Why you should upgrade Windows 7 to Ubuntu MATE

Why you should upgrade Windows 7 to Ubuntu MATE

Windows 7 has reached the end of its life. It will no longer receive security updates and Microsoft's technical support will stop. Running an out-of-date OS can have serious potential risks, and if you're one of more than 750,000 people using Windows exposed to the internet, you may have a problem. Fortunately, there are two simple solutions: 1. Buy a new computer running another operating system, or 2. Install Linux on any computer you like. In this article, we will talk about the Linux option, specifically Ubuntu MATE.

What is Ubuntu MATE?

Simply put, Ubuntu MATE is a typical modern computer operating system for the average computer user. It is a supported and official "flavor" of Ubuntu Linux, the most widely deployed Linux-based desktop operating system in the world. Ubuntu, pronounced oŏ'boŏntoō, is developed and supported by Canonical, Ltd. The name "MATE" is pronounced "Mah-Tay" (not "Mayt") and comes from the name of the yerba maté plant, a species of holly native to South America.

While it is great for users who are upgrading from Windows 7 (or macOS), Ubuntu MATE is also an excellent choice for any kind of computer operator, from casual home user to professional software developer because of its modern, functionally thought-out design.

Modern and Full-Featured

When you use Ubuntu MATE, you'll find that it is a free, full-featured, and modern computer operating system, which is attractive and easy to understand. Its' update manager keeps both the operating system and all of its installed applications updated to the most current and secure release. Ubuntu MATE is more secure and better-supported than operating systems that come pre-installed on most personal computer hardware today. With modest hardware requirements, Ubuntu MATE is suitable for current workstations and laptops, single board computers and older hardware too. Ubuntu MATE makes modern computers faster and older computers usable.

Apps

Ubuntu MATE comes pre-installed with everything you need to browse the Internet, check email, use a word processor, read and store document files, view and edit photos, stream media, and subscribe to podcasts. Below is a sampling of some of the productivity applications you'll find as soon as you start using Ubuntu MATE.

Google Chrome

It's likely a lot of users upgrading from Windows will be used to Google Chrome. Ubuntu MATE's Welcome application offers the choice of six browsers, including Firefox and Chrome, and installing either one or several browsers is a button-click away. With Chrome, the approximate 56.1% of web browsers who were using Google Chrome at the end of last year can easily move to Ubuntu MATE. You can even move all of your bookmarks from chrome on Windows 7 to Ubuntu MATE.

To do so, click on the three dots at the top right of the browser. Move your mouse to "Bookmarks" and open "Bookmark manager". Select the bookmarks to save, select the three dots at the top right of the page again, and click "Export bookmarks". Google Chrome will then save your bookmarks as a HTML file online. Use the file to import your bookmarks back into Chrome once Ubuntu MATE is installed.

Office Suite

All online web apps are available with Ubuntu MATE, including Microsoft's Office Online and Google's Docs, Sheets, and Slides applications. Although the installed version of Microsoft Office is not available on Ubuntu MATE, the pre-installed application is LibreOffice, a full-featured office productivity suite that provides a near drop-in replacement for Microsoft's office suite and is compatible with Google's online office suite. Like many office suites, LibreOffice includes several applications, but unlike other suites, it contains applications like Base and Math, as a parts of the suite. LibreOffice is truly full-featured, unlike other online versions of office productivity apps that provide only basic functions. Basic capabilities are fine until you need to use one of those "advanced" features. Then you'll be looking for something with all the features.

Spotify

If you're moving from Windows 7, you'll want to keep your music. Spotify, the most popular global audio streaming subscription service with 248m users is on Ubuntu MATE too. It can be installed with a button click in the Software Boutique.

Shotwell Digital Photo Organizer

Ubuntu MATE also provides a way to organize all of your digital photos with Shotwell. When you first launch Shotwell, it scans your computer for photos and imports them so that you can use Shotwell to organize them. Once you have all the photos from your computer's hard drive within Shotwell, you can import new files from the menus, or by dragging and dropping them onto the Shotwell window, or by connecting a camera to your computer and choosing to import the photos from there. Of course, you can share your photos from Shotwell by exporting or printing them. You can also publish them to Facebook or other online sites, send them via email or instant messaging, or simply display them as a slideshow.

