1. Forget About Viruses –
If your computer shuts itself down without asking you, if strange windows with text you don’t understand and all kinds of advertisements appear when you don’t ask for them, if emails get sent to all your contacts without your knowing it, then your computer probably has a virus. The main reason for this is because it runs Windows.
Linux hardly has any viruses. And that’s not like “Oh well, not very often, you know”. That’s like “If you’ve ever heard of a real Linux virus, please tell me”. Of course, a Linux virus is not impossible to get. However, Linux makes it very hard for this to happen, for several reasons:
- Most people use Microsoft Windows, and pirates want to do as much damage (or control) as possible: therefore, they target Windows. But that’s not the only reason; the Apache web server (a web server is a program located on a remote computer that sends web pages to your browser when you ask for them), which is open source software, has the biggest market share (against Microsoft’s IIS server), but it still suffers from much fewer attacks/flaws than the Microsoft one.
- Linux uses smart authorization management. In Windows you (and any program you install) usually have the right to do pretty much anything to the system. If you feel like punishing your PC because it just let your precious work disappear, you can go inside the system folder and delete whatever you want: Windows won’t complain. Of course, the next time you reboot, trouble begins. But imagine that if you can delete this system stuff, other programs can, too, or just mess it up. Linux doesn’t allow that. Every time you request to do something that has to do with the system, an administrator password is required (and if you’re not an administrator on this system, you simply can’t do it). Viruses can’t just go around and delete or modify what they want in the system; they don’t have the authorization for that.
- More eyes make fewer security flaws. Linux is Open source software, which means that any programmer in the world can have a look at the code (the “recipe” of any program), and help out, or just tell other developers “Hey, what if blah blah, isn’t this a security flaw?”.
2. Is your system unstable? –
Have you ever lost your precious work because Windows crashed? Do you always shut down your computer the proper way, or do you sometimes just switch it off because Windows has gone crazy and doesn’t let you do anything anymore? Have you ever gotten the “blue screen of death” or error messages telling you that the computer needs to be shut down for obscure reasons?
The latest versions of Windows, especially the “Professional” ones are becoming more stable than before. Nevertheless this kind of problem still happens fairly often.
Of course, no operating system is perfect, and people who tell you that theirs can never ever crash are lying. However, some operating systems can be so stable that most users never see their systems crash, even after several years. This is true for Linux. Here’s a good way to see this. When a system crashes, it needs to be shut down or restarted. Therefore, if your computer can stay up and running for a long time, no matter how much you use it, then you can say the system is stable. Well, Linux can run for years without needing to be restarted (most internet servers run Linux, and they usually never restart). Of course, with heavy updates, it still needs to be restarted (the proper way). But if you install Linux, and then use your system as much as you want, leaving your computer on all the time, you can go on like that for years without having any trouble.
Most of the time, you won’t leave your computer on for such a long time, but this shows how stable Linux is.
3. Linux protects your computer -
Viruses, trojans, adware, spyware… Windows lets all these enter your computer pretty easily. The average period of time before a Windows PC (connected to the Internet and with a default “Service Pack 2″ installation) gets infected is 40 minutes (and it sometimes takes as little time as 30 seconds).
So you can either 1) install a firewall, 2) install an antivrus program, 3) install an anti-adware program, 4) get rid of Internet Explorer and Outlook (replacing them with Firefox and Thunderbird), and 5) pray that people trying to get into your computer aren’t smart enough to overcome these protections and that, if a security flaw is discovered, Microsoft will take less than a month to make an update available (and this doesn’t happen very often). Or you can install Linux and sleep soundly from now on.
As we have already said in the “virus” section, Open Source software (e.g. Linux) means more eyes to check the code. Every programmer on Planet Earth can download the code, have a look, and see whether it might have security flaws. On the other hand, the only people allowed to look at the Windows source code (its “recipe”) are people working for Microsoft. That’s hundreds of thousands of people (maybe millions) versus a few thousand. That makes a big difference.
