The many variants and distribution systems of Linux, the free and open-source operating system, have long shared one characteristic —they are forbidding and hostile to beginners and non-techies.
Ubuntu has been persistently breaking that spell for the last few years. Its latest release, version 11.04, code-named Natty Narwhal, is the most approachable version of Linux yet. It has a spiffy new user interface called Unity and its own full-featured office suite.
But why would you want to try out Linux? Well, it’s a lighter, more reliable and secure operating system. There’s no trouble with viruses, and it can run even on the most ageing computers. Then there’s the price—it’s free—and the support of an extended community of enthusiasts and programmers.
The easiest way to test Ubuntu is to instal it from a USB drive (it’s possible) through Windows—download the operating system at Ubuntu.com, choose “Install from Windows” and you’re good to go.