Skype

Skype is the most widely used cross-platform video calling app. It brings features like voice calls, video calls and desktop screen sharing to your computer. On Ubuntu MATE you can continue skyping to your heart's content.

With these apps, most PC users will be able to function as normal. You can continue to search the web, listen to music, watch videos, talk with your friends and download new apps. Plus, you can discover thousands more apps designed and built by the community.

Getting new apps

Ubuntu MATE's online software repositories (think: software catalog) gives access to thousands of additional apps ready to install. The software repositories for Ubuntu MATE are managed, maintained and updated by the distribution's maintainers and contain almost ALL of the full-featured, free and open-source software that has been tested for installation on Ubuntu MATE. Many of the applications you would expect to find installed on a modern computer are provided, pre-installed on Ubuntu MATE. If you don't find an installed application to do what you want to do, you'll likely find it in the Software Boutique or by using one of Ubuntu MATE's other software management applications, then you can install it from there.

Installing software on Ubuntu MATE is actually easier and safer than on Windows. On Ubuntu MATE users install apps using the Software Boutique or the easily added Software Center and Snap Store. Installing is just a case of clicking install, without needing to click through Windows asking to make changes to your computer.

Community

Open-source means Ubuntu MATE is built by people, for users. It is backed by Canonical who provide extra services and support for large businesses to use Ubuntu in their organizations. It is free for anyone in the world to use, for anyone to contribute to, and so anyone can suggest or request new things. Even Microsoft is contributing in order to have their say. Open-source communities are famous for being passionate about their work and for being collaborative, they are open to everyone. Using Ubuntu MATE is a step towards joining a global community, and contributing your work to a bigger picture.

People are what makes a community great. The Ubuntu MATE community is not just software people and computer people, but artists and photographers, entrepreneurs and inventors; people who contribute and provide feedback to make apps and features the best they can be.

Security

This is the reason switch from Windows 7 is necessary. Security patches will no longer be supplied for Windows 7. Ubuntu MATE is secure. Every line of code is thoroughly vetted by Canonical or a member of the community. Code isn't implemented until it works as it's supposed to. There are full-time employees at Canonical actively looking for bugs and vulnerabilities.

The built-in updater provided with Ubuntu MATE provides security updates for both its software applications and the operating system. Vulnerabilities are patched more quickly and are delivered automatically and more frequently than on Windows.

Ubuntu MATE receives updates continuously. The updates include security patches for both Ubuntu MATE and its installed applications on the same frequent schedule. This ensures that you have the latest protection for all of your computer's software -- as soon as it's available!

How to get Ubuntu MATE

There are three main ways to get Ubuntu MATE.

  1. You can install Ubuntu MATE on a computer you already have. There are tutorials available to help you with the installation. There is also a book published on Amazon that includes written instructions on installing and using Ubuntu MATE.

  2. You can buy a new computer with Ubuntu MATE pre-installed from Entroware and other computer providers. This is the most expensive option of the three, but it gets you up and running the fastest.

  3. You can also install Ubuntu in a virtual environment. This option might sound the most confusing and is the least intuitive if you’re new to Linux, but it is the most straightforward. This option means installing Ubuntu in a virtual environment on Linux, Windows or MacOS inside an application that lets you access Ubuntu from your desktop. A simple walkthrough is available on the Ubuntu community Wiki page .

Summary

To conclude, if you know anyone still running Windows 7, a relative, a small business owner, or a less than techy person in your life, let them know Windows 7 is leaving their system exposed. There are a few options to take, one of which is installing Ubuntu MATE, an operating system that offers thousands of new apps to explore and most of the features you can get from Windows -- for free. Ubuntu MATE is cared for by the community, with users across the globe, and by Canonical, who help to make it secure and function to an industry-leading level of reliability.

Much thanks to @goinglinux for the vast majority of this content.
This posting is based on the fine work of Rhys Davies

6 Likes

Additionally you can install Windows 7 or 10 in a virtual environment ... this will provide a method for using Windows programs that you've invested significant learning curve.

4 Likes

Good post, but kind of preaching to the choir here on an Ubuntu Mate Forum. This post needs to be on tech sites like Softpedia and Linux Today.

1 Like

It would be great for it to have a wider spread. Please feel free to share this on social media. Send links to the outlets you've mentioned.

At the moment this is where it's at. :slightly_smiling_face:

I apologize, but this needs a minor correction. Windows 10 user here; Anyone using WIn10 for any serious work will call out the support issue if they need a proprietary, commercially-available or system-exclusive utility.

