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Germans Give Out Linux to Windows XP Die-Hards

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 21 comments
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Windows XP's time is running out, but the city government of Munich, Germany, knows one way to mitigate the dying system's security risk: Switch the entire city over to the Ubuntu Linux operating system, specifically Version 12.04 Long Term Support (Precise Pangolin).

Windows XP used to be the world's most popular operating system, and many stalwarts are still hanging onto it, especially overseas. Its lightweight system requirements and wide range of supported software mean that many users have been reluctant to switch over to newer OSes like Windows 7 or 8.

This strategy has worked so far, but will become much harder to support after April 2014, when Microsoft will pull the plug on XP support after almost 12 years. Die-hards can still use XP after that point, although without new security updates, the system will become increasingly vulnerable to harmful malware and malicious hackers.

MORE: Hacking the Internet of Things

The City of Munich does not want a vulnerable populace, and has adopted a fairly aggressive stance on getting XP fans switched over to Ubuntu. In addition to linking users to a free Ubuntu download via its website, city officials have taken to Munich libraries to distribute 2,000 CDs of the open-source operating system.

It's worth noting that the City of Munich voted to switch all government systems to Linux more than a decade ago, and has done its best to excise Microsoft from city computers in the last 10 years.

Ubuntu is one of the easiest Linux systems to install (some Linux builds are considerably harder to get up and running), although citizens of Munich who take the plunge will have to rely on their own wits and the Internet's vast resources to get them started. While city officials will point them in the right direction, Munich will not provide any tech support for Ubuntu beyond distributing the product.

For those who have never used it, Ubuntu is a type of the free, open-source Linux OS. Ubuntu is one of the simpler Linux systems to use, and the system looks and functions a lot like Windows. Once users get the system up and running, they will find that many of their everyday clients — like Firefox for Internet browsing and Thunderbird for email — work just the same as before.

Ubuntu is generally safer than Windows for a number of reasons. By default, Windows XP runs program installations with administrative privileges, meaning that a malicious program could grant itself all kinds of permissions without first asking the user.

MORE: 5 Free PC Security Programs Worth Downloading

The Ubuntu user base is also minuscule compared to that of Windows (although, if the City of Munich has its way, that could change over time). In effect, it's not worth a hacker's time to generate a piece of malware that targets Ubuntu when he or she could find hundreds or thousands more potential victims on a Windows machine.

Of course, none of this should suggest that Ubuntu is completely unaffected by malware, or that converts from Windows can toss online common sense out the window. Ubuntu users need to exercise caution online, the same as anyone else. The primary difference is that they'll be protected until April 2017 — longer if they update to the latest version.

Switching your OS may sound intimidating, but it's not nearly as scary as subjecting yourself to the building library of malware that will debut after the sun sets on Windows XP.

Follow Marshall Honorof @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 2 Hide
    JD88 , September 17, 2013 1:27 PM
    Good to see this happening. Canonical and more specifically Mark Shuttleworth have had some pretty innovative ideas about where the future of tech is heading, yet don't get a whole lot of recognition for it.

    Not ignoring positives the other Linux distros of course.


  • -6 Hide
    daxchunjae02 , September 17, 2013 1:54 PM
    Yeah but how do you run and/or install games on Ubuntu or Linux or whatever? I'm really curious..
  • 3 Hide
    hannibal , September 17, 2013 2:00 PM
    Allso it could cause some cost saves in long run and allso mean that Unix environment can be real alternative to windows in long run.
  • 2 Hide
    JD88 , September 17, 2013 2:03 PM
    Well games have to be native to Linux. Valve recently released Steam for Linux although there aren't that many games for it available yet.

    The other option is to use Wine, a Windows emulation tool that allows you to run Windows software on Linux.

    I still have a Win 8 dual boot for some of the newest games, but I now play League of Legends, Starcraft 2, and others on Linux using Wine with no difference in experience or performance.



  • 0 Hide
    Jim_L9 , September 17, 2013 2:25 PM
    Linux is great, but even Ubuntu is harder to use than Windows.
  • 1 Hide
    dextermat , September 17, 2013 2:28 PM
    I still have a windows 98 system no virus or anything on it (need it for old printers at work and such)
    I don't understand the fuss, worse off, stay with windows xp + deppfreeze or a recovery card.... If you get virus and such,
  • 1 Hide
    hydac7 , September 17, 2013 2:44 PM
    I would push linux mint debian (LMDE) with mate, it's much more light on old computers and full featured :) 
  • 2 Hide
    Cory Reisch , September 17, 2013 2:52 PM
    Linux Mint>Ubuntu!
  • -2 Hide
    jimmysmitty , September 17, 2013 6:10 PM
    Quote:
    Yeah but how do you run and/or install games on Ubuntu or Linux or whatever? I'm really curious..


    Steam runs natively on Linux and a lot of VALVes games run on Linux now. But that said there isn't much out there compared to PC because it requires OGL and the majority of games are DX9/11 right now.

    Quote:
    Allso it could cause some cost saves in long run and allso mean that Unix environment can be real alternative to windows in long run.


    I doubt it. Without reliable support, it wont gain traction. Most common people wont be able to troubleshoot Linux as a lot of it, even Ubuntu, requires familiarity with a command line interface and administrative commands. Hell to install proper graphics drivers in Ubuintu you have to stop the GUI and do it from a command line interface and hope the driver install does not kill the GUI from loading all together.

    Ubuntu is not a proper alternative to XP. Honestly those people need to move to 7 as it was on release more secure than XP ever has been and as well the majority of new hardware and software will start to drop support for XP soon and as well Ubuntu wont support the majority of software people want to use, or rather it wont be written for it.

    XP is dead. 7 is the way to go at a minimum and 8 is better if you are willing to actually learn.

    JD88, I would like to see actual performance numbers as you are running a VM for Windows and I doubt performance is the same as running it directly on Windows.
  • 1 Hide
    rodbowler , September 17, 2013 6:39 PM
    I have found Linux Mint to be an excellent alternative to XP/7/8.
    There are currently 290 games available for Linux within Steam, though only a few AAA titles. Performance on my hardware (Core i5, AMD 7970) is better (Source games) in Mint than in Windows 7.
    WINE is not a VM - it is a compatibility layer. When I can get games and other software working within WINE (about 50% of the time for me), the performance is comparable to running under Windows native.
    Currently the only Microsoft software I run is Visio 2007, which runs reasonably well in WINE.
  • 2 Hide
    JD88 , September 17, 2013 6:43 PM
    The numbers are not the same, but my hardware is good enough to where there is no difference in overall experience. Those are pretty basic games.

    As for how difficult it is to get Ubuntu up and running properly, things have improved tremendously in the past few releases. Getting the drivers is as simple as selecting the one you need from a list. There is no reason to use the command line at all for most basic activities. I actually installed Ubuntu on my 63 year old father's new laptop. He is a very inexperienced user with no technical knowledge and he likes it better than his old Win 7 machine. I used to have to remote desktop him weekly to take care of some "popup" or to help him find something. I've had to do so once since I installed Ubuntu about a year ago.

    No antivirus to worry about, updates are one click for everything on the machine, and the unity dash is way simpler to use than the Win 8 start screen.

  • 3 Hide
    JD88 , September 17, 2013 6:48 PM
    The average user doesn't need anything other than Chrome, a media player app, a chat app (Skype and most others work on Linux), and an office suite. All of those are available free on Linux.

    Even for advanced users, there are viable replacements. I use Gimp instead of Photoshop and it's fine for my needs. There are also some very nice free video editors with functionality that mirrors those of proprietary software costing hundreds of dollars. All of Google's Android development tools are made for Linux.
  • 0 Hide
    digiex , September 17, 2013 11:23 PM
    "system looks and functions a lot like Windows." Luckily Windows is not produce by Apple.
  • 0 Hide
    DragonChase , September 18, 2013 1:00 AM
    Running XP here
  • 0 Hide
    jdwii , September 18, 2013 10:08 AM
    I feel like i'm the only one who thinks 7 is faster than this version of ubuntu
  • -1 Hide
    shin0bi272 , September 18, 2013 11:51 AM
    F*ck linux
  • 0 Hide
    ap3x , September 19, 2013 6:08 AM
    ""system looks and functions a lot like Windows." Luckily Windows is not produce by Apple. "

    Now that was out of left field. Not sure what how they have anything to do with the topic.
  • 0 Hide
    Mike Frett , September 20, 2013 9:00 AM
    The truth is, Linux is the future and Microsoft is a dead duck. I disagree with the switch to Ubuntu, instead a better choice would be Xubuntu (Still in the Ubuntu family).

    jimmysmitty, That's pure ignorance. DirectX is a Windows Only API. OpenGL is the standard that runs on ALL platforms. At PAX 2013, developers recommended abandoning DirectX due to it being a Microsoft only API.

    Linux is about Community, chances are your question is already answered on places like askubuntu. You do NOT need support. One guy asked about Games, you have the Humble Bundle, Desura and Steam. There are thousands of games to choose from. If you like FPS, Linux has the most of any OS.

    Steam makers, Valve are moving to Linux guys. Windows is becoming a closed platform (walled garden) where you can only use the things Microsoft wants you to use. If you enjoy Steam, Windows and Mac are being left behind.

    Gabe (Valve/Steam) announced at LinuxCon 2013 that they believe Linux is the future platform for Gaming. People, you already use Linux in your Phones, TV, Router etc. It's everywhere!. In closing, I suggest if you are ignorant (like those here) then stop replying about things you know nothing about.

    I used Windows for 15 years until I switched to Xubuntu last year. I will never go back to Microsoft's chains of forced upgrades and security ridden Windows filled with NSA backdoors.
  • 0 Hide
    prand903 , September 22, 2013 2:19 PM
    Start working at home with Google. It’s the most-financialy rewarding I've ever done. On tuesday I got a gorgeous BMW after having earned $7439 this last month. I actually started five months/ago and practically straight away was bringin in at least $74, per-hour. visit this site right here Pow6.com
  • 0 Hide
    RadRam , December 4, 2013 5:02 PM
    Just a shame they're promoting an OS built to spy on you, and one with no free firmware blobs. By free I mean free to be examined and criticised.

    They should have used Fedora, it doesn't spy on you, and if you have any doubts you can open up 100% of the OS and chick everything for yourself. You can't do that on Ubuntu's closed firmware, which can be used to spy on you. And lets be honest if the NSA went to canonical and demanded by law that Can. install more malware, do you think they'll take a stand?
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