Which Is better, Ubuntu Or Windows?

A few days ago I was speaking to a friend of mine who is completely none technically. He saw my computer screen (Ubuntu 12.04) and asked how I got Windows to look like that. I explained that it wasn’t Windows but rather Ubuntu. I then went on to explain what Ubuntu was. After about 30 minutes or so of ‘geek talk’ with this friend, he asked me a very simple question. So which is better?

This question threw me a little as I could have easily said “Ubuntu, that’s what I’m using, I’m a geek and I know best”. But I don’t think this would have been the right answer, far from it in fact. Personally I do prefer Ubuntu but that’s just my personal preference. Windows and Ubuntu are excellent operating systems but for very different reasons.

I explained this to my friend, gave him a 12.04 live CD and told him to make his own mind up as to which was best. In this article, I want to explain what the advantages of both Windows and Ubuntu are so that you yourself can go away and make up your own mind rather than me (or anyone) telling you what to think.

 

The advantages of running Windows

Familiarity

Familiarity is the biggest advantage of running Windows. Windows is running on around 80% of the worlds computers (depending on which figures you believe), therefore it’s engrained in our brains to use computers in the same way right from the start. The start menu is at the bottom left, my clock and system tray – bottom right. My icons are on my desktop and my files are in my documents on the C: drive.

Whilst Ubuntu has a very similar setup to this, it’s still very different to someone who has only ever used Windows. Most normal users don’t like to be out of their comfort zone and just like things to work. Because of the way they have been brought up on Windows, Windows just works for them.

Compatibility

Now I’m not talking drivers here. The driver support in Windows and Ubuntu are on par in my experience (if not better in Ubuntu). I’m talking compatibility with other systems and documents like MS Word, Excel and Sharepoint. Most of the world uses MS Office within Windows. This means that most of the documents that come into your inbox will more than likely be in .docx format. Unfortunately LibreOffice (Ubuntu’s answer to MS Office) doesn’t really play well with .docx, .xlsx & .pptx files – most of the time significantly losing formatting between the suites.

This can be a right pain. Luckily for us Office 2010 is compatible with LibreOffices native open format, .odt. Most people don’t hit save as though, they just hit save and get a .docx file in the output. So, what I usually do if someone sends me an MS Office file is boot up a Windows VM, open the document on MS Office, save it in open format and then move it back in Ubuntu. As right pain I think you will agree.

Software

The amount and quality of software available to Windows users is far in excess of that of Ubuntu users and because a lot of software developed for Windows is sold for a profit, at times Windows software can be much more polished than Open Source variants.  However, the latter are free.

 

The advantages of running Ubuntu

Security

No matter what anyone tells you Ubuntu is more secure than Windows. We all know that many, many virus’ exist for Windows but I am yet to find one for Ubuntu. This isn’t because virus’ can’t be written for Ubuntu I’m sure they could, it’s actually because of two much more basic reasons.

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  • Ubuntu isn’t used on many machines. Ubuntu is used by millions of people worldwide but relatively speaking this isn’t many, about 1% of the worlds computers in fact (again, depending on who’s figures you believe). Because of this it’s just not worth the while of the people who create virus’ to do it for a mere 1% of the worlds computers.
  • Ubuntu is community driven. Unlike Windows, Ubuntu’s source code is open for all the world to see. This means that there are many thousands of developers world wide that can and do inspect the Ubuntu code, find vulnerabilities, patch them and then submit the update for approval to be rolled out in the official Ubuntu updates. This is usually a daily process so a virus just wouldn’t have time to take hold on very many machines. Windows can’t do this as it’s source code is closed and only accessible to MS developers. This means that any vulnerabilities in Windows are very slow to be patched by MS staff – if at all in some cases.
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Because of this, I don’t even need to run anti-virus software on my machines.

It’s free

I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on this but I will anyway. You can download and share Ubuntu with anyone for absolutely nothing. It comes with all the software pre-bundled ready for you to go, like an office suite, music player, pdf reader and even a cloud storage system (Ubuntu One).

