Info for the new GNU/Linux user

So here's my plug for the new GNU/Linux user (biased towards Ubuntu of course):

I am a big advocate of GNU/Linux in general, but I personally use and recommend Ubuntu because it's quite popular(there are several other distros actually based on Ubuntu: gOS, HP Mi, Mint, Ultimate, probably more) , it has a lot of users(which means more users on tat), it's based on Debian(which is a rock solid distro used in all types of servers and other devices), it gets security and other updates quickly(but so does the rest of the GNU/Linux ecosystem), and because Ubuntu provides a major distro release every six months(this means cool new stuff comes out at least twice a year). Note: I'm not trying to give Ubuntu all the credit for any of what I mentioned, GNU/Linux and FOSS in general are very active actually.. it's amazing!

Ubuntu is good, but something that might turn new users off to it is the lack of initial multimedia playback capability. That being said, it's actually very easy to enable multimedia playback in Ubuntu(see, but some people are surprised by the fact that Ubuntu doesn't ship with the not-licensed-as-free multimedia playback components installed.

If you want to have multimedia and everything working out of the box, perhaps you could try Linux Mint(, or even Ubuntu Ultimate edition( These distros(and there are others) should have all the goodies (plus cool games and software) already installed for your use.

There are also many other awesome distros out there(Fedora, Puppy, openSUSE, simplyMEPIS, etc.), checkout for more information. You can also checkout

Also, what's very cool about GNU/Linux is the LiveCD. You can easily try any of the distros named above before you ever install them simply by booting to the LiveCD. The LiveCD is a fully working copy of the GNU/Linux distro that is loaded and run from your computer's RAM and cd drive without making any changes to your computer. This allows you to try out many distros to see how they work for you without committing to any particular one. I encourage you to try out as many distros as you like. Ubuntu also comes with the wubi, which lets you install Ubuntu inside of Win*** as a program.

To see a(mostly-inclusive) list of the free software that's available to you with GNU/Linux, take a look at these websites(to name a few):

I have some more links posted on my blog at:, and you can look at my digg profile: for more information.

For the Dell users, there is a Dell section on the Ubuntu Forums at:

To see one example of what owning a Dell machine with Ubuntu can do for you, have a look at the "unboxing" article that I put together here:

Finally, to see how GNU/Linux and FOSS are free, have a look at the Free Software Foundation's website (the FSF was founded by Richard Stallman of GNU) at: . Also, Linus Torvalds, the original creator of the Linux kernel, is a recognized hero - see this article.

So that should be enough to get you started... Let me know if you need more information.

Congratulations on your Freedom!!!


Shannon VanWagner

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