But actually, it isn’t exactly a matter of how many flaws a system has, compared to the others. If there are many flaws, but nobody has discovered them yet (including attackers), or they are minor (they don’t compromise an important part of the system), attackers won’t be able to do great damage. It is really a matter of how fast a security flaw can be solved once it has been discovered. If a security flaw is discovered in an open source program, anyone in the open source community can have a look and help solve it. The solution (and the update) usually appears within a few days, sometimes even a few hours. Microsoft doesn’t have that much manpower, and usually releases security patches within about a month after the flaw has been discovered (and sometimes published): that’s more than enough for attackers to do whatever they want with your computer.
4. Don’t pay big money for your OS… -
You’re probably saying to yourself : “Oh, I didn’t pay for Windows”. Are you absolutely sure ? If your computer came with a copy of Windows, then you paid for it, even if the store didn’t tell you about that. The price for a Windows license amounts to an average of one fourth of each new computer’s price. So unless you obtained Windows illegally, you probably paid for it. Where do you think Microsoft gets its money from?
On the other hand, you can get Linux completely free of charge. That’s right, all these guys all around the world worked very hard to make a neat, secure, efficient, good-looking system, and they are giving their work away for everybody to use freely (if you wonder why these guys do such things, drop me an email and I’ll try to explain the best I can :) ). Of course, some companies are making good business by selling support, documentation, hotline, etc., for their own version of Linux, and this is certainly a good thing. But most of the time, you won’t need to pay a cent.
5. Its a free license -
Linux and “Open Source” software are “free”. This means their license is a “free license”, and the most common is the GPL (General Public License). This license states that anyone is allowed to copy the software, see the source code (the “recipe”), modify it, and redistribute it as long as it remains licensed with the GPL.
So what do you care about freedom? Imagine that Microsoft disappears tomorrow (okay, that’s not very likely, but what about in 5 years, 10 years?). Or imagine it suddenly triples the price for a Windows or Office license. If you’re tied to Windows, there’s nothing you can do. You (or your business) relies on this one company, on its software, and you can’t possibly make things work without it (what good is a computer without an operating system?). Isn’t that a serious problem? You’re depending on one single company and trusting it wholeheartedly to let something so important nowadays as your computers work the way they should. If Microsoft decides to charge $1000 for the next version of Windows, there’s nothing you can do about it (except switch to Linux, of course). If Windows has a bug that bothers you very much and Microsoft won’t fix it, there’s nothing you can do (and submitting bugs to Microsoft isn’t that easy, see the “Report bugs” section).
With Open Source, if a particular project or support company dies, all the code remains open to the community and people can keep improving it. If this project is especially useful to you, you can even do this yourself. If a particular bug annoys you, you can submit it, talk with the developers, but even better, you can fix it yourself (or hire someone to do so), and send the changes back to the upstream developers so that everyone gets the improvement as well. You’re free to do (nearly) whatever you want with the software.
6. No more c**pware. -
If you’ve ever purchased a new computer running Windows, you must know that it can be a very frustrating experience.
It all starts when you first turn it on: countless windows start to open, asking you to subscribe for services, the premium version of an antivirus, games you never asked for, productivity applications requiring you to create an account online, etc.
But it doesn’t stop there. Each time you boot your computer, all those pre-installed programs need to start in the background, and you have to wait longer and longer between the time you see your desktop appear on the screen and the time when it stops being much too slow to use because all those programs are starting up.
To add insult to injury, often times after you’ve owned your new computer for 30 days, new dialogs start to pop up, and you realize that some of these programs that you thought were free (for example, an antivirus) really aren’t, all you have is a free 30-day trial.
The thing is, most computer manufacturers believe this is a good thing. They are installing programs onto your computer before you purchase it, thinking they will improve your experience, because you get “more” for the same price, and they believe this can help differentiate them from the competitors, who may not offer as many “improvements” over the default system, or maybe not the same ones. For them, this is added value.
But for the user, this is mostly more pain, more waiting, more uninstalling unwanted programs, more money to pay if you decide you do need that not-so-free-after-all antivirus, and at the end of the day, a bloated and crippled computer. That’s why these programs have been given a not very polite name: “crapware”.
