My new Guardian column, “My new Ubuntu-flavoured ThinkPad is computing heaven,” describes the miraculously drama-free life I’ve discovered by buying ThinkPads with extended warranties and running the Ubuntu flavor of GNU/Linux on them:
The problem with writing about switching to Ubuntu is that there’s very little to report on, because it is just about the least dramatic operating system I’ve used, especially when paired with the extended warranties Lenovo sells for its ThinkPads. By this I mean that Ubuntu, basically, just works as well as or better than any other OS I’ve ever used, and what’s more, it fails with incredible grace.
This graceful failure is wonderful stuff, and after a lifetime of using computers I’ve decided that it’s the thing I value most in my technology. Ubuntu is free – free as in beer, costing nothing; free as in speech, in that anyone can modify or improve it. That means that on those occasions where I’ve had a bad disk or some other problem, I could simply download a new copy of the OS, stick it on a USB drive and restart from the drive to troubleshoot and repair the OS. I don’t have to take a rescue disk on the road with me, don’t have to try to run out to the Apple store at 8:55PM to try to buy another copy of the OS before the shop closes. Anywhere I’ve got a working computer and an internet connection, I’ve got everything I need to fail gracefully.