Ubuntu vs. Windows 7 on the business desktop

Microsoft Windows may be the de facto standard desktop operating system in business environments, but high costs, restrictive licences and constant security issues are leading an increasing number of companies to consider open source alternatives — as Kat Orphanides explains.

Shotwell handles image searching and tagging, as well as such basic image-editing tasks as red-eye removal, cropping and general enhancement. It can also share images online via Facebook, Flickr or Picasa. Windows doesn't have an integrated equivalent, although free tools such as IrfanView and ACDSeeperform the same task admirably.

Ubuntu Desktop

One creative area in which Linux is a little lacking is DTP and there's no heavyweight open source equivalent to Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. Scribus is a relatively straightforward and feature-filled DTP application for short and simple documents though, and can save files in PDF format.

Multimedia Support

No operating system intended for business use is complete without an application for creating presentations and Linux is ably served by LibreOffice Impress.

Ubuntu Desktop

This is remarkably similar to Microsoft PowerPoint, with a variety of template styles, support for slide notes, plus embedded charts, videos and sound files. The option to create handouts to accompany a presentation is useful, too.

Copyright issues relating to open source software mean than Ubuntu lacks built-in support for a number of multimedia file formats, including MPEG4 video. This means a download is required before many kinds of file can be opened, but this is usually automatic and swift as long as there's an internet connection available, of course. Copyright issues relating to open source software mean than Ubuntu lacks built-in support for a number of multimedia file formats.Video editing is usually best left to experts equipped with professional-level software, but there are situations where footage of a meeting or interview might need to be quickly cut together on the desktop. Windows is rather poorly served on this front Live Movie Maker only provides basic functionality and lacks support for multiple video and audio tracks.

The Ubuntu Software Centre has several viable options for these sort of simple requirements, including OpenShot Video Editor, but this is rather too similar to Windows Live Movie Maker to be useful.

Ubuntu Desktop

LiVES is a more sophisticated and versatile video editor, but it will require the download of any necessary video codecs before it can export any edited footage.

Internet Applications

Ubuntu 11.10 installs the capable Mozilla Firefox web browser by default, but Chromium the open source version of Google Chrome is also available for Linux.

Ubuntu Desktop

Neither support Adobe Flash from the get go, but Firefox prompts for the installation of the open source Gnash SWF plug-in as soon as Flash content is encountered online. Chromium does not, but will make use of the same plug-in if installed for Firefox.

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