I’ve been asked by many if Linux is right for them. I’ve been thinking about this for some time and with XP no longer being available as of June 30,2008, I feel it is time as a professional to address the big question: “Is Linux Right For Me?”
I’m going to be honest. As much as I advocate Linux in all of its various forms, I feel there should be some readiness before the non-geek jumps into it. The first thing you need to do is ask this question: “What Windows Applications can I live without?” If you’re honest with yourself you can probably get a pretty good sized list going. Then, you need to talk to someone who uses Linux and I’m not talking about that little kid who threw Ubuntu on his home computer to get street cred in his computer lab. I’m talking about someone who uses or has used various forms of Linux with some degree of skill. I’ll walk y’all trough some of my experiences when I switched from Windows to Linux and try to explain why certain things are important and why they’re not.
The next thing you need before you even think about Linux is a fast, fast internet connection. If you’re still dialing up to get to the internet moving to Linux is not the right move unless you’re an advanced user who is rather stubborn (Geo) If you like your life with computers simple I suggest you come back once you’ve upgraded to broadband.
I spent a full year preparing to make the move from Windows XP Professional to openSUSE Linux. I did my research and took that time to find proper substitutes for the software I was used to on Windows. I used that software on my windows machine before I made the switch so I could get used to the applications on a regular basis and I felt it would ease in going back and forth from windows to Linux as I still have to have windows around for work. Some of those applications you may have heard me talk about … i.e. Mozilla Firefox for web surfing, Mozilla Thunderbird for E-mail. OpenOffice.org for all my office suite needs like presentations, spreadsheets and word processing. that’s what I call the Open Source Core Application Set. For those of you who love to chit chat online another application is Pidgin, Pidgin allows you to connect to any Instant Message network with one handy application and you can connect to all of them at once (OmniBug) So My suggestion for anyone who is even thinking about changing to Linux would be get to know the software. Most applications can run on windows and you may find you like them better than their alternatives. When you are completely comfortable with the software the Operating System that is Linux will not be that daunting. I mean It is nothing like using Windows so you’re going to have to remember that.
Choosing a Flavor.
Now, this is the most difficult part of the process in my opinion. You are faced with a variety of choices and each one has it’s own set of pros and cons. I do not normally make this stand but I’m going to make this part easier for you. there are two kinds of computer people. Geeks and Users. Geeks will do just about anything to their computer and not think twice about it. The computer for a geek is their hot rod and their “Home Office or cubical is their garage. Users either have to use a computer and don’t want to or they see it as a means to get to their facebook or MySpace. Two completely different ways of using a computer. So I have narrowed the field down to two distributions of Linux that while either one would suffice for both Geek and User, each distribution or flavor, is geared more for one type or the other.
In the User Camp we have Ubuntu. That’s it. Hands down the easiest version of Linux you can get, it’s the most supported and the most accessible. I’ll go into why in a bit.
In The Geek Camp we have openSUSE. while it’s very easy to use it’s rather involved in setting up and it’s administration can be somewhat daunting.
Why Ubuntu? For starters you don’t have to install Ubuntu to get to know it. You download the ISO,burn it to a CD and throw it in the computer you want to test it on. Ubuntu runs right off the CD. Doesn’t touch your hard drive until you tell it to install if you ever do. This makes that normally lengthy transition period easier as well because you can run Ubuntu and when you need to get back to Windows comfort you can at any time. so you made the choice and you actually want to install Ubuntu? Good, there are only eight steps in doing very basic knowledge of Geek terms and procedures.
Why openSUSE? I’ve used about five distributions of Linux when I made the switch Ubuntu was still in its infancy so I didn’t trust it yet. Also, openSUSE allowed me to get more advanced easier and allowed me to get in there on setup and configure EVERYTHING. When I set up an openSUSE machine it takes me about three hours to get it how I want it and for it to go out and install everything.For example I prefer running Linux on the XFS file system in lieu of the standard ext3. With Ubuntu you don’t get those kinds of choices. I also wanted a custom partition setup as I was running two 80 gigabyte hard drives and needed Linux to see and use them differently.
Alright Buggy-Poo, you sold me, I went out and got Linux and put it on my machine now what?
You play with it. Linux for the most part does not assume you are stupid. It gets out of your way once you’ve got it set up. Just take a deep breath and go surf the Internet or get your email or whatever you usually do with your computer. It will be fine. You’ll never have to worry about viruses or spy and malware. You have a world class firewall running in the background you probably won’t ever have to configure. You are safe. Your software will run efficiently oncin lower end hardware saving you from making that expensive move to Vista and all it’s wasted code. (like force you to have at least two gigabytes of ram and a thousand dollar graphics card)
If this entry has helped you please leave a comment or drop me a line (stoothman[at]gmail.com] I’ll be glad to help anyone make the move!
Peace, Love, & Understanding,