General Question

mikey7183's avatar

I want to get a new laptop. I am thinking about getting Ubuntu. Do programs that run on Windows like MS Office and Firefox automatically also work on Linux? Or do such programs have Linux versions? Am I making a good decision going with Linux?

Asked by mikey7183 (338points) July 14th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

20 Answers

joeysefika's avatar

great decision; i myself just put it on my laptop. The latest version of Ubuntu (8.04 Hardy Heron) comes pre-loaded with firefox and open office and a huge range of other apps. Because Linux is open source every app you can get is free no matter what. Paying for an app is against Linux’s code of ethics! Although i must warn you that for new linux users its a big jump from windows to linux. Installing apps on a Linux OS is more complicated than double clicking on an .exe file. You may require some command line skilled but any skill you need is easily found on an online forum and guide (or just ask fluther). so yeah overall go for it and if you change your mind, who cares its free.

battlemarz's avatar

You have to weigh what you will be doing with the laptop. If it is going to be your only computer and the first time you ever use Linux, then you may find yourself in a situation where you can’t do what you need to. If you have access to another windows machine for emergencies then by all means try it out. I have several computers running windows and a few different flavors of Linux.

You will find yourself spending a weekend or two getting used to everything and setting it up how you like it, but in the end it will be worth it.

XCNuse's avatar

What programs will you be using on Ubuntu?

I put it on my old desktop which is now dead thanks to lightning, but I’ll tell you, it is nice once you get it and mess around with the looks etc. But it isn’t easy, it is for no fool that likes to download and install stuff as easy as people in OSX and Windows systems, it seriously isn’t easy. To get anything done I had to search for it in google and hopefully find an answer.

I mean if it has something you prefer far more than windows, then go for it, but.. After playing with it for a weekend, I couldn’t stand it, I never worked in command line systems, and it’s just ridiculous for first time users.

Otherwise if you do and it has something that works in it but not windows (that’s hard to believe???), then go for it

Skyrail's avatar

Okay. I’ll put this straight to you. Linux is no piece of cake. It has it’s own fair share of problems and you have to know what you are doing. Saying that there are extensive resources and large communities for the different distros. I use linux on a daily basis (or at least until recently in which my computer arrangement has been slightly messed up) and I also use Windows. If you want compatibility go with Windows. Only go with Linux if you know you can open the things you need on it (image files (like png, jpg, gif etc.) can be opened with a variety of editors and viewers, document files (excel, word, powerpoint etc.) can be opened with Open Office or others of the same kind. There will always be a variety of alternatives on linux as it has such a huge community.

Just a correction to joey (:() but linux is just the core kernal, the ethics is nothing to do with linux and more to do with GNU, free software movement, Open Source initiative and the distro itself. Take Red Hat for instance, costs an absolute fortune ;) and you have to pay for things like some versions of SuSE (not OpenSuSE) and the like. You can also buy games for linux (the few that get ported sadly) and for things like Cedega (or whatever it is called now) which allows you to run Windows programs on a linux based OS. Saying this going with the likes of Ubuntu you will be fine mikey, the Ubuntu/Debian community have huge repos of programs (if you need help, do just ask) available to download and install. In some cases it is easier installing programs on linux (contrary to popular belief!) but in some cases it can be challenging but heck, it just adds to the fun (well that is if you like to mess with computers)

So all in all:

If you want an OS that you know and understand to use off the bat, with good compatibility and the likely hood of it working then use Windows. But if you want a difference, a breath of fresh air, a new thing to learn, a bit of enjoyment and fun then go with Linux. As joey said, it’s free after all. But do bear in mind what the others have said.

charybdys's avatar

To answer your question: no they don’t automatically work. Some have linux versions, like Firefox or Skype. Other times there is a similar program for linux like OpenOffice. There are certain things that won’t be easy to do in linux simply because you’re used to Windows or Mac. You can use Cedega to run (many) windows programs as is. But isn’t totally easy though. You can also browse the Ubuntu repository to find programs to use instead that come pre-installed, or can be installed with a click or two. If you need to install programs that aren’t part of your linux distribution(eg Ubuntu) then that might be harder.

The best thing is to find someone who knows it and will teach and help set it up.

swimmindude2496's avatar

Just go with Mac.Its so much better then Linux

joeysefika's avatar

@swimmindude, although i agree with you on the mac front, linux offers a great learning experience. I think if he wants Linux he should get it over OS X.

swimmindude2496's avatar

True. But I have never really heard of Linux. Like just recently and it doesn’t sound as good as Mac. So I guess he should go with Ubuntu/Linux.

charybdys's avatar

@swimmingdude: you shouldn’t be making claims that Mac is so much better than Linux unless you know, and have reasons. “It doesn’t sound as good” isn’t a concrete reason. Just because you haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean that its bad. Linux was started in 1991. Much of the internet runs on it. Kudos for an open mind though. Its interesting, but many people end up learning a lot about Mac and Windows when they start using Linux, because you can see the parallels and how they make different choices.

iceblu's avatar

@swimmindude2496 linux has been around since before you were born, so like charybdys said, don’t make claims you can’t provide correct info.

@mikey7183 Ubuntu is just a small learning curve. I really wouldn’t recommend it unless someone else you know has it and can teach you a few things. Mostly everything that windows/mac has, linux can run/open/ect. And oh yeah, everything and anything you need can easily be downloaded and installed.

swimmindude2496's avatar

@ice How do you know how old I am? And I am sure you are correct because I am like 13/14.