None of that with Linux. No program will nag you about suscribing, paying after a trial period ends, or just slow your computer down and make you wait some more while it starts, just when you thought it was ready to be used. Linux comes with everything that you need to start working right away,
7. Forget about drivers. -
New pieces of hardware, even the simplest kind, usually come with a CD. On the CD, a very small piece of software called a “driver”. If you read the instructions manual, you’ll know that the hardware won’t work on a Windows computer until you install the driver. If you’re like most people and do not read the manual, then you’ll probably figure it out yourself when you see your new high-tech gizmo doesn’t work out of the box.
Insert CD, click on installation wizard, wait, eject CD, reboot computer.
If you bought the hardware a while ago and are re-using it on another computer, you’ll probably want to forget about the CD and fetch the latest version of the driver from the manufacturer’s website. Which can take quite a bit of time, given how, huh, let’s say strangely organized some manufacturers’ web sites are.
Okay, now that’s only one piece of hardware. Now imagine you want to install Windows on a whole new, untouched, computer. For each little piece of hardware you’ll have to find the latest driver (or use a CD), install it, and reboot from time to time. Video card, sound card, keyboard, mouse, motherboard chipset, etc. (better do the video card driver first or you’re stuck with your high-end screen showing a very low resolution mode). And that comes after an already rather long installation of Windows itself.
Linux doesn’t need separate drivers. All the drivers are already included in the Linux kernel, the core of the system, and that comes with every single Linux installation. This means:
- A very fast and standalone installation process. Once you’re done, you have everything you need to start working (including the software you’ll be using, see “When the system has installed…” item on this website).
- Out-of-the-box ready peripherals.
- Less harm for the planet because all these CDs don’t nee
8. Update all your software with a single click. –
Windows has a pretty convenient tool called “Windows update”, which allows you to update your system with the latest updates available.
But what about all your non-Microsoft software? Adobe applications? ZIP compresser? Burning program? Non-Microsoft web browsers and email clients, etc.? You need to update all of them, one by one. And that takes time, since each one of them has its own (auto-)updating system.
Linux has a central place called the “Package manager”, which takes care of everything installed on your system, but also every single piece of software your computer has. So if you want to keep everything up-to-date, the only thing you need to do is press the “Install Updates” button down there :
9. Why copy software illegally if you can get it for free? –
So, you’re perfectly clean, you have *cough* purchased a license for all the software you’ve ever used *cough*, and nobody can bother you about this? Well, if that’s the case, congratulations :)
However, for most people, let’s be honest, illegally copied software is very common. Copying Adobe Photoshop instead of buying it probably doesn’t let you have nightmares. But are you really confident that you won’t ever have trouble for that? Not so sure, huh… Software makers are progressing and finding more and more ways to track down illegal owners, and since more and more people tend to have broadband (permanent) connections, they might add an online functionality on the software that will control and verify your copy each time you launch it.
If you run Linux and install free software, you won’t have to worry about this ever again! Most of free (as in free speech) software is free (as in free beer). You can find a free replacement for most of the commercial software out there. They might lack some of the advanced functionality, but they’ll be more than enough for most people. Here’s a list of some commercial software, and their open source equivalents :
||Exists on Windows?
|Adobe Illustrator (~$500)
|Adobe InDesign (~$700)
|Adobe Photoshop (~$600)
|Adobe Premiere (~$800)
||Pitivi, Kino, Cinelerra
|Adobe Reader (free)
||Evince, Kpdf, GV
|Apple iTunes (free)
||AmaroK, Rhythmbox, Banshee
|Autodesk 3ds Max (~$3500)
|Autodesk Maya (~$7000)
|Microsoft Excel (~$200)
|Microsoft Internet Explorer (free)
||Firefox, Chrome, Konqueror
|Microsoft Office (~$400)
|Microsoft Windows Mail (free)
||Thunderbird, Evolution, KMail
|Microsoft Powerpoint (~$200)
|Microsoft Windows Media Player (free)
||Mplayer, VLC, Totem, Kaffeine, Xine
|Microsoft Word (~$200)
||LibreOffice Word Processor
|Microsoft Windows Messenger (free)
||Pidgin, Kopete, aMSN
|Pro Tools (~$600)
|Quark XPress (~$800)
|QuickTime Player (free)
||Mplayer, VLC, Totem, Kaffeine, Xine
||AmaroK, Rhythmbox, Banshee
10. Need new software? Don’t bother searching the web, Linux gets it for you. –
If you want to check out a new piece of software in Windows, you’ll need to:
- Search the web to find which piece of software suits your needs.
