Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning “continuous improvement.” In the west it is usually used in connection with improving business but in Japan, kaizen, can relate to any improvement whether or not it is work related. If a student studies hard and improves their exam results, or a housewife improves the families finances by shopping more prudently, they have practised and benefited from kaizen. This article will show you how you too can benefit by applying kaizen to your computing needs.
What is Linux
I am sure that the majority of you reading this will be using either Windows or Mac OSX computers. These are the two main operating systems used by the average home computer user. However they come at a price. You may not realise this but when you buy a new computer, included in the price is the cost of the operating system such as Windows XP or Vista, or one of the OSX varieties. Unfortunately buying the computer doesn’t mean you stop buying software. Every few years another, “improved” version is released along with a not-so-nice price tag. Shortly after, a second edition with “security fixes” is released incurring an extra cost for the user.
Linux is different. Linux is a completely free operating system that users can simply download from the internet, burn to a CD and reboot to install. Its as simple as that and as it comes complete with everything the average user needs, an office suite, digital camera software, internet applications etc., you don’t need to pay for any add-ons.
Unfortunately Linux is generally regarded as a “geek’s” operating system, inferring that unless you have a doctorate in computer science you simply cannot get it to work. Recent releases however have changed all that and now Linux is as easy to use as its two main rivals in the desktop war. One distribution of this free operating system has received much praise and recommendation recently – Ubuntu.
Ubuntu – Linux for Windows Users
Ubuntu, like other Linux systems is completely free to download, install and use. It doesn’t ask for any personal information or require a product registration. You just download and off you go.
Unlike Windows or OSX, which, to coin a manufacturing phrase, batch and queue their improvements and ship them in bulk every few years, Ubuntu release regular improvements as they happen and which you can download via a notification icon in the system tray. It is more in line with the way Toyota build cars. The kaizen way.
As Ubuntu is on the whole maintained and improved by willing volunteers it is constantly being refined and improved. A little tweak here, a little tweak there, and the benefits are available when ready and when the user requests them, rather than having the user wait and then pushing them onto the user by way of a new release. In manufacturing such a process is called pull, as the user (or customer) pulls the improvements towards them, when they require them and in the amounts they want. Ubuntu does issue new releases every six months but if you keep up-to-date with the improvements you don’t need to download and reinstall.
Ubuntu Linux is a simple to install, easy to maintain operating system for the masses and a great alternative for those fed up with having to constantly pay for their computing needs. Its great for businesses also as there is no yearly license fee to use the operating system or its software applications. Its also resistant to virus attacks and spyware so your privacy is maintained and assured (though it does come with a very secure firewall just in case).
Ubuntu comes complete with everything you need including a full office suite courtesy of Open-Office, the free replacement to Microsoft Office, all your internet applications – Firefox browser, an email client called evolution similar to Outlook, and even a Photoshop style image manipulation program called Gimp. In fact there are literally thousands of professional standard, free applications waiting to be used and if you need some specialist software that isn’t installed by default, such as accountancy software, the main menu has an add/remove listing that lets you search and install it with just a couple of clicks, free of charge.
In fact so popular has Ubuntu become that the French government recently (03/2007) began discussing the possibility of removing its Microsoft system in favor of Ubuntu and free software and began the change over in June 2007 (source: zdnet.fr “Linux: Ubuntu s’installe sur les PC des députés”).
So why not add a bit of kaizen, the art of continuous improvement, to your computing needs and give Ubuntu a try.