How to make the switch to Linux December 21, 2007Posted by rm42 in Computers, Linux, Uncategorized, Windows.
If one takes a look at Linux Distribution’s forums, it becomes very evident that there is a large swell of people switching to Linux due to frustration with Vista or XP. All these people are trying to install Linux on their existing hardware and hoping that it goes well for them. And that is a good thing. Thankfully, Linux hardware support has improved tremendously with the latest kernels. So, in most cases, the experience for these people is going to be a rewarding one. Nevertheless, for a good number of them, this switch is going to be frustrating. You see, that is not the best way to switch to Linux.
Switching over to Linux should be a planned, premeditated act. Once one knows what advantages Linux provides and decides that those advantages are desirable, one should begin investigating the best way to go about making the switch. Once a clear strategy is formulated one can start taking the steps necessary to make the switch a smooth transition. The most important factors to consider are going to be hardware compatibility and software requirements.
Taking hardware compatibility in mind means that one will only buy hardware known to work well with Linux. That is why I bought a Lenovo Thinkpad with Intel’s new integrated graphics cards. There are no closed source drivers needed at all to run the machine. This is also why I bought an HP printer instead of a Canon. Installation was a breeze and all the features are supported with a nice graphical interface. And so on and so forth. If one does a little homework before buying (and now that everyone has access to Google there is no excuse for not doing this) using Linux is a piece of cake. See here for a bit more on this:
One should also decide before hand how one is going to fill one’s software requirements. Does one of the native Linux programs provide the functionality that you need or are accustomed to from your Windows program?
If not, will your Windows program run well in Wine?
If not, would running your program in a virtual machine like VMware or Virtualbox be acceptable?
Once you have the answer to those questions finding a distro is simply a matter of finding one that fits your taste, level of expertise, and personality. Don’t just follow the herd and install the one with more marketing money. For example, Ubuntu is a great distro for some, but, in my opinion, it is not the easiest to use for someone just coming over from Windows. I prefer to recommend Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, or MEPIS. You will likely never need the command line with those. Of course if you are in IT, or are interested in tweaking, others may be better.
The day will likely come when switching to Linux will be a no-brainer. Right now, it still requires a little advanced thought. But, in behalf of most of us that have made the switch I would say that it is well worth it!