Linux hits user nerve

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Ubuntu

Maybe I'm on to something.

For a good part of last week, your reviewer's musings about Ubuntu Linux was among the top five most-read stories on washingtontimes.com. Since the other top stories concerned health-insurance reform or the H1N1 vaccine and similar weighty topics, the presence of a geek-oriented column came as a pleasant surprise.

I suspect this may reflect a growing disenchantment among computer users with the high cost of operating systems, specifically Windows operating systems from Microsoft Corp. That company launched its newest release, Windows 7, on Thursday, and while sales signs are encouraging, we're not seeing the mania some previous Windows launches have produced. With prices ranging from about $110 to just under $200 depending on the Windows 7 package, some users may invoke the famous Roberto Duran maxim: "No mas."

In short, when computer hardware can cost as little as $300 for a decent setup, spending one-third to one-half of that on the operating system seems a little extravagant, if not downright crazy.

My Ubuntu column drew a number of reader comments and questions. Here are a couple of clarifications and answers to the most frequent issues raised by readers:

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