I spent part of the day fine-tuning a new Ubuntu Linux installation on the ol’ home PC. The current version of Ubuntu includes a two-click (no kidding) installer than you download and turn loose for a totally trouble-free installation on a Windows XP or Vista machine, which you can then choose to boot at will instead of the native Windows operating system.
This is not a Linux system running in a virtualization application, it’s a full-blown, partitioned installation; an operating system that runs completely independent of Windows itself. You could install it, uninstall Windows completely, and keep on going. The difference: it’s as easy to download and install as any Windows program — and will uninstall exactly the same way. Just open Add and Remove Programs, and click Ubuntu.
There is now officially no excuse for anyone who is mildly interested not trying Linux. It comes complete with browser (Firefox 3), Office Suite (OpenOffice) that’s compatible with Microsoft files and documents, the best native text editor I’ve ever seen — makes Notepad look like chiseling on a rock — and all the other applications you need. Others are available for quick, free download and trouble free installation from the Web.
Obviously, you need a high-speed connection. The installation files run better than half a gigabyte, and the installation itself is not teeny. But it’s fun, especially after wrestling for years with Windows, which seems to have been written as some sort of penance for wanting to use a computer.