Photographer Scott Rowed has penned an excellent essay on his experience making the switch to Linux, and he’s agreed to place it here as a guest post. Please read it and pass it on to people, school districts, small island nations, and others who may benefit:


Switching to Linux

by Scott Rowed

Changing operating systems is not a task to be taken lightly. I generally follow the philosophy “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” A year ago, however, the family notebook was broken, hopelessly crippled by a nasty virus or worm. I’d been regularly updating the virus software and running complete checks, but some users were less careful than others.

I spent several hours trying to fix the problem, but in the end was forced to format the hard drive and start over. Worse yet, that was the second time in four months. By the time I saved my data, formatted the drive, reinstalled Windows XP Pro, removed the junkware and installed my programs, I’d wasted more than two days.

This time I decided to dual-boot, running Linux Ubuntu as well as XP. Everyone had the Ubuntu password, but I kept the XP password to myself. There was perhaps a tinge of revenge in my strategy – if the others couldn’t use the computer responsibly they would be forced to endure what I thought would be a less friendly operating system.

I knew Linux offers robust security with very low risk of viruses. It’s also powerful and scalable, widely used in science and web servers. Google’s massive servers, for instance, run on a custom version of Linux. But what about for the average desktop user? Is it too “geeky”? Are there problems finding and installing drivers? These were my expectations.

Yes, there were complaints. “It looks different.” “My teacher can’t open the report I wrote in Open Office”. But after a couple of weeks the issues faded when everybody got used to the different style and realized that you could “save as” to Microsoft Word format.

I anticipated problems connecting other hardware, so it was a pleasant surprise when our printers, scanners, MP3 players and digital cameras (from the kids’ Coolpixes to my pro Nikon D3) were recognized and functioned normally.

Then I was asked to present a slide show with a rented projector. I booted into Windows XP and connected the projector. Nothing. For over two frustrating hours I tried everything I could think of to make XP talk to the projector. The rental shop was closed so there was no tech support. Desperate, I booted into Ubuntu and to my shock the image instantly projected onto the screen. No keys to push, no drivers to install – it just worked.

What about Facebook, Youtube, Skype, Google chat and other programs without which teenagers would complain of child abuse? Facebook is just accessed through any browser (Firefox is the default in Ubuntu) and Skype works just as well in Linux as Windows. Youtube requires Flash, a free download from Adobe. To watch different movie formats I installed a couple of codec libraries and the excellent VLC player, but this was easy to do from within Ubuntu.

Certainly there is a learning curve to Ubuntu, as there is with any operating system. I found the transition from XP to Ubuntu required about the same effort as switching from XP to Vista. Fortunately Ubuntu has excellent tutorials and is supported by a community of experienced users who patiently help newbies. The forums are a big improvement on the usual tech support where relatively inexperienced staff just read off cue cards.

It took some adjustment getting used to Linux’s frequent demands for my system password. Unlike Windows, which grants the user administrative privileges by default, Linux requires your password for “root” (roughly the same as administrative) privileges, such as installing software or “mounting” (reading) other drives on your computer.

This is a minor inconvenience, especially considering the extra security it affords. A nasty virus or worm is unlikely to damage your system unless you enter your password and give it permission. With Windows systems, your computer can pick up viruses automatically and send them to the next victim. A potential Linux virus would have much less chance of spreading.

While no system should be considered bulletproof when it comes to security, the average Linux user who uses common sense is able to enjoy his computer experience with much less risk. Just as importantly he can save many hours scanning and attempting – often in vain – to rid his system of malicious software. Macs, of course, also have good resistance to malware.

There is a chance, however, of a Linux machine acting as a carrier, which can pass on a virus to a Windows computer without becoming infected itself, so still be careful about forwarding emails with attachments or links to questionable sites. If your Linux box shares a network with Windows computers you should definitely run anti-virus software such as Avira AntiVir. Ironically, sometimes the best way to purge a Windows system of persistent viruses is to scan the Windows partitions while running Linux.

A great feature of Linux is that of multiple workspaces, which both Linux and Mac users have enjoyed for years. Each family member can have his own workspace, while leaving the other desktop layouts undisturbed. Or you can set up multiple purposes for a single user computer – say one workspace for internet browsing, another for image editing and another for games.

Microsoft Office? No big surprise – Microsoft doesn’t produce a Linux version, but Open Office, an open-source suite maintained by Sun Microsystems, is a capable alternative. When you install Ubuntu you automatically install three Open Office programs – Writer, a word processor compatible with Word, Calc, a spreadsheet compatible with Excel, and Impress, presentation software compatible with PowerPoint. PDF-writing support is built in. Open Office also makes drawing and database programs you can download. And yes, they are free, as is all open-source software. http://www.openoffice.org/

While there are good open-source alternatives to Microsoft Outlook in Linux – Mozilla Thunderbird and Evolution in particular – importing my Outlook contacts and emails into Linux was the most complicated part of switching to Linux. I chose Thunderbird because it’s cross platform. The procedure involved running both Outlook and Thunderbird on a Windows computer and importing the emails and contacts into Thunderbird. From there I booted into Linux, copied the folder containing the data files over from the Windows drive and made some minor changes to the Thunderbird .ini file. I got the procedure from this source: http://tinyurl.com/ydhvnbc After minor fiddling I was able to open Thunderbird with my data intact.

To install Ubuntu you download a 700 mb ISO image file and burn it to a CD. The current version is 9.10, the number representing the release date of Oct. 2009. As Ubuntu is on a six-month release schedule, the next version will be 10.04 in Apr. 2010. A “live CD” option allows you to run Ubuntu from the CD without making any changes to your system. This is slow, but a good way to test it with your computer. If you like it, you have a choice to dual boot, install to a separate hard drive or even to a USB flash drive.

My most recent install of Ubuntu 9.10 took 25 minutes, which included installing Open Office and a variety of other open-source software. In another 30 minutes I’d downloaded the latest patches, added more software and configured the system to my preferences. Much faster (at least for me) than installing Windows.

I’m paranoid about wiping out important data, so whenever I install an operating system I disconnect all hard drives except the one to which I’m installing.

Even if you decide not to install Linux it pays to keep the CD. If your computer dies, you can boot up with the Linux Live CD to access your data files. This has already saved me from potential disaster after a hardware failure.

Linux boots up faster than Windows and has a snappy feel. With Ubuntu on my notebook, for instance, double clicking a 1 mb Word document takes 15 seconds to start Open Office and open the document. Using Microsoft Word in Vista takes 50 seconds. In both systems the task is much faster when run a second time, possibly due to caching – two seconds for Linux and six for Vista.

No OS is perfect, but I’ve found Linux to be fast, stable, and secure. While I still use Windows for a few specific programs, Linux offers greater peace of mind in everyday use – especially when online.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Eigner
    December 18, 2009

    this has been my experience with ubuntu as well. i threw it on an aging 12″ notebook to use as an in-class note-taking tool and over several quarters became familiar enough with it that i felt confident installing it on my desktop. i did the dual-boot dance for some time but honestly, i haven’t booted into windows in months. i even successfully scanned a document on my hp printer/scanner on the FIRST try using xsane. i’m continually impressed by how far linux has come. good stuff greg.

  2. #2 rpsms
    December 18, 2009

    i wish he would have delved into how he uses ubuntu for professional photography.

    the absence of native quark, indesign, photoshop, and illustrator for linux is a big problem for me personally, and i would like to see how some other dtp professional handled this.

  3. #3 WarWeasle
    December 18, 2009

    If you want to use quark, indesign, photoshop, etc. you can install wine. Wine runs your programs, tricking them into thinking you are using windows. Most of these applications should run well and are supported.

  4. #4 Indian Art
    December 18, 2009

    Same experience with me.

    I had installed Ubuntu as a ‘dual boot’ with Windows as an ‘experiment’. Now I enjoy using Ubuntu almost exclusively.

  5. #5 Phylo
    December 18, 2009

    The best system for photography is a networked linux and mac arrangement. Linux for file management, storage, backing up, batch processing for most of what is done when the memory cards are first downloaded and the files processed. Mac for your favorite photo shop type software and layout and design, although much of the processing of photos is done in batch mode in Linux.

  6. #6 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    December 18, 2009

    I have had the same experience with moving all of my computers to Ubuntu Linux. I have only run into three problems:

    Some of the EA games that need to access a registration server don’t completely install under WINE. Other than that they all work fine.

    I have one program from the Minnesota State Campaign Finance board that doesn’t work under WINE, but I use a VirtualBox to run Windows and it works there.

    The Belkin adapter to run Skype as a “land line” service deosn’t have a Linux Driver avaiable. The hardware was disontinued in 2006, and I have not been able to use that.

    Other than that, everything I need to do that I used to do on Windows XP I know do on Ubuntu. And 9.10 has added some cool Gnome features.

  7. #7 IConrad
    December 18, 2009

    Re: WINE –

    WINE, the program, doesn’t “trick” your programs into thinking it’s running Windows. WINE is an open-source implementation of a thing called the “Application Programming Interface” of Windows. Basically, what they’re doing is building the part of Windows that “talks” to the programs /from scratch/, but ‘hooking it’ to the Linux kernel rather than the Windows (NT) kernel.

    There is an OS project (ReactOS) which is using WINE as its sole API, for example — the ReactOS project being an attempt to “clone” Windows XP, after all.

  8. #8 Carlile
    December 18, 2009

    Sounds to me like Wine is tricking the program into thinking it is running on Windoze.

  9. #9 Scott Rowed
    December 18, 2009

    @rpsms. Originally I dealt more with photography but the essay was getting too long and disjointed so I cut it out. But here are a few quick notes.

    While I used to work quite a bit with InDesign and some with Illustrator, my knowledge in those areas, especially how Scribus compares, is out of date. You would probably be able discuss those programs with greater authority.