- Find a web site that allows you to download it.
- Maybe pay for it.
- Actually download the software.
- Install it.
- Sometimes reboot your computer.
Whew, that’s a lot of work to just try out something new!
With Linux, everything is much simpler. Linux has what is called a “package manager”: each piece of software is contained in its own “package”. If you need some new software, just open the package manager, type a few keywords, choose which software you want to install and press “Apply” or “OK”. Or you can just browse existing software (that’s a lot of choice!) in categories.
11. Jump into the next generation of desktops.-
You have been impressed by the 3D and transparency possibilities first introduced in Windows Vista, and decided that these unique capabilities were worth a few hundred dollars? You even bought a new computer so that you could meet Vista’s (very high) requirements? Fooled you: Linux can do better, for free, and with much less demanding hardware requirements.
12. Does your digital life seem fragmented? -
If you already know what fragmentation is, and are already used to defragmenting your disk every month or so, here is the short version : Linux doesn’t need defragmenting.
Now imagine your hard disk is a huge file cabinet, with millions of drawers (thanks to Roberto Di Cosmo for this comparison). Each drawer can only contain a fixed amount of data. Therefore, files that are larger than what such a drawer can contain need to be split up. Some files are so large that they need thousands of drawers. And of course, accessing these files is much easier when the drawers they occupy are close to one another in the file cabinet.
Now imagine you’re the owner of this file cabinet, but you don’t have time to take care of it, and you want to hire someone to take care of it for you. Two people come for the job, a woman and a man.
- The man has the following strategy : he just empties the drawers when a file is removed, splits up any new file into smaller pieces the size of a drawer, and randomly stuffs each piece into the first available empty drawer. When you mention that this makes it rather difficult to find all the pieces of a particular file, the response is that a dozen boys must be hired every weekend to put the chest back in order.
- The woman has a different technique : she keeps track, on a piece of paper, of contiguous empty drawers. When a new file arrives, she searches this list for a sufficiently long row of empty drawers, and this is where the file is placed. In this way, provided there is enough activity, the file cabinet is always tidy.
Without a doubt, you should hire the woman (you should have known it, women are much better organized :) ). Well, Windows uses the first method ; Linux uses the second one. The more you use Windows, the slower it is to access files ; the more you use Linux, the faster it is. The choice is up to you!
13.Choose what your desktop looks like. –
Pretty much all Windows users have the same desktop. You can still change your wallpaper, or the color of your windows decorations (default is blue), but basically you’ll still end up with the usual Windows interface.With Linux, choice has been brought back to you. You’re no longer forced to accept the one-and-only way to manage multiple windows: you can choose among many programs, which are called “desktop environments”. But don’t worry, you won’t need to worry about that, since you’ll have a pretty good default. The point is you can change it if you wish.
Windows has a number of design flaws, resulting in it becoming slower and slower and not lasting very long. You’ve probably heard more than once someone say “My computer is getting sluggish, I’m gonna reinstall”. Reinstalling Windows solves the problem… until next time.
You may think this is just how computers work: they’re very new technology, and not really stable yet. Well, try Linux and you’ll be surprised. Five years from now, your system will be just as fast and responsive as the day you installed it, not to mention that you won’t have any viruses, adware, trojans, worms, etc., that would force you to reinstall anyway.
I have managed to convince many people to switch to Linux, while keeping Windows on their hard disk, because they needed to use some piece of software that Linux doesn’t have (eg Autocad), so they use both systems. Since the day they switched, most of them have reinstalled Windows about once in a year or two; but Linux didn’t let them down, and is still running perfectly well and is still snappy today.
Linux lets you spend more time working, less time reinstalling over and over again.
15. Do something for the environment. –
How can Linux be different from Windows when it comes to environment, you might ask? After all, they’re both just pieces of software with little impact on pollution or climate change. Well, choosing Linux can actually have an influence on the environment:
- Windows and Mac OS are sold in boxes. This means that massive amounts of paper and plastic need to be manufactured before the boxes get to your nearby store’s shelves (and be disposed of after you buy them). Linux is freely downloadable from the Internet; no amount of plastic or paper is involved.
