What makes Ubuntu so user friendly?

Jack Wallen
Oct 6, 2009
Updated • Nov 29, 2012

Of all the Linux distributions, the consensus is beginning to become clear that Ubuntu is, hands down, the most user friendly of the Linux distributions. Naturally there are people that claim other distributions like PCLinuxOS, and Linux Mint are even more user-friendly than Ubuntu. But what exactly makes a Linux distribution user-friendly?

I have been using Linux for over ten years. My first induction in the "cult-o-Linux" was with Caldera OpenLinux 1 and Red Hat 4.2. Back then it was a completely different Linux. If you wanted to install an application you most likely were going to install from source or, if you were lucky, you could find an rpm package for your Red Hat installation. But so many day-to-day activities were handled from the command line. You mounted (and unmounted) floppy disks from the command line. Most likely you started your dial-up modem from the command line (and even had to write a bash script to get it connected - remember Minicom?)

Today, Linux is an all together different beast. But what makes it user-friendly? And what, in specific, makes Ubuntu so appealing that it could easily become the flagship Linux distribution? Let's take a look.

Familiarity: As much as I hate to say it, in so many instances, you have to mimic Windows in order to gain a level of comfort with new users. In many instances, Ubuntu has done just that. But it's not overt mimicry, it's subtle. It's changing the way users have to deal with removable media. Now you can plug in that USB key, write something to the key, and remove the key. Of course you should be unmounting the key before removing it (just like you should in both Windows and Mac), but at least it has become possible to, quite literally, plug-and-plug. Is this unique to Ubuntu? Not completely. However, Ubuntu has pieced together a system that is much more consistent with the methods of the "market share".

Software management: Ubuntu has, and continues to have, one of the simplest tools for managing software. Open up the single tool, search for what you need, select it, and install it. And with Ubuntu 9.10 coming out, this task includes commercial software. What this does is, in many instances, keep the user from having to search the web endlessly for commercial-grade software for Linux. The next step - ease the adding of repositories.

Sudo: This is a very sore point for many old-school Linux users. Most see this as a security risk. But with regards to user-friendliness - why would you want to make the new user have to learn about a "super user" or "root" account? Most average users cringe at the thought of doing anything administrative to a computer. So you remove the idea of their needing an administrative user and you take one step towards giving the users what they want. With Ubuntu your user has administrative rights through sudo, so the worst thing they will have to do is enter their user password when handling administrative tasks. Most users can handle that.

Choice made simple: A lot of distributions have chosen one desktop over another. And let's face it, the desktop ultimately will determine how user-friendly a distribution is. I can take a user-friendly distribution like Ubuntu, put AfterStep or E16 on as the desktop, and that distribution is no longer user-friendly. The desktop is the make or break for Linux and we all know, for user-friendliness, there are two serious choices: GNOME and KDE. Ubuntu makes this very simple: If you want GNOME you download the standard ISO and burn it. If you prefer KDE, download Kubuntu. Ubuntu goes even further than that by offering Xubuntu and Edubuntu versions of the distribution. So instead of having to download and install a distribution with one desktop and then install the desktop you want on top of that, you just download the version of the distribution that includes the desktop you want.

Installation: How much easier could it be than booting a Live CD and then clicking the install button once it is up and running? Not much. Of course many Linux distributions have a Live CD version (some only do Live DVDs) which is great. But the Ubuntu Live CD offers a cleaner, easier start up and installation than most. If you've ever tried the Elive Live CD you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.

Boot time: Ubuntu Linux has one of the fastest boot times of all the Linux distributions. The goal of Ubuntu is to reach that elusive 10 second boot time. They are coming very close. Along with boot time would be a clean boot. By clean boot I mean not giving the user more information than they need. Long gone is the boot up process that tells the user every single process, system, and sub-system that is starting up. The only users that want to see that are the old school users trying to debug various issues.

Remove the clutter: I am a big fan of virtual workspaces. I love (and use) the Linux pager. Most people, however, do not. Ubuntu has the right approach to this tool, strip the virtual workspaces down to two to appease the old school users AND not so easily confuse the new users. In all honesty, I think for the standard release, the pager needs to be disabled all together. Sure, leave it there so users who depend upon it can enable it, but why have more clutter than the average user can stand? Ubuntu is on the right path.

Final thoughts

Of course what you really need to do is define "user friendliness". For many people that means "just be Windows". But for some it's much more than that. If you say "Just be Windows" - doesn't that include Vista? And Vista was not the most user-friendly OS. User-friendly, to me, is an operating system (as a complete whole - not in pieces) that does not interfere with the user. A real user friendly operating system will allow the user to do what they need to do without confusing road blocks or cumbersome sub-systems. And, finally, a user-friendly operating system should be secure from the threat of viruses and malware without the inclusion of third-party software. Linux has that in spades.