The thing you should be highlighting with that sentence is security and privacy, not security and software compatibility. Here's my take on the entire paragraph.

While evaluating Ubuntu MATE, you may find that it is a full-featured and modern alternative to mainstream offerings from Microsoft and Apple which is attractive and easy to understand. Its update manager keeps both the operating system updated and treats all installed software as first-class residents, permitting update to the most recent version when available. Ubuntu MATE is more secure and respecting of your privacy than operating systems that come pre-installed on most personal computer hardware today. With modest hardware requirements, Ubuntu MATE is suitable for current workstations and laptops, single board computers and legacy hardware. Ubuntu MATE can make modern computers perform faster and older computers useful once again.

If you are wondering Gee, why so much doubt? It's because I prefer to keep expectations tempered. If one's hardware is absolute garbage, using an open-source system won't suddenly make it faster. A solid-state media device can however, permitting instantaneous file operations unlike legacy hard disks. The emphasis on privacy is important; if nothing else, a user coming from Windows and knowing what Microsoft's telemetry entails may stick with it solely for conservation of bandwidth and the privacy they expect be fulfilled, where corporations return such expectations with apathy and malice.

1 Like

...Except, users need to still provide a password. Since Windows Vista, User Access Control has been a thing, and its defaults usually require the consent of any user with administrative privilege, along with their password to install software with consent.

For users who come from Windows with UAC turned off, the need to constantly put in a password for software installation may be more alien and unfamiliar then otherwise.

I don't know. I think it's good to preach to the choir from time to time. After all, people tend to get sleepy. :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

Ubuntu Mate is an adequate OS. I've used Windows in it's various incarnations for many, many years. My son has wanted me to use Linux instead and he selected Ubuntu Mate for me since it was more Windows like, he said. Now that I've used it awhile, it is perfectly fine. It gets the job done. It does feel like I'm in Windows 95 again though. For example, I can't drag-select files in a window anymore...among many such omissions. Again, it is perfectly fine, but it doesn't seem very refined or smooth. My son says that a lot of folks who use Linux generally are used to the command line...not my thing...as an explanation of why the mouse side of things is relatively crude. But again, I'm happy and it does what I want. And the kid is happy. That is the most important.

I think that all Linux users are command line users is a very old attitude. I love Linux, and dual boot Ubuntu Mate and Parrot OS. I almost never use the command line, as it really is not needed. The one problem I have experienced where I need the command line is broken packages. Synaptic cannot always fix them. The command that will is "sudo dpkg --configure -a". I am a super bad typist, so keep a few basic commands on a cheat sheet so I can just copy and paste. I found that command and others in the package management page of DistroWatch under Apt, Debian, Ubuntu. As for the it being refined, I find it perfect in refinement. I am not looking for eye candy that bloats an OS, so to each his own. There are plenty of things you can do like Compiz and with different themes is you care for that kind of thing.

I wasn't talking about eye candy. Being able to drag select files in a window is a minor (note minor) time saver. Of course, I can click the first file, hold shift and click the last file and all files between will select...but drag selecting to do the same thing is faster. There are many such refinements in Windows that are lacking in Ubuntu Mate, so most operations are slower. As far as bloat ware, my son uses the same term. Frankly, I don't give a rip. I have a 1.5 TB hard drive that has seldom had more that a TB on it. Presently, it is about 800 GB. My computer, built by my son, is 10 years old, so I suppose everybody now has a 5 or 10 TB hard drive. So if the OS takes up another GB of space, big whoop. My main reason for upgrading to Ubuntu Mate now was that Win7 was expiring and I will note that I've found that after a couple of years, Window would get slower for whatever reason, so I'd do a clean reinstall and all was good for another couple of years. So those two things, plus wanting to please my son, helped me make the switch. I will give Ubuntu Mate credit for being fast on my old hardware and I've worked with it to make it as Windows like as I can, but I've given up making audio CDs with it. And Google Earth crashes all the time. I've heard there is a licensing problem or something so making audio CDs is very difficult in any Linux, but if I need one, my wife's Win10 machine is 8 feet away and Google Earth runs on my phone. As I said, it gets the job done. If Win7 hadn't expired, I'd have just reinstalled it and been happy as a clam.

