With the stringent hardware requirements of Windows Vista and the hefty price tag associated with it wouldn’t if be nice to have an operating system that is free and offers all the basic functionality you need? And better yet, you can take with you and run on almost any PC in the blink of an eye? Sounds too good to be true? Not quite, as with Ubuntu you can. Ubuntu? Sounds like a character from the Lion King to you too? Well, Ubuntu is the African word for "humanity to others" and is the name of a Linux distribution that is available for PCs and Macs that is like a breath of fresh air amidst the flurry of different Vista versions released by Microsoft.
Ubuntu has a full office productivity suite built in, courtesy of OpenOffice, alongside the infamous Firefox web browser and applications for image editing and playing back your favorite music and videos, creating CDs and DVDs, etc. And these all just run from the bootable CD, hence virtually any PC with a CDROM-drive can run Ubuntu. If a CDROM-drive is not available there is the option of simply transferring the contents of the CD to a flash-drive or memory card and booting from there. Obviously you can also opt to install it onto the PC in question, but the idea of having your own personal operating system with you, safely tucked away on a CD or even a flash-drive appeals to me immensely.
Another advantage is that the hardware requirements are low, a Pentium III processor and 256MB of memory are more than sufficient for a responsive and quick Ubuntu experience which is a far cry from the requirements of Windows Vista, for example. But Ubuntu also runs on Mac, which makes it all the more versatile and flexible. So, does Ubuntu mark the end of Microsoft's reign and should we all switch today? Well no, despite the fact that Ubuntu offers the majority of functionality we all use on a daily basis and can be made to run Windows applications by using Vmware, the hardware requirements for these applications will still limit their productivity on slower PCs that run Ubuntu just fine.
Nevertheless it is good to see that we do not have to rely on Microsoft to bring us new innovative ideas and charge an arm and a leg for them. If Ubuntu is an example of things to come, Microsoft had better take notice because what Ubuntu has to offer in terms of functionality, and also the community's commitment to offer regular updates, new features, a wealth of local languages and much, much more at absolutely not cost at all, does show that the open source business model works, and works well in Ubuntu's example. Give it a try, you might like it so much you will keep using it. Ubuntu can be downloaded here: http://www.ubuntu.com