About 10 years ago I was using Ubuntu for just about everything at home. I honestly don’t think I had a computer or laptop that wasn’t booting Ubuntu.

Part of that interest was due to my programming and web hosting requirements, and when WAMP (Windows Apache, MySQL and PHP) became available, I actually went back to Windows.

But recently I received an older desktop, an HP with AMD quad core, 6 GB of Ram, and a hard drive. I put a slightly better video card into it, wiped the drive, installed Windows 10 and kept it around as a “spare.” I did have occasion to loan it to a client while I worked on their computer but when it came back I thought I would use it to take another look at Ubuntu, so I installed one of my spare drives (I didn’t want to ruin the Windows install) and downloaded Ubuntu 18.04

This is a LTS version, meaning it will be fully supported for quite time (until April 2023 to be exact). For those not interested in constantly updating you can use a LTS version and be safe for about 5 years. It’s also very stable.

I downloaded the iso, and then wrote it to a USB stick. I used a simple little program called Rufus to do this. Now you can insert the USB stick into your computer, force the computer to boot from the stick, and then Ubuntu will fire up (you can actually use it on the fly) and if you like it then install the system onto your hard drive.

The process is quite simple really. This site should help you out. A Normal Installation should do, under “Other options” I usually check “Download updates while installing Ubuntu” and be sure to check off “Install third-party software for graphics and Wi-Fi hardware and additional media formats”

When you’re all done you reboot into the Ubuntu Desktop and you’re ready to go! There’s a lot of useful programs already installed for you (web, email, office) and you can go to the software centre and search for programs that will do almost anything for you, for free!

Many software companies are now offering a Linux/Debian version of their software too. Just visit their site on your Ubuntu box and it may automatically figure out you want the Linux version. Just like windows, just click on download, let ubuntu open it, and it will install fairly easily.

Now how did I live on Ubuntu ten years ago with no Windows? I cheated! I installed Virtual Box and then installed Windows into Virtual Box, and when I needed to do something I couldn’t do under Ubuntu, I would just fire up Windows, move the screen to my second monitor, make it full screen, and voila, two computers in one!

I have to say that in the past 10 years or more, Ubuntu has come a long way! Setting up a printer is no longer a day long project, it just works. You can easily browse your local network and access your window shares or Network Storage Devices.

The beauty of Ubuntu (or Linux in general) is that it can do so much more than just the basics! Run your own web server. Program code in various languages. Play games! And do most of it for free!

You can install Ubuntu beside your Windows installation, and when your computer boots you can select Windows or Ubuntu. That may be a bit advanced for some users but you can do that instead of having a second computer dedicated to your flavour of Linux.

But wait! Ubuntu is only one “flavour” (a distribution) of Linux. There are lots and lots of various distributions all set up to suit different requirements.

If you’re interested in dropping Windows but want to use a Linux distribution that still operates like Windows, then I would also recommend you check out Linix Mint – which I’ll write about next time.