- Proprietary applications for Windows or Mac OS are also, most of the time, sold in local stores, in boxes, whereas you can download the vast majority of software for Linux from the Internet, for free (again, a whole lot of saved paper and plastic!).
- As the hardware requirements for Windows or Mac OS get higher and higher, a lot of computers are made obsolete, and would need to be disposed of… but since Linux runs pretty well even on very old machines, they can be recycled for various purposes (storage, internet access, multimedia box, etc.) instead of being thrown out!
- Millions of CDs are pressed to hold Windows or Mac OS boxes and are sold to customers. Linux also needs to be burnt on a CD before installation (in most cases at least — installation from the network or from a hard disk is also quite common). However, most people choose to burn it on a rewritable CD (“CD-RW”), which can be reused for other purposes after the installation is over (unlike proprietary operating systems, you don’t need to keep the CD around after you’ve installed the software, you can always download it again later).
16.No back doors in your software. –
The difference between “closed source” (proprietary) and “open source” software is (how did you guess?) that their “source” is open. Huh, okay, why do I care? Well, the “source”, or “source code”, is like the secret recipe of every software, like the recipe of a cake. When you buy a cake, there’s no way you can figure out the exact recipe (although you can guess bits and pieces, “there’s some coconut in here”). If a bakery gave out the recipe for its super-sucessful cheesecake, it would soon go out of business because people would bake it for themselves, at home, and stop buying it. Likewise, Microsoft does not give out the recipe, or “source code”, of their software, like Windows, and rightly so because that’s what they make their money from.
The problem is they can put whatever they want in their recipe, without us knowing. If they want to add a bit of code saying “every 12th of the month, if the computer is online, create a list of all the files that have been downloaded in this computer since last month, and send it back to Microsoft through the network”. Microsoft probably doesn’t do that, but how would you know, since everything is closed, invisible, secret?
A little while ago (October 2008) a lot of Chinese Windows users (most of them buy pirated copies of Windows) saw something strange happen with their computer: every hour, their screen would go black for a few seconds. Nothing to really prevent you from working, but it can easily make you go nuts. Microsoft had added a bit of code (an ingredient to the recipe) saying “if this is detected as a pirated copy of Windows, make the screen black for a few seconds, every hour”. Now the point is not that the software was pirated: pirating software is bad, period. The point is that these users got an automatic update for Windows (updates usually fix bugs and add new features) without knowing how it would affect their system. No one knew.
Changing the source code of open source software is a much more open process. By definition, all the recipes are public. It doesn’t matter to you since you won’t be able to understand the code anyway, but people who understand it can read it, and speak out. And they often do. Every time someone wants to change the source code, all other developers are able to see the change (“hey man, why did you add this code spying on the user’s keyboard input, are you out of your mind?”). And even if the whole team of maintainers for a piece of software go crazy and start adding puppy-killing features all over their source code, someone outside the team can very well take the code, remove all the bad bits, create a whole new version of it, and let the world know what the difference is. It’s open.
That’s why you can be sure open source software doesn’t do bad things behind your back: the community keeps a close eye on all the recipes.
17. Enjoy free and unlimited support. -
One of the great assets of the Open Source community (and Linux in particular), is that it’s a real community. Users and developers really are out there, on web forums, on mailing lists, on IRC channels, helping out new users. They’re all happy to see more and more people switch to Linux, and they’re happy to help them get a grip on their new system.
So if there’s something you don’t understand, a program that doesn’t behave the way you would expect, or a feature that you can’t seem to find, don’t hesitate to go and ask for help. If there’s somebody near you (family? co-workers?) who is using Linux, he or she will probably be happy to help you out. Otherwise, just go online and you’ll find literally thousands of places where nice people will answer you and walk you out of your problem most of the time: geeks actually are very nice people, if you ask your question politely. Just type “linux help” (or replace “linux” with whatever distribution you chose — see the install section) in Google and you’ll undoubtedly find everything you need.
18. Too many windows? Use workspaces. – once you have your word processor, your web browser, your email application, your instant messenger software and some windows open to explore your files, how do Windows users manage not to get lostin this clutter?
