Instead of using "Mac"(Macintosh OSX) or Windows(XP/Vista/7), I run Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid LTS as my operating system. Ok, so truthfully I do have Windows 7 installed on a partition on my computer, but I'll explain the reasoning for that in a minute. The point is that 90% of the time when I turn my computer on I boot to Ubuntu, and now I'm going to tell you why I think you should too. Ubuntu is the most widely used Linux Distribution, which is not owned by Apple or Microsoft but is instead open source owned by the general public. This means that thousands of programmers and developers develop Ubuntu and other Linux distributions in their free time to make it better for themselves, and when you have thousands of programmers trying to make their own computers more efficient with no hidden agendas you get a very useful end product. If you're reading through this and are unsure of making the switch, be sure to read the concluding statements.
Reason #1: It's fast
The main thing I hear people complaining about when it comes to computers is speed, and once I've used their computer I really can't blame them. When fixing various computers I sometimes have to wait upwards of a minute for a program to start. Of course, if you're used to using typewriters and dial-up this may not seem like a long time but for those of us who are plugged into 2010 that is a lifetime. Even after trying various things, computers may still be slow. Some people will convince themselves they need a new computer(usually not the case) and others will switch to Macintosh. Both of these options are expensive, especially the latter, and both are also generally unnecessary. If you're stuck using Windows for whatever reason or retain a fear of Linux then the best option is to back up all your data and reinstall your OS, but if you're willing to give Ubuntu a chance, the speed will surprise you. The startup speed and speed of applications blows both Windows and Macintosh out of the water.
Reason #2: It's intuitive
Secondly, the main reason that people say they DON'T want to switch to Linux is because it's complicated and hard to understand. That belief is simply untrue. Having used Windows my whole life and then trying to switch to both Macintosh and Ubuntu, I find that Ubuntu has been the easiest transition. It installs all of your drivers for you, connecting to the internet is simple, finding settings is simple, installing and removing programs is simple, and editing documents is a breeze. Grant it, if you are trying to do something that's complicated it will be complicated, as you'd expect. There are certain things like Windows File Sharing and other operating system specific protocols which can be accomplished on Ubuntu but aren't exactly designed to be user friendly. That being said, those types of things really aren't that difficult to understand since they almost always come with a very intuitive interface and countless step by step tutorials online. Don't let this stop you from trying Ubuntu! I'll discuss why further into this tutorial.
Reason #3: It's safe
Another huge problem that most anyone that uses a PC encounters is myriads of viruses, spyware, and malware. Though I'm not saying that Ubuntu is devoid of any kind of problem, there isn't even a comparison against Windows. In relative terms, there are no viruses. It hasn't slowed down a bit over the course of time that I've used it. It remains clean, fast, and safe all on its own.
Reason #4: It's loaded with features
Want to edit Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Publisher files? Done. Want to edit PDFs? Done. Want a high quality graphics editor? Done. Want to burn movies from your DVDs? Done. Want to create virtual machines with other OSs? Done. Want Skype, Dropbox, Synergy, SNES emulators, tons of games(Bejeweled, Sudoku), instant messaging, torrents, video editing, a desktop recorder, excellent code editors, you name it!? Did I mention this is all free?? Enough said.
Reason #5: It's data compatible
Ubuntu has resources to read and/or edit pretty much any file system format, data type, or protocol in the existence of the technological world. You can open, edit, and/or convert pretty much any kind of file type whether it be video, audio, executable, or text based. Oh yeah, did I mention you can run Windows executable files using a program called WINE? You can program any computer language and develop almost any type of software or firmware. You can easily turn your computer into a web server by installing apache, mySQL, and whatever else you desire. Keep in mind that just because Ubuntu can do complicated things does not mean that it is complicated when performing standard tasks.
Reason #6: It's beautiful
Are you thinking that Windows 7 and Mac OSX have more stunning visual effects? Not a chance. Check out what Ubuntu can do:
Reason #7: It's customizable
If you watched the video you should already have a glimpse into just how customizable Ubuntu is. You can change anything and everything about how the operating system looks and performs. You can even make it look exactly like Windows or exactly like Mac if it suits your fancy. Oh, and if something doesn't exist that you want you can request it on online forums and have someone make it for you or if you're really adventurous you can code it yourself!
Reason #8: It's easy to install
This statement comes with some qualifiers. It's easy to install once you have a working live CD or live USB. Making the live CD or live USB can be difficult if you have a slow internet connection, but it's pretty easy to figure out if you follow an online tutorial. If you have one of those the install is the fastest and easiest OS install there is. And if you're not sure how you feel about installing... no problem. You can test run it off of a live CD or live USB without having any effect on your computer or you can even install it as an application on Windows. You can also make a dual boot system(two or more operating systems) on a PC or a Mac.
Reason #9: It's fun!
I really enjoy editing my computer and making it faster and more efficient. This makes getting things done a lot easier and is an entertaining hobby in the meantime. You may find that it's just as fun for you. :)
Reason #10: Did I mention that it's FREE??
That's right. Every feature that I've listed is 100% legal and 100% free. You don't have to pay for Windows, Microsoft Office(Word/Excel/Powerpoint), Adobe Photoshop, or an expensive Macintosh machine. Online support is free. OS updates are free. Linux will always be free. Need I say more?
A lot of people don't even know what Linux is and those that do often have misconceptions about it. I made this post to try to clear some of those up and to put the power of Ubuntu in your hands. It's completely changed my computing experience and saved me a lot of grief, and that's why I promote it so strongly. Also there are a lot of options if you're not ready to make a complete switch. After all, I haven't made a complete switch; I still dual boot to Windows 7. I also run Windows XP as a Virtual Machine on my Ubuntu partition for when I need Windows specific programs. You can also install Ubuntu as an application on Windows or install it on an external or random hard drive you have lying around. You can even install it on a USB flash drive. You can even install it on your iPhone! (though I wouldn't recommend it). It's very versatile. With all of this positive promotion though I feel that I must list a few of Linux's downsides. The main problem is that Linux is not the mainstream operating system. This means that many major corporations only make software for Mac and PC. For example, iTunes is not available for Linux. I'm okay with that since iTunes is a horrible, horrible piece of software, but it would be nice to be able to sync your iPod/iPhone on Linux (it is possible, but not user friendly and you have to jailbreak your device). Currently, Songbird is being worked on to relieve this issue. Also, many games are only made for PC, but major ones like WoW and Runescape can be made to run on Linux. This doesn't bother me much because I don't really play games very often. That's really pretty much it. Ubuntu rocks.