    Photoshop is the “big one”. If Adobe ported this to Linux a lot more users would be able to switch completely. I’ve used the Gimp a bit, and while it is probably okay for most amateur photographers, it falls short on features for pros such as IPTC captioning, 16-bit editing and shadow/highlight adjustments. Similarly, the open-source raw converters seem to lack shadow adjustment. DigiKam is looking promising so maybe it will implement some of those features in the future.

    Photoshop CS2 seems to run okay under Wine, but that doesn’t help me as I need at least CS3 to process Nikon raw files. CS3 didn’t work on my Linux machine and I haven’t tried CS4 yet. One of these days I’ll download a CS4 trial and give it a go. They may run under VirtualBox, but Photoshop needs a lot of RAM so in the meantime I just find it simpler to boot into Windows for that.

    One possible solution is Bibble http://bibblelabs.com/ It’s not open source, but it’s not expensive and may provide many of the functions pros need while staying native Linux. The development of Bibble 5 is far behind schedule, but it’s still worth serious consideration. Even version 4 is good software.

    For browsing and culling raw files DigiKam does a decent job, but I prefer running FastStone viewer under Wine. Download the portable version so you don’t even have to install it. Just right click on FSViewer.exe and select “Open with Wine…”. FastStone also allows you to extract the embedded jpeg in the raw file, resize it to specific dimensions and add a visible watermark, all in one step. That’s great for cataloging purposes.

    Panorama photography is well represented in Linux. In fact the modern era of panorama stitching is rooted in open-source software. Photographers using Linux today have a choice of two excellent panorama products – the open-source Hugin, or the commercial software Kolor Autopano.

    Scanners? The open-source program “XSane Image Scanner”, installed with Ubuntu, covers basic scanning, but doesn’t cut it for producing professional-quality scans from transparencies. Fortunately there is a Linux solution. Vuescan is one of the best scanning programs on the market, supports just about every scanner ever made (including the custom features of each scanner) and runs on Linux as well as Windows and Mac. It’s commercial software, but not expensive. I’ve had a Vuescan licence for years and it runs on Linux, Mac and Windows. http://www.hamrick.com/

  10. #10 Jeff Knapp
    December 18, 2009

    I think schools in particular would do really well to ditch Windows entirely and install a mixed environment of Mac and Linux. Linux for the large majority of classroom machines, Macs for the creative classes such as music, A/V, art.

    I can concur with Scott, I do find Linux much nicer to use than I ever did Windows. I still like the Mac OS X better – probably because that has been my comfort zone for a long time – but, Linux is becoming awfully nice – and certainly a superior alternative to
    Windows.

  11. #11 Don Birdsall
    December 18, 2009

    Go to System>Administration>Login Screen to enable login without password.

    Do a Google search for ‘visudo’ and learn how to edit the ‘sudoers’ file.

    Between the two you will need a password only infrequently.

  12. #12 Scott Rowed
    December 18, 2009

    @Jeff Knapp. Schools are a logical place for significant growth in Linux adoption.

    Canada: http://tinyurl.com/36hz29
    I’ve been in contact with the people in the Kamloops, BC school district, where they have had a very successful switch from Windows to Linux in their 50 schools, using Linux servers with diskless clients. They have high levels of satisfaction from students and staff, huge cost savings (hardware, software, IT and electricity) and almost 100% uptime. A number of other school districts in BC are following Kamloops’ lead and I’m trying to get our local school board in Alberta to also switch.
    Philippines: http://tinyurl.com/yadnhxz
    Police in France: http://tinyurl.com/dneja3

  13. #13 Fargo
    December 18, 2009

    In regards to being asked for your password, it’s still better than the crap system you get with Vista or Windows 7, and is about the same as OS X.

    As for photos and graphics, GIMP has come a long ways, I hear good things about Bibble, and there’s a number of alternatives to InDesign, such as InkScape. I’m not a graphics professional by any stretch, so maybe users will find something lacking in these, but I’m very against just using wine to run something when you haven’t tried any of the alternatives yet.

  14. #14 Bob
    December 18, 2009

    The password thing is a good thing. It is one of the reasons that Linux computers do not get whacked by viruses.

  15. #15 ghabuntu
    December 18, 2009

    There’s only one big difference between Linux and Windows and that is that the former is a democracy and the later is a dictatorship. :-)

    With that being said, even though Linux has come a long way to being a great desktop alternative to the behemoth called Windows, I still believe that unless there is some kind of cohesion in the Linux world, it may forever remain an insignificant part of the overall desktop OS market.

  16. #16 James
    December 18, 2009

    There’s only one big difference between Linux and Windows and that is that the former is a democracy and the later is a dictatorship. :-)

    You joke, but I’ll still correct you:

    The Linux paradigm is more of a meritocracy where the best ideas tend to bubble to the top. Only the best projects make it into a distribution. And “best” is defined by the user base, what people find most useful.

    But yes, Windows is more like a dictatorship. You get what Microsoft says you will get. Don’t like how Windows does something? That’s tough, good luck getting anyone at Microsoft to fix things for little old you.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    December 18, 2009

    I love the fact that the following things are true:

    1) The next version of Ubuntu (10) will exclude The Gimp (a photoshop like program) because they judge it inappropriate for the distro.

    2) The reaction of the people who produce The Gimp is “Well, that sounds reasonable. Sure.” … (can you imagine that reaction by a commercial software company?)

    and

    3) For users, all you need to do is to click the box for “The Gimp” on your package manager (or type in “sudo apt-get install gimp”) and you’ve got the gimp.

    This circumstance can’t happen in the proprietary world.

  18. #18 Ron F.
    December 18, 2009

    I never used Photoshop in my photography projects when I was running Windows; I used Picture Window. I made the switch to Ubuntu about 2.5 years ago now, and presently use Picture Window Pro 5 with WINE, and that has been working out very well.

  19. #19 Matt
    December 19, 2009

    Like the author, my windows xp machine caught a virus and made the machine unbootable. I searched for a replacement OS and found Ubuntu. I’ve been using it for two years now and love it. The only problem I have had is using mythtv to view tv programs. I can live without it, really. Every camera, printer and external drive works fine. I even turned my friends and family onto ubuntu and they are all happy with it. By the way, Wine does make your machine more susceptible to viruses and other malware.

  20. #20 Borg Bucolic
    December 19, 2009

    I made the switch a few months ago. I tried a number of distros before settling on the one the worked (not all worked well for me). I made notes about them and the experience. One day, I may post something about it. One thing I did know, switching operating systems (cpm, dos, multi-dos, win workgroups, 98, 98SE, XP, Vista, Puppy, Debian, and finally Ubuntu), each one required some level of adjustment and learning. The easiest was overall was GNU/Linux.

  21. #21 cm
    December 19, 2009

    Some words against Linux, at least in my experience…

    Writing this from an Ubuntu Wubi install. Noting how almost every font displayed on my laptop screen looks incredibly unprofessionally jaggy, like dot-matrix printer 1983 jaggy. That is barely an exaggeration.

    I also hate some of the small unprofessional moments, like how the screen momentarily displays visual noise sometimes when switching in between windows (this was even seen in a “switch to Ubuntu” commercial!).

    Getting YouTube videos to play has been a disaster, with the grey screen of no video attacking at random.

    OpenOffice’s font rendering can be horrible, and looks awful at what is considered “100%”.

    Sometimes Ubuntu (8.10) just locks up and that’s that, need to manually restart.

    Overall, I just wasn’t having the feeling of unfinishedness with WindowsXP SP2 or SP3 that I am with Ubuntu 8.10, and I have heard from a friend that his experience with 9.10 is even buggier.

    Linux support is dicey at times. Yes, there are many question-answerers, but that is because there are too many questions, because it is too hard to figure out what to do to rectify a problem.

    I’m all for open source, I very much appreciate what the Linux/Ubuntu people have done, it’s a huge achievement, and I wanted to love it, but it needs a lot of sanding and polishing before it is really acceptable compared to, say the latest Mac or Windows OSs. Too bad. Keep trying, Ubuntu!

    To

  22. #22 bdl
    December 19, 2009

    @cm – Two statements from your comment bother me:

    “Writing this from an Ubuntu Wubi install.”
    “Sometimes Ubuntu (8.10) just locks up and that’s that, need to manually restart.”

    The author is discussing a full installation of Ubuntu 9.10, the latest version. You’re talking about a limited version of an outdated release. Please update before you comment. It’s as if a Windows ’98 user was complaining to all the Windows 7 users that his copy was slow and didn’t look as nice, oh and by the way, it’s running it as a virtual machine.

    I’ve been a Linux user since ’97, and believe me I can attest to the early days of hardware headaches and consulting user groups and forums to get things working. Ubuntu 9.10 is a huge step in the right direction to making Linux accessible and easy to use for anyone. I’m a fanatic about which distro (Linux distribution) I work with, and I’ve installed Ubuntu 9.10 on two of my personal machines and two clients machines that have had trojans take over their lives. As far as “bugs” are concerned, I did find that one PC did had a couple of problems after reboot, but a simple apt-get update && apt-get upgrade took care of all the issues I was having.

  23. #23 Orion
    December 19, 2009

    Great to read the experiences you guys have had. After Mandrake, I returned to Linux installing Ubuntu about 4 months ago. Since then I haven’t looked back.

    The only times I boot into XP is when I need to use software for which I have not yet found equivalents, e.g. the software suite for handling Canon raw files. Linux has ufraw and dcraw but so far the Canon software, to me at least, gives the best and fastest results. However, these occasions take up only 1% to 2% of my usage. For Internet access, it is 100% Ubuntu.

    As a teacher, I now see my students, one by one, installing and using Ubuntu, with one actually saying he will never go to Win 7. The only time he uses XP is for gaming. I just introduced him to Linux games and his initial reaction is “Wow!”.

    Asian magazines said almost nothing about Linux two years ago, but now almost every issue has something about Linux almost every issue, particularly Ubuntu, often comparing it to XP, Win 7 and Vista, with Ubuntu coming out on top on most of the tests and Vista at the bottom.