Workspaces is a feature I would never trade for anything else. You probably only have one screen, right? Try Linux, and you have four. Well, you can’t actually look at the four of them at the same time, but this doesn’t matter since your eyes can’t look in two directions at once, right? On the first screen, lets put your word processor. On the second one, your instant messenger software. On the third one, your web browser. So when you’re writing something in your word processor and you want to check out something on the web, no need to review all your windows to find your browser, stacked all the way behind the others. You just switch to your third screen and voilà, here it is.
19. No big mess in your start menu. - All installable pieces of software for Linux come with information on what kind of software they contain, so that the user (that would be you!) doesn’t need to do anything to keep applications neatly sorted into categories:
20. Don’t wait years for bugs to be solved; report and track them down. -
If you find a bug in Windows, you can basically wait and pray that Microsoft will fix it fast (and if it compromises your system’s security, you would have to pray twice as hard). You might think that reporting that bug to Microsoft (so that they can fix it more quickly) must be easy. Well, think again. Here is an interesting article about this. What if Microsoft doesn’t even notice the bug? Well then, let’s hope the next version of Windows will fix it (but you’ll need to pay another few hundred bucks).
Nearly all open source software (including Linux distributions) have a bug tracking system. You can not only file bug reports (and you’re encouraged to do so!) explaining what the problem is, but you can see what happens next : everything is open and clear for everyone. Developers will answer, they also might ask a little extra information to help them fix the bug. You will know when the bug has been fixed, and you will know how to get the new version (still for free, needless to say). So here you have people taking care of your problems, keeping you informed about it, and all that for free! If the problem is solved on your system, it will be on everyone else’s : it’s in everyone’s interest to work together to make software better. This is how open source works.
21. Are you tired of restarting your computer all the time?-
Have you just upgraded one or two little things on your Windows system with “Windows update”? Please reboot. Have you just installed some new software? Please reboot. Does your system seem unstable? Try to reboot, everything will probably work better after that.Windows always asks you to restart your computer, and that can be annoying (maybe you happen to have a long download going on, and you don’t want to interrupt it just because you updated a few pieces of your system). But even if you click “Restart later”, Windows still keeps bothering you every ten minutes to let you know that you really should restart the computer. And if you happen to be away from your computer and you didn’t see the question, it will happily reboot automatically. Bye bye long download.Linux basically doesn’t need to restart. Whether you install new software (even very big programs) or perform routine upgrades for your system, you will not be asked to restart the computer. It is only necessary when a part from the heart of the system has been updated, and that only happens once every several weeks.Do you know Internet servers? They’re the big computers that answer you when you ask for a web page, and send the information to your browser. Most of them run Linux, and since they need to always be available (a visitor could come anytime), they aren’t restarted very often (services aren’t available while the system is starting). Actually, many of them haven’t restarted for several years
. Linux is stable, it runs perfectly well without restarting all the time.You’ll probably not let your computer stay on for several weeks but the point is: the system won’t bother you with restarting all the time.
22. Let your old computer have a second life. -
Windows requires more and more hardware power as its version number increases (95, 98, 2000, Me, XP, etc.). So if you want to keep running Windows, you need to constantly buy new hardware. But I can’t see any good reason for so fast an evolution. Of course, many people need a lot of computer power and new hardware and technologies are really helping them. But for most users, who surf the web, read and write emails, write text files and slides, what’s the point of buying a new computer every 2, 3 or 4 years, apart from letting computer vendors earn more money? What is exactly the profound reason why your computer can’t do any more of what it did perfectly well 5 years ago?Linux runs perfectly well on older hardware, on which Windows 7 would probably even refuse to install, or leave you waiting for 20 seconds after each click. Of course, Linux won’t make a race-winner out of your 12-year old computer, but it will run very well on it and allow you to perform usual tasks (surfing the web, writing documents, etc.) just fine. The very computer that delivers this page to you is not very young and runs Linux: if you can read this, then it is up and running (and if the website loads slowly, blame my Internet connection only).
24. Help other countries, and your own. -
Microsoft is an USA company, and its success is great for the American economy.
