Head to Head: Windows 7 vs Ubuntu 9.10

Windows 7 turns to face its latest challenger in the form of Ubuntu 9.10, the latest and greatest flavour of Linux to be released.

Ease of use

New in ubuntu 9.10 is the Software Centre - which gains points for spelling centre UK style - but loses them again for an uninspiring look and feel. However, it does make it pretty easy to install new software.

That said, we had a difficult time doing something as simple as getting an Adobe Flash plug-in working for Firefox. Going to the Flash Player download page gave us three options to download YUM, tar.gz, .rpm, and Deb all different types of installers.

The .deb file is the equivalent with a Windows installer but this generated an error. In this situation, for a new Linux user, there's little advice on offer on what to do from here. Whichever one we chose, we soon found we missed the simple executables in Windows, which are only a challenge if you're not sure how to click next'. In the end, via Google, we knew to look for the Synaptics Package Manager, searched for Flash using that and then successfully updated, thus enabling us to view sites such as YouTube. It was slightly painful getting there though.

The issue is that, in many cases, to install and manage Linux, you're going to need to hit the command line at some point, and get familiar with words the Terminal and words such as sudo'. All in all, the combination of a modern GUI and having to use DOS-like commands to do relatively simple things is really nothing less than odd. Ubuntu may have made great strides in this area but this is one area that Windows wins hands down.

Winner: Windows 7

Overall

There's no great revelation is saying the Windows 7 is a fine operating system that is going to remain the default choice for most, even though it costs money.

However, for a business, if your strategy is to try and avoid Microsoft, end users could be worse off than being stuck with Ubuntu 9.10. If you look hard enough, there's nothing your Windows machine can do that your Ubuntu one can't. That said, we as individuals would still be reluctant to run a machine without Windows on as a fall back.

But as much as we like Windows 7, we can't help but be impressed with what's on offer in Karmic Koala and if you've never tried Linux then it's an easy and relatively painless place to start.

Verdict

It's probably not enough to make Microsoft product managers lose any sleep, but Ubuntu 9.10 still does a good job at taking the fight to Windows 7. It's not quite as pretty or quite as slick, but it looks good, and it works. Though you'll have to get down and dirty with the command line eventually.

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