I need to get work done. I really do. That's my primary concern. I really like the idea of FOSS, community developed tools, openness, ubuntu (the spirit), all of that -- but I really need to get work done.

Here's the kind of work I need to do:

  1. a lot of web-browsing with plenty of tab opens (e.g. when I need to find research documents)
  2. reading PDF documents, highlighting things inside of them, making notes inside them (highlight + note)
  3. write Python/Haskell programs
  4. write LateX documents
  5. use Mathematica/Maple/MATLAB (mostly MATLAB)

My computer is really cheap (~$300); I am a poor student, and it was a godsend, so I still love it. However, it really can't even handle point 1) on my list properly.

I have to consciously control stuff like this:

  • I can't have a PDF file open while Spyder is running; things would just bog down really fast.
  • I can't open more than ~10 tabs.
  • I have to force myself to do one thing at one time as much as possible (good for me to a certain extent!)

You get the idea.

I am hoping that switching to Ubuntu (Lubuntu specifically) will help my computer in terms of performance. Is this reasonable to expect?

Here are some of the issues I am aware of:

  • UEFI stuff
  • various hardware compatibility issues
  • time, lots and lots of time to get things working

Here's how my computer would be ideally set up:

  • main partition would be some lightweight version of Ubuntu
  • secondary (~15 GB) partition with Windows for the stuff that just needs Windows

I have played around with Ubuntu before (2009 - on a better laptop, in happier days when I didn't need to do much apart from making my desktop setup look cool...). I remember eventually becoming tired of it because of little things that just wouldn't work either because I didn't know how to use a GNU/Linux system properly, and to a smaller extent because Ubuntu just had some rough edges.

Should I make the switch?

  • Let us know the specs of your computer (cpu, memory, hard-drive size, graphics card etc.) – TenPlus1 Mar 2 '14 at 7:53

It is not possible to give a clear recommendation, but I can comment on your tasks and you can decide based on it:

@1 This works equally good on Windows and Ubuntu, no real reason to chose one over the other for this task.

@2 This is also possible on both operation systems. No real reason to chose one over the other.

@3 I personally really prefer to develop in Linux, but this is also something you can do perfectly fine in both operation systems.

@4 Works fine on both operation systems, but personally I think this is preferred to do on Linux rather than Windows.

@5 I have not used Matlab for a long time and never on Linux, but for what I hear this application works way better on Windows than on any Linux distro.

In regard to performance, Ubuntu will often perform slightly better than Windows, but for most cases this in not something most people will notice.

The openness of Linux is a huge plus for anyone who likes technology.

To sum up my thoughts: If Matlab is an imporatant part of your day - consider sticking to Windows. Otherwise go for Ubuntu.


You should not switch. The first thing you should do is to upgrade to Win 8.1, which is a stable and versatile OS. The upgrade is free. Ubuntu can of course be installed alongside, but the stability of the Grub-based startup menu you have to deal with after the installation, can be quite annoying. By all means - Ubuntu is a great OS, but to be quite frank - Windows 8.1 has a lot more opportunities when it comes to available software etc.


Lars H.


I have recommended linux for my friends who are either very simple computer users or very enthusiastic computer users. If you don't use you computer to anything else than web browsing and checking mail linux is at most points better than windows, and if you are a computer enthusiast and like tinkering with your system and programming linux is also better than windows.

As long as you are not in need of proprietary software (e.g. Adobe software, Visual studio, Sony Vegas) or gaming (which linux is getting alot better at though!) you will most likely be very happy with using linux.

When i look at the hardware of you laptop i saw that it's using a AMD A6 APU, which might not be the best thing ever. I have no idea if the open source radeon graphics drivers works well with the new AMD APUs, but i am currently writing this on a old lenovo x100e running Arch Linux with an even older AMD APU (Radeon 3000 series) and the open source drivers are decent but i could not get the proprietary drivers installed on either Ubuntu or Arch which i would have prefered.

Check how the open source radeon drivers are good on your APU on linux, and if they are not good check if the proprietary works well on it. Most likely it will work fine, but you don't want to take a guess before installing. Intel graphics are recommended for linux laptops, and i'm planning on buying one with that when i graduate this summer.

I have never installed linux on a computer with UEFI, but from what i have heard it has either been very simple or very complicated. I think that you should at least try, but give up if it takes too much time.

I have not used spyder but i have developed alot of python on my linux laptop, and i have come to the conclusion that as long as it is not a too heavy application it usualy works fine. Python and GTK is fine, but PyGame runs horribly because of the video drivers.

It's a myth nowadays that it takes alot of time to install the drivers for linux (especially ubuntu), the last 4 years i have installed linux on various computers the only driver issue i have are for graphics cards. Alsa and OSS used to be a hassle, but that is very very rarely a problem anymore. If you want to save time and know a friend who is used to linux, ask him if you run into any issues as it will save you alot of time if you encounter any.

If you develop on linux you will have to learn basic commandline stuff which might take a couple of months to get used to, but after that you will realize that it's more efficient than clicking around in menus on windows. Python is very easy to use in the commandline and so is haskell, so it's two good language to start developing with on linux.

Good luck! I hope that you will switch but if you simply feel that it's too much of a hassle, just skip it. Once you get used to linux though, you won't want to go back ;)

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