What do you think? Is Ubuntu the most user friendly Linux distribution?


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  1. MS_bull said on June 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Try antix or blag linux. Both distros just work

  2. lyle howard seave said on October 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    >Well, the operating system of Ubuntu is the Linux kernel.
    Well no. Its not.
    The kernel is the central component of most computer operating systems but it is
    not THE operating system.
    And Ubuntu is a distro.

    Here is a map of the GNU-Linux operating system and FOSS that shows you how
    their relationships and various layers:
    It gives you an idea of the role of the kernel in the whole process.

    What you have to realize is that you can take out the Linux kernel out of the
    GNU operating system and use another kernel ( Ive used the FreeBSD kernel which is
    ironic since in contrast with GNU/Linux, where all the pieces are developed separately and brought together in distributions, FreeBSD has been developed as a complete operating system but I digress) because the kernel is a small (but very important part) of the kernel.

    So no, the operating system of Ubuntu is NOT the Linux kernel.

    As for being friendly….

    How user friendly is it when you install Kubuntu as a dual boot and the first thing you are
    then greeted by that black and white DOS looking option box (even better when the
    kernel upgrades kick in and then they are given even more text choice?)

    The reason I started installing PCLinuxOS/Mandriva instead of Kubuntu 3 years ago
    was that (and a few others).
    As of 9.04, you are still dual booting into something which is unsettling for newbies.
    So total fail there.

    My friend installed Kubuntu 9.04 on his mom’s netbook (she thought the Ubuntu it came
    with was depressing and ugly) and when she open the lid and the netbook wakes up, she is
    greeted with a ‘killing requests for dead queue’ message every time.

    Its not the end of the world but reputation are often overblown and honestly….
    ‘user friendly’ is a question of personal choice but deep down most top distros that use
    the same desktop look the same and are user friendly (SUSE and Mandriva were user
    friendly before their time I guess).
    Im running KDE4.2 with Mandriva, Kubuntu and two more I regularly change and the difference is minimal. My kids think theyre the same thing and think Im nuts.

    I think the desktop is more important a choice than the distro and those choices affect
    more the usability than a new wallpaper,icons or notifier.

    I’ve done a couple of dozens installs over the past 3 years at install fests and friends and family
    and desktop does make a huge difference.

    i work and play on 2 Win, 1 Mac and 4 Gnu-Linux desktops every day and I believe that any power user should be able to adapt and be productive less than a week after first
    trying a new environment… it is NOT rocket science.

    But people are creatures of habit and they like what they know and casual users even more so if they only care that something just works.
    That’s why Ive foudn that when given a choice between desktops (I only offer XCFE on old hardware) Windows users will go over 2/3 of the time with KDE. The bottom taskbar
    and the look and feel (I found out they mean the fonts in KDE look more like Windows than
    the Gnome ones).
    My job when I want to switch someone over is to make them feel confortable, distro fanboism
    doesnt figure into it. I recommend Kubuntu to power user friends who can search for answers and copy past the sudo commands, the ‘community’ is great for them and useless for the ones
    who arent computer savvy.

    I want to be able to customize as much as possible and with the least problems as possible.
    For 3 years, PCLinuxOS was my friends.family distro but there were many others that were just as good and user friendly. To claim that it was the ‘best’ would have been childish.
    Now, Mandriva seems to be doing the best KDE4.3 version (but again, the difference is
    splitting whiskers).. Im sure that next year or the year after, it will be another.
    This attachment to a distro through thick and thin is a very Mac fanboiesque thing.
    The success of their OS/distro directly affect how they perceive themselves and their own self worth.

    “My distro offers this and it does this and that.” sounds more impressive than saying that most top distros all do it but its like saying that flavour #25 at Baskin Robbins is the best one.

  3. Avin said on October 12, 2009 at 8:35 am

    The Ubuntu is really good and User friendly distro as compare to any other linux distro.

    1. MS_bull said on June 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      And it costs nigh £200 pounds even before you install the NECCESARY anti virus which will often incur additional expense and considerably more if you get caught using an illegal copy and all this is PER COMPUTER.
      And apart from a few nice features it doesnt always work and to just to bite the hand that feeds them, from time to time they DELIBERATELY try and stop some things from working like other browsers or certain types of dowloads in IE.
      Also there is privacy concerns. MS knows about EVERY computer that is infected with windows and you NEED an internet conection and key before you can even USE it. This doesnt sound too bad until you consider that some computers are used where there is no internet available and the key code can Expire after so many Reinstals or get lost or duplicated by some one else rendering the price you paid for this garbage as just a waste of money. Some people have been told their key is not valid even when they have actually tok all the neccessy and legal steps to protect them selfs

  4. Michael said on October 8, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    1. Tarballs are retarded. (Because I don’t understand them)
    2. I shouldn’t EVER have to use the command line.
    3. Self installers = the best.

