Have you been wanting to give Ubuntu a test drive? With the debut of user-friendly Maverick Meerkat, there's no better time.
As Ubuntu 10.10, or "Maverick Meerkat," hits the streets this Sunday, it's a pretty safe bet that legions of existing Ubuntu users will be updating to the new release. After all, it looks to be Canonical's most user-friendly Ubuntu Linux yet, and many of the new features promise to be must-haves.
For those in the business world who haven't yet tried Ubuntu, however, the reasons to download and give it a whirl are even more compelling. Here are just a few of them.
1. SpeedUbuntu 10.10 is fast -- darn fast. Even the beta version could boot in as little as 7 seconds, according to reports. Who has time to wait around for Windows when there's work to be done?
2. PriceThere's no contest on this one, because Ubuntu is free. Pure and simple. No investment whatsoever, unless you want to buy professional support later on.
3. No CommitmentYou can try out Ubuntu without changing or affecting anything else on your computer through options like a LiveCD, Live USB, Wubi or virtualisation--all of which I've already described elsewhere. In other words, you have nothing to lose.
4. Hardware CompatibilityUbuntu will play well on just about any machine you might have sitting around, so you could also try it out on a spare one to keep it off your Windows machines altogether--until you decide you can't go back, that is.
5. Ubuntu OneUbuntu One is the personal cloud service that lets you synchronize your files and notes and then access them from anywhere. You can also consolidate your computer and mobile phone contacts and share documents and pictures with them. On the fun side, you can use Ubuntu One to buy music and get it delivered to the computers of your choice.
6. Windows CompatibilityWith Ubuntu 10.10, a beta client for Windows also allows users to integrate their Windows and Ubuntu worlds by accessing files from either platform. You'll never have to worry about being unable to get at your Windows files.
7. ApplicationsUnlike Windows, Ubuntu comes with key business productivity software for free, including OpenOffice.org. Firefox is included, but there's also support for both Flash and Google Chrome. Anything that's not there already, meanwhile, can be found in Ubuntu's Software Center. Whereas finding new software on Windows is very much a hunt-and-peck process, with lots of time spent on Google - and your credit card - the Software Center gives you a central place to find and download thousands of open source applications - for free - in a matter of seconds.
8. SecurityUbuntu - and pretty much every distribution of Linux - is extremely secure, particularly compared with Mac OS X and Windows. No wonder experts have recommended using Linux for online banking, in particular--the others just aren't secure enough.
9. MultitouchIf you try the Netbook Edition of Ubuntu on a supported netbook, you'll be able to see for yourself the brand-new multitouch features in Maverick's new Unity interface.
10. BeautyOne key emphasis in the new Ubuntu is making it more beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to use. The Unity interface is part of that in the Netbook Edition, and the Ubuntu Font Family is another part. It's all just nice to look at.
11. It's SociableUbuntu's new "Me Menu" lets you access your Facebook and Twitter accounts straight from the desktop. You can connect to all your favorite chat channels and make updates through a single window.
12. It's LinuxThere are so many reasons for businesses to use Linux today, it's hard to keep track of them all. Security is one, of course, but there are also many other reasons Ubuntu, in particular, has become such a good business choice - far better than Mac OS X or Windows.
Ubuntu 10.10 will be available for download starting on Sunday from Canonical's Ubuntu site. Of course, if you can't wait until then, there's always the Release Candidate, which is ripe for the picking right now. Either way, my bet is that once you try Ubuntu for your business, you're going to want to keep it.
By Katherine Noyes | PC World
Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.