Well I have been using Ubuntu for past one year. Even though I'm not yet experienced with all the commands that Ubuntu provides, I like Ubuntu. In my college they use Windows. In such a situation how do I explain my teachers/HOD/Principal that Ubuntu is as powerful as Windows? I know I have said this:

  1. Its a open source.

  2. No virus.. All softwares can be installed easily

  3. We can use Wine to run .exe applications.

Apart from these what all strong points can be given to change my college to Windows to Ubuntu?

  • 3
    This is something I'd really like to see a good answer to. At least where I'm going for my studies, we have dual-boot Windows 7 / Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but it's only available for engineering students like myself. Oct 29 '11 at 11:24
  • @WarriorIng64: Lucky to have dual boot.. :) We have only single boot named Windows ;)
    – Ant's
    Oct 29 '11 at 11:25
  • 7
    You might look at:whylinuxisbetter.net and "Linux in education: a genuine alternative" - techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/…
    – user4815
    Oct 29 '11 at 11:59
  • Also, you may want to consider using this page from Canonical on Ubuntu in education to help formulate some of your arguments. There is also a link to some case studies, one of which is specifically about Oakland University's switch from UNIX to Ubuntu. (Fun little aside: I live close to OU and once took a summer calculus course there.) Oct 29 '11 at 18:22
  • 2
    "How can I make my college do something no college has ever done?" Well, most people never accomplish anything like that ... but if you succeed, please publicly detail how you did it, and post a link here. Nov 2 '11 at 15:32

From my point of veiw, I use Ubuntu (generally Linux) for those reasons:

Packages support

  • The system is shipped with all applications, ready to use 2 minutes after installation
  • Everyone can easily install applications via software center or command line
  • If you need, you can choose the version of application you need. Additionally, you can install not-released-yet version from custom PPAs.

Opensource & Community

  • Whole system (and most of the applications) are free of charge
  • The system is reviewed by many people so many bugs are found and fixed
  • If you are in troubles, there are many ways to ask and receive fast answers from community (for example this site)

Security & Safety

  • Most of the viruses are designed for Microsoft OS so they won't affect your system
  • Thanks to clean system design it's difficult to create really dangerous virus for Linux
  • There is easy user management and setting up user rights so you are sure your mother won't break the computer by launching the wrong app.

Programming platform

  • Ubuntu (and Linux generally) has outstanding support for programming tools
  • You can use almost all IDEs on Ubuntu, simple text editors or terminal editors (vi, emacs)
  • There is support for all programming languages
  • It's easy to run and test your programs via console
  • It's easy to install, configure and use all kinds of servers (apache, database servers, web servers)


  • Besides the programming itself, you can use terminal to connect to remote servers (ssh, scp, ...) without installing additional software
  • Use the power of shell commands and regular expressions when working with your files, processing data or maintaining the system
  • If you need to fix/configure something, it's often only about copying several lines from the guide or mail-from-guru and you get the issue fixed.
  • You can extend the system functionality with your own scripts launched whenever you need.


  • You have the same environment on your servers and on your PC: You can use tools you are used to use when managing the server. You can redirect X server and launch window applications remotely. You can have the exactly same versions of programs on both server and your PC.
  • Somebody says Ubuntu GUI is much easier and comfortable than Windows.

Possibility of choose

  • In almost all cases, you can choose from several variants of the application. Unlike Mac OS, you aren't forced to use the "best" app and only it.

And after all, it's Linux. You got to love it :)

  • 1
    Great points, explains some of the reasons why I switched to Linux as well. :D
    – Icedrake
    Oct 29 '11 at 14:14
  • 5
    Good points for a computer scientist, frightening stuff for normal teachers in non-computer-science fields.
    – Shahbaz
    Oct 29 '11 at 17:48
  • 1
    This is a good answer for convincing people to switch to Ubuntu in general. However, I wonder if it's specific enough to be used in an argument to convince an educational institution to make the switch. In other words, what qualities specifically make Ubuntu well-suited for an educational setting? Oct 29 '11 at 18:13
  • @Shahbaz You are right, I am IT guy, so I have pointed out my reasons. However, I still think there are several which affect everyone, for example GUI.
    – Pavel S.
    Oct 29 '11 at 18:17

I guess it really depends on what faculty you are in. If you are studying computer science and they are using windows, you better just quit that college and go somewhere else!

But seriously, in general you can say these:

  • It is free! FREEEEEE I tells ya! (this should generally be good enough! Unless you are living in a country that doesn't respect copy-right law)
  • For this next point, you should be ready: It can do whatever you can do in Windows as good, if not better.

    • Documents, Spread sheets and Slides
    • Internet Usage
    • Programming Environment
    • Scientific programs: This is in fact where you should know the programs and it's easier or harder to convince the faculty[1].

    Why do I say this is important? Because they have found luxury in doing their work in Windows. If you don't offer them something that can do all they are used to, they just won't accept it.

  • And of course like you said, no viruses.

And you can do these things:

  • Find people good with Linux who volunteer to be Linux admins. This is important because as soon as you get people to work with Linux, you are gonna get a lot of questions about how it works or how to fix it (Do I hear you saying Ubuntu is so easy to use, you can just install and work with it like Windows? Unfortunately not yet. The load of questions in this website shows the opposite).
  • Suggest first to have both operating systems so they always feel they have the safety of booting in their Windows when they are fed up with Linux.
  • You should then start showing them stuff that exists only in Linux to make them use it often. Things such as a program that does your work easier/faster or an extra tool to create documents etc.
  • After a few years that everybody is used to and comfortable with Ubuntu, you can go about telling them to remove Windows and keep only Ubuntu.

