Windows 7 & Ubuntu 9.10 – Which one’s right for me?

well, There’s been a lot of articles about Windows 7 Vs Ubuntu, but I have found all of them completely uninteresting. For starters, most people don’t particularly care if their system takes 35 seconds (ubuntu) or 48 seconds (windows) to boot. because it takes at least 3 Minutes to boil the kettle. Anyway, those that know me, know that I am rather bias towards Linux. However, in this view I will try and be as un-bias is I can. I did say “Try”. A lot of the articles on the internet about Windows Vs Linux doesn’t step on the most important part for any normal user, not the geeks, I’m talking Joe Bloggs sitting at home. or – My Girlfriend who doesn’t really care what they’re system has, as long as it works.

First of all, Lets look at the Default Desktop of each. The default Windows Desktop does look very nice, from an “eye candy” approach. of course, Linux can be skinned to look just like it, but I’m going to focus on the out-of-the-box experience, look and feel, applications, and usability.

Let’s ignore the Eye-Candy for a moment. Both desktops pretty much have the same features, Both allow you to have a background of your choosing, both display a clock, both have a menu and both have a taskbar. so let’s call them about even there.

On the Application front, Ubuntu does win hands down. with the default install including Office applications, Internet Chat client for almost every known chat service and a web browser, where Windows includes it’s Internet Explorer, MSN Client, and no office Applications. however, if you are writing the odd document, Microsofts Wordpad is sufficiant. If, however, you do want more office applications on your Windows platform you can go out and buy Microsoft Office, alternatively Open Office is available for Windows for free as a download, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money for it. Finding and installing software is very painless on Ubuntu, with it’s new Ubuntu Software Centre, this is laid out very nicely for non-technical users, and is as simple as clicking on the application you want and clicking “Install”. This is something Windows is still lacking, however, at least you can go to the shop and buy software and know that it will work.

Firewalling is quite important these days. despite most people using a NAT network (which I won’t get into how much I hate, right now) . Windows Firewall is quite aggressive, and the difference between “Public”, “Work” and “Home” networks can sometimes be unclear. for instance, if you have a system at home, and want to share files between the computers, you actually want to choose a “Work” setup, otherwise you can’t share those files. Ubuntu however has it’s firewall set to allow everything by default. I still don’t like this fact, and if anything at the least it should only allow Related packets in by default, This is a trivial thing to do in setup. yes, Linux is a lot more secure than Windows, however, Nothing is secure without a firewall. one thing I would like to see installed by default in Ubuntu is a firewall builder that is User Friendly – and they do exist, and they’re in the package manager, so in my opinion from a “default” install Windows is better here, despite it’s options being confusing. but all Ubuntu would need is 2 firewall rules, and changing the Default for INPUT, and they would then be about even.

Lets move to Hardware support. This is something that a lot of older windows users look at with glee. but they shouldn’t. There is still a lot of people that believe “Linux doesn’t support much hardware” – well, actually this isn’t true, it does, right from the oldest SCSI scanner you have up to the latest greatest Graphics and sound cards, and everything in between. However, Windows has very good hardware support for alot of the latest devices, but not so much for older hardware. However, if you are buying a new computer (and if you’re thinking about Windows 7, you probably will be) then actually, it makes little difference between the 2. most devices that people have will work on both latest Operating Systems. Like Camera’s, Card Readers, ETC. Bluetooth Mice and keyboards work without any issues in both Windows and Ubuntu, and are equilly easy to configure. Likewise for connecting to Wireless networks or University 802.1x encrypted networks. these things are easy to do in both.

When deciding which of these Operating systems you should go for. ask yourself these 2 questions: 1) am I buying a new computer anyway, 2) what do I want to do with the computer. These questions play an important part in the choices. Let me explain, If you are not buying a new computer, then make sure Windows 7 will work with all your hardware, if it won’t then you might want to think again. Secondly, what you’re doing with your computer is very important. If you are going to be playing the latest greatest games, then you probably don’t want Ubuntu. although Game support on this is getting better, Unfortunately persuading game manufacturers that they should be writing games for Linux/Ubuntu is a rather difficult argument and is generally stuck in Catch-22 (there’s few games for Linux so people don’t play games / don’t use Linux, people don’t use Linux because of the lack of games) Working for a company that writes software for a multitude of platforms, I really can’t see their argument for not doing it. If you’re just going to be browsing the Internet, then actually it doesn’t matter which one you choose. Facebook works on both.

So, Which one is right for me?

Yes. that’s my answer, “Yes” – they both are. they really are both very close to each other. If you want to install and straight away write documents and use spreadsheets, Use Ubuntu, if you want to install and play games, use Windows. it really doesn’t matter. The only note I will point out, is that if you chose the Ubuntu route, then from the Software Centre, Install “Firewall Configurator” (gufw for the more advanced users) , run it, click “Enabled” and set the default to “Deny” and you’re good to go. this will configure the firewall up so nothing gets in, but anything you do won’t be blocked. advanced users will be configuring their own firewalls, so isn’t a big issue for them.

Whichever one you choose to install, I hope you enjoy your experience.

And, Apologies to those that were looking for more argumentative points in one direction or another, I’m trying to approach this one from a usable state, and not with “this one is better because…” this argument has been going on long enough, and there is room for both of these operating systems in todays world of computers.

Jason