It's official - my wife likes Ubuntu, too

It's official - my wife likes Ubuntu, too

Summary: I wasn't really expecting it. She hates computers in general and change in particular, using computers for simple communication, Internet research, and basic productivity tasks.

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TOPICS: CXO, Open Source
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I wasn't really expecting it. She hates computers in general and change in particular, using computers for simple communication, Internet research, and basic productivity tasks. She didn't like Fedora or OpenSUSE during her brief sojourn with each over the last few days. So when I tossed on Ubuntu (even after I found that the latest beta worked like a champ on her finicky laptop), I didn't hold out a lot of hope.

Guess what she told me this afternoon, though? "I really like Ubuntu...it's very intuitive and I was able to do everything I needed to do today with no problem. Everything seems to be faster, too. You can leave this one on my computer." This is high praise indeed from a neo-Luddite who finds nothing intuitive about computers.

In fact, it makes Ubuntu something of the holy grail in Ed Tech. If my wife can use it easily (and, in fact, is happy to use it), it installs simply and runs as expected out of the box, and performs well, then Ubuntu is fit for widespread use with a large cross-section of users. Keep in mind that certainly satisfies my teenager's needs, got my three younger kids through their homework tonight, and provides enough software and power to keep folks like me happy.

I know Ubuntu is very mainstream and certainly not lean and mean. It is, however, a snappy performer on decent hardware (the two middle kids both told me that they thought it was faster than Vista had been) and has incredible driver support (the distro picked up my aging printer within 10 seconds and was ready to go automatically).

If you want free, accessible, handy, and well-polished, Ubuntu is the choice for your school, students, and parents. The only hitch, unfortunately, is that a good chunk of educational software is Windows/Mac only. There will obviously be times when Linux simply isn't for you. I can't help but think, though, that if my wife likes Ubuntu, there aren't many people in the world who wouldn't like it.

I'm not dumping my Mac in favor of Ubuntu; I will, though, give very serious thought to Ubuntu for future refreshes. It's just gotten too good to ignore as you evaluate your choices in OS and hardware. Dell has a new 12" Inspiron Mini that runs Ubuntu, by the way. Is that a 1:1 computing solution I smell?

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Topics: CXO, Open Source

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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238 comments
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  • Great

    People are finding out that Linux is not the boogie man some ignorant people say it is.
    kozmcrae
    • And, it will only get better with factory installed Ubuntu.

      If Ubuntu is installed by the manufacturer, they can make sure all of the little details work, and of course that it can play all of the different media files.
      DonnieBoy
    • Also, check out the growing list of Dell computers with Ubuntu preinstalled

      http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

      I will probably not buy anymore computers with Windows installed thought my Acer is a great workhorse that I got for a good price - even after paying the Windows tax.
      DonnieBoy
      • What model Acer did you buy? I bought one but ended up returning it...

        ...because it wouldn't run Linux.
        ye
        • I got a 3610, with Centrino. A real workhorse for not much money.

          Of course with Linux it runs a lot better!!
          DonnieBoy
          • Is that an older system? I'm thinking mine was too new...

            ...to be supported under Linux. Probably would in a little while.
            ye
          • I bought a couple of years ago on closeout when they were switching

            to dual cores.
            DonnieBoy
          • That's likely the reason. Linux support for the newest hardware...

            ...tends to be hit or miss. I suspect the PC I bought will be supported in newer version of Linux. I was bummed because it was a great machine for $299.
            ye
      • Good post

        Thanks for putting this up. This is what needs to be done, to remind the new people that it is out there and can be use. I just hope they have it working to the point that when the Street users start the computer all works right out of the box. This is what is needed.
        I bought a notebook from Walmart that had linux. I found the reason why the where taken back so much as written in another article. They where not ready to go out of the box. If I had not known how to use Linux I would have been dead in my tracks.
        Daedalu
    • that's the best OS for Joe the plumber

      Is not only your wife, it's everybody falling in love with Ubuntu who has become 'Joe the plumber' of the computing world.
      The revolution has jus begun!
      Linux Geek
      • Joe the Plumber

        I think we officially have the new leading phrase of the year with "Joe the Plumber."
        rmlounsbury
        • At Least . . .

          We've lost the 'Gravitas' nonsense . . .
          JLHenry
      • is that a compliment or an insult?

        Joe the plumber operates without a license and owes back taxes.... I am NOT him but do like Ubuntu.
        nothingness
        • I'm Curious . . .

          Why would he need a license? Only the Owner of the company needs a License, not the employees . . .

          Not gonna get into the back taxes thing, but I still don't see why you would hate him for that (Don't like=Hate, Don't care one way or the other=Don't care one way or the other)...

