Since the release of Windows 8, many businesses and independent contractors are learning that there's a whole new world outside of Microsoft and Apple that they never considered. Many of these businesses are making the switch over to Linux-based OS. Not just because it's a more secure system, or because it's easy to customize, but small businesses do have to watch how much they spend. Since Linux is an open-source program, it is mostly free. As an open-source software collaboration, Linux source code can be used both commercially or non-commercially and doesn't require you to purchase licensing. Katherine Noyes and Dietrich Schmidt, two writers from PCWorld.com, offer some great advice on how small-business owners can make the switch to Linux on their desktop. If your company relies on a BYOD (bring your own device) protocol, Canonical has just released Ubuntu Touch that could prove beneficial. This allows a version of Ubuntu to run on ARM smartphones and tablets, says ExtremeTech.com's Sebastian Anthony. Making the switch over to Linux/Ubuntu is easy and, once you're there, you'll wonder why you didn't switch over sooner.
Making the Switch
Specially designed to make the transition from Microsoft OS to an Ubuntu-based operating system, Zorin OS 6.2 offers a free and premium version for freelancers and businesses. According to the Zorin OS site, you can use their exclusive software and have the flexibility of running this OS alongside your Windows OS with the help of installing WINE and PlayOnLinux. This software easily allows you to manage your desktop, screen, background and browser. If you have any trouble with the installation, try going to a community forum that focuses on Linux like irc.netsplit.de and chat live with an experienced Linux/Ubuntu user/programmer.
If you want to upgrade from Zorin OS 6, Linux Mint is another "flavor" or "distro" that is widely used for business desktops. Since the 14 KDE version featuring KDE 4.9.4 was released last year, IT departments have scrambled to make updates and are enjoying the results of this program. According to the Linux Mint blog, this distro includes a software manager, many improvements from earlier versions, additional drivers, GnomePPP and a local repository, so you can easily transfer data and applications from your servers to other on or offsite servers. While many users are happy with this latest version, some have complained that transfers from other applications have not been seamless but, overall, many seem to be in favor of this flavor for a desktop environment.
If you're concerned about what will happen to your mobile devices once you've made the switch, rest assured that Canonical's got you covered. The company that launched in 2004 has unveiled the Ubuntu Touch app Feb. 21. This downloadable app can be installed onto a Nexus tablet (7 or 10), or a Nexus smartphone and used in tandem with the Ubuntu phone. Similar to Windows 8, Ubuntu Touch allows users to view work from Ubuntu phone on the Touch in a split-screen view, which is convenient— especially if you don't have time to switch between data that lives on two different devices. Ubuntu also features a secure data user feature, which encrypts each users personal data. So if you find yourself misplacing your Touch and you're worried about sensitive work files falling into the wrong hands, rest assured no one will be able to view that data. Ubuntu's mission is to create a "unified computing experience" taking what has already been done with their desktop OS (which works on Dell, HP, Lenovo machines) and adding to this the Ubuntu mobile device family. To learn more about this sophisticated program and where Ubuntu is taking business security and productivity next, check out this video and consider what Linux and Ubuntu can do for your small business: