5 Ways to Misunderstand FOSS

The following are 5 ways that people misunderstand the concept of Free and Open Source Software.[...]

7 Cool VLC Features Worth Knowing

Think you know all about VLC, I bet you don't until you read this![...]

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Are you a happy Windows user? Well see what Redmond would rather you never find out![...]

How to Make your Own Linux Distro

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Internet Cafes with Linux

Linux is a great operating system for networking. So how is it possible to not see Linux in Internet cafes and LAN houses ??? There are no cyber cafe / LAN house managers in Linux? [...]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

4 apps new Ubuntu users should not do without

The amount of applications available in the Ubuntu repositories can sometimes be overwhelming for a new user who is used to scouring the net for very simple applications to run on their Windows platform. To make things simple for such users, I have compiled this short list of four applications that new users should start their Ubuntu life with whiles they get used to the abundance of programs they lacked in Windows.

App 1 VLC
This is simply the player that rules the rest. The trail blazer when it comes to media players. With its own internal codecs and the ability to play virtually any file format known to everyday people, I strongly recommend new users install this app so as to reduce the frustrations they have to go through to install multimedia codecs in Ubuntu. A full list of the features and file formats playable by VLC can be found here. To install the latest release nicknamed the Goldeneye, just follow these simple steps and you are done!

App 2 K3B
 I know a lot of people will disagree with my choice of disc burner but I believe this application is the best available to the Linux platform and I highly recommend it to new users. It is a KDE app that also runs flawlessly on GNOME and has all the features new users  might be used to in proprietary counterparts. The default Ubuntu installation comes with Brasero which is also a disc burner way behind K3B. Just go to Applications>Add/Remove and search for K3B. Mark it and hit apply changes.

App 3 Skype
You probably know Skype if you are an ex-Windows user. Well it's available on the Linux platform and you can download the .deb file here. I recommend it because so far I do not know of any Open Source application that can really replace Skype. Just double click the downloaded file to install it. 

App 4 Deluge
There are other alternatives, but to me, Deluge is the best Bittorrent client available for Ubuntu and I am still wondering why it is still not the default torrent client. It has every feature to make your torrent downloads a breeze and enjoyable experience. It also is very economical in terms of resource consumption. Go to Applications>Add/Remove, search for Deluge and mark for installation. That's it.

This list a a subjective list which I believe can help very new Ubuntu users settle in quite easily. All the other productivity tools you may need are already installed by default; Openoffice is a typical example. The above list is in no way complete and different people may prefer different apps. 
Let me know which ones you prefer that are not on the list and why. Share your thoughts.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 5 comments

Friday, August 28, 2009

4 reasons why Apple is not criticized by Linux / Open Source proponents

On Wednesday the 26th of August 2009, the Free Software Movement launched the Windows7sins site. This was just days before Apple released its Snow Leopard OS, prompting a lot of criticisms from some corners of the blogosphere  that the FSF is giving Apple a free ride. I simply disagree with such criticisms for the following four reasons.

Reason 1 - Mac OS X is Open Source
Mac OS X is  in full conformity with Unix OS and is built on Mach 3.0 and FreeBSD 5 comprising over a 100 Open Source products. Besides major components of Mac OS X, including the core UNIX, are made available under Apple’s Open Source license, allowing developers and students to view source code, learn from it and submit suggestions and modifications. Can anyone of those leveling criticisms against the FSF confidently say that about Microsoft? This alone is enough reason to give Apple a breathing space when it comes to Open Source! I don't think I can say that about Microsoft and their Windows OS. 

Reason 2 - Size
There is no sense in wasting limited resources trying to fight Apple when they have just a small fraction of the OS market share. Microsoft is the world's dominant computer software vendor and as such makes sense to fight them. Why spend time fighting someone closer to you in size and market share when the two of you have a much larger "enemy" in common?

Reason 3 - Choice
I have more choice when it comes to Apple than Microsoft. Anyone that buys the hugely expensive Mac computers is consciously choosing to use Mac OS X. This is because Apple manufactures its own hardware and as such has every right to preinstall it with their own OS. But Microsoft is just a software vendor that has used its dominant market share to get OEMs to preinstall their machines with Windows. This gives little choice to end users who purchase such systems. 90% of the time, you always have only one choice of OS when you buy a new non Apple computer- Windows. Why should such a situation not be fought against?

Reason 4 Attitude
The attitudes of both Microsoft and Apple towards the Open Source movement are two worlds apart. Apple actively contributes to and respects that Open Source movements. Microsoft on the other hand, treats the Open Source movement with disdain and spits on them at any given opportunity. There is more here and here about Apples' approach to the Open Source world.

Apple has its bad sides no doubt, but being an active Linux and Open Source proponent, I am inclined to judge Apple solely on its treatment of the FOSS movement and nothing else.

There are many other reasons why Linux / Open Source proponents do not waste time bashing Apple like they do Windows, but I am just restricting myself to these four basic reasons. 

Do you think Open Source/ Linux proponents should actively chase after Apple? Share your thoughts.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 9 comments

New PC-Zi Mobile Internet Tool runs Ubuntu 9.04

Sharp has launched a new mobile internet tool that runs Ubuntu 9.04. A statement from the press release describes the it as "next-generation Mobile Tool [that] Provides Internet Access and Works as an Electronic Dictionary and e-Book" According to the press release, the device is capable of booting in under 3 seconds and spots a high-resolution, 5-inch touch-screen LCD which enables intuitive touch operation while the full keyboard provides for comfortable text input. Additionally, in business settings, users can create documents, spreadsheets, presentation materials, etc., and edit them stress free.You can read more about this new device running Ubuntu 9.04 here.

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Free strategy game Hive Rise for Linux

The real time online strategy game Hive Rise is now available for the Linux platform. It is a game set in the 21st century, when wars between countries were fading, and some people were looking for alternative ways of of fomenting more trouble. The client software as well as the game itself is free of charge, with the option of buying more equipment. The client software is available for download here. Enjoy!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Behold! The new Nokia N900 out in October

Nokia, the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world has released the new Nokia N900 Unlocked Cell Phone/Mobile Computer with 3.5-Inch Touch Screen, QWERTY, 5 MP Camera, Maemo Browser, 32 GB--U.S. Version with Full Warranty. I first heard of the Nokia internet tablet rumor since January and now it is a reality. The new model is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. Some of the features of this model include

Its powerful 600 MHz processor and up to 1GB of application memory. The superscalar ARM processor delivers exceptional power and enables you to run all your applications quickly, smoothly, and simultaneously.
It also spots a 32GB internal storage expandable up to 48GB with external microSD.

It also has 3.5G and WLAN connectivity
Quadband GSM with GPRS and EDGE
Data transfers over a cellular network 10/2Mbps
Data transfers over Wi-Fi is 54Mbps
It also has Mozilla-based Maemo browser with Flash 9.4 support and full screen browsing.
There is a 5MP Carl Zeiss camera
3.5-inch 800x480 pixel (touch screen), sliding QWERTY keyboard
FM transmitter, TV-out, Bluetooth 2.1 and more
The features of this next generation phone are impressive. It will be on display at Nokia world next week before heading to to the market to set you back for a cool 500 euro price.


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Ubuntu release cycle - An albatross for Canonical?

In just under two months, there is going to be a new release of Ubuntu nicknamed Karmic Koala. There has been a lot of hype in the Ubuntudom about how this release is going to be the one we've all been waiting for. I sincerely hope it will be so. However, for some time now, it seems that the number of bugs that are reported for each release just keeps increasing. This is a very disturbing trend that in my view can be attributed to the rigid release cycle that Canonical has imposed upon itself.

The current Ubuntu release cycle which is twice a year has its advantages. Key amongst them being that it puts Ubuntu on the headlines twice every year. This is good. But is it not just too rigid? Releasing an OS entails a lot of testing which requires time. The time between one release and the next is just not enough to carry out a more extensive testing. The current release in April this year had some of the highest number of bugs reported. It looked more like a beta release than a stable release. This does not help in the quest for a  wider adoption of Ubuntu.

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder and life patron of the Ubuntu project, had promised a new theme and interface for Ubuntu for sometime now. This however, keeps getting postponed. I am of the view that  the release cycle should be given a second look. It could be reviewed to nine months instead of the current six months if that means we get a release which is stable and has less bugs. I also strongly do not think the current twice per annum release is helping Ubuntu in the enterprise market.

It is good to have regular releases in order to give users a cutting edge OS, but that should be balanced with stability and extensive pre-release testing . It seems the two times per year release cycle has become an albatross for Canonical which has to be really looked at again. I know the LTS release is generally more stable than the normal releases. But I still think more can be done to make the normal releases also relatively stable enough and the release cycle is a very important factor.

Do you think the current Ubuntu release cycle is helping Ubuntu? Do you agree with the six month release cycle? Should it be reviewed? Share your thoughts. Talkback!

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By Seraaj Muneer with 2 comments

Great resource for Linux newbies

One of the greatest impediments to the wider adoption of Linux has always been the lack of a simple resource that is written in everyday language for new users. Most people are stuck to Windows because despite all of its flaws, it is still relatively user friendly to the everyday, normal average Joe and also uses normal simple language.

It is in this regard that the Linux for Education site sponsored by the OpenSuse Education Project is a very wonderful move and one that needs commendation from all those in the FOSS world. It has a wealth of resources and learning modules including  collections of useful courses to help you better use the applications found on the Linux distributions. There are also forums, chatrooms, courses, and help materials at your disposal. 

This is a great resource I recommend to all newbies to the World of GNU/Linux and Open Source. More experienced users also will find lots of resources to enhance their knowledge base. Go on register and learn to use GNU/Linux.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Video editor for Ubuntu

If you a new Ubuntu user and want some really nice video editor for your system, you might want to try Open Shot. It's a really cool application and very user friendly. A list of its features can be found here. It's still in development so you  may encounter some bugs here and there though I have not encountered any since using it for about a month now. It's great and I recommend it to all new Ubuntu users. Below are some screenshots of the application. You can download it here. Enjoy it!

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Windows is bad but Linux has work to do.

Today, the Free Software Foundation launched the  Windows7sins. In as much as I  commend them for trying to make the flaws of Windows known to all and sundry, I have to say I do not agree with the move. I say so for a number of reasons. 

The aim of the website is to draw attention to the fact that Windows is simply not worth the effort and money people invest in it. That in itself is not a bad thing. What I see wrong is the level of attention that has been paid to lambasting Windows over the past several years by the Free and Open Source Movement. It simply has not worked. Linux has been around for about twenty years and still has just a tiny fraction of the desktop market share. What Linux needs now is not another website to tell Windows users the evil things they already know about the OS they use.

I strongly believe that Linux is where it is today not because it is not good, but because Windows serves the needs of computer users in a way Linux simply does not. In a previous post, I touched on some five simple things that can help move Linux to the mainstream. These five basic points, I still maintain, are what Linux needs to move it forward. I would have loved to see the new website -together with all the resources that went into developing it- rather being a jargon free introduction to Linux for normal people who speak everyday language.

Telling people that Windows is bad is in itself not enough to get them to switch to FOSS. The alternative that is presented to them should be ready to meet their needs. You cannot tell people who are used to an OS that speaks everyday language to just abandon it for another whose language is an elitist one. It just will not sell. I am of the view that instead of spending limited resources on telling people what they already know  about Windows, we should use those resources to make the alternative we are offering  them more at par with the one we are weaning them from.

Linux is a good and excellent alternative to Windows, but the approach over the years of bringing it to the limelight has always be wrong. It is my view that once these hurdles have been cleared out of the way , more people will simply switch over from Windows without being told to. Millions of Windows users out there want an alternative, but they do not see Linux as being ready to accommodate them, hence they stick to the evil they know.

Yes Microsoft Windows is evil, but Linux and FOSS have a lot of work to do if they are to win over converts from Windows. Do you agree with the launch of another website to tell people about the evils of Windows? Do you think Linux is ready to replace Windows as the OS of choice for more people? Share your thoughts. Talkback!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Install Pidgin 2.6.1 in 2 steps for newbie Ubuntu users.

