Ubuntu being, of course, the free operating system that's based on linux (that's based on unix). I've got some limited experience of big nasty unix. Years ago, I started but then gave up on a programming post-grad once I realised I had zero aptitude for it, and one of the things I do remember (we're talking mid- to late-nineties here) is playing around with unix. Ever since then, I've become a really big fan of operating systems where you don't need to have one damn idea how it works as long as it works. Like OSX, for instance, on my macbook here.
Even so, my persistent interest in technology persuaded me to try Ubuntu a couple of times in the past, only to give up whenever it started yelling something about kernels at me. Nice idea, but not nearly as user-friendly as I would have liked.
Cut to a few weeks ago when Emma's laptop stuck its legs in the air and started making death-rattle noises. Or rather, shut down and then obstinately refused to start up again. Don't ask me how, but it appeared Windows was terminally shafted. Within forty-eight hours we'd picked up another brand-new laptop, a cheap one for just a couple hundred that's proved to be surprisingly solid.
I got around to tinkering with the 'dead' laptop and coaxed it back into life by installing a new Ubuntu operating system and, lo and behold, it's startlingly good. I actually can't believe how fast it starts up, and installation was done with such a minimum of fuss that assuming your needs don't extend beyond (say) open office, firefox, skype and dropbox for backup, I don't see any reason anyone would ever want to bother with Windows again. It is quite incredibly user friendly.
Now all I have to do is figure what's making that aggressive whirring sound; my bets are a dying fan. So it's off to Ebay.