    As for the comment complaining about Ubuntu fonts, I find them much cleaner and clearer in Ubuntu. In fact, one of my students said he wants to install Ubuntu after trying the live CD because his likes the look of the fonts but he had some problems with his old LCD monitor after updating the Nvidia hardware driver. I will be helping him with the installation this coming Monday.

    By the way, thanks for the idea about the XP-me-only-password. Recently one of my students chose to boot into XP on my notebook and complained about the slowness. Another student said: “Why are you not using Ubuntu? I use it and it’s faster.” So, there … new password login for XP known only to me and autologin for Ubuntu.

  24. #24 co
    December 19, 2009

    I agree with the upbeat review of Linux.
    I have a Studio 1737 laptop with Fedora/KDE in dual boot with the bundled Vista. A couple of days ago I upgraded it from Fedora11 to Fedora12 using preupgrade which mostly runs in the background and the upgrade went without a glitch.
    Linux has indeed come a long way.
    Everything I need works. usb, wired and wireless network, HDTV (usb stick), firewire, bluetooth, skype, chromium, OpenOffice, card games, etc.
    The BD drive is not (yet) supported (except perhaps with PowerDVD on wine which I haven’t installed).
    And install of the MS core fonts is no longer needed for better fonts.
    What I also like about Linux vs Windows is the simpler dekstop, less eye candy, faster to boot, frequent Fedora updates that never fail, only kernel updates require reboot, smaller security risk and its free, open source and readily available for download.
    I wouldnt be surprised if Linux eventually gains more foothold on the dekstop as spillover from running most of the worlds smartphones.
    Linux would more than suffice for many people but is just not a choice with most new PCs.
    (VMWare is an alternative to dual boot. It runs on Windows in turn running Linux allowing hot switch between Windows and Linux using a hotkey or icon click.)

  25. #25 Gumnos
    December 19, 2009

    I always have to laugh at the “support” argument. Let’s compare!

    FOSS support: I post a question in the appropriate forum/mailing-list, and unless it’s a particularly intractable problem, I usually get one or more accurate solutions to my problem within the hour, sometimes from one of the core devs. The response often teaches me more about the software in the process. Sometimes it’s not an existing functionality and I get a patch in reply so I can add the functionality.

    Non-FOSS support: I email the support address and get an automated reply suggesting things I’ve already tried because they’re in the documentation. No real person ever contacts me. So I call the support number (sometimes on my own dime), wait on hold for an hour before some thick unintelligible accent comes on the phone. I get walked through a script that comes straight out of the aforementioned documentation. I get told to reinstall the software. I get asked to reboot the computer. I get told the software doesn’t behave that way and I’m stuck with it. I get told “we’ll investigate and call you back” only to never receive a call. And for this so-called “support”, I often have to pay a pricey maint. contract year over year.

    Yeah, give me FOSS’s “no support” any day. And don’t get me started on mandatory reboots for non-kernel updates on Win32. My Debian boxes only reboot when the power goes out for longer than my battery backup, or I upgrade the kernel.

    -gumnos

  26. #26 Greg Laden
    December 19, 2009

    Writing this from an Ubuntu Wubi install. Noting how almost every font displayed on my laptop screen looks incredibly unprofessionally jaggy, like dot-matrix printer 1983 jaggy. That is barely an exaggeration.

    That is not normal. Something is wrong with your particular setup/computer.

    I also hate some of the small unprofessional moments, like how the screen momentarily displays visual noise sometimes when switching in between windows (this was even seen in a “switch to Ubuntu” commercial!).

    Ibid. These are probably connected. I don’t know what commercual you saw, but I’ve never seen anything like this in a functioning system.

    Getting YouTube videos to play has been a disaster, with the grey screen of no video attacking at random.

    Ibid. Your shit is broken. You might try installin the correct flash plugin, but you might have already. The other items you mention above indicate that you have some other underlying problem with graphics.

    OpinOffice font: By now you should start noticing a pattern.

    No, locking up the system is not normal eaither.

    These are NOT issues of “unfinishedness”

    it needs a lot of sanding and polishing before it is really acceptable compared to, say the latest Mac or Windows OSs. Too bad.

    I don’think you’ve actually investigated your issues yet, or talked to anyone who knows anything, or you would not be characterizing Linux as the problem for what appears to be a busted memory chip or something along those lines.

    Linux does use some hardware that Windows does not … if you have a nice video card, chances are Linux tries to use it in ways that Windows XP does not.

    Gumnos: I’ve never once posted a question . I always look for the already answered question. Thanks for posting the questoins!

  27. #27 cm
    December 19, 2009

    That is not normal. Something is wrong with your particular setup/computer.

    Something is wrong with my setup, yes, and it’s called Ubuntu.

    Ibid. These are probably connected. I don’t know what commercual you saw, but I’ve never seen anything like this in a functioning system.

    I’m trying to find the video; it was mentioned on Slashdot a year or two back. It was one in which Windows users were tricked into thinking they were trying out the newest OS from Microsoft, when it was actually Ubuntu. During the video you could see that classic half second of video noise, sort of like a screen’s worth of white and colored static when they switched applications. Other users on Slashdot recognized it. It’s not just me.

    Ibid. Your shit is broken. You might try installin the correct flash plugin, but you might have already. The other items you mention above indicate that you have some other underlying problem with graphics….OpinOffice font: By now you should start noticing a pattern….

    That’s right. That was my point. But what’s “broken” is my Ubuntu, not my computer. See the “control” data below…

    No, locking up the system is not normal eaither….These are NOT issues of “unfinishedness”

    Sure they are. Because none of these issues occur on Windows XP on that same computer. Ever. It “just works”.

    I don’t think you’ve actually investigated your issues yet, or talked to anyone who knows anything, or you would not be characterizing Linux as the problem for what appears to be

    I haven’t investigated it very carefully–I may have to, but I don’t want to unless I have to, because the point of using an OS is not to become a part-time diagnostician. The point of using an OS is to use it, to get on with writing and internet and whatever applications one wants. This has been notably (though not deal-breakingly) hampered on Ubuntu compared to WinXP SP3 due to what can only be called “random pain in the assery”.

    a busted memory chip or something along those lines.

    I really doubt it, because, again, everything looks superb on that same computer running Windows XP SP3–every time. None of these problems ever occur. And yes, I have installed the Microsoft fonts under Ubuntu, done what I was told to do regarding helping the fonts, etc. It’s just discouraging.

    And the point about fonts is not just noted by me. See the story referenced at this Slashdot article from May, or Google Ubuntu font problem.

  28. #28 Roland
    December 19, 2009

    “A great feature of Linux is that of multiple workspaces… Each family member can have his own workspace.” Don’t do that! You don’t want Junior mucking around in your presentation. Give each family member a separate user account, and logout when each of you are done working. And tell each family member to backup his own work to (say) their own thumbdrive. Remember, this OS was built to work with multiple users. Article should read: “Each family member can have his own account with multiple workspaces.”

  29. #29 Greg Laden
    December 19, 2009

    cm: You are talking to dozens of people who use Linux, all of whom would characterize your experience as rare. Your problem is not Ubunutu. It is your attitude.

    You are one of those paid-by-MS Linux bashers, admit it!

    It is true that Linux is not for everyone. For starters, almost all desktop computers that Linux is installed on were designed with Windows in mind, so we can expect problems. For this reason some technical expertise and patience is needed in the 1/10 or fewer cases where the match is really bad. In your case, obviously, you would need to look into your video subsystem. But lacking the patience, interst, or skills to do so, you should probably drop Linux until you are ready to actually install it and give it a fair test (attitude), have a different computer to try it on (hardware) or learn more about it (skills).

  30. #30 cm
    December 19, 2009

    Two statements from your comment bother me:…The author is discussing a full installation of Ubuntu 9.10, the latest version. You’re talking about a limited version of an outdated release. Please update before you comment. It’s as if a Windows ’98 user was complaining to all the Windows 7 users that his copy was slow and didn’t look as nice, oh and by the way, it’s running it as a virtual machine.

    That’s an exaggeration. The 8.10 to 9.10 difference is simply not even close to Win98 to Win7 difference. You’re talking ~11.5 years and pre-NT vs. exactly 1 year. (Note: nerdiest thing I have ever written). I think it is somewhat fair to judge Ubuntu on 8.10, but I concede that it is not the fairest test, sure.

    Whether Wubi is the issue is a different matter. If it is Wubi that is the source of some of my woes, than some of my complaints are really about Wubi, not Ubuntu. But then it is too bad that Wubi is even out there in that form. Unfortunately I cannot do a full install of Ubuntu because I don’t have a computer to spare and am unwilling to do a dual boot after I tried that on a relative’s computer and wound up wiping out his Windows partition entirely. If you feel this

    Ubuntu 9.10 is a huge step in the right direction to making Linux accessible and easy to use for anyone.

    A good friend who has been a sysadmin for 15+ years, ran RedHat for years, and has used every OS there is has been telling me that his experience with 9.10 is discouragingly buggier than his with 8.10, which has made me NOT upgrade my (admittedly Wubified) 8.10 install. There is also at least one account online of upgrading from within the synaptic upgrader causing Ubuntu to break irretrievably.

  31. #31 cm
    December 19, 2009

    cm: You are talking to dozens of people who use Linux, all of whom would characterize your experience as rare. Your problem is not Ubunutu. It is your attitude.

    Oh come on. The problems I described really ARE problems, Greg, at least in my case.. No one should describe them as “problems of attitude”; imagine if Steve Ballmer described some known bugs in Windows as the problem being user’s attitude?

    I fully admit that it is possible to have a Ubuntu 9.10 install in which the problems I am having are not encountered, and that perhaps my problems are rare. I am just providing my experience here.

    You are one of those paid-by-MS Linux bashers, admit it!

    I wish I were paid! :D

    But lacking the patience, interst, or skills to do so, you should probably drop Linux until you are ready to actually install it and give it a fair test (attitude),

    I don’t think you can give Linux a special dispensation just because computers tend to play better with Windows. This is Linux’s burden to surmount. If Linux hasn’t gotten it surmounted yet, well, that’s just too bad. You can’t say that my test is unfair just because I am unwilling to become Mr. Debug when using my OS.

    have a different computer to try it on (hardware)

    Again, I am not interested in swapping computers until I get the “right kind”. I want my OS to just work. As it does, perfectly, on that very same computer–when it’s WinXP!

    or learn more about it (skills).

    Sure, but in my case I’d rather not delve into the arcana of Linux commands. I do think this is asking too much of a regular computer user. If hobbyist geeks enjoy learning that (entirely arbitrary) arcana, fine, but please blame people for having a “bad attitude” if they simply want to use their computer without having to write stuff like:

    ( tar -c /dir/to/copy ) | ssh -C user@remote ‘cd /where/to/ && tar -x -p’

  32. #32 lrfocke
    December 19, 2009

    “That’s an exaggeration. The 8.10 to 9.10 difference is simply not even close to Win98 to Win7 difference. You’re talking ~11.5 years and pre-NT vs. exactly 1 year. (Note: nerdiest thing I have ever written). I think it is somewhat fair to judge Ubuntu on 8.10, but I concede that it is not the fairest test, sure.”

    I would agree with the others that say you are not giving Linux a shot. I would tell you to go back to Windows but your history there is lacking as well. Win98 was not Pre-NT In 1995 I was using Win NT 4.0. So you have “a friend” that says 9.10 is buggy, but don’t want to listen to people that have been using Linux since 1994 when you did have to know how to setup or create video drivers, monitor setups and about everything else.
    You are just trolling, wanting to use space and make this blog useless to the people that want honest information.

    lrfocke

  33. #33 cm
    December 19, 2009

    I would tell you to go back to Windows but your history there is lacking as well. Win98 was not Pre-NT In 1995 I was using Win NT 4.0.

    I meant that Win98 didn’t use the NT kernel.

    So you have “a friend” that says 9.10 is buggy, but don’t want to listen to people that have been using Linux since 1994.

    He’s not a “friend”, he is a friend. And how am I not listening to them? I am reading what people write here, I am engaging with people, I read the post. I am giving my own experience. Should I not do that? Should I just be “polite” and not point out the unpleasant problems I have had with a piece of software? Why? What use is that? I had and have good things to say about Linux and Ubuntu–why can’t I also offer some complaints?

    You are just trolling, wanting to use space and make this blog useless to the people that want honest information.

    Give me a break. Every time someone accuses a person of “trolling” when they are clearly making an earnest effort to communicate, it just makes me shake my head. I have not been rude to anyone, I have not lied, I have not misrepresented my experience. I am a normal person who simply has had some issues with Ubuntu. I said and repeat: I was very excited about the possibility of going fully Linux in my household (also experimented with a Puppy Linux install on an old laptop…also had discouraging problems there), but it seems it is not quite user friendly enough for a person like me. And that’s OK. Really. If Greg and you and others love it just as it is, that’s also OK. Right?

  34. #34 Todd
    December 19, 2009

    Sure they are. Because none of these issues occur on Windows XP on that same computer. Ever. It “just works”.

    Compatibility issues with closed source drivers gives Microsoft an edge, particularly when it comes to video which is where I suspect you are having issues. And WUBI is not Linux. Try running Ubuntu from a Live CD. Better yet, try Linux Mint, which is Ubuntu done correctly. The reason XP “just works” is the manufactures of the components in you computer have not opened the source to their drivers and Microsoft has paid them lots of money to keep it that way.

    That being said, your experience is unusual in the extreme. I’ve used Ubuntu going back to 7.04 and never run into the experiences you seem to be having. On the other hand, Windows has never, in my experience, “just worked.” XP has come the closest, but I’ve had to edit too many registry setting by hand for me to make a claim like that. The only OS I’ve ever used that “just worked” was z/OS.

  35. #35 Scott Rowed
    December 19, 2009

    @cm. “I don’t think you can give Linux a special dispensation just because computers tend to play better with Windows. This is Linux’s burden to surmount. If Linux hasn’t gotten it surmounted yet, well, that’s just too bad.”

    My experience has been that when you purchase a system pre-configured with Windows from a reliable supplier, then yes, everything works. But the minute you start to make changes, or even have to re-install Windows from the restore disks, then all bets are off. Vista, for instance, is notorious for not supporting older scanners and printers. A lot of users stuck with XP so they could continue to use these.

    I had to re-install Vista on my current notebook. Even though I used the manufacturer’s restore disks there were problems. The built-in webcam, for instance, displays upside down in Skype. The function keys no longer work for dimming or brightening the screen.

    Now, in fairness, my webcam doesn’t work running Skype under Ubuntu. There apparently are drivers I can install for this, but it’s not a priority to me so I haven’t bothered. If someone really needs to see my mug on Skype, I can boot up using the Asus built-in Linux OS, ExpressGate. Or use aMSN, where the webcam works just fine under Ubuntu.

    But the screen dimming function keys work under Ubuntu and this is far more important to me. To dim the screen with Vista I have to go into the nVidia setup.

    Further to my experience with the projector not working with XP, I was at a public presentation a few weeks ago where they were unable to get the Dell notebook to work with the projector. Fortunately someone was able to get another computer, but it delayed the presentation by 20 minutes.

  36. #36 cm
    December 19, 2009

    That being said, your experience is unusual in the extreme. I’ve used Ubuntu going back to 7.04 and never run into the experiences you seem to be having.

    That’s fortunate for you, but I’m not sure either of us know how unusual my experiences are. But, fwiw, here are sightings of such problems a Google’s search away:

    Drawing glitch:
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xserver-xorg-video-ati/+bug/354591

    Fonts:
    http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/96/

    http://www.briggs.net.nz/log/2007/02/06/openoffice-font-rendering-problem-in-kubuntu/

    YouTube:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=680970

  37. #37 lrfocke
    December 19, 2009

    Here is an idea, try LinuxMint. It is based on Ubuntu but has all the addons and third party software that you need right off the distro. They just came out with Mint 8 which is based on release 9.10 It has flash, all video codex’s pre-installed. Give it a try. I recomend it to all that are having troubles with a previous install. You can install it as a Windows app and can remove it in the same manner as any app in Windows. No harm, no foul. Good luck.

    lrfocke

  38. #38 DiBosco
    December 19, 2009

    >> Sure, but in my case I’d rather not delve into the arcana of Linux commands. I do think this is asking too much of a regular computer user. If hobbyist geeks enjoy learning that (entirely arbitrary) arcana, fine, but please blame people for having a “bad attitude” if they simply want to use their computer without having to write stuff like:
    ( tar -c /dir/to/copy ) | ssh -C user@remote ‘cd /where/to/ && tar -x -p’ <<

    Ah, this old chestnut. I’m afraid this is a completely fallacious argument, there is next to nothing you _have_ to go to the command line for any more. The fact that you can because it’s much faster if you have the expertise is a bonus, but you simply do not have to learn arcane syntax if you don’t want.

  39. #39 cm
    December 19, 2009

    @DiBosco
    Ah, this old chestnut. I’m afraid this is a completely fallacious argument, there is next to nothing you _have_ to go to the command line for any more. The fact that you can because it’s much faster if you have the expertise is a bonus, but you simply do not have to learn arcane syntax if you don’t want.

    Fair enough to the extent that is true (and I’ll take your word that it is almost entirely true now), but my personal experience has been that when I encounter the sort of frustrating problems mentioned above, the helpers on forums tend to provide command line answers. You could argue, well, there you are, there’s your answer and it is quick to do, and perhaps you are right. And so I will withdraw that.

    But, more generally, I’m just tired of fixing things generally, whether through a CLI or GUI or whatever, because I am getting sick of having to go “find an answer” (whether that is a CLI incantation or a series of GUI clicks) to things that should just work. For example, when one uses Compiz, how do you get the Cube to work? Every time I Google for this (because I lazily forget to write it down) it strangely seems like a tough search to find a) how to set it so it works (with the right cube faces) and then b) the key commands to have it zoom out to reveal the cube.

    My guess is if I wanted as much ease of use as I could have, I should just get a brand new Mac or Win7, but XP is good enough for now to hold me over. And I won’t give up on Linux, I’ll just deal with it as I feel like it. (Some days tinkering with it feels more fun than others).

    (I also appreciate that any OS is a monumental undertaking, and Win, Mac, and Linux all deserve recognition for the insanely big and complex code base they have created. So I don’t mean to whine.)

    @lrfocke: Thanks for the LinuxMint suggestion. I have a (different) friend who has been trying it for some months and I’ve heard good things about it. Didn’t know I could install it under Windows now. May give it a try one of these days.

  40. #40 Leni
    December 19, 2009

    I had a Linux/XP dual drive on an old laptop that was extremely useful when I was in school. I had a difficult time file sharing between the two, though. (Limited knowledge- I’m not blaming the OSs.) But at this point I use my pc primarily for gaming and I don’t think Linux would cut it for that purpose.

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know if there is more of a move from developers to make games that are supported on Linux? I would guess not, but I haven’t really been paying much attention.

  41. #41 Greg Laden
    December 19, 2009

    lrfocke My nest install will be Linux Mint based on your recommendation. I like the idea of a distro that does those things that you do anyway. I wonder if it will include The Gimp when Ubuntu 10 comes out!

    Since the command line has come up, may I recommend the following:
    The Command Line in Linux, Mac OSX and Windows

    May the force (of the command line) be with you

    The Command Line Part 3: Underlying Power

    The Three Button Mouse Phenomenon: A cultural trait found in those who love their computers

  42. #42 Scott Rowed
    December 19, 2009

    Another reason to avoid Windows:
    “Don’t use Microsoft Windows when accessing your bank account online. “
    http://tinyurl.com/ybop25e
    I wonder if Microsoft considers this when publishing Total Cost of Ownership comparisons.

