You could do with Ubuntu and Wine

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Ubuntu with a Windows 7 theme

Ubuntu with a Windows 7 theme

On the eve of Independence Day, folks who believe in the right to control their own software and computers will be celebrating a different kind of independance; the release of the latest LTS offering from Ubuntu. On Thursday this week Canonical (the guys behind Ubuntu) will be releasing the latest version of their version of the operating system-version 14.04- code named Trusty Tahr. This is a Long Term Support release that will receive support and updates for the coming five years which would be ideal for business and all late adopters. Late adopters are all those people that still have a Windows XP machine humming somewhere in their house.

Why Ubuntu?

  • To run Windows XP dependant software.

It is rather ironic that the most secure way to run your Windows XP dependent software at the moment is using Ubuntu and Wine. Wine ( short for Wine is not an Emulator) is a compatibility layer that you can use to run native Windows programs on Linux. Despite the fact that Windows XP is no longer supported you can still run software made for Windows XP in a “Windows XP bottle” and you will continue to live happily in the XP realm. There are several scripts and customizations that can be used to ease your life when using Wine: a paid version from the Wine developers called Crossover and a free version called PlayonLinux.

Wine on Ubuntu: Picture credit WineHq

Wine on Ubuntu: Picture credit HowtoGeek

  • Long term support

It is rather fortuitous, I think, that XP support ended a week away from a release of the most popular Linux distribution’s LTS release. With Trusty Tahir you will get support for the next five years. Support comes in three forms: Community support from Canonical affiliated websites like ask.ubuntu.com and ubutuforums.org which offer free support, Canonical paid support dubbed Ubuntu Advantage as well as free and paid support form third parties.

  • Beautiful themes

If you are one of those who joined the Windows bandwagon because of the aesthetics then you should be pleased to know that Ubuntu is highly customisable. Don’t believe me? Let me give you examples of screenshots. If you were say a hopeless Windows groupie and wanted Ubuntu to look like Windows 7/8/XP there are themes for that:

This is almost indistinguishable from the real Windows 7

This is almost indistinguishable from the real Windows 7: Picture credit linux.softpedia.com

Feeling a bit nostalgic and want to go back to the Windows XP days there is a theme for that too. The good part you would still be running modern software which is secure and receve timely patches.

Windows XP theme for Ubuntu.

Windows XP theme for Ubuntu: Picture Credit :Halal

Of course you can always make Ubuntu look like a Macintosh and of course Ubuntu can always be made to look like well-Ubuntu.

  • Fast local Mirrors

With Ubuntu you do not have to spend hours of your time hunting obscure forums for the most basic software. No need for torrents and patches because most of the software is totally free. The best part is that you get to experience the thrill of downloading from local Ubuntu mirrors with as much as 1 Gps bandwidth. Yo!Africa has maintained a local repository for ages now and ZOL recently launched an official mirror. With the ZOL mirror you do not even have to do anything, you just need to select Zimbabwe as your country. Let me let you in on a little secret: Ubuntu on a ZOL connection is awesome; you can get downloads in seconds at your rated speed which means that if you are on fibre you can get downloads at speeds near say 20Mbps.

  • The virus thingy

You are probably sick of hearing  this but when you are on Linux (Ubuntu) most virus will not find you. In addition to this by forcing you to learn more about your computer Linux makes sure that you are a better administrator. Linux also gives you security by obscurity.

  • Low system requirements

There are several versions of Ubuntu with low system requirements. For example the Lubuntu distro can be used on older machines. If your PC was good enough for XP then chances are that you can still install a modern form of Lubuntu on it.

  • You can try it.

You can install Ubuntu on a USB device and try it on your machine before you install it and commit your self to the FOSS path.

There are a lot of reasons to use Ubuntu, before you succumb to that FUD that is always going rounds on the internet you would be best advised to try it first and make your own decisions.



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20 Comments

  1. David Bailey

    I think ReactOS (when 0.4 Community Edition is released) would be much better than Ubuntu and Wine; ReactOS is designed specifically to run Windows software and nothing else. They’re even developing it with help from the Wine team, but it will have better compatibility than Wine on Linux because they’re including more APIs and with Community Edition people can request software to be fully supported. “With Trusty Tahir you will get support for […]” It’s spelt Trusty Tahr

    Reply
    1. Henri

      You forget about those buzzing bees called patents and their painful stings that cripple even the most noble closed-source/open-source hybrids, which attempt to involve patented/copyrighted APIs.

      Reply
      1. David Bailey

        The ReactOS team don’t involve any patented/copyrighted APIs. Instead, they make their own which carry out the same actions. No Windows source code is viewed, just documentation

        Reply
        1. Henri

          Interesting… Well let’s see how that pans out. I, however, think that making an OS based on trying to conform to apps’ requirements of another OS could leave ReactOS without a true identity. On the other hand it could become what Windows aught to be…. Certainly something to stay tuned into.

          Reply
  2. MnemonicCarrier

    I’m very happy with what I’ve experienced in Ubuntu 14.04 so far. It handles dual monitors much better now (although it’s still not quite perfect).

    Just yesterday I had to boot in to Windows to help a friend update a Word document – it was terrible! It took a long time before the laptop was actually ready to start programs – the disk was thrashing for ages after start-up, and the unit was basically unresponsive during that time.

