Vista to Ubuntu

Hello, I am currently using Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit. Its not terrible, but the lack of "snappiness" the 1 minute boots, the the instability are pretty annoying. I was thinking of upgrading to windows 7 for about 120$, getting the ultimate upgrade thing to keep my files, but i was wondering about ubuntu/linux. I have a few question about this:

1. Can you have both ubuntu 10.04 and windows vista/7 on the same computer, and just select which one you want to use from a boot menu?

2. Is ubuntu 10.04 faster, safer, or overall better than vista? Or is it the other way around.

3. Is ubuntu free and updates are free?

4. Is ubuntu compatible with most things like vista is?

5. Will i be able to transfer all my files from vista to ubuntu, or will i need to re-buy and re-download everything?

6. Can a new computer without and OS somehow download ubuntu to save money?

Thanks for any help! Any opinions and info on Ubuntu 10.04 vs Windows Vista/7 is very appreciated.
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  1. If you have an ATI video card, then linux is not for you. Ubuntu is free,updates,itself, but here is the thing. You can NOT run .exe files in ubuntu like windows. There is WINE but its not really good. You can save all of your music,videos,pictures onto a second harddrive. Ubuntu 10.04 is a great OS, but for newcomers linux mint would be better. You can use the live CD option which doesnt install to the harddrive and is the full os.
  2. After using Linux for a while, I just stick to Windows. Linux is a good OS with excellent community support; but I just get tired of having to read an installation guide for something as simple as a video driver. I'd love to know how to do everything I do with Linux, but unfortunately, I'm not blessed with an abundance of time to do so.

    You can have Windows and Linux on the same computer, but it is advisable to have separate hard drives for each OS. As for buying a complete computer with no OS... that may be a bit difficult, but Dell does offer some models preloaded with Linux and there are also netbooks available with Linux.

    Just be aware that if you're really used to the way things work in Windows, Linux will be a bit of a learning curve. The OS and updates are completely free thanks to Open Source. Linux does have security flaws like Windows, but there are very few attacks designed to take advantage of them. Your computer's security is more dependant on you than your OS... as I can count on one hand the number of problems I've had due to viruses on Windows. (Since the 3.1 days). Most Joe Schmo computer users do not practice safe computing... and that's how viruses spread. People make the mistake of believing they can do whatever they want just because they have an antivirus installed and blame the vendors when they still get a virus.

    Linux will not run Windows programs without some sort of emulation. You do have the option of running Windows via a virtual machine... but performance will suffer. If you go the Linux route, you'll find a lot of open source software freely available that will do most of the stuff you're used to doing in Windows. Again, these programs will not necessarily install with a simple double-click of an icon (though some will... just not all)... so you may have to consult the online community to get everything up and running the way you want.

    If you have the time (and patience) to learn, then go for it. There are a lot of people out there (some in these forums even) willing to help. If not, then you're probably better off sticking with Windows.
  3. I've had a good experience with Ubuntu myself - but I have an ATI graphics chip, and have been forced to switch back to Windows. Trying to make it work with Ubuntu is a real hassle, and then when you've done that, you can't even use it for anything that it is meant for like games.
    My next graphics card will be an nVidia one - if I could upgrade my laptop's graphics chip, I'd buy nVidia and go for Ubuntu.
    Right now, I'm using Ubuntu as an emergency backup - always there if when Windows breaks

    3. Is ubuntu free and updates are free?
    Yes, Ubuntu is "libre", you can do with it what you want. There are major updates to Ubuntu every six months exactly.

    4. Is ubuntu compatible with most things like vista is?
    Ubuntu can read NTFS files, and has been made recently to be compatible with older hardware, as well as state of the art. For older computers, I recommend Xubuntu.

    5. Will i be able to transfer all my files from vista to ubuntu, or will i need to re-buy and re-download everything?
    Ubuntu can read NTFS and FAT drives - some say that it is "unsafe" to mount a NTFS file system without it being under read only mode. But I've always done that. I think they made it "safer" in new updates.

    6. Can a new computer without and OS somehow download ubuntu to save money?
    If you have the installation disc needed, it can install Ubuntu... but Canonical usually send CDs out at a very low price for people who cannot download. (the Request a CD section of this page )

    Wine has variable compatibility. It has a website where the community measures its compatibility with Windows programs. Wine stands for "Wine Is Not an Emulator". You can search this website for the programs you are likely to use.
    One thing I'd say about Linux is that it requires a lot of patience to read through instructions, manuals, and help forums to get something working... the programs are made by a community, and the community doesn't always think about how to make it extremely easy to use, but rather about functionality. Once it's up and running, though, it's not likely to fail.
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