About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

February 1, 2011

Power of the Broom, Part 2

Last week I introduced you to Ubuntu which is a free operating system, but I asked you to wait until today before installing and running it on your computer.

Ubuntu is licensed as Open Source software, which means that it can be used, distributed, shared and edited by anyone, at no cost. Here are some of the other neat things that Ubuntu offers.

Let us pretend that you would like to try out Ubuntu but are a little apprehensive about installing it on your computer and then finding out that you hate it. Ubuntu has that situation well in hand.

Once you have downloaded it for free from “” and burned it to a CD (or ordered a free CD, they request a $10 donation) you can run it on your computer without installing it. That way you can see if you like it before it is installed. There are instructions on how to do all of this on the site. However, to run it from the CD, without touching your computer’s current system, get your computer to boot to the CD and choose to try it directly from the CD. This will give you the opportunity to see what it will look like and exactly how it will run – all from the CD. Once you remove the CD from your PC and restart your system it will run just like it did before you ever heard about Ubuntu.

imageI will tell you that it works great from the CD but it will be much faster and more efficient once it is installed. There is another option you can choose for installing this operating system. You can set it up to run alongside your Windows system. It will walk you through the set up, which takes about 15 minutes. When you reboot you will be asked if you want to start Windows or Ubuntu. This will allow you to use either system at your discretion.

I also mentioned last week that you get Firefox automatically installed. If you currently use Firefox you will see very little difference. If you don’t currently use FF…Why not? In my opinion it is far superior to any other browser software out there today. I have used it on windows for years and you can get it free at

The last thing I will mention today is that OpenOffice ( comes preinstalled with Ubuntu also. That means you get a word processor, electronic spreadsheet app and a presentation software that all mix seamlessly with Microsoft Office products. Not only do they blend with MS Office, you have almost the same functionality. This is also free!

This column was written and emailed to the DNR using Ubuntu. Did I mention it is free?

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