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Frugal, Minimalist Computing with Ubuntu

With a major downturn in the economy and no clear sign that we are out of dire straits, searching for ways to save money, live frugally and cutting back on monthly expenses, has been the mantra for a LOT of people.

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Computers and The Economy

As sole-proprietor of my own business, I know there are times when business is slow and when it’s booming. In the past year or so business has not been booming. The economy is obviously slow, and business is slow.

Nowadays, we all need computers to function and to work in our jobs and in society as a whole. So, I think it’s safe to say that computers nowadays are an indispensable tool for:

  • 1. getting things done
  • 2. communicating with others
  • 3. for buying and selling
  • 4. for business applications
  • 5. for fun and leisure

Computers Can Be Expensive

Needless to say, computers cost money. Whether you are a PC or Mac person, having to upgrade your computer, its peripheral devices, applications and virus software, not to mention getting more and more memory; any person can spend a sizeable fortune in computer hardware and software!

PC vs Mac

In my household we have both PCs and Macs. So, I can safely say I’ve had experience with both. I’d mainly been a Mac person since 1989 when I bought my first Mac SE. I’ve always loved Macs because of their user-friendly interface and I’ve always admired the OS, which I’ve always thought was superior and more stable than the Microsoft Windows environment.

As a matter of fact, I resisted the temptation to buy a Window “box” until the year 2000, when I went back to college to finish my Computer Science degree. Everything at that school (except for the graphics-oriented majors) was DOS and Windows. And some computer programming was done on IBM mainframes! No Macs could be found. Well, in a small corner of the library there were maybe 1 or 2 Macs for graphics and desktop publishing.

IBM PCs in the 80s

Now at work when I was at a financial institution in the 1980s, we used IBM PCs in the office environment. Everything was text-based and no graphics. Macs during that time had more of a graphics interface. Until Microsoft came out with Windows, which was similar to the Macs graphical user interface, but in my humble opinion not superior.

That Mysterious Linux

I first heard about Linux in the 1990s, but it was (like UNIX) one of those operating systems that required a computer science or engineering degree in order to use. At least, you needed to be very technically savvy (a hacker) in order to work your way around such an operating system.

Debating Linux – Difficulty vs Freedom

I tried to install a couple of different flavors of Linux on my PC, and tried to dual-boot. And though I was able to use Mandrake and Red Hat Linux dual-booted with Windows, I seemed to always run into problems with either the installation process or in trying to tweak and configure Linux to fit my needs. A lot of the tasks involved working on the command line, which can scare anyone without that kind of experience. I’ve had experience working with MS-DOS and IBM mainframe commands both at work and at school, so I guess you could say I’m used to working on some form of command line.

desktop

Introducing Ubuntu Linux

So, here we are years later in 2009. It got to a point in my computing experience where I was sick and tired of having to upgrade my computer ever year or so, and all the software and virus apps along with it.

What is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is a community developed operating system that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. Whether you use it at home, at school or at work Ubuntu contains all the applications you’ll ever need, from word processing and email applications, to web server software and programming tools.

Ubuntu is and always will be free of charge. You do not pay any licensing fees. You can download, use and share Ubuntu with your friends, family, school or business for absolutely nothing.

Apple seemed to be upgrading their OS every 6 months or so, and if you wanted to take advantage of the latest apps you needed more memory, an up-to-date OS, and probably more RAM and a faster processor. Upgrading was inevitable, and the industry is set up so that you have to upgrade in order to stay current and working at a proficient speed. As software apps grew in size, you needed more memory, a faster computer and the latest OS just to get by. And thus, spend more and more money on computers in general.

It has gotten to a point where I am anti-Mac AND anti-PC. And shame on them for monopolizing the computer industry and keeping us on a whirlwind cycle of spending and consumerism.

It’s Relatively Painless to Install and Dual Boot Ubuntu and Windows

  • Ubuntu Linux is the first flavor of Linux that I think is so easy to install and dual-boot with a Windows or Mac computer.
  • Installing Linux never has been easier.
  • I was able to install Ubuntu and dual-boot with Windows on my HP Laptop.
  • There are comparable alternatives to the standard applications in a Linux environment.

Open Source, the Big Advantage in Switching to Ubuntu

And the beauty of Linux and the Open Source movement is… everything is absolutely FREE! And, what’s more important is that upgrades from here on out are absolutely FREE too!

You can go now to the Ubuntu.com site and download the latest version of Ubuntu Linux for your desktop or laptop computer. Or, you can request that they send you a DVD-Rom disc (though it make take up to 6 weeks) in your mailbox.

In case you’re worried about compatible applications, Ubuntu has comparable apps for all the common software out there. For instance, Microsoft Office can be replaced with Open Office, a very similar set of apps. And there is Firefox for Linux for surfing the web. Gimp is a decent replacement for Adobe Photoshop. And basically, all these Linux apps create document files that are compatible to the most common apps you’ve been used to.

There is Wine, an app that allows you to run some Windows apps in the Linux environment. Though it depends on the app.

It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Entirely Free!

There are some shortcomings when switching to Ubuntu Linux, and I’ll admit it’s not perfect, although no computer or operating system ever IS perfect.

The main thing when switching to Ubuntu is you don’t have to pay a single penny for a new operating system, or buy new apps, or even upgrade to the latest. If you do decide to switch to Ubuntu Linux, everything will be FREE from now on.

It is a fact that you will save a LOT of your hard-earned money by switching to Ubuntu Linux.

And I think that is pretty darn good! Especially in this current economy!

What does Ubuntu mean?

Ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’, or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.



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About the author:
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Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and Amazon.com.

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