Linux's Free System Is Now Easier to Use, but not for everyone

"This column is written for mainstream, nontechie users of digital technology. These folks aren't necessarily novices, and they aren't afraid of computers. They also aren't stupid. They simply want their digital products to operate as promised, with as little maintenance and hassle as possible.

So, I have steered away from recommending Linux, the free computer operating system that is the darling of many techies and IT managers, and a challenger to Microsoft's dominant Windows and Apple's resurgent Macintosh operating system, OS X. Linux, which runs on the same hardware as Windows, has always required much more technical expertise and a yen for tinkering than average users possess.

Lately, however, I've received a steady stream of emails from readers urging me to take a look at a variant of Linux called Ubuntu, which, these folks claimed, is finally polished enough for a mainstream user to handle. My interest increased when Dell began to sell a few computer models preloaded with Ubuntu instead of Windows."

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