Just because a computer is old doesn’t mean it is not still useful. It might seem slow, but speed is relative. What if I said you could make your computer faster, easier to use, have very little risk of viruses, and have access to a library of thousands of free applications? What if I also said that this could be achieved with very limited computer knowledge? All it takes is a little time, research, and a free operating system known as Ubuntu.

Ubuntu is a free and open-source operating system (OS) that is based on the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel is the core of the OS, and can be found in many different operating systems and devices worldwide. The Android OS, which powers many popular smartphones, uses a Linux kernel at its core. Linux is so versatile that it has even been installed on a toaster!

An OS is not very useful without applications, and Ubuntu doesn’t disappoint in that regard. Major applications that you’re familiar with run on Ubuntu no problem—including Firefox, Google Chrome, Skype, Flash, and Java. Anything that isn’t installed with the OS is just a few clicks away in the Ubuntu Software Center. Just open, search, and click install. It’s that easy.

What about device support? Ubuntu will support most devices just by plugging them in. There’s no need to install drivers or mess around with additional software, as most devices will just work, including Android phones and the iPhone.

Ubuntu is also hassle-free. The Update Manager keeps more than just the system up to date. It keeps every application installed on the system updated as well, which ensures that you get the latest features and the latest security updates.

But remember, before you ever attempt anything regarding an OS installation on your computer, please be aware that there is a very high likelihood that you will wipe out all your data on the system. Make sure you have backups before attempting any OS install.

You can try Ubuntu without making any changes to your computer at all. It will run directly from a DVD or USB Flash Drive, and will only be installed on your computer after you complete the Ubuntu installer.

If your computer is getting a little old and you don’t want to spend money replacing the system, consider spending a little time instead to see if Ubuntu is right for you. You might get a few more years out of that old computer.

You can read more information and download Ubuntu from https://www.ubuntu.com/

This article first appeared in Memorial University’s student newspaper: The Muse http://themuse.ca/2013/02/07/hello-ubuntu-tech-bytes/

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