          And I use Ubuntu, too. In fact, when they stop doing updates for XP, I'll probably just convert my current, 6 year old system completely to Ubuntu, and be done with it.

          Heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new one . . .
          JLHenry
          • in most states

            even if the company is licensed there are many jobs where the employees have to be licensed as well, if they weren't that would be like a company having a license to do computer forensics then handing the job over to "Joe the help desk guy" to work on your data recovery!
            stuoutlaw1
        • he is pro America

          and Linux could help all his computing needs for free.
          That's exactly what America needs now: less M$ tax and more small business based on Linux.
          Linux Geek
        • Nothing wrong with not paying your taxes

          The problem with income taxes is they were implemented less than 100 years ago by our (then) elected representatives under a questionable interpretation of the Constitution's legislative powers; and more decidely NOT based on the majority (or supermajority) of voting citizens.

          Congress as an organization has disregarded the desires of the citizens of America on this subject for nearly a century. Taxing citizens to give away billions in bailout money, to give away billions in foreign aid, to give away billions in both earmarks and within the main legislation package, for programs that do not meet the criteria of benefit to the nation as a whole, are all forms of robbery, not good government.

          Elections only come every 2, 4 and 6 years. With no recourse to recall, that's not often enough to exert control over someone who's not doing what you elected them to do. The only other method of protest is to break the "law" by civil disobedience. owever, it requires massive cooperation for civil disobedience to work; one, two, or a dozen at a time makes it easy for the government mechanism to squash them without need to actually listen to them.
          Dr_Zinj
  • Educational software

    Try installing the edubuntu-desktop package. It adds in a bunch of educational programs and games for kids.
    macoafi
  • RE: It's official - my wife likes Ubuntu, too

    I've "converted" myself to Linux in the begining of this year, finally tired of windows problems, inability to control and alter it, antivirus, antispyaware, defender, updates and service packs that only made it slower and the general lousy programs/regular 6 month format schedule...
    since then i tried ubuntu, kubuntu, fedora, opensuse, mandriva, vectorlinux, a couple more i can't even remember and finally Linux Mint, a Debian/Ubuntu derivative distro.

    I srongly advise you to give your wife a chance with Mint, i must say i found it much more easy to manage, out of the box no hiccups media solution, install and uninstall programs it's a breeze with the nice software portal, and the large menu is also much simpler.
    In fact i've also converted my girlfriend's laptop whom, with only 9 months of vista, was already vista-fed up. in fact she loves it and vowed never to go back! [she's even turned more fan than me..]
    If your wife liked Ubuntu, please let her try Mint. she will love it and never ask for your help again in installing/uninstalling again.
    regards,
    jeremias
    lordjeremias
  • RE: It's official - my wife likes Ubuntu, too

    [i]Guess what she told me this afternoon, though? ???I really like Ubuntu???it???s very intuitive and I was able to do everything I needed to do today with no problem. Everything seems to be faster, too. You can leave this one on my computer.??? This is high praise indeed from a neo-Luddite who finds nothing intuitive about computers.[/i]

    Oh bull crap! There is no way in hell she ever said anything like that from using any linux distro. How much is Canonical paying you to advertise for them in the form of a blog on ZDNet? Just the quote alone sounds made up by you to try to redeem yourself from your linux failures all week. Luckily for us we can see past the poop that is flowing on your blog.

    The worst part is your smug attitude in thinking that you are doing your family a favor by forcing them to use linux. You are really hurting them but only making yourself feel good so you can brag about what you did to the other linux users. Everyone else will just be shaking their head in disbelief about what a poor choice you made. Wait until your wife tries to do some real with with the laptop and says "Hey I can't use this web page because it requires shockwave or a flash that doesn't crash the browser" or when she says "I need to run this application but I can't because you put linux on it." Or how about when she says "I got a file from so and so but I cant open it because my system is not compatible with what the rest of the world uses." And don't forget "Gee why can't this linux system play more than one sound at a time?" I give it a week before she starts asking for her Microsoft Windows Vista back.

    Now you want to convert your school systems over to linux... Now that is laughable. Who is going to maintain all these systems, you? Are you really going to go to each PC, check what software is installed, go to each packages site (remember there is over 500+ packages installed in linux) and check the latest version to see if a newer version has been released, download that source code file, extract it, try to guess which options you need for it to compile correctly, then install it wherever it wants, hunt down that executable file and run it, then watch as it segfaults and kernel panics and your back to step 1? Now imagine trying to do this hassle for each PC. It simply won't work because linux has no PC management capabilities or patch management control. Good luck with that implementation, I bet we won't hear what a failure it will be.

    I'm counting down the days until you get fired from your current position for trying to convert your school system. The next admin is going to undo everything you tried to do. There is a working system in place for a reason.
    Loverock Davidson