Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 22:54

(Ubuntu version 18.04 is suitable to replace Windows 7)

Ubuntu is a free, libre, easy to use, secure, popular desktop operating system capable to replace Windows 7. As many people anticipated, soon Windows 7 will cease away just like XP, and this is the time for them to consider switching to GNU/Linux operating system. This article is the first part of my migration guide to Ubuntu for Windows 7 users anywhere. You will find here intro to Ubuntu and its goodness, its user interface, difference to Windows, and its terminology. I'm trying my best to make every part short and easy enough to understand for everybody. Finally, enjoy Ubuntu!

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Welcome to Ubuntu!

Congratulations to all Windows 7 users who planned to switch to Ubuntu! I really prepared this article series to welcome you and to help you knowing Ubuntu more. As we know, Microsoft prepared to end Windows 7 support at 2020 or the year where Ubuntu 20.04 LTS would be released. This very moment is a good chance for you to prepare everything as early as possible. I write this article for beginners and I hope everybody finds it useful. Enjoy and have a successful switch!

(Ubuntu Official Website: a good start to learn Ubuntu is to visit its online page)

Ubuntu in one paragraph

Ubuntu is a popular computer operating system developed by Canonical Ltd., that is free and libre, easy to use, modern and complete with worldwide community and commercial support. Its name comes from ancient African word meaning humanity to others. Ubuntu is capable to replace Windows or macOS in everybody's computing life. Ubuntu first released in 2004 as version 4.10 and reached version 18.04 in 2018. Everybody can obtain Ubuntu gratis at its website

(The official Ubuntu logo with the famous Circle of Friends)


Full index of this whole series is below. However, I might change this on the way.

Part 1: Intro
  • - Freedom and your rights
  • - Computers and hardware
  • - User interface
  • - What you can do with ubuntu
  • - What makes Ubuntu different to Windows
  • - Virus & antivirus
  • - References for you to learn from
  • - Terminology

Part 2: Releases
  • - History
  • - Comparing to Windows releases
  • - Debian as upstream
  • - LTS and regular

Part 3: Applications
  • - Sources
  • - Comparison

Part 4: Installing
  • - Difference to Windows installation
  • - Guide

Part 5: Using
  • - Different user's behaviors
  • - Knowing the desktop
  • - Knowing file manager
  • - Knowing archiver
  • - Knowing multimedia player

Part 6: Managing
  • - Software management
  • - Backup

Part 7: Setting
  • - Knowing control panel
  • - Knowing terminal
  • - Knowing system monitor
  • - Some important commands

Part 8: LibreOffice
  • - Features and formats
  • - Social change
  • - Writer tricks
  • - Impress tricks

1. Freedom and Your Rights

Free software movement pioneered by the FSF opened our eyes that every computer software should be free, meaning, fully controlled by the user rather than the developer. Such software is called free software, or, libre software (some call it open source), because the user is on full control (unlimited) over the software. On the contrary, software that is not free is called nonfree, or proprietary software, controlled by the developer not by the user although running on user's computing. Ubuntu is free software, Windows is nonfree software. Ubuntu is one among hundreds of free GNU/Linux operating systems publicly available today.

 (GNU Manifesto, published at FSF website, the 1985 milestone of free software movement around the world)

(Ubuntu Mission page: a long page (split on two browser) declaring the mission of Ubuntu Project to bring Free Software and Open Source to widest audience)

i) Using
  • Windows: limited, you are prohibited to do several things and you must agree to an agreement before using it.
  • Ubuntu: unlimited, and does not require agreement to use it.
ii) Copying
  • Windows: no, you have no right to copy Windows as you wish. Although you have purchased it.
  • Ubuntu: yes, you have full right to copy Ubuntu as much as you wish.

iii) Installing
  • Windows: limited, only one copy of Windows for one computer for no more than one user. Installing one for multiple computers is prohibited.
  • Ubuntu: unlimited, you have full rights to install one Ubuntu for multiple computers, whatever the number is, either with cost or gratis.

iv) Selling
  • Windows: no, you are prohibited to sell copies of Windows, modified or not.
  • Ubuntu: yes, you have full rights to sell copies of Ubuntu as much as you wish and whatever price you agreed upon with the buyers. 

 (Thanks to free software licenses within Ubuntu, we can find people sell Ubuntu CDs online like, Amazon, etc.)

v) Modifying
  • Windows: no, you are prohibited to modify Windows code. For example, you are prohibited to change either time limitation or online activation functionality of Windows.
  • Ubuntu: yes, you have full right to modify Ubuntu's source code and binary code.

vi) Sharing
  • Windows: no, copying is already prohibited and sharing to other people is automatically prohibited as well. Lending and renting Windows CD to friends are also prohibited.
  • Ubuntu: yes, you have full rights to copy, share, lend, share Ubuntu to anyone as much as you wish.

vii) Obtaining source code
  • Windows: no, you have no right over source code of Windows. Even the license does not mention the existence of that source code at all.
  • Ubuntu: yes, Ubuntu serves every user special repository of source code plus ISO images of source code as well for each released version. Ubuntu licenses guarantees every user rights to obtain source code.

