I'm just a simple user frustrated with Windows 10 and I want to leave Windows altogether.

However, I don't want to spend three weeks learning how to install the new system and then get all my current programs to work.

I am not setting up a server, I am not a developer and I do not want all my stuff on a cloud.

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    IMO, for a "simple user" the exact version of Ubuntu isn't the main issue. It's knowing what applications you mostly use on your current OS, and are there replacements in your new OS. You're covered for a web browser and office applications such as word processor, spreadsheet, drawing, and presentations. Make sure the new applications can open your old documents. The answer by j.dix is one way to go about this. – andy256 Jan 18 '16 at 6:00
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    What is the relevance of the observation that you are not Chinese? – gerrit Jan 18 '16 at 10:29
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    @gerrit Because there is Ubuntu Kylin, a version for Chinese users. – Eduardo Cola Jan 18 '16 at 11:15

Okay. First, the version. There are two main Ubuntu versions current nowadays (I won't include 12.04 because it's not worth it anymore):

  • 14.04 LTS - the Trusty Tahr: This is a Long Term Support release. LTS versions are released each two years, and have security updates/support for a longer time (5 years). These kind of releases focus on stability and trust. You won't find bleeding edge packages/applications, but the system is very reliable.

  • 15.10 - the Wily Werewolf: this is the current regular release, with a 9-month lifespan. It comes with more up-to-date software but is usually less stable.

If you have very new hardware, stick with the newest (or you could wait 3 months until 16.04 is released if you want an LTS). The newest release comes with a newer kernel, which will probably give you more hardware support.

In the other cases, get the LTS release. You won't see bugs and crashes very often and you have a long lifespan.

Second factor: the desktop environment.

Ubuntu has lots of flavors with different purposes and work environments. Unlike Windows, Linux systems can have different userland interfaces (and even more than one at the same time). you can choose from a wide variety of environments to suit your needs, from full-blown desktop environments with lots of features and eye-candy to a minimal command-line. Here are the main Ubuntu flavors:

  • Ubuntu: the mainstream. Comes with the Unity desktop environment and a set of applications to give you an out-of-the-box experience.

Ubuntu (Unity Desktop)

  • Kubuntu: the KDE variation. Comes with a lot of applications from the KDE project.

Kubuntu 14.04 (KDE Desktop)

  • Xubuntu: the Xfce variation. It's great for older computers for its stuning performance. It's also beautiful and highly customizable.

Xubuntu 14.04 (Xfce Desktop)

  • Lubuntu: the LXDE variation. Extremely lightweight and the lowest resource-consuming among all the flavors. Recommended for netbooks.

Lubuntu 14.04 (LXDE Desktop)

  • Ubuntu GNOME: the GNOME variation. Comes with the good ol' Gnome desktop and its set of applications.

Ubuntu GNOME (GNOME Desktop)

  • Ubuntu MATE: the MATE variation. Lightweight, simple, beautiful.

Ubuntu MATE (MATE Desktop)

  • Ubuntu Studio: comes with Xfce and lots of programs for multimedia work (video editor, image editor, sound manipulator, vectorial drawing). Also ships with a low-latency kernel, developed for multimedia.

Ubuntu Studio (Xfce Desktop)

  • Ubuntu Server: just out of curiosity (because you probably won't want this version), there is a Server version. It comes with several applications to deal with a web server and is headless (doesn't have a GUI, command-line only).

Now it's up to you. Choose your flavor and welcome to the Ubuntu family.

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    Nice answer Eduardo. I suggest you add just a few words to explain to n00bs what KDE, Xfce, LXDE, GNOME, and MATE are about. – andy256 Jan 18 '16 at 5:48
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    "LTS" nicely summarized. Still, for more info: askubuntu.com/q/16366/58950 – carnendil Jan 18 '16 at 6:15
  • Very nice and clean answer. +1 for that – Kev Inski Jan 18 '16 at 7:28
  • It might be good to define some of those terms. The average Windows user has no knowledge of KDE vs. Unity vs. GNOME. – Kevin Jan 18 '16 at 7:40
  • I've always run LTS versions (12.04 on one system, 14.04 on another ATM), and IME you'd need very newly released hardware to have any trouble. – Chris H Jan 18 '16 at 9:18

I played around with a bootable USB stick running 14.04 for a few weeks before I made the leap, and I highly recommend doing that first. If you're not willing to commit 100% to learning the environment, you might consider partitioning your drive and running Ubuntu alongside Windows 10.

I also suggest you make a list of all your "must-have" applications and search for versions compatible with Linux or alternatives. That way you can plan what you need to install as soon as you install Ubuntu.

Have fun!


Simple answer for simple question: Go for the newest LTS (Long Term Support) version. Currently: 14.04 LTS


I'd recommend the latest stable release (currently 15.10. Releases are numbered for the year.month they were released in, and there's a release every 6 months). Choose the 64bit version, not the obsolete 32bit version. You can still run 32bit software on 64bit Ubuntu, since it includes the necessary libraries (or at least makes them easy to install).

The "long term support" releases still have their share of bugs, and the desktop experience generally keeps improving with every release. The main advantage is that you won't have to do a major system upgrade for a long time, not so much that software is less buggy.

New versions of software usually has fewer bugs and better documentation. This is more of an issue for desktops, instead of servers, because servers often don't run many different programs, and open source server software is usually much better tested / stable than open source desktop software.

Even non-LTS releases are pretty carefully tested for new-user desktop experience, so don't be afraid of using them. It's really easy to keep an Ubuntu system up to date, esp. if you don't customize a lot of system-config stuff.

These days, the even the LTS releases keep up with current versions of browsers, instead of trying to keep up with security fixes for an old version of firefox. Previously, this was a big reason for NOT using LTS releases on your desktop.

Also, 14.04 is from before the switch to systemd, so you're more and more likely to run into trouble mixing and matching software from 14.04 with 3rd party packages, and with instructions on how to do things.

As for which flavour of Ubuntu: Installing Ubuntu vs. Kubuntu just changes which set of packages are installed to start with. They all use the same package repositories after they're installed, so choosing one flavour of installer doesn't commit you to anything permanently. You could start with Kubuntu, and then decide to install the ubuntu-desktop package. After maybe 300MB of package downloads and 1GB of disk space used by installing them, you'd be able to choose either desktop environment. (And choose which greeter / graphical password prompter you wanted the system to start).

On my Kubuntu-installed system, it's only 177MB of downloads using 688MB of space, but I'm guessing I already have some big packages installed that ubuntu-desktop would pull in via dependencies, but that a bare Kubuntu install wouldn't include.

  • "Choose the 64bit version, not the obsolete 32bit version", my processor is 64-bit capable, but I am forced to run the 32-bit version due to performance. Also there are non-64-bit-compatible processors. – Eduardo Cola Jan 18 '16 at 10:30
  • Also there are more flavors than Ubuntu/Kubuntu. – Eduardo Cola Jan 18 '16 at 10:30
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    I just picked Ubuntu/Kubuntu as an example. They all still use the same repos. I assumed the OP would be smart enough to pick the 32bit version if he actually has an old Atom CPU that can't run 64bit code. Why do you get worse perf with 64bit? Are you forced to run some 32bit-only program like Skype, so both versions of libraries would have to be in memory at the same time? – Peter Cordes Jan 18 '16 at 10:51
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    I have too low RAM (1512 MB), and 64-bit eats my RAM. – Eduardo Cola Jan 18 '16 at 11:12

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