  43. #43 Dave Anderson
    December 19, 2009

    I must confess to being a little jaded over the “my OS is better than your OS” debate. The truth is an OS is only there to support your applications, games and devices that you plug into it. Your OS should ideally fade into the background and be relatively invisible.

    I use Windows 7 on my desktop because I want DirectX 10 support for games. I also use Ubuntu 9.10 exclusively on my laptop (no dual boot). I use Ubuntu Server for my webserver, Database Server and File Servers. My wife uses Mac OSx, my Mother in Law is using Ubuntu (without realising what it is), my kids use Ubuntu. In all cases the OS is secondary to what applications I want to run on the system.

    I hated Vista with a passion hence the reason I upgraded to Win7 – It is a very good OS. I also use Ubuntu variants (based on the hardware) and with the 9.04+ releases I can happily say it meets most requirements.

    If my mother-in-law can happily use Ubuntu then I can safely say that Desktop Linux is ready for the masses.

  44. #44 Akira Takano
    December 19, 2009

    I used to be a HUGE windows fan, but after makeing the switch, i see how flawed windows really is. ive actually tried to get a virus and could not succeed. I now run a full network of 55 Ubuntu servers.

  45. #45 Chris Mills
    December 19, 2009

    Good evening folks! I’ll second Mint Linux! I use Mint 5 KDE on my old desktop at the house. It’s a ~6 year old 2.0 GHz Pentium with PC133 memory. Not that fastest computer but it is unstoppable. Note that for e-mail and surfing and office apps it is no slower than my brand new Dell Latitude laptop. I use Mint 7 KDE on this Latitude. When it first came out there were a few bugs but as the updates came along the problems (minor) were gone.

    The fonts, Flash and video problems mentioned above sound VERY much like my old desktop with onboard Intel video when I first began using Linux. I tried to enable 3-D graphics and my amateur attempts didn’t work. I had problems like you described. I added a cheap $50 Nvidia based PCI video card and all my problems went away.

    I have installed a combination of TinyME Linux (~600 MHz laptops and desktops), Mint KDE 5 (slow desktops), and Mint 7 KDE (fast anything) on literally about 50-60 computers along the way. I have installed it on HP products, Dell products, home built computers, Toshiba laptops, and a series of noname computers I did not build and could not identify. On the computers with ATI or Nvidia computers I always had success. On the no-namers with the cheapest of all hardware I had varying success. Sort of like WinModems. If enough people had a particular piece of hardware then it probably has Linux support. If a piece of hardware was made on Mars and 500 people worldwide had one and 3 people in Linux-land had one then that part prob did not have any support or very little. I have had very good luck throwing Linux at arcane pieces of hardware and having success.

    It should be noted that a few times these pieces of equipment no longer had support in Windows or did not have drivers available supplied by anyone.

    I got a call from a retired neighbor the other night. They once again (3rd time) have had their WinXP desktop computer wrecked by a virus. I don’t know how they manage to do this. I’ve taken every precaution and still the virus scanner will eventually report a rootkit or a trojan. The husband had me put Ubuntu on his laptop. He loves it. He’s really frustrated with his wife’s desktop (the three time victim of trojans, viruses, and rootkits). Now I understand WinXP’s resistance to problems like this are very dependent on the user’s ability to avoid clicking on “bad stuff”. She is like other people whose computers I have fixed – if the virus pop-up message looks real enough she’ll give it a click (Antivirus2009).

    She called last night and is asking for me to install Mint 7 KDE. She liked using her husband’s Linux notebook and mine as well. Another friend called and stated that his antivirus (paid subscription type) just missed some virus and his computer was wrecked. He wants Linux too.

    I’ll never go back to Windows. We still use it for rare occasions but our dual boot laptop and desktop haven’t been to WinXP except for a rare game or two.

    Give it a try and see what you think.

    Mint KDE, PCLinuxOS KDE, Mepis, TinyME and Knoppix are my favorites.

  46. #46 Jon Tea
    December 20, 2009

    Well i’ve been using Ubuntu 8.04 LTS for about a year now, and I love it. I rarely use windows since I’ve really gotten to know Linux. It came to a time for me to buy a laptop, and since I was on tight budget I was looking used. I came a acros a great deal on a Asus A7J 17″. Thinking that I was going to really use it for testing out Windows 7. Well as much fun as it was i came across driver issues with right our of the gate, and had to use Vista drivers to get it working. The downside to windows. I was say 9 out of 10 updates breaks on of the drivers (headache) The only resort i has was to uninstall the drivers, and reinstall after every update. This got old mind you my desktop was dual-boot WinXP, and Ubuntu. So I’d turn to my desktop, and since I got smart about it I’d just move a copy over to a jump drive, and viola fixed for now. Still annoyed with having to restart after every update with Windows this gets old especially if you have things to do.

    After doing some more research on Ubuntu, and using pretty much all the time it’s great. My desktop is a Compaq with 2.6 ghz Pentium, and 2GB of RAM. Not bad and should keep going strong with Linux for a long time.

    I have also started out with a challenge to myself. People say you can do anything in Linux that you can do in Linux, and I’m going to try it out at home for what I do. My next challange is to setup a media server in Ubuntu. I want to do thins since Windows Media Player is good, but it gets to be a pain, and poor at sharing info with UPnP network devices like PS3s or other computers. I’ve heard good things about Mediatomb, and I’m going to delve into that in the next little bit. I really can’t wait as weird as that my sound.

    Anyways back to my laptop. The last couple of weeks with Windows 7 has been a headache. I got the black screen of death that hit windows, and it’s not a virus issue. It’s one of those scripting issues that MS had a typo in. Fixed it for now, and did that stuff with the drivers again. I also decided to put Ubuntu 9.10 on it. I’m glad I did. I was out a helping a friend with a car. Like I usually do with my laptop. I have Software that allows my to look into a cars computer so to speak, and see the check light codes, and read what the cars’s computer is reading. No it doesn’t work in Linux natively, but I’ve got WINE. It actually works as it should running in Linux, and I don’t get weird random communication errors with it. Well anyways I ran it in Windows, and got a blue screen of death. I said screw it boot back up in Ubuntu, and was able to do what I needed to do with it. Linux SAVED the day!

    One thing I can say though is that Linux has a come a long way in the last few years from what I can tell. I’ve played with Ubuntu, and rescue jump drives with OpenSuse. Both of which are easy to use, and work great. I’m going to continue using Ubuntu for time to come.

    I hope to see more Software ported over to Linux so that we have great products to work with natively.

  47. #47 madhu
    December 20, 2009

    Nice to read the story……..i am also switched fully to ubuntu after its 8.10……..its looks awesome and just works.

  48. #48 Calum Coburn
    December 20, 2009

    Interesting to read another users experiences of shifting to Linux. Made the switch 18 months ago and am happy overall.
    A few corrections are called for: Skype-mare is NOT anything near as stable or feature rich in Linux as in Windoze. Print to PDF now requires a manual installation of CUPS-pdf, which is beyond the tech skills of most new users. Ubuntu have blundered on this for 2 releases now, lets hope they get it right with 10.04

  49. #49 mookiemu
    December 20, 2009

    XP doesn’t always just work. I have a graphics laptop from 2002 that I paid a fortune for. It’s for when I’m on the road. Recently the hard drive died. I bought a new drive for and re-installed xp. I couldn’t get the video card working. Turns out that ATI no longer supports that card and doesn’t provide a driver for it. Looked around the web, but the only sites that claimed to have the driver were really dicey. I tried downloading the drivers from 3 different sites, (one site I had to click through about 20 ads!) All three files had a Trojan! Fortunately after digging through some really old drives, I found a really old version of the driver.

    Next I couldn’t get the wireless to work. Everytime I tried to install the realtek driver, xp would crash. Didn’t even get to installing all the windows updates.

    Figuring my laptop for dead, and knowing that I had work to do while away, picked up a cheap Sony Viao. It would only be temporary, I planned to sell it when I got back and buy a real mobile workstation. The Viao was loaded with crapware! It was slow as molasses. I hadn’t experienced this before because I usually build my own computers. I called the store and asked for the windows dvd, so that I can do a clean install and they said it wasn’t possible! You don’t get a copy of windows when you buy a computer anymore! They just put a backup in a hidden partition and you are expected to burn your own backup dvds! And worst of all the backup DVDs you make, contain all the crapware! I spent the next two hours cleaning out all the crapware and reinstalling the latest drivers, and updates. It was horrible! I thought wow! Is this what a new user who is not a DYIer has to deal with?!

    When I got back from my trip, I picked up the old laptop. I was about to throw it away and then I decided to try Cruchbang Linux on it. I was blown away, not only was my aging laptop blazingly fast, crunchbang had installed all the hardware automatically. My video, sound, and wireless worked flawlessly!

    I formatted the new Viao and installed 64-bit crunchbang without incident. It boots in less than 20 seconds and open office and firefox open right away.

    I still use windows on my main workstation, because I need photoshop CS4, painter, mudbox, maya( I only have an old windows version), and zbrush. But I have another tower in which I installed ubuntu 9.04 ( now 9.10) and I use it as a server, file manager, business computer, 3d network renderer, and websurfer.

    I block access to the internet on my windows machine, because I don’t trust windows anymore, and I’m a happy camper. I have my locked down windows 7 machine for doing my work, and my Ubuntu machine for everything else. In fact I have Linux on every other machine in the house except for my wife’s macbook. I even decided to keep the Viao with Crunchbang instead of selling it!

