I have been a Linux user for the past few years, both at work and at home. I started off using Redhat, followed by Fedora, before settling down on Ubuntu. For those who find the terms Redhat, Fedora and Ubuntu alien, well these are different distributions of the Linux Operating System. Linux is a open-source operating system. A simple way to define open-source is that the source code can be used, freely modified, and redistributed, both commercially and non-commercially. Certain group of individuals, volunteer organizations, and commercial entities may then adapt the operating system to specific needs, and package it differently under different distributions (distro). So users like us can choose among the different distributions available, and decide on one that best suit our needs. The more technologically inclined may decide to use a harder to use distro that allow them more free play in configuring the system to the most minute details. A normal user, on the other hand, may decide on a distro that leaves very little to configure, but take cares of most of the things so that the user can install and run the system with minimal fuss.
My earlier experience in using Linux has been rather painful, especially in the work place. More often than not, I will end up with no available open-source application available to perform a certain task. Sometimes even when an application can be found, it may not be packaged for the distro I am using, and I will have to compile the application using the source code. The compilation is often a very painful process, because once it fails to compile, it will be a nightmare to debug and find out why its not compiling. Because of situations like these, I was unable to totally stop using Microsoft Windows. I have to set up my system in dual boot mode, such that I can boot it up either in Windows or Linux.
My break finally came when I found out about Ubuntu, which was a new kid at the block when I started using it. Its comes with the relatively easy to use Synaptic Package Manager, which really makes installing applications a breeze. Almost any application that I need, I can easily find it, install, and ready for use. Since then, I hardly have the need to compile application on my own. I hardly need to dual boot into Windows these days as I can complete most of the tasks in Linux.
For those who are interested, you can download Ubuntu from its official website www.ubuntu.com. It also comes with a Wiki site, wiki.ubuntu.com, which you can find answers to questions such as installation issues, recommended software, etc.
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