The developers of Pidgin, the instant messenger that comes as the default in Ubuntu have just released a new version which has support for voice and video chat (currently only on XMPP). It also now has theme support in libpurple. There is also support for receiving handwritten (ink) messages and audio clips on MSN. A detail of the new features can be found here. 

To install this new release of Pidgin on your current Ubuntu system, just follow these two simple steps. You would have to uninstall the version you have on your system ( assuming you have one installed and is not 2.6.1) before proceeding with the steps below.

Step 1
Download the .deb file here 

Step 2
Install the .deb file you downloaded in step 1 with this simple command (just copy and paste in the terminal)

sudo dpkg -i packagename

Package name refers to the name of the package you downloaded in the first step. If your default download location is not your home folder, copy the .deb file to it before running the above command. That's it! 

You now have the latest release of the popular, free and open source chat client on your Ubuntu system. You can also follow these simple steps here to install the latest release of VLC 1 ( Goldeneye) on Ubuntu. Enjoy chatting with your friends.

Please try to spare some few dollars to help with the further development of this wonderful application.

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Windows boxes being used to spread malware cocktail.

Cyber experts have raised an alarm about a potent malware mixture of trojans, password stealers, backdoors amongst others  being pushed to Windows boxes from over 55000 infected websites. The cybercriminals have embedded a malicious iFrame into tens of thousands of Websites to fire exploits at unsuspecting computer users who get onto the infected sites.

The iFrame points to an intermediary exploit site which in turn loads additional exploits and malware from up to seven different malware domains, according to  Mary Landesman who is a researcher in ScanSafe’s security threat alert team. A Google search she ran on the iFrame tag found it embedded on over 54000 sites! And all of this is possible with the help of Windows. 

To Windows users out there, I have a simple patch for you. Head here and download any of the hundreds of patches available here. They are fast, secure and free. Go on and protect your pc now!

Getting Started with Linux: Novell's Guide to CompTIA's Linux+ (Course 3060)

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Ubuntu Firefox Multisearch- A giant leap in the wrong direction.

The Firefox web browser of the upcoming Ubuntu Karmic Koala had a "secret" feature called multisearch. The function of this feature was to modify the Google search in Firefox such that it sent user data back to the developers. I will not go into detail about this feature, which is explained in this Wiki ( this function was disabled on Augus 11), but what I want to tell Canonical and the Ubuntu developers is that one of the very key reasons why some people use Free software is due to the relative privacy they believe they have as against using proprietary softaware.

To implement features that in some way breaches this trust people have got in Free software is a giant leap in the wrong direction to say the least. The last thing Canonical and Ubuntu need now is a loss of goodwill. One of the greatest forces that has made Ubuntu such a force to reckon with is the level of trust we the users have in the OS. To implement needless features without prior information is a deep breach of such trust and should not be accepted.

In October, the gigantic Microsoft is going to release their latest OS dubbed Windows 7. Ubuntu will have a herculian task of getting the much needed publicity that it needs given the relative favorable reviews that Windows 7 has received. Though the feature is said to have been just an experiment, I still insist that it was a wrong move on the part of Canonical and the Ubuntu developers as long as there was no caveat to those who wanted to test the release in question.

Free software in general has a lot of catchup to do the last thing needed is a breach of user trust. Are you trying the alpha release of Karmic Koala? What has been your experience with this function? Do you think it was worth the risk of implementing it? Share your thoughts. Talkback!

A Guide to UNIX Using Linux (Networking (Course Technology))

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Linux- 5 steps to a wider adoption.

Linux is the world's best alternative to Microsoft Windows. It has everything that Windows has always dreamed of having. However, it is a big wonder why after being around for close to 20 years, Linux still has less than 5% of the desktop market share. The solution, I strongly believe, lies in overcoming  five simple but often overlooked barriers which when tackled by all concerned parties, will go  a long way to push Linux to the mainstream everyday computer user.

Step 1- Language
Linux is too full of technical jargon that just puts off the average Joe from even attempting to learn more about it. Though a lot has been achieved in breaking the Linux language barrier in modern distros like Ubuntu and Fedora, there still is a long way to go to make it more appreciable by everyday users. Much should be done to reduce the use of technical jargon to the barest minimum. The "sudo apt-get" type of language must be eliminated. Linux should use the language of everyday people than that of geeks if it is to reach the wider user base and make a meaningful thrust into Windows' domain.

Step 2- Publicity
There does not seem to be any kind of active publicity going on anywhere- at least from where I stand- that is aimed at creating an awareness about Linux. There are hundreds of millions of people out there who simply have not heard about Linux before. That is a vast market waiting to be tapped. But without the proper publicity by the main Linus distros, such a market lies untapped. Lots of people are fed up with Windows and want an alternative, but how do they get to switch to something they have not even heard of before? It seems to me, frankly, that the few people that use Linux as their OS are doing more to advertise Linux than the distro vendors themselves. The internet is a very great tool that can be used to push Linux to the limelight.

Step 3-Cohesion
The Linux world is simply too fragmented. There are hundreds of distros out there all seemingly competing against themselves instead of against Microsoft. There does not seem to be any kind of cohesion or coordination in the release of the major distros, at least in my view. This has given Linux the very bad image of  looking more like some kind of child's play OS. The fact that the Linux source code is a public property does not  necessarily mean there should be no cohesion in the Linux world. I strongly believe that a certain measure of cohesion or control would go a long way to make Linux look more professional in the eyes more and more people especially those in the enterprise market.

Step 4- Support
There should be more and more vendor support for the various Linux distros. It is not enough to just refer people to the fora for help. There should be some form of vendor support aside the community support available. This will give Linux a double advantage over Windows given the fact that the Linux community support is generally very helpful. A distro like Ubuntu has recently started offering such a support service and should be commended. More of such much needed initiatives will only go a long way to improve the popular adoption of Linux as an alternative to Windows.

Step 5- Reference manuals
More and more Linux manuals need to be published and promoted by the Linux community at large. More people may consider Linux if they know there is some kind of reference manual available to them- there are more people out there that still view Linux as something from outside of this Earth. There are some really good ones out there, but there is more room to go. More Linux bookshops need to be setup and promoted by the community at large. Some very good Linux reference manuals can be found in this store.

