If you’re new to Linux I would encourage to try ubuntu out as a starting point.
The world of Linux is that of adventure, and I have been exploring for some time now. I would want you to do the same and get the fun along the way as it satisfies you desire.
If you’re interested, here is how to install ubuntu.