Yes, Windows wonderful registry always corrupts itself and slows Windows down. It is the worst feature of Windows, besides the everlasting updates when you want to start the computer or shut it down. And that is besides all the time I spend downloading, installing and updating spyware and virus programs.
I was worried too when I first started using Linux, I kept a dual boot. What I found out was the only thing I went on Windows for was to update Windows and spyware and virus programs. That was the end of my Windows dual booting.
I have no problem dragging files in Linux, so I am not sure what you are talking about. I also have no problems burning audio CD's. Burning CD's and licensing is no different on Windows than on Linux, it is a whole separate issues, and one unlikely to cause anyone a problem for personal use, only if you decide to sell burnt CD's.
While I would prefer to see you keep and open mind and realize the benefits of Linux, if you prefer Windows and find it so superior, forget what pleases your son, reinstall Windows and upgrade to Windows 10, I believe the upgrade is still being offered for free. Linux is about choice, and you can always chose not to use it. I mean that with all sincerity, I will never again use an OS or even desktop that frustrates me and fails to meet my needs. Good luck whatever you chose.

As I said, I can finally do everything I want in Mate, except audio CDs and Google Earth. Both of those are of lessor importance. I have old cars that only take audio CDs. More modern cars can play MP3 CDs, but mine can’t, so I’m stuck. Of course, no one plays CDs in brand new cars anyway. Such players aren’t even offered as an option any more. If I had a slightly newer car, I’d just make data CDs with MP3s on them and all would be good.

I spent a lot of time installing this and configuring that, based on advice I was given on this “community” link. Didn’t help and was very frustrating, so I just gave up. It’s my understanding that whatever patents there used to be on MP3s have expired, so maybe the Mate developers will finally build that capability into their OS.

As to Google Earth, it crashes while zooming in about 95% of the time. It’s probably a driver issue. I have an old video card. I’ve tried the generic and ‘Mate recommended’ video drivers, to no effect.

I had to do a lot of hoop jumping to get commercial DVD movies to play through Mate. FINALLY got that working. That would have been a deal breaker if that couldn’t have been fixed. Making a simple hard drive backup was a pain in the ‘well, you know’ as well. But, finally, got that working too. My son says that my problems are because I want to do “old things” that few want to do anymore. He’s probably right.

Drag selecting. Open a window in Mate. I use the list view, rather than icons. Put your mouse pointer in the windows not on a file and hold down the left button. In Windows, one can then drag a box around some of the files and select them that way. Its a minor thing, but handy.

If you can make audio CDs on Mate, how do you do it? Brasero doesn’t work. I tried a couple of other programs. I can make all the data CDs and DVDs I want, just not audio CDs. I suppose I can install some more programs and files to the many I’ve already installed, based on the advice I’ve received in this “community” link, trying to get what I would consider to be a simple, standard thing to be able to do...to work.

A dual boot might be handy. I could drop into Windows for audio CDs and Google Earth. I wonder if I could ‘back into’ a dual boot now? Now that I finally have Mate mostly working, I’d hate to have to start over from scratch and get the backup and DVD movie thing going again.

Mate is fine. I don’t mean to be so negative. I guess because Windows is mainstream, it is more supported and is supported further back in time. I guess Linux is more “what’s happening now.” I’m just an old guy with no patience. Sorry.

Why can't you make an audio CD?
Both Brasero and K3B give you a simple option. Brasero open and click on "New Audio Project" and K3B Open and click on "New Audio Project"'. The programs will automatically convert your songs to .cda. State what is giving you a problem and I am sure people here can help you solve the problem.
I do agree CD's are about finished. Most computers don't even come with a cd/dvd player anymore unless you special order it. Most autos now come with a USB port, and USB thumb drives can hold your whole library. I installed that kind of radio in my personal vehicle with a 64 gig USB drive and my library hasn't even filled it yet.
I am not sure about Google Earth, I pretty much refuse to use anything Google.