These are 5 simple points that I believe can help increase the wider adoption of Linux by everyday users across the world. What other ways do you think can help make Linux the OS of choice for more and more people? Share your thoughts. Talkback.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Openoffice.org - Five things MS Office users do not know.

Open Office is one of the most powerful products that the Free Software community has produced to date and is the default office suite on most Linux distros. It is a free, open source, powerful, cross platform and full fledged office productivity suite. If you are still dragging your feet about using this great saviour from the resource hog MS Office, then read on to see what you are missing.

One of the greatest things about OO.org is that is absolutely free. It is released under the LGPL license and thus is free from any licensing hassles whatsoever. You do  not have to pay out your hard earned income to use this software. You can install it on as many computers as you want and make as many copies of it as you like, it is up to you. All you have to do is just dowload it and install. Thats it. It runs on all popular platforms out there too. What more can you possibly want?

OO.org  can be customized extensively with the vast array of extensions available to you also for free. From simple calender extensions to very complex spreadsheet extensions, there is always an add on for your needs and it is always a few clicks away.

High Quality Office Suite.
OO.org is developed by a worldwide community of people like you and I. You can contribute to the development of this great application in so many ways the easiest of which is to donate some few dollars to help cover the cost of development. Having thousands of people develop the application has resulted in a very high quality product due to the fact that lots of people get to see the code,  make corrections and give valuable inputs, with more people testing it and giving feedback resulting in a very stable, reliable, high quality world class product. There is no secret in the development of OO.org

Frequent updates and releases
OO.org has a track record of making updates available as quickly as possible to correct any discovered bugs. This ensures that you always have a bug free office suite to work with. You should not waste your valuable time trying to cope with a bug instead of working. Also, there is a frequent release cycle of OO.org ensuring that you always have the latest office producutivity suite.

There is always some form of suport available to you, whether you are thinking of using OO.org in your home, school or deploy it in your enterprise setting. There is free community support and commercial support availble. There is also professional training available should you need it. There is also a vast array of books available one of the very best being  Getting Started With Open Office .Org 3.0: Openoffice.Org V3.0, a very good book for those who are thinking of starting out with OO.og.

There are more reasons why you must switch to this great application, but I will  restrict today's post to these 5 basic ones and leave the rest to those of you who are already using OO.org to add to in the comments. You no longer have a reason not to try Open Office again. Go ahead and be free. Use Open Office. Talkback!

Getting Started With Open Office .Org 3.0: Openoffice.Org V3.0

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By Seraaj Muneer with 5 comments

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ubuntu Linux- A cost below free.

A very important factor in the determinant of the success of an OS is its acceptance and adoption by the enterprise world. Ubuntu Linux, over the past several years has made great strides in winning over a lot of home  users. The story is different though when it comes to the enterprise world. It seems to me that the strategy being used by Canonical to penetrate the enterprise market is at best not working.

The competitive advantage of "free" that Ubuntu has simply does not sell with the enterprise market. Most corporate users would not migrate to Ubuntu simply because it is free. As long as they are willing to pay lots of money for MS Windows licenses, then it invariably means that  to corporate and enterprise customers there is a price lower than free.

Most of the marketing strategy being used by Canonical, I believe , focuses too much on just the "free" aspect of Ubuntu neglecting all the other very important factors that can help Ubuntu compete favorably in the enterprise world not just against Windows but also heavy weight Linux giants like Redhat and Novell. In a previous post, I enumerated these very important elements of Ubuntu that are simply not given the right publicity by Canonical.

Come this October, there is going to be a showdown between the release of Ubuntu Karmic Koala and Windows 7. All reviews that will be made about the new Ubuntu release is going to be in comparison to Windows 7. This is really going to be a very important test of the success of the Ubuntu project to date given the relatively favorable (paid?) reviews that Windows 7 has received.  The earlier Canonical starts making known all the other elements of the Ubuntu project to the enterprise market the better.

Canonical must make it known to prospective corporate  users who want to migrate to Ubuntu that its not just a hobbyist OS or just a desktop one. The factors of support, server and virtualization among others must be made known to all and sundry. To corporate and enterprise users, there is a price lower than free and it is that price that Canonical must try to beat in order to make a headway in the very profitable enterprise world.

What ways do you think Canonical can use to penetrate the enterprise market? Do you think the current strategy is working? Share your thoughts.

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Some videos of the upcoming Ubuntu / Kubuntu 9.10 aka Karmic Koala

Ubuntu 9.10 3D desktop

Kubuntu 9.10 Alpha 3

Ubuntu 9.10 on the Dell Vostro

Kubuntu 9.10 Netbook Edition

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

5 easy steps to become an Ubuntu power user for newbies.

More and more people are migrating to Ubuntu Linux on an unprecedented scale. However, most if not all, of these new users are people who have no prior knowledge of Linux whatsoever. The road to being a power Ubuntu Linux user can be summed up in five simple steps that every new user in whatever category will find easy and fun to implement.Using Ubuntu is more than just running an OS, it is about joining an ideological movement of freedom that in my view is symbolized  by the Statue of Liberty in the US. Read on to become the next Mark Shuttleworth.

Step 1- Join the Ubuntu Forums.
The first thing you should do as a new user of Ubuntu is to join the Ubuntu Forums.  It is a very helpful place where you can get to introduce yourself, make friends with newbies like you and more experienced geeks, ask any question you have about Ubuntu or Open Source in general, join any ongoing conversation and more. I also advice that you take time everyday to visit. Be an active participant. If you like, you can even subscribe to the feeds of the Forums. But whatever the case, please make it a note to join the Ubuntu Forums and you will be amazed at how much you get to learn for free..

