Ubuntu – Using The Right Tool For The Job

My house is officially a three-operating-system house.  My wife and daughter switched to Mac a few years ago.  I’ve naturally stuck with Microsoft because that’s what pays the bills.  And my sons are using Microsoft because they like the games.

But recently my older son asked for a computer of his own.  When I asked him what he wanted to do with it, I thought to give him one of my old 700mghz Pentium 3 computers that I have hanging around from the dotCom days.  I think we got it in 1999.  This is the same computer that I have been hosting a Windows 2003 server on for the last several years, but I finally moved that to a faster laptop.

What were the requirements?

  1. Word Processing for Homework.
  2. Read PDFs
  3. Surf the Internet
  4. E-Mail

So, I installed Ubuntu.

To be clear, this is not the first time I’ve installed a Linux operating system.  Way back when broadband first came out, I had a Linux computer set up on a 486 computer to act as a NAT server (What most home users call a router).  However, every time I revisit Linux, I’m more and more impressed.  If it weren’t for the fact that I need Windows to make a living, I might actually switch myself now.

Just about everything “just worked” out of the box.  I initially had trouble getting the USB wireless I have working.  But I did get it working with a bit of Googling.  Unfortunately, that particular wireless adapter had trouble connecting from the room we placed the computer in so we purchased a PCI wireless board for the computer which did “just work” without any trips to Google.

There is one thing I have not gotten to work yet and that is the sound card.  But I have not put any effort into it yet either and there is no great need for it (yet).

I’ve had several business people ask me about using Ubuntu instead of Windows and I’ve always steered them away for one reason.  Microsoft Office doesn’t run on Ubuntu.  Yes, you can get Open Office and use that, or you could use Google Docs.  But you will inevitably run into file sharing issues.  If you are absolutely sure that you will not need to share files with anyone using Microsoft Office, and you meet all of the other requirements above, you might want to consider Ubuntu as well.

If you want to play with Ubuntu on Windows, you CAN install it in a Virtual PC environment to make sure it will do everything you need it to do before you make the official switch.

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