Windows 10 and Ubuntu Similarities

Windows 10 has started arriving and is causing a not-unexpected flurry of negative reactions to change.  I’ve even seen suggestions that, due to privacy concerns, the upgrade should be skipped and users should move to Linux.  It’s funny, because Windows 10 is the closest I’ve seen the Microsoft operating system come to the open source Ubuntu.

Free to Acquire

You can acquire both Windows 10 and the latest version of Ubuntu for free.  In the Ubuntu world, there are long term support versions (a version number followed by LTS designates those) so you can upgrade to the most stable version periodically.  It will be interesting if that’s essentially what will happen with Windows 10 now that we know there will not be a Windows 11.

Automatic Updates

The automatic updates – compelled in Home versions of Windows 10, customizable in Enterprise versions – are similar to Ubuntu’s Update manager.  Windows 10 still has some way to go to build trust on this.  Ubuntu users can select what to update or not.  In my experience, I update everything on Ubuntu so not having the choice on Windows 10 isn’t a big deal.

Virtual Desktops

This has been a head scratcher in our house.  I’ve used Ubuntu’s virtual desktops as well as Virtuawin on Windows.  It’s like having multiple monitors.  The difference is that you only see one monitor or desktop at a time.  It’s a nice productivity tool to separate work and personal applications to limit distractions, or to group like applications when working on projects.

You can access them with ALT+TAB, the old program switching combination.

USB Install

I can’t remember the last time I installed Ubuntu using anything but a USB drive.  The first step?  Download UNetBootin.  Choose your flavor of Linux and watch it prepare your USB.

Now with Windows, you can do the same.  Instead of waiting for invitations for your computer, you can use the Windows 10 Media Creation tool.  It’s free, downloads up to about 6 GB of files and places them on a bootable USB.  If I need to do a clean install (now that I’ve done all of my upgrades), I can do so with this USB.

Switch to Ubuntu?

Windows 10 has privacy issues that Ubuntu does not.  You can manage most, if not all of them.  As with modern phones, social media sites, and other applications, the default is to divulge our personal information.  It’s worth it to take the time to turn off Windows 10’s information sharing settings.

But Ubuntu is no better than it has ever been for lawyers to switch to.  And I say that as a huge Ubuntu fan, having run it either in dual boot with Windows or on separate machines, for a decade.  As the City of Munich seems to have found, it’s hard to get people to switch and, when you do, interoperability problems (perceived or real) can make it fail.

Ubuntu can be hard if you have to use Crossover to get applications like Microsoft Office working.  As much as the Unity Desktop has integrated Web and local search and the GUI is as clean (cleaner?) than Windows, I still do a lot in Ubuntu on the command line.

It’s great to see Windows start to offer things that people using other operating systems have had access to for years.  Hopefully the furor over Windows 10’s privacy issues will be a lesson learned as future updates roll out.  Both operating systems have a place in my technology world.