Saturday, 5 June 2010

When and why I started using LINUX

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  21:24 No comments

I started using LINUX about three years ago. I had attempted to convert to LINUX many years earlier but hardware support was not very good and so unless I was willing to spend a lot of time and effort downloading and compiling various drivers using various rules I would not be able to use the printer, scanner or other device which I could easily use with Windows.

For me at that time there was not enough convince me to ditch Windows for good. Lets face it Windows XP was a very good operating system and I think even the most dedicated LINUX freak would admit that Windows XP worked.

Time however does not stand still and LINUX caught up. Nowadays nearly all hardware I buy works straight out of the box with LINUX and is actually easier to install than it is with Windows (especially Vista).

Three and a bit years ago I had revisited LINUX and I could see how far LINUX had come but I was still not ready to leave the land of Microsoft but then it was time to upgrade my PC and it came pre-installed with Windows Vista.

Windows Vista sucks. The security model is just plain crazy and far from making it easier for people to make their computer secure it makes it harder and general everyday tasks suddenly require a password.

At home I am not a heavy computer user and so like most people when I turn on my home PC I will probably want to go online or type a letter or play a game etc. Windows Vista made these simple tasks completely impossible. Of course they had also destroyed Microsoft Office by introducing Office 2007 as well. All the menus that had been the same for about 15 years suddenly moved overnight.

I tried a few flavours of LINUX to try and work out which one would work for me and I specifically wanted to find out which worked best for me in terms of graphical desktops. In LINUX the main choices are GNOME or KDE but there are others such as XFCE and Fluxbox.

The number of different versions of LINUX sometimes looks scary but most of them are variations on a theme and variety should be seen as a good thing and not a bad thing.

For a long time I used OpenSUSE as it was the version of LINUX that at the time matched perfectly with my hardware configuration but when you get used to LINUX you will probably play with different LINUX systems just to see if there is something better than the one you are using.

I came across a site called www.distrowatch.org which reviews about 99% of all LINUX distributions out there and you can search the site based on what you want your LINUX to do for you.

From this site I tried Fedora, UBUNTU, Debian, Mint, Puppy, DSL, Tinycore,  Mandriva, Slackware, Gentoo and probably another dozen distributions that I can't even remember.

The version of UBUNTU I tried was 8.04 and it was good. It was so good it was the first time I had used LINUX and thought that it was better than Windows and that includes XP.

I have stuck with UBUNTU ever since and have recently upgraded to version 10.04 and I love it.

For LINUX purists and people who look under the bonnet there might be a mess under there but for pure operational use and to meet my computing needs UBUNTU does everything I could ever need.

The boot up time on my PC is now around 10 seconds and shutdown about the same which is great. I can be online and logged on to my favourite sites in under 30 seconds.

When I used to use Windows XP it would take a minute for my PC to boot up. There would then be a sequence of updates required, first it would be my anti-virus software searching for updates, then my firewall and next would be Windows itself and then Adobe would have a go and by the time my PC was ready or use I would probably have been able to go to the pub, have a pint, a couple of games of pool, a packet of crisps, win on the quiz machine and then get a taxi home.

Windows 7 has now been released and to be honest I'm not even tempted to give it a go. I have heard good things about it but can't think of one good reason to leave LINUX.

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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