Ubuntu: 10 years on

Ubuntu is 10 years old this month, so I thought I would give it another try. I first used the Ubuntu operating system in 2006, and it’s become ever-more user-friendly since then. It’s a bit of a nostalgia trip as for me, as for many others, Ubuntu bridged a very particular gap. That gap was a history of failed experiments with Linux (too technical, incompatible hardware, etc.) and the unforgettable thrill of getting the thing working for the first time ever.

I’m also keen to get familiar with it again to see how it compares as an alternative to Windows 8, which from all the reviews seems to be a complete mess.

You can find numerous articles on the web which walk you through how to get Ubuntu and how to install it, so I won’t go into any detail except to say that it was easy to do 8 years ago and it’s still easy to do today.

My wireless broadband was recognised straight away by the installer itself, which means that you get the latest updates as you install.

Once it’s up and running, in the same way that with Windows or Mac you would install your favourite web browser, video player, music player, and so on, there are heaps of resources which tell you how to get hold of the right open source software to do want you want. It comes with Libre Office already, as well as Mozilla Firefox and some photo, video and audio tools. Other software is just a click or two away.

The huge Ubuntu support community have been providing very visual step-by-step guides for the last 10 years now, so they’ve got it down to a fine art. It’s thanks to these guides that I can install multiple applications in one go, and go off to make a cup of tea while all the necessary bits and bobs are set up.

Ubuntu 14.04 running on my desktop computer.

Ubuntu 14.04 running on my desktop computer.

I have a wireless printer, and again it took less than a minute to get it up and running. Printing and wireless used to be something of a nightmare in Linux, so it’s great to see both of these working without a problem. The scanning function needs an extra package to be installed – but once it was, it worked first time.

Ubuntu installs with its default interface (called “Unity”) which doesn’t use menus but instead you type directly to search for a particular application or file and even returns online products relating to your search (which has caused a fair bit of controversy in the past). I actually switched to a more traditional interface, which you can see in the screenshot above and which I installed with one command with a minimum of fuss, thanks to places such as the AskUbuntu  community who already have the answer to more or less any question I’ve thrown at them.

Overall, then, I’m impressed with the way that Ubuntu is still easy, still completely free, and still going strong after 10 years.