But if you don’t live in the USA, when you buy propietary software (eg Windows), about a half of the money goes directly to the software company’s HQ (eg Microsoft’s): that money leaves your country, while the other half stays in (sales commissions, etc.: no technical benefits). Your country is not producing anything, and you don’t even need qualified people to sell boxes. That leads to IT professionals with no high level knowledge who only install and configure proprietary software without the option of modifying/learning/customizing it.
With Free Software (eg Linux), the economy (and IT professionals’ knowledge) of your country could improve, since there could be a lot of small/medium companies customizing solutions, providing support, consulting, etc.
People who know how to do things and retain money in your country will benefit from it, rather than people who just sell boxes with a predefined sales pitch, sending your money offshore, leaving IT professionals without real knowledge about how things work.
25. Use MSN, AIM, ICQ, Jabber, with a single program. -
You may have accounts for several instant messaging services, such as MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Jabber, AIM, Facebook chat, etc. While running Windows or Mac OS X, you probably need one program to connect to each one of those : MSN Messenger for MSN, ICQ for ICQ, etc.
With Pidgin, the instant messenger for Linux (it exists for Windows as well, and for Mac OS X with the name “Adium”), you can connect to all these services at once, with this one program, and see all your buddies at the same time.
26. Get a great music player. – Linux has many music players (including AmaroK, Rhythmbox, Banshee, etc.), and some of them are great. Check out AmaroK for example (see the screenshot): it manages and plays your music perfectly, learns which tunes you prefer, automatically fetches their title (and lyrics) on the Internet, and even gets the CD covers for you!
27. Keep an eye on the weather. –
Are you tired of having a thermometer outside your window and go check it before getting out? Just take a look at your Linux screen and keep an eye on the weather
The few cases where you should stick to Windows (for now)
Until recently, many software publishers considered the software market for Linux to be too small to bother releasing software for it. Though this is beginning to change, most proprietary software does not run within Linux.
That being said, there are several Open Source programs that can replace these “essential” proprietary ones (see this section).
Give these programs a try; they often release Windows versions, which you can use right now. Take a look at their screenshots and feature lists, and see if they satisfy your needs.
If there is a piece of software that you absolutely cannot work without, then keeping Windows is probably a good choice. However, you can have both operating systems installed (often called “dual-booting”), which can be used to suit your needs.
There is also a project called “Wine” which, in some cases, is capable of running a given Windows application in Linux. You can visit their homepage, which includes listings of compatible software, at www.wineHQ.org. Another option available is to emulate Windows itself within Linux, though this is typically not suitable for running high-performance programs.
2. You’re a hardcore gamer-
Most games are compatible with Windows, and nothing else. Some of them have Mac versions, and some of them have Linux versions (Quake 4, Neverwinter Nights, etc.), but most of them just run on Windows.So if you spend a lot of time playing recent games, you should stick to Windows. But you can still install Linux, keep Windows (see the install section), and use both of them, depending on your needs.If you do like to play games but aren’t very demanding on their recency, note that software like Wine or Cedega can help you run not-so-recent Windows games under Linux without any problem.
3. You work in the book/printing industry –
Linux software still has very experimental CMYK features. This is getting better, but it’s not really satisfying for professional use yet.
While most books and magazines about free software switched to Linux a long time ago (and don’t they look great ?!), if you work in the printing industry and use a lot of CMYK colors, with subtle images, special printing effects, etc., you probably should stick to Windows for now. But you can still install Linux, keep Windows (see the install section), and use both of them, depending on your needs.
Note that you can also use am image editor called Pixel
, which supports CMYK. However, I still believe that Linux isn’t ready for prime time in the printing industry just yet.
Most pieces of hardware work just fine with Linux. However, very recent hardware (a few months old) are sometimes not yet supported. Like software vendors, many hardware vendors still consider the Linux market as a very small one, and don’t bother to provide Linux drivers for their hardware. The Linux developers work on that, and do a terrific work to let every piece of hardware work like a charm, but this takes a little time.The best and most straightforward way to see whether your hardware is well supported is to run Linux from a Live CD (see the “Try Linux without touching Windows” section).
Okay, I want Linux on my PC! What should I do now?
Oh, and if you’re already a Linux geek, you might want to read this FAQ.
(Cover of Business Week, March 2003)
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