Switching to Linux
A few weeks ago I decided to switch to Linux. I had flirted with Linux in the past, but never fully committed myself to a complete and total change. Most of my hesitation was due to fear. I was afraid that the programs I used most often would not exist in Linux.
To some extent these fears are correct. Software available on Linux is not as extensive as the software available to Windows users. However, there are enough programs readily available that allow me to find work-arounds to these problems.
Virtual Box allowed me to install a copy of Windows XP on PCLinuxOS 2007. I only need it for a few printing/graphics programs.
Switching to Linux is like taking off the training wheels. I stumbled and fell a few times but I’m now managing to keep my balance.
There is learning curve to Linux. It’s worth the time and effort, however, to learn Linux. I now have a rock solid OS that costs nothing. My HP printer works, my sound works, my HP scanner works, thumb drives work, my CD/DVD burners work and all my essential data files are transferable.
At this point, I have no regrets.
Can Anyone Switch to Linux? (Part One)
Yes, but take some precautions first.
Backup your Windows installation either by using a program like Norton Ghost or buy a new hard drive and replace your Windows drive. You will want the ability to revert your system back to Windows if you find that Linux is not for you.
Backup your My Documents folder, your IE favorites folder, any wallpaper and media files you have installed in Windows. Backup your address book.
Download and burn at least a dozen different Linux Live CDs and test them. Find the Linux distribution that feels good to you. Remember, you have to live with your Linux choice for long time. Make sure it’s the right one for you.
Research! Most Linux distributions have a Web site and a forum. Benefit from the experiences of others.
And have fun with it. If you’re not enjoying Linux, then go back to Windows. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to make the switch.
Can Anyone Switch to Linux? (Part Two)
Need a good example? How about my mother. Now don’t get me wrong, my mother knows enough about computers to do what she wants to do. In Windows. But she’s no where near advanced enough to load and configure Linux.
And more to the point, she logs into the Net using a proprietary software package called Juno. Juno is Windows only.
You still have to look at all of your software and decide whether it can be ported to Linux or not. Check the software providers Web site for details.
It’s something to look at before making the switch.
One Month Later
I’ve now been running Linux for just over a month.
So far everything seems to work just fine. I was concerned that streaming audio that utilizes the Windows Media Player might be a problem. However, there is a browser plug-in that allows the Linux MPlayer to access the stream. It does take a bit longer to load, but it functions perfectly.
Speaking of media players, I removed the Amarok Media Player from my system. I know a lot of Linux users swear by it. I just find it too invasive. And this is the true beauty of Linux; there are many other media player choices that can be downloaded and installed for free.
Linux gives you the freedom to personalize your computer like Windows never could — for free.
It’s great not to have to worry about spyware and malware and viruses.
This is real freedom.
Two Months Later
Still no regrets. In fact, the more I use Linux the more I like this operating system.
Some of the best free software is available only on Linux. The one that impresses me the most is KMyMoney. Very similar to Quicken, the program allows you to track all of your financial data and backup to a single file. It’s an extremely well designed GUI, that takes little effort to learn to use.
And the K3b CD/DVD burning software is outstanding. Or for those who can’t live without Nero, there is a paid Linux version that is well worth the $19.99 asking price (which is significantly less than the Windows version price).
And this is only a small sampling of the software available.
I do have one regret: I should have switched to Linux long ago.
Four Months Later
I’m still very pleased with my Linux install. I recently added a graphics card to my computer (ATI Radeon X1300 Pro AGP).
The install was very easy, once I knew how. First (before installing the card) load the correct drivers found in the repository. Turn off the computer and insert the card.
My computer booted up as normal. However, before getting to the log-in screen it stopped at a text-only screen and asked for a log-in name. I logged in as “root” and then entered my root password.
A DOS-like prompt appeared. I typed in the command “video”. This brought up a DOS-like graphical interface that allowed me to select the appropriate drivers for my card and then test the graphics.
When that was done, I rebooted. Everything loaded as normal and I now have a fully functioning graphics card.
Now I’m thinking I need a bigger, badder wide-screen monitor. That would be cool!
Not quite a year
I have upgraded my computer and my wife’s computer to the new PCLinuxOS 2009.
I had to remove my graphics card and go back to using the integrated chip set. The new ATI drivers are junk.
Despite that fact, everything is running beautifully on all my machines.
So far, so good!
One Year Anniversary!
It has now been one full year and it just gets better and better!
I am now running on PCLinuxOS 2010. Since I started major improvements have been made to my distro that make it easier to accomplish tasks. After much trial and error (and several reformats), Linux has shown that it is the OS of the future.
The total flexibility I get is amazing. And thanks to VirtualBox there are few programs that I cannot run. Having a full install of Windows XP at my finger tips is fantastic. I’ve said this before but it really is the best of both worlds.
The thing that amazes most is the ability to complete tasks by simply right-clicking on a file. Where once I would have to open a program to convert a wave file to an MP3 file, I now just right-click on the file and select convert from the menu. It’s just that simple.
So I think I’ll stick with Linux. One year down, a lifetime to go.