Ubuntu Linux and Windows 8: Head-to-Head at Last

Canonical may have ultimately changed its mind about “Avoid the pain of Windows 8” — the slogan that accompanied the original launch of Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal” earlier this fall, but like so many deeply compelling notions, it seems to have staying power here in the Linux blogosphere.

That indeed is why more than a few Linux fans have viewed Windows 8 with jubilation rather than dread — it may, after all, prove to be Linux’s next big shot at broader desktop use — and it’s also surely behind an intriguing little story that popped up recently over at PCWorld.

“10 reasons to choose Ubuntu 12.10 over Windows 8” was the name of said piece, and it was penned by two intrepid souls who were apparently not only fearless in the face of a heavily MTBS-afflicted audience, but also fortunate to be in possession of fireproof clothes, so hot were some of the flames that followed.

Both freedom fighters remain undaunted, Linux Girl is happy to report, and it should be noted that there were countless approving sentiments as well among the roughly 100 comments the story generated.

Down at the blogosphere’s Broken Windows Lounge, meanwhile, the topic has lingered on more than a few tongues.

‘Much Easier and Cool and Free’

“Tricky subject,” began Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C., for example. “GNU/Linux users would choose Ubuntu 8.04 before windows 8!” he quipped.

“OK, seriously: Besides security issues, it’s all about usability,” he explained. “Ubuntu (GNU/Linux) 12.10 is easier and faster to use than MS Windows 8. The desktop environments are not even comparable.

“Ubuntu has a usable bar on the left and top (hidden, part of the time) and a utility to search applications, files and even things in the web,” he added. “Windows 8 looks like a giant phone!”

Then, too, there are “the goodies of all GNU/Linux distributions: the way you can search, choose and install/uninstall new applications,” Gonzalo Velasco C. added. “It’s so infinitely much easier and cool (and free!). I don’t understand how some people don’t even try a live-CD of a Linux distribution.”

‘The Better Value’

Indeed, “I think that we have reached the point where staying on Windows is mostly a matter of inertia,” Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien agreed. “Linux is faster, more secure, and requires fewer resources to run. It has better hardware support.

“Even if it were not ‘free as in beer,’ it would still be the better value,” O’Brien added.

“Ubuntu GNU/Linux is not my recommended solution,” began blogger Robert Pogson. “Certainly it is far superior to ‘7’ or ‘8’ for all kinds of reasons, mostly centered on not being from M$, with all its control issues.”

‘There Must Be 50 Reasons’

Still, “I would recommend its root, Debian GNU/Linux, which is FREE and will remain FREE no matter what happens in the markets of the world,” Pogson suggested. “The world needs software that works for it, and Debian brings it all together for every kind of use of IT.”

Windows 8, meanwhile, “is designed to prevent GNU/Linux from booting, preventing people from changing their OS, limiting use of LANs, crowding out all competition on retail shelves for x86, and so on, nothing of value for end users,” he added.

In fact, “there must be 50 reasons to prefer GNU/Linux over ‘8’ — all of them sufficient for one or more groups of users,” Pogson asserted. And “where GNU/Linux appears on retail shelves, a significant number of consumers do choose it — we saw that all over the world when ASUS brought out its netbook with Linpus GNU/Linux, and we see it in Brazil today, where GNU/Linux outsells M$’s OS at Wal-Mart.”

‘M$ Does Not Provide That’

Regarding interfaces, meanwhile, “‘8’ assumes users want to be lost on a flat plane with no widgets, no menus, and no way to find anything,” he concluded. “Debian’s installer gives you the choice at installation time or any time after installation.

“That’s freedom and flexibility, what everyone wants,” Pogson said. “M$ does not provide that at any price.”

Consultant and Slashdot blogger had a different favorite.

“Windows 8 vs Unity? I’ll take neither,” Mack told Linux Girl. “Xfce at least doesn’t try to rearrange things on me, leaving me free to actually get work done.”

‘I Want Android on the Desktop’

Robin Lim, a lawyer and blogger on Mobile Raptor, had yet a different take.

“Ten, or even 20, reasons to choose Ubuntu over Windows 8 won’t result in a single Linux convert,” Lim said. “Instead, it would be more productive to convince Windows to try LibreOffice or GIMP. Once a person get used to software that is compatible with multiple platforms, the free operating system starts to look more inviting.”

Nevertheless, “I think that is where Linux is really falling behind,” Lim opined. “More and more, I am starting to want to have Android on the desktop. My phone apps are really much better than my desktop apps.”

‘They Both Stink’

Last but not least, Slashdot blogger hairyfeet wasn’t fond of either alternative.

“To quote Austin Powers, ‘How about NO, ya loonie!'” hairyfeet began. “They BOTH stink like a rotting corpse.”Rather, “there are better choices on both sides of the fence,” he said. “On the Linux side you’ve got Mint, Vector, and PCLOS, and on the Windows side you have Win 7, which is a great OS. Unity stinks just like TIFKAM (The Interface Formerly Known As Metro), it has ads…just like Windows 8, they ignore their customers….just like Windows 8…hey I see a pattern here.

“Congratulations, Shuttleworth — you’ve stolen some of the worst traits of MSFT!” hairyfeet added.

“Hopefully by the time Win 7 is EOL, the stupid ‘iDevice’ craze will have died down and we won’t be constantly assaulted by bad cell phone UIs in desktops anymore and we can all just put this sad, sad chapter behind us, just as we did with Unity and Vista,” he concluded.

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.


  • "There must be 50 reasons to prefer GNU/Linux over ‘8’ — all of them sufficient for one or more groups of users," asserted blogger Robert Pogson. "Where GNU/Linux appears on retail shelves, a significant number of consumers do choose it — we saw that all over the world when ASUS brought out its netbook with Linpus GNU/Linux,…".


    You really must start hanging out with a more knowledgeable group of "experts".

    Asus introduced its EeePC netbooks with Xandros Linux, and not Linpus.

    Your "expert group" which you tap ad nauseum, is long on sound-bites, but very short on knowledge.

    Next time you run the risk of committing a serious faux pas by starting an article with incorrect information, you might demand of your "experts" that they know what they’re talking about.

    How’s that for a novel idea?

    • In case you haven’t figured it out old Pogson had the cheese slip off his cracker long ago.

      Notice how he has "Voldemort Syndrome" by chance? This affects the worst FOSS zealots, or as i call them "FOSSies" because when they get to that stage they treat FOSS more as a religion than a way to license software, and what its most obvious symptom is the inability to say or type the words Microsoft, MSFT, or MS. instead they will ALWAYS say "the other OS" or "M$" because they are afraid the big bad Ballmer is gonna hear them and take away their "precious" if they dare speak the name.

      Please don’t take my word for it, go back as far as you like with Ms Noyes columns and you’ll see that he has NEVER, not even once, typed Microsoft, MSFT, or MS. And if the fact that he has Voldemort syndrome doesn’t clue you in that his "experts" are all imaginary I don’t know what will. Like anybody that was an actual intellectual or an expert on Operating Systems would have anything to do with someone whose so rabid they have Voldemort.

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