When you buy a copy of Windows for anything between £125-£350 depending on version you don’t get an office suite, this will cost you about the same again. You also don’t get any drivers or pdf software. All of this has to be installed manually, either by Windows updates or by downloading them from the internet. So you see, Ubuntu can save you many hundreds of pounds per computer.

Software

I briefly touched on this above. Everything you need to get you going is bundled into Ubuntu and it’s free. Sure some software for Windows is better than Ubuntu’s offerings but there are many programs that are free & open source, yet superb. The GIMP, Inkscape, LibreOffice & Virtualbox to name but a few – all of which run on Windows as well by the way.

There is also the driver issue. Driver support in Ubuntu is excellent (as it obviously is in Windows) but installing drivers in Ubuntu is much easier than it is in Windows. I recently wrote about my experiences with some new hardware that I bought and how much easier things were in Ubuntu.

People say that Ubuntu is only for geeks. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve installed Ubuntu on both my grandfathers and mothers computers, both of them have taken an instant liking to Ubuntu and have also said how much easier they find it to navigate than Windows.

Updates

Ever been prompted in Windows to update your Flash or that there is an update available for this application or that application? So not only do you have to keep Windows up to date but you also have to update your software separately, this can waste a lot of time and be very annoying.

In Ubuntu everything is updated via PPA. This means that you have one update manager that handled both Ubuntu and all the software on your machine. So, only one set of updates to run…ever!

Personalisation

If you’ve seen one Windows machine then you’ve seen them all right? This is because it’s very difficult the personalise Windows to make it work and act how you want it to act. All you can really change is the wallpaper and the colour of your taskbar/window borders. In Ubuntu the possibilities are literally endless.

Ubuntu comes with the user interface Unity by default. Some people don’t like that so they change it for Gnome, XFCE, Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, E17 or a whole raft of other environments. Each of these completely changes the look and feel of the operating system. Not only that but once you have your chosen environment installed then you can do things like change all the theme & colours, change wallpapers, icons, logon screen and whole host of other stuff. Two people can be running Ubuntu 12.04 on their machines yet they can be heavily tailored to work how the user likes their computer to work for them. Hell, you can even make Ubuntu look exactly like Windows if you really want to!

Believe it or not, both of the screen shots below are based on Ubuntu 12.04 as you can see, there is a huge difference.

Just to prove that you can get Ubuntu to look exactly like Windows, here is a screen shot – I swear that this is Ubuntu!

 

Conclusion

Personally Ubuntu is the best operating system in the world for my needs. However, that doesn’t mean that it is for your needs. You may have a piece of software that relies in Windows, or just generally prefer it to Ubuntu. Whatever the reason, the question “Which is better?” can only really be answered by the person asking that question.

Which do you think is better, Windows? Ubuntu? Or maybe something completely different all together. Why not tell us in the comments section, We’d love to know your thoughts…

Which Is better, Ubuntu Or Windows?
User Rating: 4.5 (1 votes)
  • Lars Ivarsson

    The USC spoils the last picture. but probably only for geeks. ;)

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      Proves it really is Ubuntu though ;-)

      • http://cowboynicka.blogspot.com/ Cowboy Nick A

        The windows-like screenshot is likely Ubuntu 11.04 or earlier since the Unity desktop has been default after 11.10

      • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

        It’s actually 12.04 with a themed version of MATE.

  • http://www.tootips.com/ Yusuf Felly

    Ubuntu is way better than Windows. It is more secure and stable. I’ve been using it for more than 2 years.

  • Ryan

    Your little piece about why there’s less viruses for Ubuntu is bullshit. It’s just pseudo-science, parroted by all barely technical people because it “seems legit”.

    • http://www.refugeeks.com/ Kev Quirk

      If that’s the case then why have I been running Ubuntu for over 2 years without anti-virus and never had an infection? I think it’s you that’s talking bull my friend.

    • jagga daku

      because you are chutiya .

  • jagga daku

    use ubuntu avoid piracy

  • jagga daku

    can i change themes in ubuntu?

  • kumarjk

    Agree with you. Ubuntu is great, It is different. May not be compared with Windows,Its commercial. So many Home Users are suffering from using pirated OS.They Should better turn to Ubuntu instead.