Step 2- Get your own personal reference manuals.
It is highly recommended to get your own reference manuals about Ubuntu and Linux in general. Linux is more of a subject to be learned than something to just use. With Ubuntu Linux, you always have something to learn and it is very much worth the effort given the fact that Linux is poised to be the future of computing. You also improve your computing skills when you get to learn as much as you can about Linux. You will also be surprised at the kind of exhilaration that you experience when you successfully troubleshoot your own system the very frist time without the help of anybody.
Step 3- Ask, ask, ask.
Whatever problem you might be facing in using Ubuntu Linux, be sure to know that someone out there has encountered  that problem before and all you need to do to get it solved will be to ask. This brings us to the first step of joining the forums. You should also be using Google a lot. Just Google your question and get millions of suggested results in seconds. Do not shut your mouth when you have a problem and run back to Windows simply because you had a problem with Ubuntu Linux. You must ask to get help. To even get more specific suggestions on the forums, you should make it clear that you are a newbie. Most people are willing to help more newbies than others. Don't let your Windows friends tease you with the age old phrase of " that's Linux for you" just because you did not ask. The solution to every single Ubuntu Linux problem is as simple as asking at the right place.

Step 4- Experiment with your system.
The only sure fire way to be a Linux geek is to practice, and what better practice is there than to experiment with your own system. Always have a backup of your system and experiment with other ways of using Ubuntu. Do not just settle for the default setup of your installation. Apply the skills and tips you learn in the above books as much as you can, read about other methods of getting things done and apply them. Read wide and apply more. Be sure to always backup  your system though. Try using other utilities like Compiz and a host of others. Experiment with how to make your system unique and you will be surprised at how much you get to learn by doing.

Step 5- Help others out
This is the most important step of all the five. Ubuntu Linux users are a worldwide community of people that believe in "humanity to others" and as such, you should endeavor to help others out as much as you can. If all you know is how to run a LiveCD, share that knowledge with someone. Anytime you visit the Ubuntu Forums, be sure to seek out new users like you and share your little experience with them. Help as much as you can. Go out of your way to be very helpful to new users with  every single bit of knowledge you have. Over ten million people are using and benefiting from a very powerful, reliable and secure OS because one man believed in giving back to others. The least you can also do is to share your experience with those in need. You will be amazed at the level of knowledge you gain sharing yours with others.

Practice these simple but powerful points and in no time you will be on your way to being a geek that others will look up to for help and support.

What other ways do you think new users can use to get a grounding in the world of Ubuntu Linux? Share your thoughts in your comments. Talk back!

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By Seraaj Muneer with 1 comment

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

6 Things all prospective Ubuntu Linux users must know.

Ubuntu Linux is the world's most popular and fastest growing Linux alternative to Windows. More people are seeking better, reliable and cost effective ways to keep in touch both at school, home and the office across all popular device platforms. That is where Ubuntu Linux comes into the picture. If you have heard about Ubuntu but are still doubting whether to migrate to it or not, then the following six basic points should help you decide.

Ubuntu is a perfect desktop OS that has all the functions that you may be used to in Windows. It is powerful enough for home or office use and has all the productivity suite you may need in your enterprise setting as well. More and more OEMs are now beginning to offer a range of Ubuntu desktops. Notable among the OEMs is Dell, ZaReason and System76. It is also very customizable and free to use without any licensing hassles. It is also safe and reliable in terms of security and other threats that Windows is easily susceptible to.

Virtualization and servers
Ubuntu is also a perfect server client that has been certified to run on HP's Proliant Server ranges and on roughly 45 other server configurations from IBM, Lenovo, Dell among others. ISVs like Alresco and Openbravo also have enterprise class products built on Ubuntu server edition. There is also the Canonical-IBM  Virtual Bridges  partnerships that aims at virtualizing Ubuntu desktops on Linux servers. Indeed there is no shortage of Ubuntu server deployment options.

Cloud computing is a new and evolving technology area that can transform how IT environments deliver services. Ubuntu has an  Enterprise Cloud service which aims at helping corporate entities migrate their existing IT services into the cloud.

There is a flavor of Ubuntu for Mobile Internet Devices. Dell, ZaReason and System76 all sell netbooks preloaded with UNR. HP also has a customized version of UNR for its Mini1000 netbook edition.

There is training for Ubuntu by Canonical available for both individuals and corporate users. You get the requisite skills from the maker of the OS.

There is a vast array of support available, be it for home or enterprise users. Notable amongst them is the Ubuntu Forums and the new commercial service from Canonical. You will never be alone in your usage of Ubuntu knowing there is always some form of support available to you.

I am going to restrict today's post to these six simple points and leave the rest to you to add in the comments. Feel free to critique if you disagree with me on this post. Talk back!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

5 things Microsoft Windows users do not know about Ubuntu Linux and its users.

In a recent post titled "5 Things Microsoft does not want you to know about Windows," I gave 5 very simple and yet powerful points that Microsoft would prefer Windows users not knowing. Most Windows users had to admit that the points were very reflective of the reality on the ground.

Today, I intend publishing a sequel to that post about 5 very basic truths that Windows users do not know about Ubuntu Linux. These points are equally applicable to most other wonderful Linux distros out there and their users. My choosing Ubuntu for this post is just out of personal preference.

Fact 1
The users of Ubuntu are to a certain extent, the owners of the OS. Everyone can participate in the development of the OS irrespective of their technical skills. They determine what goes into the development of the OS and have a lot of say in the kind of functions that the OS comes out with. They can choose to overwhelmingly reject something and the developers would have no choice than to obey. I doubt if Windows users can boast of this level of ownership and control over Windows.

Fact 2
Ubuntu users have the right to distribute the OS to as many people as they like without fear of attracting a lawsuit from Canonical or anyone for that matter. They can do as many reinstalls as they wish and on as many computers as they like. If you want to know the benefit of such freedom, ask businesses about the cost of deploying Windows on their systems. Say that about Windows!

Fact 3
Ubuntu users have one of the best support communities on the planet. If you have any problem and need help, all you have to do is just log on to the Ubuntu Forums, search and see if someone has a thread similar to your problem and if not, just start another one and in most cases, it takes only some few minutes to have someone reply to your thread with as much support as you can get. The Ubuntu Forums also has some downsides though but is mostly very helpful to everyday users. Well I cannot say for certain if Windows users have a support community as vibrant as what Ubuntu users enjoy.