    1+2+3 = 6. But also a very user-friendly, adaptable environment.

  5. Big Daddy said on October 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    …Or all of you morons can just knock off the “anti- MS” BS and just use friggin’ Windows already.

    It’s not a lifestyle, idiots. It’s a PC.

    Windows. It WORKS!

  6. Zac said on October 8, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Launchpad PPA
    I think the most obvious thing for me is the Launchpad PPA’s. Once the PPA is in your softwares sources list, it is a one click install and you get automatic updates, and can downgrade to a previous version. I have installed many addtional programs with PPA’s which I would not otherwise do.

    I would like to see software installation/upgrade/downgrade etc made much more easier and fully intergrated in the Software Centre so your average person can install anything with confidence. And this will make it easier for developers to get their software out.

    eg I have installed Chromium this way, and if weren’t for PPA’s I would not have installed it. It is so easy. This may be lazy, but I want Linux for the masses and it has to be easy. Those who want a dogs breakfast are free to look elsewhere.

  7. David Legg said on October 8, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I think that the main reason Ubuntu is regarded as friendly is that it lets users use non-free software easily with just a few clicks.

  8. SilverWave said on October 7, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I wanted to move from Windows to Linux but I had a few must haves:

    0. Ethics – Ubuntu and Canonical have them.

    1. I needed the same level of troubleshooting support via Google as I have in XP.
    Ubuntu provides this via http://ubuntuforums.org/ all the answers are there, you just need Google to find them :)

    2. Vast software repositories (and codecs).
    Ubuntu is the clear winner here with 20k+ packages.
    Most of the software you need are just a few clicks away and they are pgp signed.
    If its not in the repository the site usually has a .deb e.g. the Open University uses FirstClass so go to the site and yes! there is the .deb :)
    As for the codecs installing “ubuntu-restricted-extras” does the job.

    3. No one man bands – I need to know my investment in time and effort will not be wasted.
    Ubuntu has a huge user-base and Community.

    4. Constantly updated software
    Canonical updates the whole distro every 6 months – Lovely!

    5. Only best of breed software installed by default
    I don’t need 25 text editors and I especially don’t need 50 bad/unfinished text editors.

    6. LiveCD.

    I found that moving over to Firefox\Thunderbird\Openoffice in windows then making the jump to Linux was the way to go. Then a VM of XP for any apps that you still need to use until you find an alternative.

    Ubuntu made my move possible.

  9. Albinootje said on October 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm


    If you’ve paid for the full Photoshop and Quarkexpress, then I assume that you are a professional, and almost assume that you can afford a Mac. ;-)

    If you really want this software available for Linux, go ask Adobe, or go ask Ubuntu to partner with Adobe and have them ask it.

  10. Darby said on October 7, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    The fact that after a Buntu install in most cases you can get online by simply plugging a CAT wire into your NIC. This means you can now begin solving issues. Without the Ubuntu forums or access to a search engine many new users wouldn’t know where to begin. This is the first and biggest hurdle for most new Linux users and Ubuntu gets you up and running on the net better than any other distro.
    Is it the “best”, that depends on your definition. Is it the best for Linux noobs YES. Who knows, a year or two with Ubuntu and you may feel comfortable trying something like Arch. Ubuntu is the gateway drug to Linux.

    1. danny said on January 4, 2010 at 4:38 am


  11. Onacona said on October 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    It’s user friendly if your laptop hasn’t a not so old ATI graphics card.

  12. os2er said on October 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    My relevant experience is with Ubuntu Ultimate 2.1. I don’t
    understand the appeal of Ubuntu, despite experimenting since
    version 6. I’ve GONE with PCLinuxOS or Puppy but am also STAYING
    with OS/2 so long as hardware permits.

    Don’t agree that your list illustrates ease of use for Ubuntu.
    It’s fairly baffling when first confronted, MORE SO than
    PCLinuxOS or others: you’re MERELY familiar with it.

    Sudo: I can’t handle that form of nagging. I suspect that most
    n0000bs will forget or lose their password as I did. Think that
    was the time I used a live CD to change it, but may have been
    another distro. Anyway, it won’t bother most users to “be” root
    ALL the time, or to NOT type in ANY password; it’s what they’re
    used to with Windows. The user/admin distinction (which I fully
    grasp, thank you) is useful only if you do not install software;
    it’s a geeky anachronism. I have a PERSONAL computer, I’m not
    time sharing on some remote mainframe, darn it.

