Ubuntu Operating System: Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a free and open-source operating system and a Linux distribution based on Debian. It was first released in 2004 and is developed by Canonical Ltd. and an open-source community of developers. This operating system comes in three editions. These are the Ubuntu Desktop for personal computers, Ubuntu Server for server computers and data centers, and Ubuntu Core for Internet of Things devices. It remains one of the most popular Linux distributions in the world and has also become a popular operating system for cloud computing. This article discusses the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of Ubuntu.

Pros: Advantages of Ubuntu and Notable Applications

1. Free Operating System for Personal and Enterprise Computing

One of the main advantages of Ubuntu is that it is a free-to-download and open-source desktop operating system. In other words, unlike Windows from Microsoft and the macOS from Apple, individuals and organizations can own and use personal computers and workstations without the need for purchasing software licenses or purchasing exclusive devices.

Acquiring a fleet of workstations or building an information technology infrastructure comes with costs. A free operating system reduces the costs associated with software licenses. Linux distributions such as Ubuntu also have a decent library of free productivity applications. This is beneficial to individuals and small organizations with limited budgets.

2. Works in a Wide Range of Devices and Computing Platforms

This OS can be installed on most computers and alongside other desktop operating systems such as Windows and macOS. It has a default support for processors based on the CISC-based x86-64 architecture such as Intel Core and AMD Athlon or AMD Ryzen and also supports processors based on various RISC-based architectures such as ARM and Power ISA.

Several providers of cloud computing services have used this OS because it supports OpenStack. It is also popular in the public sector or government agencies, learning institutions, and among nonprofit organizations. Manufacturers and developers of IoT devices and robotics have tinkered with Ubuntu to experiment with new ideas and deploy new products and solutions.

3. A Well-Rounded Operating System for Desktop Computing

Another advantage of Ubuntu is its intuitive and straightforward graphical user interface that provides its users with a familiar user experience. It can compete against Windows and macOS in terms of offering a complete desktop computing experience. The minimalist visual design is also similar to the clean and simple design principle of Apple operating systems.

The app store also has a sizeable selection of popular apps such as LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox, Chromium and Chrome, Slack, Zoom, Skype, VLC Player, and Spotify, among others. Note that the store also includes apps for software developers such as Sublime Text, GitKraken, and PHP Storm, and apps for image and video editors such as GIMP and Shotcut.

4. Ease of Installing and Running and Customization Options

The installation process is straightforward and guided. It is doable even for users with limited technical knowledge. This operating system can also run from a bootable external storage medium such as an optical disc or a USB flash drive. There is also less need for manual driver installation because it automatically detects and configures most hardware.

A live environment is available for preview before installation. Users can personalize the desktop environment by changing the themes, icons, and other settings. The operating system also allows experienced users to access the terminal for performing advanced tasks and customization settings. It also offers a range of tools and libraries for software development.

5. Light Operating System With Minimal System Requirements

The default Ubuntu does not require high-end system requirements. The recommended hardware configurations are a 2 GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 25GB of storage space. The specific lightweight Ubuntu flavors or variants called Lubuntu and Xubuntu are developed and optimized for computers with lower-end hardware specifications.

It is also important to reiterate that another advantage of Ubuntu is that it can be downloaded as a disk image and can run from an external storage medium such as a removable solid-state drive, a USB flash drive, and optical media. A live operating system works almost the same as an installed operating system without altering the configuration of the computer.

6. Continued Support from Developers and the Community

Remember that this operating system is open-source. One of the many benefits of open-source software is that there is an active community that helps in providing bug fixes and introducing or rolling out new updates or features faster and more efficiently. The same community can also help users with troubleshooting needs and customization requirements.

Canonical is transparent when it comes to the end-of-life date of each version or release. It has been consistent in providing major releases every two years. There were even releases that were rolled out to the public from 2020 to 2023. A particular release receives long-term support for up to five years. This includes regular updates and patches every six months.