  50. #50 eebrah
    December 20, 2009

    Have been using Linux exclusively for a year now after dual booting XP then vista for a year and a half before that.
    Whereas I ran into a few problems at first, I gradually ironed them not realising llong the way that most of them were petty easy to fix and all I needed to do was read the distro’s online page or manual.
    I am getting a bit tired of people complaining that their linux is broken and then approaching user help groups as though we were said support, we aren’t! (paid, that is).
    I am glad to help out anyone who comes at me with a linux query but if I am stumped, I refer them to fellow linuxers, mostly online.
    My ubuntu works better on my laptop than the vista that it came with and I an still in the process of evaluating windows7.
    I have managed to get most of my applications and settings ported over to linux and those that I couldn’t, well there is virtualbox.
    Linux is a great OS and it just runs rings around vista at common tasks. I am still discovering great linux and open source alternatives to proprietary windows and mac software. With the kind of improvements I have seen on linux, I cannot wait for the next versions of linux to be released and for of to help in ironing any bugs out.

  51. #51 andrey
    December 20, 2009
  52. #52 Seth Smith
    December 20, 2009

    I made the switch in 2001. I do most of my computing from Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. The LTS versions are released every two years and prioritize stability over including the most recent software versions.

    I have been able to run successfully some Windows programs under WINE but WINE will not run all Windows programs (and does not claim that ability). Consider it a bonus if your Windows program works under WINE.

    I still use Windows on another PC for certain Windows only programs that I need. When I get a better computer I will probably install Windows into a Virtual Machine for this purpose.

  53. #53 John Rockefeller
    December 20, 2009

    I had been running dual-boot Linux for almost 10 years when this August, my XP install simply stopped working. It would get to the desktop and freeze.

    Mandriva had gotten to the point where it could easily have replaced my XP partition as my default desktop and in fact that’s exactly what happened. I’ve been running on my main PC with Linux as my OS for almost 6 months and I love it.

    It’s much faster than Windows and you don’t need to bother with stupid antivirus programs.

  54. #54 Alan
    December 20, 2009

    Instead of running programs in WINE, check out alternatives, there is an alternative for almost ANY program!

    http://www.osalt.com/

    Also, if you’re looking for an OS (like Ubuntu) that already has all the multimedia codecs, check out Linux Mint, it’s an off-shoot of Ubuntu. Also download Swiftfox for your browser, it’s a custom version of Firefox!

  55. #55 llewelly
    December 20, 2009

    … small island nations …

    Ha! Linux cannot prevent rising seas from intruding into their water tables, and rotting the roots of their only food crop.
    They are doomed! Doomed!

  56. #56 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    sudo apt-get install co2tosink

    then set up a cron job to run it every five minutes or so.

  57. #57 bjr
    December 20, 2009

    If you need to run a few Windows programs like Quickbooks or Photoshop the answer is a Virtual Machine not WINE. A VM lets you run a real version of Windows, WINE is a kludge that is riddled with compatibility problems.

    There are a number of choices for VMs on Linux, VMware Server, Virtual Box and KVM. I recommend KVM, it’s the highest performance VM and it’s integrated in to the kernel so there are no kernel dependency issues. However KVM requires hardware VM support which is present on all new Intel and AMD processors but not on older ones. If you don’t have hardware VM support then you’ll want to use VMware.

    A VM has a number of advantages over native Windows. Because it runs on top of Linux, and you can share files and cut and paste between Linux and Windows apps, you can limit your Windows exposure to malware. As long as you don’t use Windows for any Internet browsing or e-mail it won’t get infected. The only Internet access you should do from Windows is updates from safe sites like Microsoft, Intuit or Adobe, everything else should be accessed from Linux. Another advantage is that it’s easy to maintain multiple dedicated VMs which contain only the programs that you need for a particular purpose, this eliminates DLL conflict problems. Finally it’s trivial to recover from even the worst system disaster. A VM is just a file so as long as you’ve archived your VMs you can recover from anything by just doing a simple file copy. You said that you spent two days rebuilding XP after it became hopelessly infected, if you had been using a VM that would have been two minutes.

    My recommendation would be to install KVM and then install an XP VM, it’s the same procedure as a fresh XP install only a little faster. After you’ve installed all of the updates to XP, and all of the common programs that you want in all of your dedicated VMs, you should copy the VM to a safe place. If you want to have a couple of dedicated VMs you should make a couple of copies of your base VM and then install the special programs in each of them. Once again you should make back up copies so that you can recover if anything happens to any of the VMs. BTW all of your user data should be kept on Linux and accessed via SAMBA as network mounted drives, that will keep the VMs small and will simplify yoru backup strategy.

  58. #58 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    I run freeDOS in a VM.

  59. #59 Eric
    December 20, 2009

    WOW! Nice to read something nice from a dual-boot Windows and Ubuntu user. (or a “Winbuntu” as I like to call it) Now I know I am not alone. Thanks for writing this.

  60. #60 LS
    December 20, 2009

    I ran dual boot for years Windows/Linux and finally went full time Ubuntu in 2006. Enjoying virus free computing though the Win machines I often have to interact with usb on the job are infected. I do everything on Linux these days: ordering online, printing, photo editing, DVD/CD media copying & playing, overhead projection, general internet. I find that Linux is much faster at copying video files than any Windows system I have seen. (This is thanks to an advanced Ext 4 file system.) In fact the cool thing is that Linux supports more than 20 file systems OFTB. My machines are quite secure when many people around me suffer from virus attacks. Take that MS.

  61. #61 SA
    December 20, 2009

    Longtime desktop Linux user here. Wine is the first choice for running Windows programs, many are well supported and will run as smoothly as on Windows. Running a virtual machine always comes with a big performance hit (and you need to install a copy of the other OS). So try Wine first, and if your program doesn’t work, then you can resort to using a VM. I use QEMU.

    (For DOS programs there’s DOSEMU and Dosbox. Dosbox is easier IMO.)

  62. #62 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    freeDOS is good.

    I think the virtualization vs. wine issue is interesting. Software run in a virtual machine is not as accessible as software in wine. It is on a differnt computer. That other computer also does not automatically have access to the real computer’s hardware in the same way. It seems to me that if you want a piece of software to integrate with your other software, you want to run it with wine, but if you have totally other operations to do then a vm is the way to go.

    I plan on experimenting with Windows 7 in a virtual machine. I want it to run my itunes.

  63. #63 bjr
    December 20, 2009

    There is almost no performance hit when using KVM, my measurements show that a KVM VM is around 95% the speed of native. I make extensive use of VMs for both Windows and CentOS VMs. For Windows I mostly use a Win2K VM unless I have an application that requires XP. The advantage of W2K is that it’s extremely lightweight and it doesn’t use Window Genuine Advantage so moving the VM around is painless. XP will want to revalidate itself if it figures out it’s been moved. However as long as you have a legal copy this isn’t a problem, I’ve never had the revalidation fail. I also use CentOS VMs when I’m running commercial software that requires RHEL. I use Fedora as my host OS because it has the best hardware compatibility of any distribution, however there tends to be software compatibility problems with a lot of commercial software because it’s all targeted for RHEL. Using CentOS5 VMs insures 100% software compatibility for commercial Linux software just as using a 2K or XP VM insures 100% compatibility with Windows programs. I think WINE is a waste of time unless you are bound and determined not to own a Windows license.

  64. #64 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    Interesting. I would be using Windows 7

  65. #65 TechSlave
    December 20, 2009

    Scott,

    Great to hear about your experience. I’m one of those users who considers installing virtualizations of this and that OS to be a valid, enjoyable way of spending a couple hours. Fortunately I work in technical support and don’t require photography software, or even have WINE up and running though it is installed, in case.

    My experiences with Linux would be likely too lengthy to enumerate, but this is an overview:

    I currently have a multi-boot, as many of those commenting here have. There’s a laundry list of them in fact, but nothing so far has won me away from Ubuntu 9.10. I’m awaiting 10.04, since I want a LTS again for my fall-back as I play with the more esoteric versions.

    I’ve had the brown screen of death issues with Adobe Flash, but this is my own fault – I uninstalled and reinstalled a number of Flash versions trying to fix a different issue (flicker) and ended up with flickering plus occasional screen issues, and all Flash controls have to be done by holding right mouse button down and left-clicking the control at the same time. I suffer by my own fault, and will likely clean install a new 10.04 partition, hopefully solving the issue.

    Windows Vista (64bit) : Booted approximately 2 or 3 times a month, mainly at work (phone tech support for a cable company) when supporting a customer through any of the myriad issues Vista seems to crop up (unidentified network, all the time). Soon to be neutered and shoehorned down below 100gb, which the Windows Vista partition manager refuses to acknowledge as a valid size for my Vista install.

    Ubuntu 9.10 (64bit): Daily use OS, primary in my GRUB2, all the things I want on it, with some of 9.04′s irritating flaws fixed
    Ubuntu 9.04 (64bit): Booted every couple weeks or so, to keep it updated and for the occasional software that mislikes 9.10.

    VirtualBox installs of:
    Fedora 12 (64bit): A test install, cluttered by my Linux/SELinux sysadmin playground work.

    Backtrack 4 (64bit): For the tools, baby

    Arch Linux (64bit): For me (personally) no advantage over Ubuntu. Though I know there’s Arch lovers out there, I get nothing out of it that I don’t have in a well-padded Ubuntu install.

    WinXP (32bit): Because I had the CD

    Kubuntu (32bit): Because Amazon’s MP3 album downloader refuses to install on 64ibt systems and I don’t want to spend the time to recompile it for 64bit, I’ll just share the folder from the 32bit to the 64bit Ubuntu 9.10, and then copy them to my real music folder

    openSuSe (64bit): Tested and deleted, nothing there I didn’t already have that I wanted

    CentOS (64bit): Interesting, but no advantage for my current use over my existing Ubuntu install

    Sabayon (64bit): Again, no distinct advantage over my Ubuntu install and some graphics card glitches with my nVidia 9600m GS when installing through VirtuaBox.

    Debian (64bit): Again, nothing I didn’t already get with Ubuntu, though they’re on my Christmas list for a possible donation for all the hard work the upstream developers do hat contributes so greatly to Ubuntu and all the other Debian variants.

