The most popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu offers different OS versions for various devices like desktops, servers, tablets and phones. The desktop version, a fork of Debian, is very stable, particularly due to the number of active users, and provides a lot of features out of the box, so you can start working without having to install hundreds of drivers, tools and software first. For a lot of people, Ubuntu is the most competitive free OS to Windows and Mac.
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Ubuntu is designed to be used by everyday people. Because of that, Ubuntu has tried hard to make a user interface that's intuitive and looks pleasant and clean.
Pro Wide range of software out of the box
The default apps available in Ubuntu cover the gamut of most anyone's needs. From music, video or office applications Ubuntu has an app that will cover the users needs.
Pro Great long term support release schedule (2 years)
This allows for users to always have a new supported release available without long unkown wait times in between.
Pro Use it on almost any device
Not just for laptops - Ubuntu was designed with tablets and touchscreen devices in mind, and with phone support on the way. Ubuntu also has Long Term Support releases, as well as a version oriented toward servers, so you can use the same OS at work or on mobile as you do on your desktop.
Pro Just works out of the box
Lots of support for hardware, lots of pre-installed software, and a smooth install process means less time downloading drivers, less time digging through configuration files, and less time deciding on software to use just to get up and running. It also means less time digging through forums looking for support.
Pro Perfect for collaboration on open source projects
This is probably the best option when collaborating on open source projects in hardware. This is mostly because packages and tools are readily available via software center.
Pro Good UI for small monitors
Because the menu usually is in the title bar and the launcher auto-hides, the whole screen can be used by an application.
Pro Good PPA repositories available
PPA repositories allow you to install the latest version of your preferred software while keeping the rest of the operating system "stable".
The setup for personal use is simple enough for anyone to achieve, and can easily be modified to act as a server. Programs and all features are easy to find and use, and first-timers can easily pick up on how to use it.
Pro UTF-8 is the default character encoding
Beginning with Ubuntu 5.04, UTF-8 became the default character encoding, which allows for support of a variety of non-Roman scripts.
Pro Unified search
Type any query into the Dash Home, and search will look through files, stores and web-pages to find what you are looking for.
Pro Dedicated software center
The Ubuntu Software Center offers a GUI interface for installing new apps which is extremely easy and welcoming for beginners to Linux. But it should not be used by more advanced users since the method of installing through the terminal is much faster and easier after one is used to it.
Pro Cares about stable drivers
Pro Company behind it
This means that the system must run well, otherwise they will lose money. There is no better incentive!
Pro Looks good
Ubuntu looks clean even when running from a LiveCD.
Pro Has a clean Gnome interface
Gnome has lot of extensions available and can be custmoized rather easily.
Con No rolling release
New Ubuntu versions are released two times a year, during this period almost all software receives only security updates and minor bug fixes.
Con Relatively high system requirements
The default GNOME desktop environment is a resource hog which requires hardware accelerated graphics rendering in order to run smoothly, making out of the box Ubuntu unsuitable for low end systems and older hardware. Even mildly aged hardware, you'll get far better performance out of a lighter desktop environment like LXDE or XFCE.
Some people pointed out that updating Arch is a high risk affair. And one should carefully read forums before doing it. The same is true about Ubuntu. Making system updates (like it was with 10.04 to 11.04) that screw so many things up became a routine. Even LTS releases should not give confidence that it will work.
Con Canonical (author) is proprietary
Canonical is focused on making money so you can see many proprietary offers by them and the OS has built-in trackers (Amazon).
Con Doesn't shutdown/standby properly on Lenovo laptops (b, e & g series) and desktops (Thinkcentre)
Ubuntu has some serious issue with some Lenovo laptops and desktops. Sometimes, it doesn't shutdown correctly.
Con Canonical does not respect Ubuntu users' preferences
In 2012 it became impossible in Ubuntu to move the close-window-button back to the upper-right corner of the window, where it always was before. To the questions of their users Canonical replied that they know better than users where it would be convenient for users to have the close-window-button.
Con Custom PPAs required for most software
To get the most software available, user must add several PPAs to the system. That has major problems:
1) Terminal recommended for adding a PPA, which can scare away users
2) A PPA can potentially distribute malware by creating a "newer" version of a package than available in other PPAs, such as the Linux kernel.
3) PPAs must be recreated and re-added with every major system update
Con A tweaked Gnome version
Instead of original Gnome desktop with Ubuntu you get a tweaked Gnome and most of the tweaks makes user experience worse.
Con Extremely un-customizable
Con Software can be outdated, if not severely outdated
If you try to download "unpopular" software, so you may find you're downloading a version that's several years old.