Cons: Disadvantages of Ubuntu and Key Limitations

1. Limited Functionalities Due to Limited Applications

One of the major disadvantages of Ubuntu is the limited choices of applications. The app store is sizeable but it is still not comparable to Windows and macOS. Most software developers prefer developing first for Microsoft and Apple because of their larger user bases. It is important to note that Windows is the most popular desktop operating system in the world.

The Linux alternatives to popular Windows and macOS applications are decent but not on par. The Microsoft Office suite of applications is still miles ahead of LibreOffice. Popular Adobe applications such as Photoshop and InDesign are not available in Linux. The same is true for industry-standard applications such as music production and video editing.

2. Also Has Limited and Unimpressive Game Titles

It is also important to note that this is not an operating system for PC gamers. There are few game titles available for Linux distributions. Most of these titles are unimpressive because they are too simple or lack advanced gameplay and immersive graphical experience. It is still worth mentioning that some mainstream titles have been made available for Linux.

Windows remains the default operating system for PC gaming. Take note that even macOS and ChromeOS cannot compete against Windows. This operating system has a wealth of game titles from different genres. Even video gaming consoles somewhat fall short. It also supports specific hardware and hardware configurations developed and built for gaming purposes.

3. Problems About Software and Hardware Compatibility

Some users have reported driver issues or compatibility between the operating system and the hardware specifications of their computers. There have been occasional stories of wireless card drivers not working or a printer not connecting to the computer due to an unidentified hardware problem. This is another significant drawback or disadvantage of Ubuntu.

There are also reports of graphical flickering issues from a number of users. This suggests incompatibility with some classes of integrated and discrete graphics cards. Some have also experienced problems with their preexisting soundcards. These reports demonstrate instances of compatibility issues between the operating system and hardware components.

4. There Are Better Linux Operating System Alternatives

Experienced Linux users would agree that Ubuntu is not the best Linux distribution available out there. Remember that Ubuntu is based on Debian. Some would argue that the Debian operating system offers better customization options and provides a more stable desktop user experience. It also runs more efficiently under minimal or lighter hardware configurations

Another alternative Linux distribution is Linux Mint. Note that this OS is a community-driven that is developed based on Ubuntu. It has a lower system requirement. Software management is also faster, sleeker, and lighter. Customization is also straightforward. A Linux Mint package also comes with relevant media codecs and additional apps out of the box.

5. Issues About Commercialization Versus Open Source

One of the main criticisms of Ubuntu is its apparent commercialization. Canonical appears to move a little bit further away from the open-source model with each operating system update. The company works on its own most of the time instead of working with the open-source community. This prevents receiving inputs from hundreds of volunteer developers.

There was also an issue about affiliation with other companies such as the technology and online retail company Amazon. Canonical once tried to earn profit from affiliate marketing through the placement of affiliate links and preferential advertisements across the user interface. The company has since removed these links and ads in the newer Ubuntu releases.

6. Troubleshooting Issues and Absence of Dedicated Support

The entire graphical user interface of this operating system is intuitive. However, when it comes to troubleshooting, beginners and even intermediate users might still struggle. Troubleshooting tends to be less intuitive compared to Windows and macOS. Understanding error messages and navigating logs might require technical knowledge or community support.

It is also worth mentioning that another disadvantage of Ubuntu, as well as of other open-source and free operating systems, is the lack of dedicated technical support. The sole option for users is the open-source community. Canonical does not maintain a team dedicated to answering user inquiries or helping with troubleshooting and other technical issues.

Rundown: Advantages and Disadvantages of Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a great option for users who want to experience Linux for the first time. The user interface is familiar and straightforward. The availability of extensive documentation and community support also helps in enriching further the entire user experience. Free Linux distributions are also ideal for individuals and organizations with budget constraints but need an operating system for general-purpose computing. It is also a great platform for software development. However, when it comes to gaming on a personal computer, use cases that require standard software applications, or instances that depend on specialized hardware capabilities, Ubuntu and other Linux distributions might not be the best option.