    That leaves security WIDE OPEN if you install unknown software,
    yes. However, even XP is safe enough to use anywhere on the web
    under these conditions: use only Firefox, disallow “install on
    demand”, not even updates; use “noscript” to selectively allow
    Javascript; disallow Flash and everything from Adobe; disable all
    search engine integration. The default Firefox installs on the
    dozen or so Linux distros that I’ve tried violate all of those
    rules. You cannot enable “web features” and be anywhere near
    SAFE, besides not annoyed by an endless barrage of ads and
    flashing images. (That reminds me: in Firefox about:config, set
    browser.animation.mode to “once”. And use a “hosts” file.)

    Choice made simple: current GUIs are a serious plague that you
    regard as positive only because of familiarity. But they’re NOT
    simple, have exotic possibilities yet often make common actions
    difficult, besides are always sheerly manual labor of clicking.
    Examples: In PCLinuxOS (KDE, and Windows) ctrl-selection works by
    rectangles, NOT as a series list. This makes for an incredible
    amount of clicking unless your choices happen to be lined up
    right. — In Puppy (and others, probably all), the GUI not only
    allowed but caused opening multiple video players, resulting in
    essentially DEAD machine. Sometimes I wonder whether programmers
    ever do more than toy with a new “cool” while ignoring normal use
    and oblivious to possible drawbacks.

  13. Tom said on October 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I’ve been using personal computers of one sort or another since 1980, and even with all that experience, I can tell you that Ubuntu is a user-friendly Linux distro, but only up to a point. Every time you install or update any version of Linux, you stand an excellent chance of something breaking, or not working to begin with. Oh, you spent days searching the web for instructions on getting those extra mouse buttons to work in Linux? Maybe the next update will completely depreciate the X configuration file you used to get it working in favor of a mechanism nobody out there seems to have figured out yet. Wait six months or a year, and perhaps someone will have an answer, a patch, or a new application for you. Gee, thanks. Or, your WIFI card worked out of the box, but after the new update it won’t, because it seems one of the developers didn’t think the existing drivers were stable enough, and removed them completely. Because as everyone knows, having no support at all is a whole lot better than a buggy partially working driver. Or perhaps a friendly, helpful soul on line has given you instructions on how to get something working, but they’re either unintelligible (to you, anyway) or involve the word “compile”. Yeah, you always dreamed of becoming a programmer, didn’t you?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not grousing here. I’m simply pointing out that things *will* go wrong, even after you have everything working. “User friendly” is a relative term. Just because a Live CD works with all your hardware (and there’s no guarantee of that), doesn’t mean it will continue to do so down the road after you’ve been working with the OS for six months. Windows is for people who want to use their computers just like another Television set, without thought or bother, while Linux (any distro) is for people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty fixing it. As long as you understand that difference, then yes, Ubuntu is the friendliest.

    I’ve been using Linux full-time for several years now, and wouldn’t go back to Windows now if you paid me. To me, Linux is simple, flexible, secure, and powerful. But that’s me, with nearly 30 years of computers under my belt. YMMV.

    1. MOGH said on October 7, 2009 at 8:05 pm


      I couldn’t agree more:

      “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not grousing here. I’m simply pointing out that things *will* go wrong, even after you have everything working. “User friendly” is a relative term.”

      “Windows is for people who want to use their computers just like another Television set, without thought or bother, while Linux (any distro) is for people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty fixing it. As long as you understand that difference, then yes, Ubuntu is the friendliest.”.

      Your last point (above) is the best, making the difference clear for Windows crossovers.
      My own background with computers gos as far back as PDP11, now about ~33 years.

  14. manmath sahu said on October 7, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    It’s popular because it is popular. Great documentation, Mark Shuttleworth money and a hell lot of other things make it popular. Whereas in reality, I found Mepis and PCLinuxOS thousand times better than Ubuntu and all those *buntu flavors.

  15. MOGH said on October 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    @Linux software ?-
    Microsoft(R) was the only PC OS game in town for a long time, long enough that software developers just about worked for Microsoft because there was noone else to develop for. Today the lack of the software found on Windows(R), thats made for Linux(R), is because only in the past few years anyone has made the effort to create the software for Linux. I find the Ubuntu people have created a serious distro for themselves, that is taking its place as a real Linux choice for personal and business use. Video and sound tools have patent locks on them, most software developers are too dependent upon Microsoft/Apple/others technologies today, that they cannot just create ports for Linux. What remains desirable about Linux over Microsoft and even Apple, is the freedom, and some have seen this as an opportunity to free themselves, an opportunity Microsoft and Apple can’t offer on the same level in my opinion. Ubuntu and some others are doing a great job, however, making a one-distro fits-all is hard and shouldn’t be done. Building a distro with options and choices, with a solid kernel is a far greater value, and I believe Ubuntu is doing this well, and I for one like it.