Fact 4
Ubuntu users, relative to Windows users, do not wait for eternity to have patches to critical security flaws that are discovered in their system. Most at times it takes just hours to have an update to security flaws that are discovered. Say that about Windows updates and patches.

Fact 5
Ubuntu Linux users can alter their OS or recreate another OS from its code. This is because the code is available to them to use as they want. You don't like the way Ubuntu runs or works? Grab the code (if you have the requisite skills), and make your know flavor of Ubuntu Linux, bearing in mind patented and copyrighted names, logos and other Canonical closed source inputs. Its free to do. Windows? Well the code is under lock and key. Period.

There are potentially hundreds of other points that can be made but I will restrict myself to these five and leave you to give the rest in the comments. If you are a Windows users, I would love to hear your views on these simple and very powerful things you do not know about Ubuntu and its users. Talk back!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Ubuntu Linux- Making it more newbie friendly.

Ubuntu Linux is the world's most popular  Linux desktop OS. Day in day out, more and more people choose Ubuntu over other Linux distros and Windows. However, most new users of Ubuntu are  very frustrated  with the problems they encounter initially when they start to use it. I strongly believe that if Ubuntu is to be a very popular alternative to Windows more than it is now and be adopted by the mainstream users of computers, then some little things that have been taken for granted can go a long way to make the OS more newbie friendly if they are given the requisite attention.

The most asked questions on the Ubuntu Forums are all questions that have to do with how to get multimedia to work in Ubuntu. Indeed most people who try Ubuntu for the first time are simply turned away not because the OS is not good but because in my view, they were not made to understand what they were about to try out. Ubuntu is based on certain philosophies and principles that its developers believe very much in. Key among these philosophies is that Ubuntu is a completely free software and as such is distributed with no proprietary codec installed. Thus if you install Ubuntu, then all you can play is free software formats. But to play proprietary formats, then you would have to do some work.

This is where Canonical loses customers. There is no clear cut and simple instructions in the Ubuntu help manual that comes with the the CD as to how the average user can go about this problem. In fact this very important piece of information is missing on the very download page of Ubuntu. This is very worrisome to me because users get needlessly frustrated with the OS and just run back to the evil they are used to. It should not be forgotten that not everyone who wants to use Ubuntu believes entirely in its philosophy.

The issue of playing proprietary multimedia formats can be addressed in such a manner that Ubuntu will still maintain its philosophies and at the same time win over more converts. This can be done by explaining very clearly the implications of the philosophical beliefs of the OS on user experience. It should be made clear that proprietary mulitmedia formats will not work out of the box and that those codecs will need to be installed from the repos.

Also, the implications of the philosophical beliefs of the OS must be explained in the context of the Ubuntu catch phrase of "it just works". To an average Joe, it just works means he should be able to watch his blu ray movies after an Ubuntu installation. Then detailed instructions on  how to get such restricted codecs running on the system must be made available to a user rather than asking them to search on the forums or ask professor Google.

A small icon  item can be placed on the desktop with a message like "click to install restricted extras" or something to that effect. So anyone who believes in the free software philosophy and prefers only open formats will just ignore such a thing. Those who also want to get restricted extras also have it on a silver platter. 

It is my honest belief after reading hundreds of threads on the Ubuntu Forums about multitmedia codecs, that, more people can be converted to Ubuntu if only the learning curve can be made as tolerable as possible. More specific guides about the very peculiar problems that almost all newbie users have to contend with will go a long way to establish Ubuntu as the OS of choice for a lot more people.

Do you have any newbie problems you faced when you started using Ubuntu? How did you overcome it? Please share your experiences  the comments below. 

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

5 Things Microsoft does not want you to know about Windows.

Microsoft, the Redmond giant and owner of the world's most troublesome operating system, has over the years used its dominant market share to frustrate the development, use and adoption of other operating systems.

Today,I intend posting some very basic truths that MS would very much not want you to know.
Truth no 1
You are paying way more than you are getting. This is a simple truth that most users of Windows do not seem to appreciate. Why do you have to pay as much as  $100 to get a license to use an OS which is bare to the bones? An installation of Windows is just the first in a series of long processes to make your computer useful. Your computer can in virtually all cases not be used to do anything meaningful after a Windows installation until you have installed numerous third party drivers and other utilities most of which you would have to pay for separately. That is very much being short changed to me.
Truth no 2
You are never safe with Windows. The recent DDOS attacks on Twitter and Facebook makes it very clear that if anything at all, Windows is a very big threat to the future of the internet and  computing in general. A system that can be hijacked by teenagers with the requisite skills and cause a stir on an international scale is not a system you can feel safe with.
Truth no 3
You have no freedom when it comes to MS Windows. You either take what MS thinks they want to offer you or go. You cannot modify the OS to dance to your tunes. You rather dance to the tune of the OS after coughing up as much as  $100 to acquire it. I wonder how many of you would in real life would pay money to buy something only for the thing to become your master.
Truth no 4
You are always anxious and very apprehensive when using Windows because you virtually have to read every single letter you see on your screen so you would not accidentally download or open a virus infected file. You have to curtail your internet usage experience for fear of attracting hordes of rootkits, trojans and other nuisance to  your system. This is short does not make your computing experience smooth and worry free. Why pay for a system where you would have to keep lookiing over your neck. A good system should make you reasonable safe both online and offline. But not Windows.
Truth no 5 
With Windows, anytime there a new release such as the upcoming Windows 7, you would need to upgrade your hardware resources to be able to run it. This simply means that if MS releases Widows every other year, then too you would have to keep buying higher and higher computer power to be able to keep up with the latest. This no doubt will in the long term result in a significant drain on your pocket.
Why subject yourself to all these inconveniences and costs when you can get yourself the world's most popular alternative to Microsoft Windows for a price that will blow your mind? Just head here and you will be amazed at what you find at the other side of the river.
Do you have any top Windows secret you believe Microsoft would not want us to know? Please share it in the comments.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mark Shuttlewoth on Ubuntu 9.10 aka Karmi Koala

In just over two months time, there is going to be a new Ubuntu Linux release christened Karmic Koala. The third alpha is already out for trial. I found these videos about the upcoming release of the OS and other insider information about the Ubuntu Project.