@charybdys I agree and maybe I’ll look into Linux.

iceblu's avatar

@swimmindude2496 Just how you wrote your responses.

marcospereira's avatar

If you will try Linux, try it for at least one month. I change from windows to linux and so I decide that go back too fast is not fair. How can I blame Linux after only one week? You also should know that any solution has it own problems. Windows has problems. Linux has problems. OSX has problems.

What I really like about Ubuntu:
– I can customize it in a level that windows not reach yet.
– I feel more secure.
– It’s more easy to install software.
– It has more and better tools for what I need (programming).
– It has good enough tools for other task (writing text, create presentations and related office stuff).

What I dislike:
– Some companies are not looking seriously to linux (adobe, where is 64bits version of flash player?)
– Games?! Forget!

Anyway, I’m using only Ubuntu for 1 year and I’m totally satisfied.

Kind Regards

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

If you do take the plunge, I recommend joining a Linux Users Group. Got a problem? Get some propellerheads to troubleshoot it hands-on for FREE (or as much as you can chip in on pizza and soda). :)

You are rightly focused on apps. An OS is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. A number of web browsers (incl. Firefox) have versions developed for GNU/Linux or are dedicated to it. MS Office is no-go, but there is an ongoing attempt to open source an equivalent:

The biggest app headaches for me when I last gave it a whirl in 2005 were handling mulitmedia. Adding new software can be really tedious compared to how easy it is with Windows and OS X. Be prepared for a learning curve. Be prepared to be inundated with choices (esp. choosing a distro) were there normally would be none. Be prepared for software lacking the stability and polish of the standards running on Windows or OS X.

Joe_Freeman's avatar

Do programs that run on Windows like MS Office and Firefox automatically also work on Linux?

No, programs that run on Windows will not run on Linux. But this is true for almost any two different OSes.

Or do such programs have Linux versions?

Yes and no. There is a Linux version of Firefox that works perfectly. There is no Linux version of MS Office, but there are excellent free clones, OpenOffice being the best known suite, so you’re covered on both fronts. Almost everything for Linux is free, and much of it is excellent. If you’re a born hacker, you will love Linux because you have complete access to the innards of the system, down to the bare metal, and I’m talking source code. Don’t try that in Windows.

skorned's avatar

if you don’t even know about alternative versions of programs for linux, maybe it isn’t the best idea for you? Just because everyone says its free and Microsoft is evil, doesn’t mean you go for it. If you’re willing to search hard for linux alternatives to common windows software, and then compile the programs from source, then you can go with ubuntu, otherwise i suggest sticking to windows or mac for now. You can always download and dual boot ubuntu later…

thing is, it depends on the software maker to go through the pains of rewriting a program to work on linux. some of the most common software, such as firefox, is available for linux also. for other apps, like MS Office and mediamonkey, there are websites where you can find linux apps that perform the same function, such as openoffice and amarok.
but from a usability point of view in terms of the software available, i would recommend sticking with the more popular OS’es. if all you’re gonna do with your laptop is browse the web, check your mail, and write the occasional document, then ubuntu is fine. but if you wanna have a full-featured media player like mediamonkey playing in the background while you edit a photo in photoshop, create a report in office, or edit a video in imovie, i would suggest sticking to the popular OS’es. I personally find openoffice no match in user-friendliness to MS Office, that is one thing where Microsoft is far ahead of the competition IMO. But many others have found it suiting their needs, so try you could just try out ubuntu, since its free anyways, and if you aren’t comfortable with it, buying (or pirating) a copy of Windows or Mac OS X isn’t too hard.

Joe_Freeman's avatar

@skorned I’d like to take issue with something you may not have intended to say, but which I felt may have been implied, namely, that Linux does not handle multitasking well. (I’m referring to sentence but if you wanna have a full-featured media….) Linux is very capable of multitasking, and in fact its multitasking technology is very mature and dates back several decades, well before Linux existed. Linux is a very robust OS, which is one reason most of the giant supercomputers run Linux these days, for computations of immense complexity. Yes, 18 years ago Linux was a hobbyist OS, but those days are long past and in no way should one think of today’s Linux as anything but a case-hardened, robust, versatile, and secure system capable of nearly any imaginable task, given the appropriate applications — and there is a tremendous number of Linux apps out there.

skorned's avatar

@Joe_Freeman , no no, that is far from what i meant…multi-tasking is a feature you can expect on ANY OS worth its salt today…i have often kept the terminal open while editing code in emacs and looking up tutorials in firefox. What I meant was, there are very few apps for more complex needs for linux, that I am aware of. For example, creating reports in openoffice (configuring charts, editing the layout etc) is nowhere as easy in openoffice as it is in MS Office. I’ve never used GIMP so I dunno whether it is comparable to photoshop, but I do know that no media player for unix, including amarok, can ever stand up to mediamonkey. Like this, there are many other situations where you would find specialised apps (with a GUI!) for doing things in Windows or Mac that you wouldn’t in linux

Joe_Freeman's avatar

@skorned Yes, that is what I understood you meant, but I just wanted to make sure no one inferred that Linux did not multitask well. Regarding apps, I have heard that the GIMP is amazingly powerful but I’m not sure how it compares to Photoshop – I don’t use either. FWIW, when I was strictly a Unix/Linux user I assumed that these systems had far more free software available, but now that I have also been using Windows for a few years, I see that it too has tons of free software available, albeit maybe not as much open source software.

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