  16. Friiduh said on October 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I have used Linux OS now over 12 years. I test almost all top 10 mainstream distributions two times a year.

    The thing what makes Ubuntu most user friendly, is not about technology. It is not about the configurations. It is only about the fame and the community size what is build by hype of new users who want to switch.

    You entered few keypoints why Ubuntu is best:


    Ubuntu use Gnome. All distributions what has Gnome possible to install (that means all distributions of the Linux OS (kernel)) so nothing special there at all. Does the Canonical’s Human theme make Ubuntu so great? If so, then just install it to any other distribution when using Gnome. Does the Ubuntu configurations for Gnome make it so great? If so, just set Gnome (few what are available) configurations same way. No need to switch distribution at all. Ubuntu does not win at all.

    [Software management:]
    This has the power of the change. Thanks to Debian, not to Canonical. Canonical rips off all the packages from Debian. If user wants most precombiled packages, then Debian is the choise. If user wants newest versions of software, then Debian is the goal. If user wants nice GUI and other features to package manager, they are available to any other distribution as well. You can even install APT to any RPM distribution if you really must always type the apt-get “something”.
    Ubuntu has many packages when compared most distributions, but most mainstream distributions have all the most needed softwares. What makes Ubuntu win others? Marketing, people speaks how software is done for Ubuntu only. Even that they do not know they are only speaking that the software is precompiled to deb package for Ubuntu and is available and working on all other distributions as well. Nothing special than hype.

    Why to teach BASIC security at all? Sudo is meant only for POWERusers who know the risks and when the root user needs “generals” to maintain smaller things and can trust some people to do it. Sudo was never designed to be used like it is on Ubuntu.
    And it really teach wrong security style. Everyone who has brains understand that users need to use different password for emails, bank accounts, user account and root account. Only lazy and stupid people use one and same password for all places. Then when one place is braked, all other are as well unsecure.
    And Ubuntu was not even first distribution use the sudo. Other distributions has used it long before Ubuntu. But they did not place it automatically to user. Now many distributions preinstalls the sudo but suggest to users to use normal root accout (no, you can not access it to anyway from network) and reminds the user that should use multiple different passwords on all different places. Other distributors take security very seriously, Canonical just laugh about security and make people easier targets for social engineering. Ubuntu does not win anything, it loose almost all.

    [Choice made simple:] Well that is not making it simple. User is forced to make choise in first place without actually trying them. Best choise is to make one ISO what includes all four desktop environments and few window manager. Allows user to make the choise on install with easy steps and with nice screenshots. User has more power. And other distributions make it wise for them, by selecting most used desktop environment by default so user can use it. Example, OpenSUSE selected the KDE for default because most users use KDE and not Gnome.
    The Canonicals way might look like easy, but it is more difficult than what other distributions usually use. Almost everyday on Ubuntu channels and forums people is asking how to install other desktop environment. They do it the hardway, by downloading ISO and reinstalling. Very smart Canonical…

    [Installation:] There are many distributions what has few steps more than what Ubuntu has, but they gives better results for the user. Ubuntu was not even first or is currently the easiest installable distribution. Only a hype how easy it is. There are many distributions what even allows easily to customise the installation on the Live mode. Then after the installation, all the changes has done to installed system as well. Much better for technology oriented user who usually installs the software system to people who do not know how. Only way to make Ubuntu to win those is to automatically wipe the disk and install only asking password (not even username). And why Ubuntu would even be easier to install when too simple installation causes even more work after the installation.

    [Boot time:] Is bretty lousy. There are mainstream distributions what can already boot under 7 seconds. Shutdown on two and offers Gnome or KDE. Then there are distributions what are truly a fastest to load. Loadtime being under two seconds. But they do have not a complete desktop environment, only a simple window manager. Ubuntu does not have anything special against other mainstream distributions even on this case. Same level always.

    [Remove the clutter:] Virtual desktops are not first used by users who have used only the windows. But soon when they learn them, they think how they have managed to live without them. If they are not people who shutdown running program to run other (so they do not need multitasking at all). It is better to teach them that they can have good multitasking than force them back to desktop what does not have virtual desktops. And Ubuntu is not even first distribution to drop them to Two. Even OpenSUSE and Mandriva has done same thing.

    [User-friendly, to me, is an operating system (as a complete whole – not in pieces) that does not interfere with the user.]