Bits and pieces from the Ubuntu podcast

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ubuntu migration support services - A move long overdue.

In one of my previous posts, I talked about how the lack of easily accessible corporate support for those that wish to migrate to Linux based systems hampers the mass adoption of the Unix based OS by both individuals and corporate entities. Indeed most people would not use a Linux based OS like Ubuntu not because it is not good but because of a perceived lack of formal and reliable support from the OS vendor.

Most businesses would simply not migrate to an OS where if they have any problem, they are asked to consult an informal forum. Ubuntu has made great strides in winning a lot of both Windows and Mac OS users. But most of these users are those that like to try new things no matter the learning curve. There are more people out there that would use Ubuntu and throw Windows out the window if only they know they have reliable, formal support from Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu.

Also, I strongly believe that Linux is having a hard time winning over a lot of OEMs because of a lack of user support. Lets face it, Windows has a superior user support than Linux. So this makes it easy for OEMs to load Windows knowing those who buy their ware have support from the OS vendor. This is very much explained in ZDNets Dana Blankenhorn's post.  That is not the case with Linux. Most of the support that Linux users have is through the use of the forums.

Do not get me wrong, the forums are a great place to get support which I did myself when I started my 
journey to OS liberation. But the fact still remains that telling people to turn to community forums for support makes an OS look more like something used by hobbyists than something that can be adopted in en mass.

It is in this regard that I was happy to learn of Canonical's new support service for Ubuntu users. This very strategic but overlooked move could not have come at a right time. The technology world is at a crossroads and the Windows empire is reaching its point of demise. Last week's DDOS attacks on Twitter and Facebook have provoked lots of anxiety and questions over the reliability of Windows. There needs to be a successor and if Ubuntu is poised to take up that role, then having a formal, reliable and corporate support from the OS vendor is a must.

This new service from Canonical is aimed at individuals and corporate organizations  who want an easy and smooth transition from slavery to the resource hog Windows over to Ubuntu Linux.  It is a very important move in the drive to make Ubuntu the OS of choice for those who value quality and excellence. 

Have a different view? Share your thought.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Electronic waste menace in Africa- Open Source to the rescue.

There has been a lot of concern about the level of electronic junk and garbage that is flooding into Africa. Most of these junk waste comprise  used computers and accessories. They are  mostly from the advanced countries where the pace of technological change is way beyond that of Africa. 

Virtually all African governments are not sure of how to contain this dumping of garbage in their countries. They are caught between the desire to promote ICT education among their populace through the use of the cheap computers that come in and the hue and cry from the environmentalist about the harm such was is causing to the continents environment. It is indeed a difficult position for any government to be in.

Most African countries are now setting up community driven ICT centers where places are put up and furnished with computers (mostly those that are brought in from the West as waste) for a given village or community to use. However, most of these initiatives normally do not get far due to the relatively high overhead cost of running the computers. It is needless to point out the cost to be incurred in running a pirated (that is what we can afford) copy of Microsoft Windows XP on a computer that was designed for Windows 95 and 98.

Most of the used computers that are brought into Africa virtually end up on the rubbish dump site because most people just cannot get it to run the resource hog of an OS called Windows. It is in this regard that I strongly believe African governments can make some gains from the electronic  "waste" that comes in by looking to very easy, cheap and powerful software alternatives called Open Source .

A computer is not complete without the needed software to run it. If you have the computer and do not have a compatible software, then you still  cannot use it. So if the computers are too old such that running Windows on them is nigh impossible, why not try Free and Open Source OS like Ubuntu   Linux and Fedora. Ubuntu for instance can run on very old hardware with memory as low as 128MB. 

Such resource efficient, powerful and free Linux OS can breath fresh life into computers that otherwise would be written off as dead. So in my view, if African governments really want to make some sense of the environmental situation they are facing, then I think educating people and putting in measures to promote resource efficient softwares will go a long way to help.

All that needs to be done would be to refurbish the used computers and install the free softwares like Ubuntu and Open Office on them.  Giving the old computers a new life through Open Source and Free software will help cut down on environmental degradation, improve people's access to ICT , create employment for those who will do the refurbishing and educate the young and next generation about better and free alternatives to Microsoft's resource hog and expensive products.

With Open Source, it is a win win situation. Share your thoughts.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Microsot Windows - A disguised time bomb.

"On this otherwise happy Thursday morning, Twitter is the target of a denial of service attack. Attacks such as this are malicious efforts orchestrated to disrupt and make unavailable services such as online banks, credit card payment gateways, and in this case, Twitter for intended customers or users. We are defending against this attack now and will continue to update our status blog as we continue to defend and later investigate."

This is the message that I and millions of people from all over the world  received several times last week when we  wanted to log into our Twitter account. Twitter was attacked by some unknown persons for whatever reason I do not want to know. But in as much as  I detested the attack itself, it brought to light how vulnerable all of us are using the internet.

Distributed Denial of Service in simple terms takes place when some people with more mushrooms than brains flood a server with so much requests such that they tend to confuse it. This results in a slack in the performace of the server. This is what happened to our beloved Twitter. And this attack was massively successful thanks to Microsoft Windows.

The attackers used Windows machines to carry out this blatant and useless attack. The attack I dare to say would never have been so successful if the computers that were targeted were running  a real OS like Ubuntu Linux instead of running a time bomb.

The attack on Twitter and to a lesser extent on Facebook brings to light the vulnerability of the OS system that is so dominant on the market. It is safe to say that anyone using Microsoft Windows is actually running a time bomb on their machine. It is only a matter of time before you are hijacked and your machine dances to the tune of someone probably sitting in his basement.

It is needless to say that MS Windows is the most unsafe piece of software out there that if is not relegated to the back seat will one day cause more harm than a nuclear bomb can. Windows is simply an unsafe OS. It is too full of holes for exploitation. Its code is closed with only a couple hundreds of programmers having acces to it. It only takes a Windows user to click the wrong link and you are infected because the OS system upon installation gives you full administrative rights. This is simply not acceptable. Windows must be held responsible for the attack on Twitter and Facebook last week.

