Just last week I broke down at a sale and got a netbook. Now I have been wanting one for a while, but not for the purposes of having a netbook, but for the chance to check out Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu Linux is a version of the Linux operating system that is completely open source, making it free for everyone. There is a desktops version, server version, and even a netbook remix version. Even though I have a netbook I want to do the full desktops version, giving me access to more applications.
The things I was curious about was the smaller system requirements than Windows requires. Ubuntu Linux is able to run at 256MB of RAM and only require about 4GB of hard drive space. Much smaller then most Windows installs today. The other thing that appealed to me was anti-virus requirement. If you see a modern MAC commercial, one of their biggest selling points is that they do not suffer from virus and malware attacks like Windows computers. Making their need for an anti-virus solution pointless. The same rule applies to Linux as well. This makes it a great choice for traveling and connecting to multiple wireless networks, as it will minimize the possibility of infection.
So after I got my netbook the first thing I did was go through getting Windows initialized. Afterwards I proceeded to install Ubuntu Linux. During the install it asked me if I wanted to setup the netbook as dual boot, allowing me to boot back into Windows whenever I want. The installer even let me change the partition sizes, so I was able to divide my 160GB drive into 2, 80GB partitions, one for Windows and one for Linux.
After the install, it found all my devices just fine and the netbook was up and running. One of the first things I noticed was performance. My netbook came with Windows 7 Starter, and while it ran faily well, it didn’t run as nice as my full laptop. Once I got Ubuntu Linux loaded, the performance was much nicer than with Windows 7 Starter. It reminded me more of a smooth running XP box, which is nice and exceeded my expectations, especially for a netbook.
The other thing that was very easy about this, was the GUI interface. Now I have worked with Red Hat Linux at IBM a few years ago, and it worked pretty well, but you needed to be an advanced user to use it. With Ubuntu, that is no longer the case. The GUI interface is very intuitive and even comes with all the applications I am used to, such as Firefox and Open Office. They have really simplified the Linux interface down on Ubuntu, making it much more Windows like in a way.
One nice thing with Ubuntu Linux that I was impressed with, was its Software Center. The Software Center allows you to download and install several free, open source applications for Ubuntu Linux. You can search for any application you want, otherwise you can pick from some of their several categories, such as Accessories, Education, Games, Internet, Office, or others.
Something else about Linux that I have come to enjoy, is the multiple workspace feature. What this allows you to have is several virtual desktops that you can flip between in Linux. Each desktop allows you to have several applications on it. While this was a bit of a different way of thinking, coming from being a one desktop Windows user, I have really liked it. This feature I think is one of the best reasons to put Linux on a netbook. With the smaller screen size of a netbook, being able to have multiple desktops or workspaces allows you to compensate for the smaller screen. Making it a lot easier to have several applications running at once, and being able to bounce between them with ease.
In summary, I have really enjoyed my new netbook, and like it even more with Ubuntu Linux on it. I am not an advanced user of Linux, but am looking to broaden my horizons as I go forward. I think there is a great possibility for Linux, and am looking forward to continuing to learn it. Although I am not ready to give up my Windows laptop… yet. So as you are out there looking at computers, or have an older computer in the basement, just remember there are other options out there than just Windows.