Arrrgghh!!! There be pirates a’ swimmin’ in the ink here! But, seriously, how many of you have pirated something before, like games, operating systems, Office and DVDs? Aren’t you tired of even having to pay for those things in the first place? Then I have just what you need! Linux! “Linux,” you say? Yes, Linux! “What is Linux,” you say? Linux is a Unix-based operating system that is developed and distributed by computer enthusiasts free of charge. Anyone with a PC can use Linux, and will not have to pay for the software ever, which is good news for those of us who do not like to pay for things.

One of the major complaints about Linux in the past has been its rather unfriendly user interface. In order to change anything, one had to go through a command line system entering commands that, quite frankly, were extremely difficult for even experienced users to do correctly. Oftentimes, I would find myself working on the PC running Linux trying to get things working with my windows laptop open next to it so I could look up exactly what the commands were in order to do, well, anything. Thankfully, those days are long gone with the recent releases of Linux distributions like Ubuntu.

Unlike previous versions of Linux, Ubuntu comes on a CD that just needs to put into the computer, and it will install just like Windows. You can even go online and order yourself a copy of Ubuntu, and they will send it to you for free. It has a graphical user interface that is something of a cross between Windows XP and Mac OS X. Unlike Windows, a Linux installation takes surprisingly few resources to run. All you need is 2 gigabytes of hard drive space and 256 megabytes of RAM. With those two minimums met, you can have an ancient PC up and running with Ubuntu, and it will be a productive machine to boot.

Ubuntu comes with many applications preinstalled, so you can start using it immediately after installation. It will install OpenOffice, which is an open source (free) productivity suite similar to Microsoft Office. You get Calc, which is a spreadsheet program similar to Microsoft Excel; Writer, which is similar to Word; and Impress, which is similar to PowerPoint. All three are compatible with Microsoft Office, so you can work on a project using OpenOffice and then take it to a PC that is running Microsoft Windows with Office and continue to work on your project seamlessly. Ubuntu also will auto-magically install GIMP, which is an image-manipulating program very similar to Adobe Photoshop. With GIMP, you can pretty much do anything to an image that you could do with Photoshop. For all you file-sharers out there, you can now use file-sharing software that is not blacklisted, so you can share your files, legally, of course, without fear of being slapped down by the banhammer that is Resnet if they even suspect you of using your computer in a way that they think is even remotely suspect.

Probably the best part of Linux is the security. Unlike Microsoft Windows, which is most likely the most insecure operating system known to man, Linux is probably the most secure operating system you can run. You do not need to run anti-virus software or worry about spyware and adware taking over your computer, slowing it to a crawl. With Linux, you can surf the Internet safely, and will not need to worry about your computer being attacked. You can get online at UCSB through your Resnet connection without worrying about using that god awful Cisco Clean Access Agent that completely takes over your machine and will not let you connect to the network until you buy anti-virus protection and update your Windows. Using Linux, you can literally just sit down and surf without worrying that Big Brother UCSB Housing is looking over your shoulder.

So, to all you pirates out there downloading your warez and lurking in the shadows of the legitimate world, why not stop plundering and go legit with Linux? You will never have to pay for software again, and you can surf the Internet without worry of your computer being compromised by those evil hackers and Resnet autobots who are ever-vigilant in putting you down.

Daily Nexus columnist Matt Suedkamp invented the Internet, probably.