Ubuntu Mate 18.04 LTS (long-term support) has been out since April, but I just did the update from 16.04 to it and I must say, I’ve never been happier about an OS that runs on a glorified jump drive.
It’s loaded on an ancient IDE hard disk encased in a Rosewill external USB data storage enclosure.
Previously, that now going on 15-year-old hard disk was in an AMD 64 eMachines tower running Ubuntu Mate 15.10. I subsequently updated Mate to 16.04 LTS before the logic board in the tower died shortly thereafter.
When gutting the machine for parts, I transferred the hard disk to the Rosewill enclosure. I had an HP Compaq dc7700 with a SATA drive, a 1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel processor and 4GB of memory. I planned on experimenting with seeing if I could run the Ubuntu Mate OS externally from the Rosewill enclosure.
Attaching the Rosewill drive to an available USB port on the HP, I rebooted–not expecting much, especially since Ubuntu had been formatted on an AMD machine and not an Intel (which the HP was).
The PC booted up to the familiar Ubuntu Mate desktop I had come to know and love when the drive resided in the old eMachines tower.
I thought this nothing short of a miracle as in the old days it could be a challenge to get a Linux distribution to successfully boot and install–let alone trying to configure an external drive to work with the OS loaded on it.
Today, there are no such reservations regarding ease of use for Linux compared to the way it once may have been.
Why Linux is the OS that nobody uses but everybody should
Taking that external hard disk load of Ubuntu Mate from 16.04 to 18.04 took about two hours and I am using Mate 18.04 to write this blog post.
Most people believe Linux is for geeks, but it’s evolved to the point where the user experience is so good that consumers should seriously be considering it in place of macOS and Windows 10.
The main reason I suggest this is LTS: Long Term Support. That is something you cannot get from either Apple or Microsoft regarding their desktop operating systems.
Well, Microsoft does a much better job than Apple does supporting old(er) machines as Windows 10 runs admirably on many PCs that originally sported Windows XP like the eMachines AMD 64 tower and HP Compaq did.
I did have Windows 10 running on a second internal drive in the eMachines AMD tower, but after the logic board failed, the installation was no longer feasible. Still, and as I indicated above, I give Microsoft way more credit than Apple for OS longevity on their hardware.
To be clear, if you purchase a new Mac today, you can expect to run Apple’s latest OS on it for 5-7 years–then you’re done. The technical term for placing an expiration date on a Mac for its ability to run Apple’s latest operating system is planned obsolescence.
Apple purposely does not design their desktop computers to run the latest OS indefinitely. First of all, it’s difficult and expensive to achieve. Secondly, it makes absolutely no business sense whatsoever to do so. Apple needs you to buy a new Mac every five to seven years or sooner–I say sooner, because while you can update the OS a certain number of times before it no longer is able to run the latest OS from Apple, each subsequent OS update beyond the OS it came with originally runs slower and slower as it requires more resources to run.
So, even though Apple could increase the amount of time before Macs no longer run its latest OS, they have no financial incentive to do so.
Although Linux is largely free for consumer use, I encourage everyone who uses a variant to support developers so they can continue providing the features and services inherent in these amazing OS distributions.
Linux also very importantly affords each of us the opportunity to continue using older hardware in a desktop environment that incorporates modern standards, up-to-date software and security that safely allows us to perform our day-to-day work.