Why Linux?

I’ve mentioned that I’d be writing a post with some general information about why I made the switch to Linux so here it is.

First off, I’m really not vehemently against Microsoft or Macintosh. For what I need and use my computer for, Linux is a better fit, but there are instances where Windows or OSX is needed and works better than anything Linux can provide (that being said, you can always dual boot, utilize WINE or run Windows on a Virtual Machine).

I run a pretty old Dell Inspiron 5100 that I purchased before college (a couple years ago). Switching to Linux has given my laptop a new lease on life – Windows is pretty well-known for bloatware and my computer couldn’t take it anymore. I started with a Dreamlinux distribution and after a few months switched over to XUbuntu. Running XFCE as my desktop environment was the kicker with both distributions. Part of it was that it was what I started with and didn’t want to change everything when changing distributions, but it worked really well and continues to be a great desktop environment for my aging piece of hardware. I’ve also recently gone back to Dreamlinux on a “multimedia center” computer that is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster (a mix of various other old desktops) which I’ve hooked up to our television set – it’s working like a dream (if you pardon my pun).

There are some struggles when making a switch to Linux: It took me some serious fighting to get my wireless card to work and to get my graphics card drivers on the up and up, but it can be done and ubuntu’s community is an indespensible resource for both the linux novice and pro.

Now on with some of the more prominent perks: Package management in debian distributions is a serious plus. Window’s has some pseudo management, but you control every aspect of what’s on your computer and have full access to all available programs and libraries on your repositories. I use Synaptic which comes on both ubuntu and dreamlinux and provides a great graphical interface for all your package perusing needs. Customization is also a plus, if you like the look of Windows or OSX you can make your xfce linux box look and act just like either (see OSX lookalike and Vista lookalike).

Prominent Disadvantages: Sometimes linux doesn’t play well with other operating systems. The necessity for opensource software doesn’t always mesh well with the prominent buyer’s software (such as Adobe, Office, Photoshop). While there are many great open source alternatives (Open Office, GIMP) sometimes you hit snags if you work on various computers and need to transfer documents and projects from one to the other. The repositories aren’t always the most bleeding-edge version of a particular package, although compiling the package from source isn’t really that big of a deal.

Ultimately, my rational for using Linux is that I have an old computer, which still works wonderfully just not up to snuff with mainstream operating systems. Linux has allowed me to redeem (in a manner of speaking) my old computer to function very very well. I also love the open source software community and mentality. There is always a fellow open sourcer to help you though some problem and you get a great product built from the ground up by those who are also end users of the products they are developing. If you feel up to the task you can also become a part of developing and testing new software.

There are many great choices out there for linux distributions, I hope you’ll give Ubuntu/XUbuntu, Dreamlinux or any other distribution a try. DistroWatch is a great resource for browsing through the various distributions’ details and finding the right one for you.

Happy Computing!

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~ by veniatregnum on May 29, 2008.

One Response to “Why Linux?”

  1. The ONLY problem I see in linux is not the os in self, is that the F*** comercial software I need to use for my work is not suported native, yes we can use wine o WM but it’s never the same (when you stress the software doing complex operations). Hope adobe will make their software linux compatible one day 😦

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