2. Computer and Installation

Today, we can purchase computers and laptops preinstalled with Ubuntu just like those available with Windows 7. Note the brands: Dell, HP, Lenovo, System76, Entroware, Acer, and many more brands certified by Canonical Inc. And when we install Ubuntu on a computer, normally it would detect all hardware automatically and you do not need any "Driver Pack CD".

(A screenshot of Hewlett-Packard website showing their laptops and computers with Ubuntu pre-installed)

((a) Dell XPS 13 endorsed on Ubuntu website (b) Entroware from UK sells laptops with Ubuntu (c) system76 from US sells laptops with Pop!_OS and Ubuntu)

A normal Ubuntu installation would finish in about 15 minutes. This including all device driver so Ubuntu users do not need "Driver Pack CD".  The installation procedures are a lot more easier than Windows. You may see Ubuntu 18.04 installation guide with pictures here.

(Installation screen (at initial step) of Ubuntu 18.04)

3. User Interface

Ubuntu user interface is easy to use, simple, yet useful for everybody to run applications and work quickly. To make it a lot more easy for you, actually this desktop resembles Android user interface more than Windows. There are three important things on it: (a) the desktop in general, (b) the start menu, and (c) the overview. First, every application running appears with black titlebar and orange Close button on right side while the application icon resides on the vertical panel on left. Second, start menu is opened by pressing 3x3 dots button on bottom or instead you can type to search installed applications. Third, you can see all running apps in one screen by pressing Super key alone.

((a) Desktop with two applications running (b) Start menu opened showing apps installed (c) Overview to show all currently running apps)

Next thing important is the file manager as its the heart of your desktop computing. On Windows, you live with Explorer. On Ubuntu, you live with Nautilus. One thing you need to know is: Nautilus is very simple and a lot simpler than Explorer. This is Nautilus File Manager you need to know. And one more thing, its search functionality is amazingly fast.

((a) Nautilus viewing folders on Ubuntu (b) It presents files and folders in Detailed View mode (c) Options available to enhance sorting, zooming, etc. as you wish)

Not less important, on Ubuntu you will also find Properties Dialog once you right-click a file and select Properties. A typical Properties Dialog shows information such as icon, file name, file size, folder items, path, permissions, and associated applications.

((a) Information of a folder (b) Access rights and ownership information of a folder (c) Default app associated to open a JPEG file or more famous called "Open With")

4. What you can do with ubuntu

Practically everything you can do with Windows. Ubuntu is suitable for everybody including casual users, students and teachers, designers and programmers, researchers and everybody else.
  • Operate your computer.
  • Making documents.
  • Browse the internet and have chat.
  • Play audio and video.
  • Play video games.
  • Access your files, partitions, and disk, including Windows' ones.
  • Programming (desktop, game, web, embedded, mobile development).
  • Editing audio and video. 
  • Graphic design, for 2D and 3D, vector and bitmap.
  • Run Windows applications (using Wine).

((a) Ubuntu runs Inkscape and GIMP for graphic designing (b) Geany for programming and GNU Octave to replace MATLAB (c) A funny blocks game and Audacity audio editor)

5. Difference between windows and ubuntu

Every new adopter of Ubuntu needs to know technical differences between it and Windows before switching.

i) Repository:
Ubuntu has software repository, Windows has no such thing. Ubuntu user installs software from a central repository, Windows user installs software from multiple different sources. A repository is a place where software packages collected for a particular Ubuntu version. Ubuntu repository available worldwide as servers (called mirrors) and normally one country has at least one. Repository is one cause a GNU/Linux distro called distro because it distributes software.

(List of Ubuntu repository servers around the world with total of 400+ available today)

ii) LiveCD:
In order to test Ubuntu on your computer, no installation required, no change to your hard disk either, simply run it. This is called LiveCD. On the contrary, to test a version of Windows, Seven for example, you must actually install it hence changing your hard disk. No LiveCD feature on Windows.

 (While booting, selecting "Try Ubuntu" enables LiveCD and you may enjoy full system as you please)

iii) Filesystem:
Ubuntu disk filesystem is EXT4 and Windows' is NTFS. Ubuntu can read-write to Windows partitions, but Windows cannot read-write to Ubuntu partitions.  

iv) Antivirus:
Ubuntu users do not install antivirus, while Windows users install.

v) Unique desktop:
User interface design of Ubuntu is quite different to Windows' one. The desktop environment has a name, it is GNOME, while Windows has no such separation between the OS and the interface. The taskbar is vertically placed on left, tray on top-right, and start menu button on bottom-left.