    I’d give Linux Mint a shot, but last I checked there was only a 32bit version…(Google pause) Correction, their 64bit Linux Mint 8 release was live as of Dec 14th. I’ll give them a download and see how it feels.

    Overall my Ubuntu install is everything I want and has few to no problems that I am not able to surmount.

    I would like to say that the few OEM installs of Ubuntu or other Linux variants I have seen are similar to the Windows or MacOS OEM installs – far less likely to have problems, by the virtue of quality assurance testing and manufacturer support.
    Working at a cable company, I get frequently blamed for the user’s Windows (95/98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7) PC suddenly dying. The number of ways for ANY operating sytem and the hardware running it to suddenly self destruct are innumerable.

    Leni @ 40:
    Check out WINE or Crossover, or Cedega, etc. Unfortunately ‘native’ Linux gaming faces some hurdles with proprietary hardware and software, but alternatives do exist. Often, developers don’t see a effort-to-return ratio in supporting Linux gaming like they do on Windows gaming. Mac hasn’t put much effort into gaming either, though this has improved.
    I keep my Win XP desktop as my gaming machine, but it doesn’t spend nearly as much time up and running as my (mainly) Linux laptop does these days. But dual booting has treated me well. Just keep some LiveCD’s around.

  66. #66 S
    December 20, 2009

    CRACK!!!!

    OMG, my Linux System accidentally broke your stupid ass comment. Ooops. Sorry.

  67. #67 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    New rool: If you senselessly insult a guest poster, I might delete your comment. Criticism and lively discussion is fine. Asshattery is not.

  68. #68 paul
    December 20, 2009

    @cm and everyone else — I’d like to put this whole Ubuntu Good/Bad thing to rest.

    Early adopters bloodied by Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/03/karmic_koala_frustration/

    also…

    Review: 3 top Linux distros go for different users
    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9142148/Review_3_top_Linux_distros_go_for_different_users?taxonomyId=89&pageNumber=4

    …and from the article…

    “The bad news is that Ubuntu has real trouble with two types of hardware: some Intel graphics chipsets and some hard drives.

    The Intel graphics problem is a real pain — I would sometimes start my session and then the screen would freeze up as solid as a block of ice. In theory, Ubuntu tried to speed up Intel integrated graphics, but the reality is that Ubuntu often brings graphics to a complete stop. The surest way to avoid this seems to be to revert to the older Intel graphics driver. It worked for me — but such a critical problem shouldn’t have made it into the final release.”

    Ubuntu does have some problems. I’ve personally had several bad experiences w/all the *buntus. Now it’s finally coming out that they have a problem with a certain chipset. They’ll figure it out and fix it, no doubt.

    @cm — Meanwhile you could easily have selected a different distro to use (eg, PCLinuxOS, Debian, Zenwalk, Vector Linux, etc) like I did. All these distros and more run perfectly and immediately after installation. I’d encourage you to be a bit more open to trying new or other distros. There are many good ones available. The ones I’ve mentioned above, as I’ve already said, work perfectly. So much so that I’ve been using each one of them for over 2 or more years while doing an extensive amount of work to support a client that is all Windows.

    Personally, your tone re Ubuntu makes you sound more like a MS troll than someone that is genuinely looking for an alternative. I also don’t care for any of the *buntus, but I didn’t just give up and complain. Although I’ve been using Linux for almost 10 years now so I probably have more experience than you.

    Take my advice, just try a different distro. You will find many reasons to leave the MS lock-in behind.

  69. #69 lqlarry
    December 21, 2009

    I started last spring with Ubuntu on a 5+ year old laptop and very rarely use my Vista laptop now. I have to say that while I am a newbie at Linux I have everything I need at home on my Ubuntu laptop with the exception of 1 thing, that being watching 720P videos on my Vizio TV set. I have to use my Vista laptop for that. It’s probably the ATI driver not working to it’s full capacity due to it being more for Windows. But what do I know.

    As for the poster with the negative comments, even factory boxes and laptops set for Windows has there problems. How many horror stories have we heard were when you call support for the pc they blame it on Windows and the you call Windows support and they blame it on the pc maker?

    I’m a monkey see – monkey do kind of a guy and have to say one last thing. If it weren’t for Google-Linux I would be lost. For me the best part of this Linux trip is the road I choose to take.

  70. #70 mndean
    December 21, 2009

    I know linux well and have used it for many years, continuously since v.1.0.8. What I don’t do is encourage any friend I know is older, totally computer-illiterate outside current Windows and likely to complain about petty things to try it. The whining I used to hear from them after putting a distro on their system (whose problems I easily fixed remotely) was just too much. “I don’t remember how to start the browser”, “It doesn’t look enough like my work computer”, “The network’s not working right”, on and on ad nauseam. Ubuntu is the first distro I’ve even remotely considered trying one of them on, but I haven’t as yet.

    Now a friend who is younger or has some savvy (if they’ve gone through a few different versions of Windows or MacOS and Windows both) I’ll suggest a linux distro to if they’re having issues, mostly to avoid the “Fix my XP (or whatever – I still get calls from Windows 2000 users)” calls I’m pestered with even today. If they say they won’t even try it, I tell them they’re on their own with Windows Whatever, or they get charged folding money to get their box fixed by me (always cheaper than having someone else do it, though). It makes me a comfortable dollar here and there, enough for a dinner at a nice restaurant every month or so.

    I really don’t need the hassle of working on friends’ computers, but it fascinates me how borked someone can get their Windows box. One friend on XP had so many virus and trojan-infected files on his system, I told him straight to just wipe it, start from the system reinstall disk and resign himself to the fact he’d lose everything. It would have been cheaper for him to buy a new laptop than to take it to a shop for them to clean it of everything I found and save all the files. Surprisingly, he reinstalled (he used to just buy a new laptop when his old one would grind to a halt) and issued one of the most banal pieces of insight I ever heard, “It works fast like when I first bought it!”. I would’ve taken his laptop for a souvenir if he did buy a new one, it was just too funny to pass up.

  71. #71 Wolfen69
    December 21, 2009

    @cm

    As someone who has his own computer repair business and has done well over 40 installs of ubuntu on all kinds of hardware, I can assure you your experience is not typical. First of all, you need to lose the wubi install and do a real dual boot with ubuntu 9.10. Then you need to learn how to use it. Get back to us when you’ve done that.

    Btw, fonts in ubuntu look much better than in any windows install I’ve seen. (and I’ve seen 1000′s)

  72. #72 Zak
    December 21, 2009

    Just a quick addition regarding accessing external hard drives etc, install ‘pysdm’ to let you modify the way drives are mounted and the privelages therein.

  73. Something I did while I had dual boot (I’ve purged Windows when I saw I haven’t used it for over a year) is to have in the hard drive an NTFS partition to keep my data: images, music and e-mail. Then I used thunderbird in both win / linux pointing to that folder. So I always had the e-mail updated in both systems…
    But, when I wiped windows, I formatted all partitions with ext4 (I have a separate partition for /home, so I don’t loose my config if I try another distro – which I did a lot until I found sidux). With ext4, everything becomes much faster…

  74. #74 sgtrock
    December 21, 2009

    Off topic comment to Scott Rowed:

    PLEASE don’t use tinyurl links, especially for anything that will be published on the Web for any significant length of time. tinyurl links have three big disadvantages over the originals:

    1) Most significant, they age fairly quickly. Someone attempting to follow one of your links in a month or so is going to get a 404 error.

    2) Tinyurl links obfuscate the original. This prevents the reader from determining whether a site is one that they wish to view.

    3) Because of #1, tinyurl links cannot be reliably copy and pasted, bookmarked, or otherwise managed.

    Thanks

  75. #75 Greg Laden
    December 21, 2009

    Tinyurl links die? I did not know that.

  76. #76 Jason Thibeault
    December 21, 2009

    They rot over time, yeah. All link shortening services do eventually expire so the combination of characters used can be reused later.

  77. #77 Kory
    December 21, 2009

    I started with Red Hat back in 1999/2000. I threw it on a laptop and had all sorts of issues. I eventually worked through them but eventually gave up on Red Hat / Linux until I encountered it in college. I used it for most of our classes and even an OS class. I then didn’t use it until I started a real job. I still didn’t use it at home. This past summer I decided to give Ubuntu a go and see how it treated me because I bought my wife an Ubuntu netbook that was awesome. I dual-booted my laptop (about 5 years old) with WinXP and this time I decided to give it a go for at least a few weeks. After about a week or so I decided to use it exclusively and have since removed the WinXP partition. I keep a separate system for gaming but that is it. All of the other systems in our house have since been converted over to Ubuntu. I can say that Ubuntu is the first Linux distribution that is ready for the main stream. Now I’m getting other family members to convert over (which is a bit harder).

    Anyhow, Ubuntu is so much smoother and just works so much better. For instance, a farmer I knew had a digital camera that he couldn’t get to work in WinXP. I hooked it up to my Ubuntu laptop and the pictures came right up without a problem. I then hooked it up to his machine and it didn’t work until we used one certain USB port and had to manually install a hard drive driver to get it to work. PIA. Anyhow, that farmer is now thinking of converting to Ubuntu.

  78. #78 Karl O. Pinc
    December 21, 2009

    It’s worth noting that an infected MS Windows install can (possibly) infect the Linux side of a dual-boot setup. Once infected an intruder can arbitrarily change anything on the disk, including Linux. The only certain way to recover from an intrusion is to wipe the _entire_ disk.

  79. #79 Wolfen69
    December 21, 2009

    Karl O. Pinc said: [B]“It’s worth noting that an infected MS Windows install can (possibly) infect the Linux side of a dual-boot setup. Once infected an intruder can arbitrarily change anything on the disk, including Linux. The only certain way to recover from an intrusion is to wipe the _entire_ disk.”[/B]

    Do you stay awake nights thinking up this FUD? Prove it, otherwise be quiet.

