Ubuntu = Freedom

Chances are you have never heard of Ubuntu. But chances are good that you will be hearing a lot more about it.

Ubuntu is an African word – a concept, really – that has many English translations. Most translations contain references to openness and sharing. (For more information, including a definition offered by Desmond Tutu, see this Wiki.)

And Ubuntu is the name of software that may be a historic breakthrough: a free, open-source, Linux-based computer operating system that is sufficiently user-friendly and functional for the average home user.

It works for me. My house is now 100% Microsoft free. No Windows, no Office, and no Internet Explorer. But I am browsing the web (including audio and video), emailing, printing, burning CDs, and producing documents without skipping a beat. All with software that is free, requires no license, and can be installed, downloaded, and updated anytime. Both computers are happy – maybe even happier – and all my hardware works, including my Vonage phone adapter, wireless router, and wireless print server.

Ubuntu is part of an exciting, fast-growing, global movement that may be the biggest thing to hit computer technology since the internet: FREE SOFTWARE. Count me in on that. Since committing my home computers entirely to Ubuntu this weekend, it also occurred to me that I no longer wanted – or needed – to BUY software again.

That’s a somewhat radical notion that moves the very earth under the headquarters of all commercial software manufacturers. But as radical as the idea may seem, not only is it doable for most home users now, it also makes sense.

Think about it: commercial software we buy is created by a relatively tiny group of people motivated by profit who develop their product in secrecy and limit our use of it. Whereas Open Source software is developed and tested openly with the input of thousands of experts around the world whose primary motivation is summed up by the following statement taken from Ubuntu.com: ‘Every computer user should have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, share, change and improve their software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.’

Installing Ubuntu on both home computers was like taking that first plunge into a cold ocean: once I got over the apprehension and made up my mind and jumped in, I was glad I did. And I’m not likely to miss much – if anything – about all that commercial software that got blasted in the process. Either it really wasn’t needed, or, there is a free, Open Source alternative available that will work just as well (if not better).

Ubuntu may not be for everyone reading this. But if your home computing needs consist – like mine do – primarily of web browsing, email, and occasionally punching out documents or spreadsheets, then it certainly is worth considering.

EDIT: Extra benefit discovered last night after lots or research on Ubuntu forums… no antivirus software or internet security software or firewall required…. there currently are no linux computer virii in the wild, and the operating system is inherently secure…..