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Reasons to switch to Linux?

Last response: in Linux/Free BSD
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May 26, 2010 11:28:07 PM

Hello, I'm currently a Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit user, and I mainly use my computer for gaming and music production. I see a lot of people who SWEAR by Linux and have moved on from Windows, but the question is...why? A lot of my computer buddies state that there's really no reason for me to move to Linux, and that it is not necessary, but, even with this in mind, I still do not know the pro's and con's of using Linux. I've never played with it, and I've never really looked into it, but even with all of the research I've done it is still not too clear to me. I'm also told that Linux is an amazing OS for programmers, I'm not too much of a programmer, though.

Some positive feedback would be appreciated.

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a b 5 Linux
May 27, 2010 12:29:28 AM

Really you can argue either way, but in my honest opinion, I really don't see any reason not to use a *nix based OS.

One huge thing is security. While viruses/malware/etc. do exist on *nix OS's, there are significantly less than the alternative. It's estimated that there are less than 900 'viruses' for Linux, compared to Windows, which has > 1 million [estimated].

The cost involved in switching to Linux is quite intriguing as well. The operating system itself is entirely free (with some exceptions), and so is all the software you'll need. Since it's entirely open source, you'll find numerous programs to achieve similar tasks, while changing certain features to suit the user. This helps you find the 'perfect' program for the job. The amount of programs out there is absolutely astounding, and is growing daily.

Linux let's you achieve essentially whatever you want when it comes to customization. There are hundreds of unique distributions, and each can be heavily modified in essentially any way to suit your needs. There are thousands of themes out there, and dozens of different window managers, such as Gnome, KDE and XFCE to name a few.

There are a few downsides, however. There is a bit of a learning curve involved, but this is becoming less and less of a problem with easy-to-use distro's such as Ubuntu and Mint. Some tasks can be quite daunting, but as with anything, practice makes perfect. The Terminal is quite difficult to learn to use as a beginner, but will prove to be the most valuable tool you have.

You mention that you game and produce music, so this will play a major role in your decision. Games are somewhat hit-and-miss with Linux, as very few have Linux-native installers. Steam is currently being ported to Linux however, so within the next few years we should be seeing more and more games. WineHQ's AppDB shows the compatibility of certain games and applications running on Wine, so I'd check out the games that you play over there. As for music production, it depends whether you need to use a certain program or not.


There are thousands of arguments either way as to whether or not you should use Windows or Linux. You really just need to look at what you need out of your OS though. I hope this was helpful.


- Jesse
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a b 5 Linux
May 27, 2010 1:10:44 AM

Pyroflea said:
There are a few downsides, however. There is a bit of a learning curve involved...

I don't believe this is really a downside. All operating systems have a learning curve. Heck, my father has been using Windows since 1999 and still doesn't understand many basic things :??:  The most important thing to reduce that learning curve is to forget how you do things on Windows, and how things work on Windows. Trying to apply Windows knowledge to Linux (in general) will cause you pain. This is pretty much true for everything. Things always seem hard when they are not familiar, yet if you were starting out with zero knowledge of anything, it may actually be easier than what you're currently familiar with. It's probably why KDE has never grown on me.
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a b 5 Linux
May 27, 2010 2:21:27 AM

main advantages for me:
1) Linux is free and open source
2) linux is faster in many tasks (~15% faster encoding with x264)
3) easier to get latest software from git/svn/source.
4) WAY more customizable
5) security/stability

That being said, games dont really exist on linux as they do on windows. For this reason I keep windows on a second hard drive.
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a b 5 Linux
May 27, 2010 3:13:42 AM

randomizer said:
I don't believe this is really a downside. All operating systems have a learning curve. Heck, my father has been using Windows since 1999 and still doesn't understand many basic things :??:  The most important thing to reduce that learning curve is to forget how you do things on Windows, and how things work on Windows. Trying to apply Windows knowledge to Linux (in general) will cause you pain. This is pretty much true for everything. Things always seem hard when they are not familiar, yet if you were starting out with zero knowledge of anything, it may actually be easier than what you're currently familiar with. It's probably why KDE has never grown on me.


Fair enough, I should have worded that a bit better. In general, don't expect Linux to be Windows. I find most people assume that they'll be similar enough that they can just treat them the same. They're 2 entirely different beasts :) 
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May 27, 2010 3:40:44 AM

Well, I have an extra hard drive, I might just dual boot this with Windows and compare them. Except, idk how to do that, and I wouldn't know where to start even if I got it running. I'm assuming ubuntu is the latest version.
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a b 5 Linux
May 27, 2010 4:59:09 AM

Elementgreen said:
Well, I have an extra hard drive, I might just dual boot this with Windows and compare them. Except, idk how to do that, and I wouldn't know where to start even if I got it running.


