About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

February 8, 2011

Power of the Broom, Part 3

In review, Ubuntu is a free Linux based operating system that you could use to replace Windows on your computer.  I will hit a few more Ubuntu specialties today and move on next week.

Since Ubuntu is free you would think that getting help about how to use things would be impossible.  However, since there are a lot of Linux "geeks" out there who want to have converts to Linux software, you have surprisingly good support.  If you have a question, go to, "" for help.  If you cannot find the answers you are looking for feel free to ask the people in their forums.  All the needed links are found on that page.

imageNext, Ubuntu gives users 2 GB of online "cloud" storage.  Once you finish installing Ubuntu you will be asked to sign up for "Ubuntu One" which is your free storage area.  You can choose to store your documents, music, presentations, etc. there.  What if you fill up your free 2 GB and want more?  You just add more storage in 20 GB increments at a very affordable price when compared to other alternatives.

Ubuntu offers a free streaming app at Ubuntu One for music; however, even though it is free you must purchase the music from the Ubuntu store.  So depending on how much music you already have that may not be a good thing.  The music can be played on your Ubuntu system using, "Rhythmbox" which is a pretty good audio player for streaming, podcasts, internet radio and your music library.

What about software that you used in Windows?  This will probably be the biggest difficulty for switching over to a Linux system if you are a heavy duty Windows person.  There are several options.

First, I found many of the same programs I used in Windows redesigned by the developers for Linux and they work fine.

Next, many programs not available for Ubuntu have substitutes that are better, just as good, or maybe not quite as nice but still get the job done.

After this there is Wine.  Wine is not a beverage to drown your Windows-related depression in. It is a free application that will allow many Windows programs to run on Linux systems.  I have used it to run iTunes (which isn’t made for Linux) and it works OK; however, you cannot get to the iTunes Store using it.  Not a good solution, but you can experiment.

imageFinally, for Windows apps running on Ubuntu you could consider, "VirtualBox".  VirtualBox allows you to install a Windows operating system on an Ubuntu machine.  This allows you to run any Windows program.  It creates a "virtual" computer for your use after logging into Ubuntu.  This works well but be aware that you will have to have a licensed copy of the Windows OS to install.

Several of you have written over the past few weeks telling me you tried Ubuntu on an older computer, and like it a lot.  Keep in mind, I do not regularly answer Linux questions so if you have one check with Ubuntu Support and Google.  Do keep me posted if/when you try it out!

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