Microsoft has covered up for so long the kind of OS Windows is, but now I believe there is slowly a move away to better more safe OS out there. It is up to those that have the voice and reach to make it clear to people that Windows is not the best thing that happened to computers. In fact, if anything, Windows is the worst threat to our online lives and ways.

Millions of people depend on the internet for thier living. How do they feel knowing that thier very lives are at the mercy of an OS system that can be hijacked by a thirteen year old with the right skills and bring the entire online world to a stand still? No one should be deceived by the up coming Windows 7. It is not going to be any different in terms of security. If anything, it is going to increase the available targets for hackers.

It is about time people get educated about better, safe, reliable, powerful and free alternatives to Windows. Why pay so much money in an economic recession for a system that makes you vulnerable to anyone that has an inkling to do evil on the net? Why pay for an OS that cannot defend itself from viruses, malware and other unwanted security wares? Windows is a fat, lazy over pampered and lousy OS that is simply a time bomb and its just a matter of time that it brings the whole virtual world to its kneees.

Do not pay money for any licence. Head here and get yourself a free copy of the worlds most popular free alternative to Microsoft Windows. It has everything you would want in an OS and does not make you vulnerable to any attacker like Windows does. It is safe and reliable. If 20% of computers all over the world were running Ubuntu Linux, there would not have been a Twitter and Facebook blackout last week.

The media must also join hands to educate the masses about other alternatives to Windows before its too late. Windows is a time bomb and the earlier a preemptive action is taken against it the better.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ubuntu- Apple is a different ball game.

Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu project has made great strides in making a go at Microsoft Windows' market share. Indeed, in its recent filings with the SEC, Microst admitted facing a somewhat stiff competition from the world's most popular Linux distro. The story however, is different with regards to Apple's Mac OS. I strongly believe that Canonical's Mac OS strategy is not working. This is because the underlying assumption beheind the strategy is flawed.

Mac computers are hugely expensive and  anybody that goes in to buy a Mac computer is not someone that considers cost in buying a computer. Most Mac users are people that have seen a certain perceived value in the extra cash they pay for a Mac computer as against what they would have paid for a Windows PC.
Mac OS users are more of a premium market type that are prepared to pay and use an OS which they believe gives them extra value for an extra amount of money. They want something that is not common and "cheap" and will pay a premium price for it. Such people do not consider the monetary cost of what they use but rather the perceived extra satisfaction they get from paying a premium price.

It is in this regard that I think Canonical is getting it wrong about stealing some of Mac OS market share. To promote Ubuntu to a Mac OS user as being cheap and free will simply not sell. Such people do not care about cost. There should be a different way of telling Mac OS users about what makes Ubuntu an alternative to Mac OS other than Windows without sacrifing the perception of quality that they are used to paying a premium price for.

There is no doubt that Ubuntu is a powerful alternative to both Windows and Mac OS, a fact that most Windows users attest to after trying Ubuntu, but that message must be wrapped differently in order to deliver to Mac OS users. Canonical must not focus solely on the monetary cost of Ubuntu as a wedge to use in penetrating the Mac OS market. The theme of the strategy must rather focus on the core strengths of Ubuntu that will appeal to Mac users. That I think will help make Ubuntu more appealing to Mac users than the current strategy of focusing on the monetary cost alone.
Do you have any ideas on how to market Ubuntu to Mac OS users? Share your thoughts.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Microsoft fears Canonical and Ubuntu.

In its recent SEC filings, Microsoft, the Redmond software behemoth whose Windows OS has ruled the desktop market for so long, acknowledged the fierce competition it faces from Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu project. This is a very interesting confession on the part of MS.

For a long time, Microsoft had pretended that the only viable competitor it faced was Apple which needless to say was a very wrong notion, brushing Canonical aside like a fly. The  Ubuntu project has come a long way from its initial humble beginnings. Today, it is the most widely used desktop Linux distro in the world. Most people that use Microsoft  Windows are mostly surprised when they try Ubuntu for the first time.

The only thing that made Microsoft and its Windows OS dominate the market for so long was just a perception that MS had successfully created at the back of the minds of people. You had a whole generation of people grow up thinking that Windows is synonymous with computer and that knowing Windows made you a guru. There are those who do not even know of the existence of any other OS.

It is this perception that Canonical under the march of its commander in chief and "benevolent dictator for life" has managed to break to a large extent. And in acknowledging that Canonical has successfully cleared the dust off people's eyes, Microsoft of all companies has admitted to the whole world that it is afraid of Canonical and Ubuntu.

In order to help Ubuntu march on to victory in this fierce battle of OS, I entreat all my wonderful readers to download a copy of this great OS here,
install it or at least run the live CD and tell as many of your friends as possible about the imminent rise of Ubuntu as a 100% alternative to Windows. Go and experience freedom. Use Ubuntu and see Microsoft weep.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Ubuntu Linux is not Windows.

On several occasions I have observed on lots of Linux forums, complaints from new users of the formidable Ubuntu Linux distro that they are not able to run this or that program or application that they used in Windows. You sometimes get to see threads where people are asking how to install a .exe file they downloaded off the Internet!

Most people that try Ubuntu Linux or any variant of Linux for that matter, do so because they have heard its an alternative to Microsoft Windows. Yes its an alternative to Windows. But thats all there is to say about that. Linux is a completely different OS that has its own way of doing things.

It must be made clear to anyone that intends on trying Ubuntu Linux that it is not the same as Windows, things are done differently, applications have a different way of performing functions, ways of installing applications are different and a host of other very striking differences between the two OSs.

 Ubuntu Linux is not Windows. Ubuntu is a free OS that is developed by a worldwide community of software programmers and users. Windows is developed solely by Microsoft, the software behemoth located in Redmond in the US. Ubuntu was founded on philosophies that aim at empowering the end user of the OS giving you the freedom and flexibility to use the OS rather than be used by the OS as is the case with Windows.

Any Windows user that is interested intrying out Ubuntu Linux should get the LiveCD from which they can test and see the differences between the Ubuntu Linux and Windows. That way, the learning curve the is mostly encountered with switching to Ubuntu Linux will be reduced to the barest minimum.

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