Somethings to remember:

  • Teachers and principals are older people. Older people don't like change, so don't try to go too fast.
  • Teachers and principals are older people. Older people are behind technology, so don't overwhelm them with options.
  • Teachers and principals are older people. Older people don't like to spend time searching, so just install a working set of programs (better if they have a familiar feel, so similar to Windows ones) and tell them (and show them how to) work with those. If they get used to it, you can introduce new ones.
  • Teachers and principals are older people. Older people get frustrated easily, so make sure you, or any admin, is instantly there as soon as they have problem. Even if they don't ask you, it wouldn't be bad to check up on them to see if everything is fine.
  • Teachers and principals are older people. Older people, especially men, don't like a student telling them what to do, so try to be very diplomatic. Try to teach them, or tell them what to do, in a manner that they don't feel stupid.

[1] I don't know the softwares much, but imagine a field for which there are a lot of great software under windows, but nothing serious under Linux. In such a case, you probably should first extensively test those software with wine to make sure it actually works (wine is not that perfect yet). Many engineering programs could be quite problematic like SolidWorks or ComSol.

  • 1
    good points about older people :):)
    – Ant's
    Oct 30 '11 at 2:19
  • 1
    @Ant's, yeah, it's a serious thing. You should know who you are dealing with. Convincing a geek to use Ubuntu is very different than convincing your mom. So! Know your public.
    – Shahbaz
    Oct 30 '11 at 2:27
  • Administrators will quickly recognize that a free OS != zero cost of implementation, and maintenance. You'll need to justify that these costs will be offset by the lack of licensing fees, which is questionable. Nov 2 '11 at 15:25
  • @EricWilson, Every university I've been to, has a few "enthusiast"s who volunteer to be the Linux administrators. Usually the type of guy who is knowledged and feels he is awesome enough to do the job. So basically administration and maintenance is free. If there are no such students, then yes, a Linux admin must be hired and the costs justified as you mentioned
    – Shahbaz
    Nov 2 '11 at 16:29
  • 1
    @Ant's, I came across this link today, it may help with your struggle!
    – Shahbaz
    Nov 14 '11 at 14:14

Shahbaz has really hit the mark with the going slow and diplomatic route.

At my University the biggest problem seem to be switching from MS office to Libreoffice or OpenOffice. If you have not worked on LibreOffice I would recommend that you first become knowledgeable using it so that you can show those people that you want to convince that it really is a good office suite. Just note LibreOffice 3.4.3 has a problem with handling footnotes so I will wait another week for the arrival of version 3.4.4 which has fixed this problem. Also, Ms Office 2010 supports the odt file format so that significantly increases the compatibility between MS Office and LibreOffice.

Also, LibreOffice does not have a integrated grammer checker but you can install an add-on called LanguageTool. The pagination add-on is also very useful if you want to insert page numbers.

Probably the biggest problem, will the IT "experts" at your College be able to administer Linux? Thats also a huge problem because if something goes wrong, then someone should be able to fix it.

Lastly, I have found that by first introducing open source programs to people and leaving them to use it for a while makes them more willing to switch to Linux. I have used LibreOffice to convert people to switch to Linux. The biggest hurdle to linux adoption is the users that seem to be afraid using anything other than windows.

  • 2
    Makes sense. Perhaps "Office" work is the most common thing for general people to do with computers (not software guys). Getting them to use a free one and then telling them it also exists in Linux would certainly help.
    – Shahbaz
    Nov 2 '11 at 16:32

You simply can't. Colleges change very, very, slowly, and the processes, committees, diverse interests involved in every decision make it very hard for any small group of people to accomplish change, even in the faculty or administration.

And while Ubuntu is free, change is costly. How many hours do you think it will take to install Ubuntu on all of the machines? How much time to train IT staff that could do everything they needed to do on Windows but are unfamiliar with linux? How much time with the administration spend in dealing with complaints from students, staff, faculty, and parents who don't understand the motivation for this change?

Oh, and what if some part of a mission-critical management Windows application has a bug that only shows up when run in Wine. How much money would be lost then? That probably won't happen, but how sure would you need to be before authorizing the change?

The problem with the question is that you are thinking as an individual, and change is cheap for individuals. For large orgainizations ... well, there is a reason that my employer still uses Windows XP here in November of 2011.

Addendum: Please keep in mind that as far as we know, here in 2011, there are no colleges on earth that have made the switch to Ubuntu. It isn't necessary that we conclude that it isn't feasible (though I have, for other reasons) but the other answers here either haven't been tried, or have been tried and failed.

  • I disagree that you can't convince a college to make structural changes. I suggested to the student government in my senior year to push for moving my college's email system to Google Apps, proposing a savings of millions of dollars and allowing the college to reallocate $50 per semester per student to other areas (about $1million per year total, not sure of exact numbers). A year later, they were on Google Apps. With sound financial reasoning, any business will change its ways. Nov 2 '11 at 14:38
  • I'm glad to hear of your positive experience. However, changing email systems is not nearly as broad a change as changing operating systems. And I disagree with the premise that "with sound financial reasoning, any business will change its ways." I've participated in far to many faculty meetings to believe that applies to colleges. Nov 2 '11 at 15:17
  • there are no colleges on earth that have made the switch to Ubuntu. In both my first and second universities, we had both Linux and Windows installed on the university computers. (Though I have to admit I study computers and know only about the CS faculty)
    – Shahbaz
    Nov 2 '11 at 16:35
  • I guess it's a question of how thorough a switch the OP is thinking of. I'm sure Linux was used in CS at most of the colleges and universities that I've attended or taught at, but I haven't been to any that used Linux for machines for general use. Nov 2 '11 at 17:37
  • My college was pretty technical and part of a larger university. A lot of machines in my discipline were linux-based, while the arts colleges were mainly Windows. Nov 2 '11 at 17:53

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