A bit of background before I start so you know where I am coming from. As a user of Windows all of my life it was a very big risk moving to Linux for me, I used Visual Studio for all my programming, Dreamweaver for my web designing and countless other programs that were only available on Windows so I knew that I would have to change a lot of things when moving to Linux. And now nearly one year on since the conversion I am not using Visual Studio anymore (mainly because I got taught Java at uni and I have moved to PHP/MySQL [online]) and I don’t use Dreamweaver because I realised that coding website with a text editor (or Bluefish) was much better and faster, oh and free. Converting to Linux completely is a decision you cannot take lightly, you will need to change applications so if you are not literate in computer software then this may put you off.
OK so onto the list:
10 reasons to convert
- A big disadvantage of Windows is the hefty price tag, Windows Vista is around £100 at the moment, that is one hundred pounds on a piece of software that really doesn’t offer you more than XP (but I wont get onto the whole hating Vista thing in this post). Linux is free, you can download it, order it on CD or even get it delivered to you for free, no charge whatsoever. Linux is free to use, distribute and even rip to pieces and get into the code and totally change it.
- If you choose one of the bigger names in Linux, for example Ubuntu, there is free and helpful support from the community, you can pretty much guarantee that if you have a problem then posting it on to the community forum will provide you with an answer within minutes in most cases, certainly my experience of both the Ubuntu and Mandriva forums has proved this.
- Continuous updates is something that Linux does best. We will take the example of Ubuntu again, Ubuntu is updated every 6 months with a new version of the operating system. Most of the Linux third party software is updated more regularly so your system keeps up to date with the very best software. Windows updates are much less frequent, I know it isn’t fair to pick out the 6 years it took for Windows XP to be updated to Windows Vista, but this is an example of total disregard for its users, you do not get this on Linux, at the end of the day, Linux makers care about their users and not about the money because they don’t make their money from the operating system sales.
- The lack of viruses is something that attracts a lot of users now. You cannot use Windows on the internet without a virus checker else you can wave goodbye to your computer. Viruses are rarely written for Linux and those that are do not get through because as a Linux user your user account doesn’t have the rights to control the system directly like in Windows, which means that viruses cannot attack your system.
- Extremely fast compared to Windows. Linux may take longer to boot up than Windows but once you are logged in you rarely see any lag in running time (unless on really old computers). Linux doesn’t have to run applications such as a virus checker which are running all the time taking up system resources, so it can run a lot faster. Because of the lack of things running continuously it means that Linux hardly ever crashes. I say hardly ever because it has crashed on me in the past. What tends to happen though is that an application will crash and then you can force quit it, not keep pressing exit and then getting End Now windows coming up over and over again doing nothing like a certain operating system (mentioning no names, W*nd*ws, lol, I don’t totally hate Windows you’ll see that later on)
- Applications tend to be free. Most applications available on Linux are open source which means that they are available to be used at no charge, ever. It also means that for the gurus out there, you can go into the code and change things to how you want it.
- Applications are easy to install. It once was that installing applications involved a nice big readme file and a black screen with white text, well now that is no longer the case (in most Linux distros that is). In the most user friendly linux’s (Ubuntu, Mandriva etc.) there are applications that simply list all of the applications available and you simply do a search for applications you would like to install and select the Install option, it downloads the files and installs them without you needing to do anything, no agreeing to licenses, setting up options etc.
- A wide range of choices. Unlike Windows where you can choose between 5 versions, one better than the previous one, there are literally thousands of Linux distro’s out there for you to choose, geared at different types of users. Most people start with the simpler and popular ones like Ubuntu, Debian, RedHat etc. and then when they get really good at it they may try investigating what else is out there. As a beginner it is always best to go for a popular one so that there is a big community to get help from if needed.
- Linux has a lot of options to configure you operating system to exactly how you want it without having to install programs like WindowBlinds and such. Everything is packed into the system so you can have visual effects on your applications, change the look of your applications etc and plus there are a lot more options if you go into the terminal.
- And finally, Linux is getting more popular and easy to use. There was a time when Linux was scary for everyone who simply used a computer for work but it is now getting increasingly popular as Linux makers start to make their operating systems more user friendly, this was mainly seen during the 6 year period between Windows XP and Vista, users started to see that Windows may not be the only operating system out there and Linux was offering more than XP. Linux is getting more and more features than ever before, it is starting to improve brilliantly on a lot of areas that it didn’t do so well at and it is now starting to be seen as a valuable alternative.
So there is the 5 reasons why you should consider converting, there are more but I don’t want to bore you to much. I will now give you 10 reasons why converting may not be the best option for you.
- Linux is not as user friendly as Windows. Although this is changing with each release, Linux still isn’t classed as user friendly as Windows, put Windows in front of someone and then Linux and ask them to do a task, I can guarantee that they will be able to do it on Windows faster, this is because everybody has grown up or has learned Windows before ever considering anything else. Windows has a simple interface which it has kept over the years which has meant that most people have got used to it. There are however some Linux distro’s that luck similar to Windows.
- Gaming on Linux is pretty dia unless you like games like solitaire or KGolf of course then its killer. However, playing proper games is not something that Linux is designed for but this is changing, there are companies trying to get Windows games to run on Linux using technologies like Wine (which allows you to run some Windows applications on Linux). If you are a gamer, then converting may not be a good idea.
- Lack of applications. Although there are plenty of applications to perform most tasks on Linux, there aren’t as many as Windows especially big applications like Photoshop and such, there are alternatives Photoshop/Gimp, MS Office/Open Office but you will have to dump features if you are to convert. The truth of the matter is that most application makers create their applications for Windows because that is where they will make the most money.
- Compatibility. Not as bad as it used to be on Linux but is still not as good as Windows, as with the above point, most drivers are written for Windows (and Mac), it is very rare that you will get manufacturers making drivers for Linux, this tends to be done by the community around Linux, chances are if you plug in your printer, Linux will not see it without special applications such as CUPS, put it into Windows and there should be a manufacturer driver readily available. Compatibility is improving with each release but until manufacturers see Linux as a viable market they wont add support for their products and it is left for the community around Linux to sort out.
- High possibility of problems. With Linux you are undoubtedly going to see problems, maybe its your web cam doesn’t work or you can’t get to grips with Open Office, whatever it is there will be problems. Because most things are designed for Windows there is unlikely to be any problems. In converting to Linux you need to be aware that although your web cam worked on Windows, it doesn’t mean that it will work on Linux.
There you have it, originally this post was going to have 10 bad points and 10 good points but I couldn’t think of any more for the reasons not to convert so if you do know any (or any good reasons) then please do leave them as comments, or discuss them over at the forum in this thread: Converting to Linux, good and bad points.
Further Reading on this