Ubuntu is a free and open-source operating system developed by Canonical Ltd. based on Linux distribution and the Unix-like Debian operating system. Released on three editions, the Desktop, Server, and Core editions, it runs on personal computers, server or cloud platforms, and IoTs. Note that it is a popular OS for cloud computing.
The Pros: Advantages and Applications of Ubuntu
1. Free Operating System for Personal and Enterprise Computing
One of the advantages of Ubuntu is that it is a free-to-download and open-source operating system. In other words, unlike Microsoft Windows and the macOS from Apple, individuals and organizations can own and maintain working computers without the need for paying software licenses or purchasing exclusive devices.
Building and maintaining an information technology infrastructure essentially come with costs. Aside from purchasing the hardware, they need a working OS. Nevertheless, small and large organizations can benefit from the reduced cost savings that come from using free operating systems, as well as from free productivity applications.
2. Works in a Range of Devices or Computing Platforms
The OS can be installed in numerous devices, including Windows computers and Mac computers. It also works on network servers, and IoT devices and robots, as well as in emulated or virtualized computer environments via a virtual machine or containers.
Several providers of cloud services have used this OS because it supports OpenStack. Other manufacturers and developers of IoT devices and robotics have tinkered with Ubuntu to experiment on new ideas and deploy new products and solutions.
3. A Well-Rounded Operating System for Desktop Computing
Another advantage of Ubuntu is that it can relatively compete against Windows and macOS, particularly in providing users with a complete desktop computing experience. For starters, the Desktop edition comes with office productivity applications from LibreOffice.
The app store also includes a sizeable selection of popular apps such as Firefox, Chromium, Slack, 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, as well as for image and video editors such as GIMP and Shotcut.
4. User-Friendly with a High Degree of Customization
Any person with a basic knowledge of computers can easily install this OS and setup up his or her entire computer system. In addition, Canonical Ltd. has significantly improved the overall user interface of Ubuntu, thus making it as user-friendly as the more popular Windows and macOS.
There is also a high degree of customization and personalization. Note that one of the major advantages of a Linux-based operating system is that users have the freedom to customize their system, particularly the desktop environment. Ubuntu naturally inherits this advantage. There are also so-called “flavors” with their own choice of default applications and settings.
5. Minimal Hardware or System Requirements
The default Ubuntu does not require high-end system requirements unlike the latest versions of Windows and macOS. The recommended hardware configurations are at least 700 MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 5GB storage space. Note that specific flavors such as Lubuntu and Xubuntu are developed and optimized for lower-end hardware specifications.
It is also interesting to note that the OS can run directly from an external storage medium such as a solid-state drive or a USB flash drive, as well as DVDs. A live Ubuntu works almost the same as an installed Ubuntu, and it does not alter the configuration of the computer.
6. Continued Support from Developers and the Community
Remember that the OS is open-source. One of the many benefits of open-source software is that there is an active community that can help in fixing bugs or introducing new updates or features faster and more efficiently. The same community can help users with troubleshooting and customization requirements.
Of course, Canonical releases the OS every six months and provides long-term support releases every two years. Note that it is also considerably secured because applications run on low privileges and the built-in firewall choice of default applications and settings.
The Cons: Disadvantages and Limitations of Ubuntu
1. Limited Functionality Due to Limited Applications
One of the major disadvantages of Ubuntu is the limited choices of applications. Although the OS is free and a number of apps are also free for download, counterparts in Windows and macOS are considerably better. Major developers also prefer developing for Microsoft Corporation and Apple Inc. because they have larger user bases.
Remember that there are Linux alternatives to several popular Windows and macOS applications. However, their user interface and features or functionalities are still different. Furthermore, popular proprietary software in Windows or macOS for image and video editing, music production, and other specialized productivity tools have become industry standards.
2. Also Has Limited and Unimpressive Game Titles
It is not an operating system for gaming enthusiasts. There are few game titles available for operating systems based on Linux distribution, and a lot of them are unimpressive. Most of the games available for this OS are too simple or in other words, they lack advanced gameplay and immersive graphical experience.
Take note that the aforementioned is also one of the disadvantages of macOS from Apple and Chrome OS from Google. Windows remains the most ideal operating system for desktop computer gaming. It essentially has a wealth of game titles from different genres. There are also 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. Nevertheless, this is another critical disadvantage of Ubuntu.
There are also reports of graphical flickering issues from a number of users, thus demonstrating incompatibility with some graphic cards. Some users have also experienced problems with their preexisting soundcards. Nevertheless, these reports demonstrate instances of compatibility issues between the operating system and the hardware components of their computers.
4. There Are Better Linux Operating System Alternatives
Experienced Linux users would agree that Ubuntu is not the best Linux distribution around. Some would argue that the Debian operating system offers better customization and a more stable experience. It also runs efficiently under a lightweight hardware configuration. Remember that Ubuntu is based on Debian.
Another alternative is Linux Mint. Note that this OS is a community-driven Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It runs on a lower system requirement. Software management is also faster, sleeker, and lighter. Customization is also straightforward. The OS package comes with relevant media codecs and additional apps out of the box.
5. Issues About Commercialization Versus Open Source
One of the major criticisms of Ubuntu is the seeming commercialization. Canonical seems to move a little further away from the open-source identity of the OS with every update. Instead of working with the open-source community, the company works on its own most of the time, thus losing the advantage of receiving free inputs from hundreds of developers.
There was also an issue about affiliation with the tech and online retail company Amazon. Canonical tried to profit from affiliate marketing by including Amazon links and preferential ad placements across the user interface, particularly via the Unity interface. The company has since removed this affiliation from the newer versions of Ubuntu.