(GNOME official website: this is the source where Ubuntu got its awesome user interface)

vi) Add/remove program:
This is the actual biggest difference. Windows has its own way to install software, so that Ubuntu with its own way. On Windows, a user visits multiple websites to download multiple applications separately as files, and later on install them. On Ubuntu, a user runs their Software Center ("Package Manager"), search there, and install applications from there as well. Extension of Windows application is .exe while Ubuntu's is .deb.

vii) Command lines:
Ubuntu user types command lines, Windows user doesn't. It's not either good or bad, easy or not, but it's the way. Do not afraid of command lines, you can learn more with this guide.

6. Virus and antivirus

GNU/Linux is really good news to Windows users as we are living without virus and do not need antivirus. Ubuntu users do not install antivirus. Many users switching to Ubuntu find their happiness as they are finally free from worries caused by virus. See GNU Project's statement "GNU/Linux does not need antivirus software.".

One question always remains about why such good thing happened to GNU/Linux (and Ubuntu in particular) and keep happening. The answer is your rights, it's because the developer has fulfilled every user's rights. On the contrary, Microsoft does not respects rights of all Windows users. What I'm talking here are the rights to understand how the system works (including right to get the source code) and to improve it (including fixing the vulnerabilities) both individually and collectively. Only free operating system enables worldwide people in all countries to keep security together and share fixes to each others.

7. References for you

Yo need to know references Ubuntu users usually visit to get help, support, and --of course-- friends.
  •, sophisticated intro for newbies including a friendly FAQ
  •, where Ubuntu users asking questions and give answers.
  •, same as askubuntu, but far older, still the biggest one, and includes other important things (joining in OS development etc.)
  •, information of worldwide vendors selling laptops and computers preinstalled with GNU/Linux or Ubuntu

(Websites you can read to know more and more about Ubuntu and GNU/Linux)

8. Terminology

(Foldoc, an online dictionary of computing can help you understand more terms)

One of important things for everybody learning Ubuntu is knowing the basic terminology. In Ubuntu community, there are many terms used day by day related to every important tasks. So, knowing frequently used terms are helpful for you to ease you enter this awesome community. I tried to present the most frequently used terms for you as the basics:
free software:
Computer software that the user is free. It means user has unlimited rights to use, study, modify, and share the software with its source code. This term is endorsed by FSF. This is antonym to nonfree software.

open source:
Synonym to free software. This term is published and endorsed by OSI.

nonfree software:
Computer software that the user is not free. Also called proprietary software. It means user is prohibited (his/her rights removed) to use, study, modify, or share the software and mostly without its source code. This is antonym to free software.

A part of operating system that is responsible to manage hardware resources.

  • to distribute: to convey software to other person. 
  • distributor: the person doing the distribution.
  • distribution: a GNU/Linux operating system such as Ubuntu that is available as the OS and the repository.
  • distro: synonym to distribution.
Free software operating system GNU with Linux as its kernel. Every GNU/Linux operating system comes from integrating Linux to GNU. For instance, Ubuntu is GNU/Linux and Windows is not.

i386 and amd64:
Also called 32-bit and 64-bit, respectively. Both are two computer architectures among other computer architectures.

A free software kernel compatible to Unix developed by Linus Torvalds since 1992 along with the community.

fedora and opensuse and manjaro:
Most popular GNU/Linux operating systems other than Ubuntu among others.

operating system:
A software product which without it a computer cannot operate. Operating system is an integration of certain important programs. For example, Windows and Ubuntu are operating systems.

Computer designed to put on a desk; operating system designed with GUI and operated with mouse.

Operating system as a computer file. The file format is .iso. For example, Ubuntu operating system is available worldwide (can be downloaded) as ISO file.

package manager: 
A software tool to help user install software to the operating system. For instance, Ubuntu has APT and Android has Play Store.

Mathematical number as ID of an ISO image published on the internet. A corrupt ISO image file (or the fake one) would have different ID number with the ID number published by the original developer.

Some notes

Several things I should also mention here. In fact, although Ubuntu is free GNU/Linux operating system, it still contains nonfree software in the kernel and repository. And we are aware of 2012 criticism by the FSF about spyware in Ubuntu. I'm still recommending Ubuntu, as its the easiest one for widest people possible in my opinion (and once you learn it, using other distro like Trisquel OS is easy), so with this information you can consider and decide.

Next one...

Next part will talk about Ubuntu release versions in short and simple way possible. I hope this first one really helps Windows 7 users to know Ubuntu. See you next time and enjoy!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.