I've tried the audio CD option in Brasero and K3B. When I click 'Burn,' some error message comes up about missing files. I've installed them and I still get the same message. Frankly, I've moved on...don't really care to pursue it further...I was mostly whining in my earlier message. I can make an audio CD on my wife's Win10 machine right next to me. It would be nice to be able to do in on my computer, like I used to be able to do, but it's not worth the bother anymore, and I don't need to do it that often anyway.
Yes, I avoid Google generally too, but Google Earth is fun to play with, if nothing else. I can amuse myself for an hour or so with it. Better than watching the crap on TV! Unfortunately, on my computer with Ubuntu Mate, it simply won't work. I've asked around on this community link to no avail. I finally installed in on my phone and it works perfectly there, but it is a tiny screen, not my 27" monitor. Oh well. Again, not worth much more bother...but Google Earth worked perfectly when my very same computer was running Windows 7 two months ago. If Windows 7 hadn't expired in January, I'd probably still be using it. Sometimes you have to give up something to get something else. I generally like Ubuntu Mate, but there is a downside too.

A mainstay of Windows and Mac machines for many audio enthusiast wannabes, VLC media player is also available for most popular systems in the Linux userland and once installed, should provide the facility to rip an audio CD by following these instructions.

Since you seem to be more into audio, rather than use its built-in equalizer to improve its sound via software and should you lack equivalent audio hardware, if you don't mind a bit of fuss initially then I have a guide about installing the LADSPA PulseAudio equalizer using apt and its related tools.

You'd imagine that the above instructions are wholly unnecessary because there's a "Later version" of pulseaudio-equalizer available but it's unanimously been canned by most of the Ubuntu userbase for its ineffectiveness at being a simple, easy and fuss-free solution. And don't get me started about pulseeffects you need a God-damn degree in audio engineering to use that, and on some systems, mine included it tends to crash out for indiscernible reasons.

I think you're absolutely correct about the challenges that Linux presents. Though, I will say that Windows 7 had its challenges as well. That said, I think the think that kills Linux for new users is that often it's the little things that get in the way. For example, for Windows 7, you can buy pretty much any printer you want, and as long as there are drivers for it, it will work. However, with Linux, things are not that easy. You need to do research in order to find the printer that will work. Oh, and if your printer has scanning functionality, it can be even more of a nightmare. Now, I have a lot of patience and can pretty much work my way through any issue, but I'm not most people. Most people just want stuff to work. Of course, I will say that Ubuntu MATE has been the most friendly for me when it comes to printing/scanning.

On the other hand, Windows likes to obfuscate a lot of things for the end user, so when you do have a problem, it's not always clear what it is. For example if you perform system updates and something goes wrong, you often get a message like, "Windows updates failed error code x0blahblahblah." Then when you look up the error code, you either get vague, generic information, or you are directed to some forum that is absolutely no help at all. But, when you encounter a similar issue in Linux, you are almost always provided with the information you need to figure out what is happening, especially if you use the command line to perform a task.

At the end of the day, it all depends on what you are willing to put up with. Personally, I like knowing the details and having a gigantic community available to help rather than just having to put up with stuff because a single company is the only entity that can fix an issue. Which, of course, they might fix if they get around to it, and if the application/system is still profitable.

2 Likes

I offer installing Ubuntu to my customers and do those installs quite often. We live in a community full of eco-friendly mindsets and the idea that a computer is not going into an already overburdened recycling stream is appealing to everyone here. I convert Macs more than anything because they are still running great even after they are obsolete. Many people are calling me now to do this because word is getting out about it. I use Ubuntu on my Pi4 for 100% of my work. I even operate remote services to my customerts from my pi4.

2 Likes

Good on you man. Open-source systems keep older machines in service because often their DEs do not require nearly the same hardware requirements as Microsoft's Explorer shell. MATE is very no-nonsense, and Ubuntu MATE adds in its own sensible presets all without needing to use a compositor for "Vintage" hardware otherwise unable to use Windows comfortably, all while using the same cross-platform software.

...This, coming from someone who prefers a composited environment and will only stubbornly move away from Compiz after Scott calls his project dead with no takers to continue advancing it forward. But it's nice that no compositing is always an option.

as an ex-mac user, MATE fits the bill for me and does almost all the Mac does (except run native apps of course).

Ubuntu Mate has saved the life of three computers for me: a desktop; a laptop; and a netbook. Previously, the desktop and the netbook were both running Windows XP, and the laptop was running Windows Vista. Because these operating systems are no longer supported by Microsoft I removed them and replaced them with Ubuntu Mate. I am very happy with the result. All three computers are now running like new machines.
Because these computers are all 32 bit, my only concern is that future Ubuntu upgrades/versions will not support 32 bit machines. Then what do I do?