  80. #80 sgtrock
    December 21, 2009

    Not completely FUD. Once you’re pwned, you’re pwned. Your PC is wide open to the bad guy(s).

    However, the practical likelihood that a malware app will be programmed to target anything other than the known partitions is pretty small. It’s not a scenario that I would worry about at this time. 3-5 years from now? Maybe.

  81. #81 Patrick O'Mick
    December 21, 2009

    Greg,

    An excellent piece on your experience with moving to Linux. Unlike many who have commented here, I feel you did a great job keeping a balanced perspective and adequately addressing the pros and cons for the “everyday” person interested in making the switch.

    What I think you excelled at is discussing how you use Linux (and why you still need Windows). A lot of Linux users are quick to deride users who still “need” Windows and aren’t willing to tweak and compromise Linux for their purposes. What Linux people need to be upfront about is that using Linux takes dedication and will include some frustrations. Sometimes dealing with Windows’ flaws is easier for your average user. Quite simply, Linux works for some users (like myself) and some feel that Windows works better for them. What I do think is that people in both camps need to consider the other with an open mind.

    That said, I run Ubuntu 9.10 on my two personal laptops and I have Mac OS on my iMac. I haven’t used a Windows machine for personal use for at least three years and I wouldn’t change a thing. As an English teacher I have a class set of Windows Vista laptops in my room that I’m in charge of maintaining–the horror! As much as I try to help students understand the benefits of Linux, nothing has convinced students to make the switch more than those laptops. I often project my desktop onto my SmartBoard as an example for students as they work. When I project MacOS no one bats an eye, but when I connect my Ubuntu laptop kids go ape. They love it! They really like the GUI but most of all they notice the speed! Every time I project Linux on the board the kids grumble and complain about Windows and ask me to install Linux on “their” classroom laptops (I can’t–our tech people have strictly forbidden Linux). Last week alone I had two students bring in their own laptops and ask me to help them install Linux. I always ask if they want a dual boot. Nope, they just want Windows gone. I’ve also converted a Windows fanboy and a tech-Luddite to Linux this year. They both love it. I do think the key with all of these people, however, is that I’m truthful upfront. I tell them that Linux can’t do everything they want easily (I’m not going to tell a student that Linux plays Windows games easily with Wine–I don’t feel that’s being totally honest), that it takes a bit of commitment on the part of the user, etc. However, the people I deal with willing trade a few niggling issues for the virus headaches and rubbish performance of Windows.

  82. #82 Jen Cato
    December 21, 2009

    I’ve used Linux since Red Hat 7 and Corel 1 many years ago and will never go back to Windows. Up until a few years ago I kept an XP partition for the few qurky apps that didn’t have any Linux equivalents or run under WINE.
    Nowadays I find I can do many things in Linux I can’t easily do in Windows because Linux apps have greatly matured over the last few years.
    I like to ‘get under the hood’ of things a bit so I run Debian Testing as my primary OS. Keep in mind that I’ve run Linux for a decade and know my way around the CLI so when things do occasionally break on Deioan Testing it’s no big deal for me to fix. Apt-get and dpkg are your friends in Debian\Ubuntu!!
    For newbies, or ‘Grandma’ then either Debian Stable or Debian’s Ubuntu offshoot is the way to go.
    Debian Stable is rock solid tho the software can get dated even with ‘backports’.Debian supports its Stable branch for 2 years.
    Ubuntu tends to be a bit more polished then its Debian parent but it’s more cutting edge features from its Debian parents Testing and Sid(Unstable) repo’s can make it buggy and unstable at times.
    I solved my tech support headaches but simply NOT support Windows anymore. When a friend has Windows issues I just install Ubuntu or Debian and never have anymore headaches.
    I won’t say Linux is for everyone. Some folks like and want Windows and that’s fine. Freedom of choice is a good thing.
    Both Windows and Linux have their pro’s, cons and quirks and which is *BETTER* largely depends on the users perspective and not any technical merits.
    If Consumers could see honest side by side comparisons and demo’s of of both Linux and Windows and let them chose which one they want Windows market share would probably drop to around 40-50% of the market.
    Like it or not Microsoft isn’t going away any time soon. When Microsoft is forced to compete they can make some decent apps.
    Having a Windows vs Linux ‘feud’ is a good thing actually. It drives innovation and forces both communities to keep improving their OS’s which benefits the consumers with better technology and technology choices in the end.

  83. #83 Dave
    December 21, 2009

    I just wanted to say thanks. Although a long time Linux user, I am just starting with digital photography and found some of the tool reccomendations here valuable. That is perhaps the problem with Linux sometimes, too many choices.

  84. #84 Akiko
    December 22, 2009

    I feel sad that the Tiny URLs are all going to die. OMG THE WORLD TOTALLY SUCKS!!!!!!!

  85. #85 The Doctor
    December 22, 2009

    Good article. But why are you dual booting? You can run Windows in VirtualBox http://www.virtualbox.org/ and save your hard drive space for data files.

  86. #86 Vanja
    December 26, 2009

    I still like Windows on my machine. It is easy to use and gives me no trouble. The problem with Linux is the lack of hardware drivers.

    For the most part, you should check out SSuite Office for free office software. They have a whole range of office suites that are free for download. Their software is also capable of running in WINE on Linux.

    Their software also don’t need to run on Java or .NET, like so many open source office suites, so it makes their software very small and efficient.

    You may try these links:

    http://www.ssuitesoft.com/index.htm
    or
    http://www.ssuitesoft.com/ssuiteexcalibur.htm
    or
    http://ssuite5element.webs.com/thefifthelement.htm

  87. #87 Eugenio
    December 29, 2009

    My experience with Linux has begun some years ago, when my Win98 machine completely broke down and never booted again. It a Celeron 466Mhz, and I was aware it was ageing…
    I have been to a newspaper and bought some Linux Magazine, with a cd featuring SLAX…I inserted the CD, and five minutes later my supposedly-dead computer was asking for my IRC password!
    Then I have made some attempts to switch definitively, but having bought a new laptop, switching to Linux has not been a question for some years. This spring I realized that my WinXP machine was really, really, too slow. It is an Acer Aspire 5000, and it would usually take up to 7 minutes to boot (just to load antivirus, firewall etc…I am keen on not having junk software).
    I tried Ubuntu with Wubi, but with no success, due to hardware compatibility issues.
    Some months have passed then, and I finally took the final decision one month ago, when buying a new eeepc…it was tremendously slow, and how many useless utilities in the system tray!
    I installed Ubuntu 9.10 on both the eeepc and the Acer Aspire, with no problems of any sort! So, I decided to “upgrade” my parents’ creepy pc by installing Xubuntu there…a bit more problematic, but it just works!!
    Among with a remarkably increased computing speed, the key feature that makes me so happy for the swith-over is boot-up time…now it takes less than a minute to have a completely functional PC booted. Regarding applications, not only I had no problems (I was already used to adopt Open Source alternatives), but I have discovered much more professional (and simple) solutions as LaTeX!!

  88. #88 Ben Zvan
    December 30, 2009

    Scott: Thanks for following up with your experiences as a professional photographer. I have a Mac OS / Adobe workflow myself and I can’t imagine trying to use Gimp, Ink, and Picasa as replacements for Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom/Aperture.

  89. #89 Archon
    January 8, 2010

    If you cannot manage to use Ubuntu it’s because 1) your hardware isn’t supported. Don’t blame Linux devs that hw vendors have closed specs and don’t care about Linux ports or 2) You are a chimpanzee and should not be using computers to begin with.

    With GNU/Linux systems at least you have a vibrant, living community that genuinly wants to help and improve. When you get stuck in Microsoft-world you are basically told to STFU and wait for a patch with no given release date. You have no control of your system and everything is closed source, so no reading the sources or rebuilding in debug mode to find out what’s going on.

  90. #90 used computers
    July 22, 2010

    An excellent piece on your experience with moving to Linux. Unlike many who have commented here, I feel you did a great job keeping a balanced perspective and adequately addressing the pros and cons for the “everyday” person interested in making the switch.

  91. #91 used computers
    July 22, 2010

    Among with a remarkably increased computing speed, the key feature that makes me so happy for the swith-over is boot-up time…now it takes less than a minute to have a completely functional PC booted. Regarding applications, not only I had no problems (I was already used to adopt Open Source alternatives), but I have discovered much more professional (and simple) solutions as LaTeX!!

  92. #92 Peggy F
    July 22, 2010

    always a lurker — but this thread prompted me to join in.

    i have a 2002 pc dell desktop that was donated to our non-profit group that will be used by volunteers

    it will be used for internet (emails), occasional surfing for certain articles, word processing and spreadsheets. we have a DSL connection.

    i would LOVE to install a Linux program because of the virus issue.

    but, my question is, should i install one of the linux (Ubnutu? Mint?) systems? i ask because i am n00b (i do know get around my MacBook and applications) and everyone seems to think i’m the computer geek in the office. HA!!

    there is no one i know in this small town that is a computer geek to go to for one-on-one help.

    is it that hard to get used to it? which one would be the best/easiest for all us n00bs in our little office to use?

    thank you!

    (btw, i’m glad the strike is over)

  93. #93 Greg Laden
    July 22, 2010

    For what you are doing, if you install Ubuntu (and it will have gnome as the “desktop” it will feel a lot like Windows XP but will work better. Worth a shot, anyway!

  94. #94 Peggy F
    July 22, 2010

    Thank you!

    i googled –

    i think it may be worth my money to purchase this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Ubuntu-Linux-Non-Geeks-Project-Based-Get-Things-Done/dp/1593271182

  95. #95 Greg Laden
    July 22, 2010

    Probably a good idea. And come back here and ask questions if you need to.

  96. #96 Kimbo
    September 15, 2010

    Very simple to all. Try out 443G lighthouse puppy and feel the diff. Thanks

  97. #97 Old Vet
    June 4, 2011

    Thanks for this great article