I am curious by nature, and I'm always looking to see whether there's something better over the horizon. I installed Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron the day after it was released, and I was impressed. But I knew there were other fine Linux distros out there, like Fedora 9, OpenSUSE, Arch, and others.
Recently I've tried a few of these on my laptop, but I invariably return to Ubuntu Hardy Heron.
- It just works. You put the CD in, run the installer, and, after answering a few questions, you get a nice, working Linux system that supports your hardware and is ready to go. No extra configuration, no tweaking of the UI (do you hear me, Foresight?), the drivers are loaded, and everything's happy.
- The default install is excellent. In the installer, you don't pick packages to install. Instead, you get a default installation, which includes Firefox, Evolution (which I actually could do without), the OpenOffice core, Gnome, and common Gnome apps. That's fine with me. Then, once the system is installed, I can pick the packages I want—Vim, Emacs, Eclipse, Thunderbird, and so on.
- The package repositories are vast and up-to-date. Want to install Orpie without building it from source? It's available on a few other systems, but I've found that only Ubuntu has version 1.5.0 in the repos. If I want it, chances are high that it's already in Ubuntu's repos. Want to install Emacs 23, which uses Xft font rendering? Install the emacs-snapshot package.
- It's not paranoid about "non-free" software. Some Linux users might call this a bad thing, but when I need an MP3 codec, I really don't want to have to jump through hoops to get it. Yes, Ubuntu will warn you when you're about to install these, but they're in the repos, and you can just get them. Same with Sun's JDK. For most purposes, I really don't care whether it's "free-as-in-speech" or not.
Those are the four main reasons I like Ubuntu. At this point in the world of Linux distros, if Linux is ever to make any substantial gains into the desktop market, it will be Ubuntu that does it.