I first became interested in Linux in about the year 2000. I was reading everything I could get my hands on by Neal Stephenson and ran into his article In the Beginning was the Command Line. I found it to be an interesting look at another way of using computers and decided I was going to give Linux a try, but didn't take the next step of actually installing and using it. By the way, In the Beginning is still interesting reading, but even Mr. Stephenson admits that most of it is now obsolete in this interview (the quote is a fair way into the interview, but it's there. The rest of the interview is pretty interesting too, though, so don't be afraid to read it all.)
It took a new computer with Windows Millenium Edition installed on it to finally get me to install Linux. I won't go over all the problems I had, but they probably weren't any different from anyone else's. I ended up buying Windows XP which was a huge improvement, but was very bitter about having to fork out $150 CDN to get an OS that works.
I downloaded and installed Red Hat 7.2. Linux didn't immediately replace Windows for me. It took time for me to learn how Linux worked, and it took Linux time to improve and mature, a process we're both still undergoing. I still have Windows XP, but now the only time I use it is to troubleshoot problems for others. Linux is now at the point where it is easier to install than Windows, and just as easy to run. My two printers, new DVD burner, and digital camera were easily detected and usable with Linux (okay, maybe not the camera). When I replaced my motherboard Linux just detected it and kept going. Windows wouldn't even boot. And with Linux you don't have to run antispyware and antivirus software.
I see three reasons a person may want to switch. First, she may be tired of fighting malware, such as viruses and spyware. She may want an alternative to Microsoft's increasingly restrictive licensing schemes. And she may just want to try out something new as a hobby.
If you belong to one of the first two categories, the first thing you have to do is find out if you can accomplish the same tasks in Linux as you can in Windows. Many times there are equivalent programs, and sometimes there are not. People will tell you that Wine will let you run Windows programs under Linux, but that's only partly true. Wine can be difficult to configure and will not run all Windows applications. Crossover (a commercial, tweaked version of Wine) may be a good solution, but check to make sure the application you want to run is supported.
My mother uses these basic programs on her computer: Firefox, Thunderbird, ExpressScribe, Word, and iTunes. Five. She runs five basic programs. Firefox and Thunderbird already run on Linux, so those are no problem. OpenOffice can replace Word for her. And there are many music players on Linux, I'd probably pick Amarok for her. That leaves ExpressScribe, which is Windows only. But wait, it can run under Wine. She is a perfect candidate to switch to Linux.
A professional graphics artist using Photoshop will not want to switch to Linux. There is an excellent graphics program for Linux called the Gimp, but it won't replace Photoshop for a professional. Photoshop doesn't work well under Wine, and is still buggy when run under Crossover.
Games are another weak spot in Linux. There are lots of games under Linux, but chances are that your favourite game in Windows will not run. People do run World of Warcraft under Wine, but that's one of the exceptions. One thing to consider is getting a console to game with, and using your computer for the internet and productivity. This is a personal decision.
You can still have the best of both worlds. There are live CDs that let you try Linux, although because they run off the CD drive they can be slow. You can also dual boot Windows and Linux, which means you can choose which one to run when you turn on the computer. This way you can use Linux for everyday, but when you need to do something that you have to do in Windows you still have that option.
Of course, if you're perfectly happy running Windows with no problems and have no desire to try out this other hippy OS, there is no reason for you to switch. You also probably haven't read this far, so I could really say anything I wanted to about you. But I won't. It's all about choice.
Why did you switch to Linux? Why aren't you switching to Linux? Thinking about it, but not sure? Let me know in the comments, or in an email.Powered by Sidelines