Last November, I took the plunge and converted both my Dell Inspiron E1505 (notebook) & my (homebrew) desktop to Ubuntu Linux. I was just reading the article that I wrote describing the conversion, here. After almost a year of using Linux, I have grown much more comfortable with it.
Althought I still use the VirtualBox VM to do occasional Windows tasks, I finally gave up and created a Windows partition and now do dual boot when I need REAL windows. That allows me to OBJECTIVELY compare my XP installation’s speed and usability with Ubuntu. I have to say that there is still a VERY noticable difference. And, Ubuntu is my favority by far!! It looks better & runs better than Windows XPpro. And, when I need a new software package, it is only a few keystrokes away. Almost every software you need, in order to do ANYTHING on Linux, is available FOR FREE on the Internet.
You can check out the current version of Ubuntu at http://www.ubuntu.com/ where you can download the latest version as an .iso file. Then use your CD Burner to burn the iso image to a CD. Place the CD in your computer, turn it off – then back on again and (in most instances), Ubuntu will offer a menu – whether you want to install the software or just run it from the CD without writing to your hard disk. If you choose the later, be aware that it will run MUCH slower off of the CD than it will when you install it on your hard disk.
If (should I say “WHEN”) you decide to install Ubuntu, you can choose whether to dual boot (choose at boot time if you want to load up Windows or Linux) or not. If so, Ubuntu will install in the unused portion of your hard drive – leaving Windows untouched. Almost nothing is absolutely certain so I highly recommend that you back up any important data, but I have yet to read about anyone who tried this and wasted their Windows stuff. The installation is all graphic-based and, after answering a few questions, it will just work. About 15-20 minutes later, you will be booting into Ubuntu for the first time! Congratulations.
Although Linux is pretty intuitive, there are some things that you will have to learn to do differently than how it worked in Windows. Most things are pretty easy to discover but, when you get lost, just “google” your question and it will almost certainly be answered online! I converted my daughter’s netbook to Ubuntu and she loves it. She has yet to ask my how to do anything. She just figures it out!
Remember… With Windows, almost everything is VERY expensive and the end result is proprietary. With Apple, everrything is even MORE expensive and MORE proprietary. With Linux, everything is FREE & OPEN Source. You have to SEARCH to find something in Linux to pay for (other than business level support).
My next Operating System (OS) change? I just cannot wait until a carrier in my area (hear me AT&T?) carries a AFFORDABLE smartphone with the Android (Linux for the phone) OS!