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Ubuntu 13 challenges Windows 8

Maria Korolov | July 2, 2013
Ubuntu is becoming a viable desktop replacement for Windows in certain enterprise scenarios.

For newcomers to Linux, however, what this means is that they'd have all their applications up and running, have several browser windows open, be happily switching between documents and then accidentally click the button to switch to a new workspace and everything instantly vanishes. They're looking at an empty desktop and all their documents, windows and applications are gone, resulting in panicked calls to tech support.

Having a single workspace by default does make the learning curve easier for people switching from Windows. Power users can still get the multiple workspace feature back, however, in the settings. It's under Appearance, under the Behavior tab, where you need to click on "Enable Workspaces."

Can it replace Windows?
If I'm a Windows user sitting down at a Linux machine for the first time, the first thing that jumps out at me is that there's a column of icons to the left of the screen, instead of at the bottom where I would expect a launch bar to be on a PC or Mac. The power button is at the top right instead of the bottom left.

This is different from both the PC and the Mac, and there isn't any good reason for it to be different. Moving the launcher bar and power buttons to familiar locations would make the desktop more approachable for Windows and Apple users, but as it is, it is relatively easy to adjust to.

The function of the launch bar icons isn't immediately obvious for all the icons, but users who take a couple of minutes to explore them can quickly figure them out.

The first one pulls up your most used applications, and lets you search for others, kind of like the Start button in Windows. The second is your documents folder. Then there's the Firefox browser, and launchers for word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications. The next icon is the software center, Ubuntu's answer to the Apple App Store. It makes it easy to find and install software. The next icon is for Ubuntu One, which offers free cloud storage similar to DropBox. Then you've got a button for Amazon and a button for the system settings.

That's a lot of useful functionality, reasonably easy to figure out even for people totally new to Linux.

When I sit down at a new computer, the first thing I usually change is the desktop background. Right-clicking on the Ubuntu desktop does bring up the display settings window, as you'd expect, but trying to change the desktop wallpaper to any solid color results in an all-black background. This is a known bug, and the solution involves directly editing the configuration settings not something an average user is likely to want to do.


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