    Well, the operating system of Ubuntu is the Linux kernel. People do not understand the technology of OS’s and denies always the truth that Linux kernel is not the operating system. The whole system is so complex by start, but when the technology comes clear, it is actually simpler than it even sounds. People believes just too much that the user interface like Gnome or Bash are part of the operating system. The fact is just so simple that none of other software on the system can not work without the OS. It is just matter of the structure of the OS is it a monolithic kernel or is it microkernel + servers. (do not mistake them to system daemons what are not part of OS either).

    The user friendliness is build by many different parts, from technology to settings and preconfigrations and evey by themes. Most important thing is actually on the user itself, does he want to learn new things or is it against changes. Most people are first against changes, especially when they are on better way.

    On Ubuntu, it is just well marketed and hyped “OS” what speaks for it. Even it most is just illusion. But is that bad thing? No, one distribution need to be the first step to alternatives for Windows. First Ubuntu and later move from it to other distributions when user just starts learning what he itself likes. Only thing what should change is the hype for Ubuntu what it’s users spread all over the Internet.

    1. Aksel said on October 8, 2009 at 11:40 am

      I beg to disagree. There is hype but there are reasons behind the hype, and your post contains factual errors.

      [Software Management] If you use debian, you either choose stable with outdated packages or you run unstable, with ahem.. stability issues. Ubuntu provides a balance new packages tested for stability in a six month release cycle. If you stick to the main repositories you are unlikely to be out of date by more than 6 months. If you want newer versions, many packages are now available through the Ubuntu PPAs. Debian has no such equivalent. This is a tangible benefit of marketing, not just hype.

      [Choice] Ubuntu does simplify choice. You would ask a new user to try 3 different DEs, 8 different editors, 12 different video playes, 24 different music players before they make a choice. Good luck with that approach. Ubuntu presents one default DE, with one default application (typically considered best of the breed) for each function. Excellent choice for new comers. Even experienced users don’t change every setting of every program. For those that you care about, choose another setting/package, for those that you don’t the sane default settings are always there.

      [Installation]Ubuntu installation is easy. 8 steps, 7 questions, with arguably the most difficult being disk partitioning. Installation is also fast compared to some other distros. Compare this with Fedora, OpenSuse and Mandriva. OpenSuse defaults to KDE because most OpenSuse users prefer KDE. Most Ubuntu users prefer gnome. Also OpenSuse is a DVD, Ubuntu is a CD, literally a big difference. To install kde in ubuntu do apt-get kubuntu-desktop. No need for ISOs or a reinstall. Your claims are disingenuous. What changes to be made to an installed system? Examples?

      [Boot Time] Ubuntu does boot faster, google for bootcharts and boot times. Compare it with OpenSuse. By your own admission distributions with faster boots do not have adequate features. Again good luck pushing it to a newbie.

      So many claims. So many vague allegations.

      Ubuntu is hyped? perhaps, but no one is forcing anyone to use ubuntu. Still Ubuntu grows; may be you should consider why.

  17. Orionds said on October 7, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Reading various posts about Ubuntu, Linux in general and Windows, it’s pretty obvious that users have different needs. I’ve been using Ubuntu for almost two months. In that time, I’ve got myself slowly more familiarized with it and I like it more and more.

    My computer use, other than the usual Internet functions, are photo, video and audio editing. With photo I’m pretty happy with Gimp as it does about everything I need. Audio is not a problem and for video, I can do simple cutting and encoding with Avidemux. For something more complex, I am still searching, but from what I’ve read and seen, I think it’s a matter of time, finding the right software as I have not had the time nor the need yet to find something more sophisticated.

    There is only one final block and that is TV and video capture which I haven’t been able to get going in Ubuntu with the hardware that I have.

    As for updates, speed, reliability, Ubuntu has the edge over XP. Haven’t tried Win 7 but a local computer magazine just did a battery of tests with Ubuntu, XP and Win 7. Ubuntu was the clear winner in almost all categories. All the tests that I have seen online pit Win 7 against Vista mostly, so the outcome is pretty obvious. Well, we will get a much clearer picture sometime in November and December when the general populace get their hands on Win 7.

    The only other distro I’ve tried is Mandriva (in the days when it was Mandrake), but Ubuntu, yes, to me at least, is the most user friendly distro, so much so that my teenage students are adopting it after trying it on my laptop.

  18. Ratattack said on October 7, 2009 at 10:02 am

    As soon as you can use Photoshop or QuarkExpress in Ubuntu I will switch – in fact I really want to switch, but can’t.