You are able to dual-boot using a single hard drive as well, if that's what you would like. You can also use separate drives, it's really up to you.

I'd trying running a virtual machine to see what you think of Linux before you go about installing anything.

VirtualBox: http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads
Ubuntu: http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download

Using this software, you can "install" OS's on a virtual hard drive, and have them running from within your current OS. A quick Google search will yield plenty of guides on how to set up VirtualBox.


Elementgreen said:
I'm assuming ubuntu is the latest version.


Ubuntu is merely a distrobution of Linux. It is currently on Version 10.04. There are hundreds of other distributions out there.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distribution


Good luck,


- Jesse
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May 27, 2010 6:20:19 PM

Thanks a lot guys, I'll definitely look into all of that. I'll post results when I get around to setting this up.
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May 27, 2010 9:06:47 PM

I messed around or "played" with Linux for a couple years before making the switch. A few bad months of getting too much malware/viruses and I swapped over.

A good way to play around with Linux is just to dump one of the distro's to a USB stick. Then, just reboot the computer with the thumbdrive installed and check it out.

Linux is the basic operating system. The Distro is where someone has packaged that OS along with all the various supporting applications. Some distro's are command line only (remember DOS days?), others will look very similar to a Windows or MAC OS system.

Ubuntu happens to be one of the most popular distros right now. It happens to be the version I am using. Probably because it is the one I first installed. I have not played around with any of the other distros, so I cannot say what features are better in one compared to the other.

That is the great thing about the live distros, though. You can dump it to a CD or thumbdrive and check it out without ever actually messing anything up with your current system.

The installer for Ubuntu is fairly straight forward and easy to use. If you want to set up a dual boot system, it will automaticall detect your Windows installation and ask you if you want to install a dual boot system. Installing Linux on a 2nd drive will make the system run faster than running from a CD or thumbdrive (remember that if you play with it from a CD).

If you run it from a CD (live Distro), the OS is really creating a virtual drive out of your ram, and cacheing the OS and other apps to that ram drive. Running from a thumbdrive is cool, but it is slower than an actual hard drive install (you could install it to an external hard drive, and then have a fast installed, portable OS).

For me, the most confusing thing initially was how the file system is laid out. Linux does not have "drives" like you do in Windows. You can keep adding more and more hard drive, flash cards, thumbdrives etc... and it just keeps expanding the file system. To make a Windows example: If you add a drive to your computer, in Linux you can tell it where to "mount" that drive. So, as you browse the file system, one folder might be drive 1 and the next folder listed in the tree is actually drive 2. ie ... windows/documentsandsettings might be on your first SATA drive, but when you click windows/programfiles that might physically be the 2nd SATA drive.

I hope I did not confuse you or scare you off with that... Once you figure it out, it can really be cool. For instance, the "folder" that contains "my pictures" on my system is actually a separate drive from where my OS is installed. The drive that the OS is installed does not routinely get data stored to it. As I download more and more pictures from my camera, it is actually going to a separate drive from the one my OS is installed. On a reinstall, I can format the drive for my OS and do a complete reinstall, but the drive with my photos is not affected.

Just play and ask questions...
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May 27, 2010 10:21:43 PM

Another feature that I could not live without is the multiple work spaces. With a quick key combination you can slide between different desktops, which is the next best thing to having multiple monitors. I, for example, have transmission open on one workspace, firefox on another, and some files on a third right now. This is invaluable for writing papers, where I can set up a different source I am citing on each workspace, and just remember 'where they are' rather than looking at file names while hitting alt+tab (though alt+tab does work in mint, which I am using). Stretchy windows are also very cool, though they don't help functionality.
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a b 5 Linux
May 28, 2010 12:08:32 AM

elel said:
Another feature that I could not live without is the multiple work spaces. With a quick key combination you can slide between different desktops, which is the next best thing to having multiple monitors.


This is one of my favorite features, especially when working on a project that requires research. Rather than having half a dozen windows open, and trying to remember what is where, you can have one thing open on one desktop, your internet pages open on another, etc. It's a very handy feature, imo.
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May 28, 2010 12:18:37 AM

Without it, my 19 inch XP desktop feels smaller than my 10 inch linux netbook sometimes.
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