    When I start up Ubuntu 14.04 on my Core i5, it takes about 20 (or so) seconds before I’m ready to go. I also have the control and tools on Ubuntu that enable me to better express myself in the digital realm (I’m referring to programming languages).

    Thanks for the article. I just disagree with the “…by forcing you to learn more about your computer…” part. Ubuntu does no such thing. In fact, it goes out of its way to accommodate users who wish to do nothing more than “stuff” (browsing the web, reading emails, typing up some documents, keeping their finances in a spreadsheet etc). However, if you do decide to dig just a little bit deeper, you’ll find yourself with magic powers than Windows users can only dream about.

    Ubuntu 14.04 rocks! I’m lovin’ it :)

    Reply
    1. orionds

      Had the same experience with a D**l notebook (i3, I believe) and our library assistant complained it was taking ages to boot up Win 7. We have 4 single-core Pentium PCs with Ubuntu 13.10 in the library and he said they booted up much faster. I timed my home single-core Athlon PC recently and it took 50 seconds to boot up. All these old PCs have 1G to 1.5G of ram. Looking forward to Ubuntu 14.04.

      Reply
  3. James

    I’d bit a bit wary on the virus front personally. If Wine is powerful enough to run modern Office apps, it probably has enough APIs and functionality ported to run quite a bit of malware too. And whilst the malware might not be able to install a keylogger or rootkit, it is still capable of using Windows APIs to spam or cause other havoc….

    Reply
    1. Econet Hater

      Actually Wine has all the features a virus needs to propagate, replicate and cause havoc.

      I remember last year I had written my first virus in c++ and I had decided to switch to linux. So i installed wine and then I went on run my “friendly” code and it just wrecked havoc on all my windows executables.

      Anyway all I had to do was delete all the contents /root/.wine and i had a new install of wine :) Unfortunately all my other warez had been infected

      Oh and BTW: STOP TRYING TO TURN LINUX INTO WINDOWS !!!!!!!!

      Reply
  4. Henri

    In the latest saga of my love affair with Ubuntu, it drew me back with the allure of Steam then pushed me away by not letting Steam work. (-_-!)
    I hope this iteration fixed the bug, or Valve fixed the bug by now…

    Reply
    1. MnemonicCarrier

      Elementary OS is looking mighty fine. Very sexy UI. The only thing I don’t like is the way the desktop is locked down – you can’t save stuff to the desktop etc. I suppose there is a method to that madness (i.e. forcing users to properly file stuff away in the right place or something), but I find it difficult to cope with.

      Reply
  5. Andrej

    Great article, I liked it very much (even tho I’m a Linux user for years…).
    Hope it will help getting attention and more users.
    Just a little phrase did taste bitter on my tongue.

    “Linux also gives you security by obscurity”
    I hope you don’t mean it…
    Security by obscurity tells that the system is hidden/closed source/unknown and because nobody knows the implementation, it is assumed to be secure. So to speak: if the hacker does not know the backdoor is open, he will not use it. Or to be fair: if he does not know my backdoor could easily be lifted or lock picked, he does not try.
    But that is the wrong way to go: it should be secure because the key is unknown, not because the system is unknown. And luckily Linux goes that way. It is open source and the system is known till the last line, but the key is known only to the user.
    THAT is why Linux is more secure. A lot of worms use loopholes in Windows-Code, because there are so many and Microsoft relies on nobody knowing. And when they are discovered, they try to fix them, but that takes some time.
    I won’t say open source is secure just by being open (hearbleed :( ), but chances are good that some pair of eyes finds a bug before a hacker does.

    But overall: Great work, keep it up!

    Linux also gives you security by obscurity.
    Linux also gives you security by obscurity
    Linux also gives you security by obscurity
    Linux also gives you security by obscurit

    Reply
  6. Anthony Somerset

    wine has always been finnicky for the average user – a commercial piece of software that uses wine at its core that works well on linux or mac is CrossOver it just makes the complex wine stuff easier to manage and often has what it calls crossties, to simplify install of commonly used software/games

    Reply
  7. Buster Foxx

    I think that it is safe to assure everyone that what ever software you paid for (or pirated) on Windows, you will get an alternative that does the same thing and more for free on Ubuntu. It’s just that basic. I know our Windows friends will find that hard to believe but it’s true. So for instance, Linux has Libre Office which in my opinion works really well. Some say it’s better than Microsoft Office. How about Ardour which is a full professional digital work station that allows you to have a full blown music studio for free. Consider how much the Windows and Apple Mac alternatives cost and to think this one is better and free is crazy! It uses less resources too! How about gaming? You may not get the same game you played in Windows, but there’s one like it on Linux that is available for free. If you like quality like I do, then Ubuntu is the way to go. Best part is, there are lots of folk out there committed to making sure you get good value for your Ubuntu on the forums… All for $0.

    Reply
  8. Anthony Somerset

    i should add there is no such thing as security by obscurity – thats not a security practice – its a band aid at best! also wine is susceptible to any windows virus and therefore still has potential to do untold damage to linux systems

    VM’s are still a safer solution but still have much higher overheads compared to wine in terms of disk space usage and required cpu/memory etc

    Reply
  9. Ex Post Facto

    Very good overview. I would suggest people stick to the default Unity interface myself. Sometimes change is good.

    Reply

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