    Anyone out there working on this? Wine + the above does not hack it nor does Gimp … (yet but I am not willing to wait so its Windows for me for now…)

    1. Archlinux_jessica said on October 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm

      You could just duel boot you know… Now the real question is. Have you tried getting it to work with wine at all? I agree its not the first thing I would try but sometimes you dont have much of a choice. I play World of Warcraft all the time on wine completely out of the box.

      Please don’t attack Linux for Program X or Y. Linux is great and wonderful in its own way. I have trouble believing you really want to “switch” when you have so many options to use Linux without leaving windows fully. As well as options that might be open are deemed instantly as not good enough, even though I wonder if you even tried these solutions. I mean if all comes down to it, use the windows you have and install it using a Virtualbox, that way you can use it perfectly without worrying about having to upgrades causing your photoshop not to work. And please don’t claim that doesn’t happen. I’ve tons of old Windows programs that do not work on 2000,XP,Vista and probably 7.

      At least with the Virtual box you can keep up to date on all linux software and hardware while still keeping your XP or whatever Windows your using. But if these arnt good enough solutions, why dont you complain to the makers of Photoshop for not providing a Linux port? No one will change if no one speaks up. Yeah it might take time but you seem to want everyone else to do the work while you just sit back and complain how its not working.


  19. Nafees said on October 7, 2009 at 8:37 am

    ubuntu is a very nice fast booting OS:

  20. Taco said on October 7, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I’m currently running Mythbuntu. I have yet to commit to Linux as a desktop, mainly because video editing is too cumbersome in Linux. Frankly, I’d like to see an OS only version like Windows. No Office, audio player etc. Let me decide what to add that’s one thing that bugs me about Buntu. Xubuntu is heavier than Ubuntu do to all the crap they added but Xfce is much lighter than Gnome. I hope Lubuntu doesn’t make the same mistake. If this bird is going to fly it’ll need to run on systems that shipped with XP as the death of XP IMO is Ubuntu’s best chance at seizing market share.
    Anyway, Mythbuntu wasn’t easy but I’m extremely happy. I tried several different third party apps under Windows and wasn’t able to get an HTPC to do EVERYTHING like I can in Mythbuntu. Not to mention that it’s nearly 20% lighter on resources than XP.
    I’m very optimistic about running Ubuntu as a desktop once XP is no longer supported and I’m looking forward to Lubuntu aswell. Mythbuntu is the first Linux dev that I’ve actually stuck with and my first real stab at Linux.
    Keep up the great work!

  21. Charles Perry said on October 7, 2009 at 4:15 am

    What makes a Linux distribution user friendly? Easy. Allow the user to do, and configure, as much as possible without visiting the command line! Most windoze users NEVER even realize the old dos command line is still there. Unfortunately, Ubuntu still has room to improve on this. If you try to write a file to a directory that you do not have access to, you get an error. What you should get is an error and an option to invoke sudo privs, enter your password, and write the dang file. I know hard core Linux people cringe at this but this is what the average user needs. I like Ubuntu. It installs easily and makes old hardware sing. I run it on an older Dell desktop. I also run eeebuntu on a 1000he and love it. But I don’t mind googling fixes to problems. Most users just want it to work or be given a graphical menu to make it work.

    1. eldarion said on October 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm

      What makes a Linux distribution user friendly? Easy. Allow the user to do, and configure, as much as possible without visiting the command line! Most windoze users NEVER even realize the old dos command line is still there.

      Wrong. Maybe for you user friendliness is that. For me it is not. Arch Linux is more user friendliness that the mess that is Ubuntu. You see, Ubuntu is ok until it breaks. When that happen, it’s hard to fix because it have so many trash on it that you think (and probably that’s what most Ubuntu users do):
      – Hey, i’ll make a fresh install and it will be fixed!
      ps: funny, that’s exactly the same procedure of Windows users..

      By the way, if you see user friendliness that way, so Mandriva is, by far, more user friendly that Ubuntu.

      User friendliness is not an universal thing. It depends on who you ask.

      Ubuntu is popular because of the big pocket of Mark Shuttleworth. Nothing more.

  22. ArtInvent said on October 7, 2009 at 2:41 am

    It’s kind of nonsensical, but Ubuntu is popular because it’s popular. That is, I think most people don’t want to swap and compare the Linux flavor of the month. Switching OS’s is very much a hassle. They don’t want to have to think too much about their OS. There seems to always claim to be a new distro that’s ‘even better’. Once you try a few of these, most people find that they’ve got plusses and minuses, and they’re really not that much better than Ubuntu. And then Ubuntu draws them back. It’s stable and dependable and backed by a pretty amazingly dedicated company and a huge and dedicated community. That combination is actually pretty unique among distros.

    It’s still hard to find packages you know are going to work with Distro X. But most developers now release a DEB package for the latests two Ubuntu releases and maybe even maintain a PPA repository.

    In short, most people want there to be a reliable ‘standard’ OS. They just don’t want it to be Windows. For now, Ubuntu is as close to that as the Linux world gets.

    I use Ubuntu everyday. But I still pretty much never recommend to any friends that they switch to Linux of any kind unless they really express an interest. People are just not that interested in something new and different, and it would be a hassle. If they are going to try Linux, however, I would absolutely and only recommend Ubuntu. I can help them set up their repos and get ALL the right software and codecs in 15 minutes. If they really get adventurous and want to try something else after that, that’s awesome.

  23. LS said on October 7, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Why doesn’t Windows ship with OFTB support for PDF printing and exhange?
    How come Windows doesn’t come with any kind of Office suite? Why is it so often difficult finding drivers when installing devices on Vista? Ubuntu finds all kinds of devices OFTB including camera’s, usb headphones. 3G modems. I can’t believe how much easier Ubuntu is to get going on a 3G netbook. (and alot more resource efficient- including better drivers). These days Linux is miles ahead of Windows in sooo many ways. To each his own -if you like using a less than secure system than stay with Windows.

  24. Spartan2276 said on October 7, 2009 at 12:46 am


    I just don’t understand what these users want. I want to find one windows install that brings you all the codecs for MP3, Mpeg, DiVix and Apple formats for Ipod and Itunes out of the BOX, not very likely. So why are you complaining about the fact that Ubuntu does not have this installed by default. I can guarantee you that I can install these codecs/Plugins faster that you can on a windows pc without the use of the damn command line. So please before you post educate yourself first. This tells me that you’ve never used Ubuntu and perhaps never will.

  25. optimus said on October 6, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Try playing proprietary formats like mp3…

    Yep, your claim about Ubuntu being the most user-friendly distro falls apart. Still some way to go.

    1. Marvin said on October 7, 2009 at 8:24 pm

      “Try playing proprietary formats like mp3…
      Yep, your claim about Ubuntu being the most user-friendly distro falls apart. Still some way to go.”

      Try installing ubuntu-restricted-extras package using synaptic.

      1. The Doctor said on October 8, 2009 at 4:45 am

        Yes Marvin, but only after you configure and add Medibuntu to your repository list. Something you don’t have to do with PCLinuxOS or Linux Mint.

    2. Archlinux_jessica said on October 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm

      Yes is so very hard. You double click the MP3 (OMG two clicks!?) and the media player comes up, asking if you want to install components to run this. Click yes and away it goes. Then it plays. If you want to claim that its so hard because you have to install software to run it, then please feel free to go to court and battle this issue, otherwise your far behind the times.

      But I guess I should stop feeding the trolls…


    3. Jack Wallen said on October 6, 2009 at 10:45 pm

      the MP3 issue is not Ubuntu’s fault – that is a licensing issue. If you want a good format, use OGG instead.

      1. HereAndNow said on October 6, 2009 at 11:32 pm

        @ Jack Wallen

        Ubuntu doesn’t ship with proprietary stuff like MP3 playback, etc. enabled, but if you install the Ubuntu-Restricted-Extras package (it takes 30 seconds, with Synaptic), you get MP3 support & a whole host of other proprietary stuff.

        Ubuntu is my primary OS so I use it to listen to music, play videos, etc. like any other user of any other OS.

    4. HereAndNow said on October 6, 2009 at 10:39 pm

      @ optimus

      I play mp3s all of the time. What problem are you referring to?

  26. HereAndNow said on October 6, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I use Ubuntu, as my primary OS, and I REALLY like it. Short of creating a web OS like ChromeOS, I don’t see how it could be made much easier to use.

    The best part is having ALL the software I have installed updated automatically. As a long time Windows user, I can really appreciate the difference.

    Great job Canonical (& Debian)!!!!

  27. Sanford said on October 7, 2009 at 1:09 am

    I have been using Ubuntu a few years now and like it reasonably well. But I have trouble recommending it to most people. Though it boots and turns off nicely, and comes preinstalled with most software people might want, it has user friendliness problems even now. I have spent more time on ubuntu and Linux forums in the past year trying to get things to work than I have spent in all my years on windows machines. (Three of my four ubuntu installs, for example, have had trouble with my various video cards and adaptors.) And there often seem extra steps that will confuse and irritate most users, for example, adding repositories to get some simple program. Finally, most of my machines are set to dual boot with windows since I keep finding one thing or another that cannot work in Ubuntu, for example, my local libraries software for downloading audiobooks and my favorite online backup service.

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