Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Taking the Plunge into Linux

Filed under
Linux

I first came across Linux some seven years ago. A technophobe friend had been persuaded to buy a Windows PC and was spending many a happy hour tinkering with its settings as he is wont to do (he's also a Harley-Davidson enthusiast, which may explain things).

One night, he casually mentioned that he was trying out Linux. As I had spent the previous four years learning the ins and outs of Mac OS as well as Windows (I cut my journalistic teeth working on tech mags) I couldn't see what the fuss was all about. Linux looked extremely clunky and very hard to use. Moreover, it also seemed completely pointless.

After all, my home PC already had Windows 98, MS Office and all the bells and whistles pre-installed. At work, I used a Mac, so I really didn't need another operating system, particularly one that seemed like a leap backwards in terms of usability Latest News about usability.

Worth a Look

So I forgot all about Linux for a while. Then earlier this year, I returned to the UK and visited the same friend, still tinkering and still enthusing. He had, he told me, switched to something called SuSE Latest News about SuSE Linux and was rarely using Windows. Of course, in the years between these two events, the background chatter about Linux had gotten more audible and I had gotten more and more disaffected with Windows. So I took a look at my friend's system, and what I saw rather impressed me.

Gone were the command-line interfaces of old (a command line is when you enter an instruction at a cursor rather than using an icon-based system like Windows) and gone was the home-made feel of the thing. In its place was a sleek system that looked and felt like a Windows/Mac hybrid.

Clearly, this was something worth exploring and some months on, I am happily using SuSE Linux 9.0 in place of Windows. This article is intended as a warts-and-all account of how I got to this stage. It is definitely not meant as a guide to using Linux and nor as an exhortation to ditch Windows. I certainly wouldn't recommend Linux to a PC novice and, if you choose to try it out, neither myself nor Post Database will be held responsible for the consequences if parts of your hard drive disappear. Don't scoff -- it happens, as you will read later.

Fact or Fiction?

In addition, I am no Linux expert -- I just decided to take the plunge and these are my observations. Not all I note will be applicable to every version of Linux and its associated software, so please bear that in mind.

In the first part of this feature, I'd like to debunk a few myths. First off, Linux is not just Linux. There's a whole slew of different versions, called "distros'' (short for distributions). One is SuSE, which I use; another is Mandrake and another is Red Hat Latest News about Red Hat. Secondly, Linux is not free -- not always. While you can download certain versions for the cost of a dial-up connection, and other versions come as cover-mounts on magazines, you can pay several thousand baht for a boxed set.

Then there's the myth propagated by Linux evangelists that it is the most stable operating system in the world and that everything Linux is logical and smells of roses. It's none of those. It took me some time -- measurable in days -- just to get my printer to print a test page, for example. Then there's the fact that at one time I managed to make the system so unstable that I couldn't boot up in Windows or Linux and had to use a rescue installation. It worked, but not without me developing several grey hairs in the process.

Ease of Use

Now to Apple Latest News about Apple. I love Macs, but I'm not going to pay twice the cost of a PC just for the privilege of having a shiny new Mac on my desk. Plus, as far as stability goes, I would argue that Mac OS X variants and Windows XP are about level now. That's not necessarily good, mind you -- just level, although I would argue that all Mac operating systems are more user-friendly than any of their Windows peers.

Speaking of being easy to use, there's also a lot of fiddling required to get Linux to the stage where it's usable for the average user's needs. A branded Windows PC usually comes ready-to-use out of the box with helper programs to get you started. While these things irritate the heck out of me and get deactivated as soon as possible, they are great for the "mum and dad" user or beginner.

Given all this, you're probably wondering why in the world I've chosen to use Linux. Well, first it was out of curiosity. Having seen it in action, I really wanted to try it. And now that I have, I'll stick with it. Why? Well, despite the cons mentioned above, there are quite a few pros, and we'll be exploring them next week.

More in Tux Machines

Linus Torvalds Announces Subsurface 4.6 Open-Source Dive Log and Planning App

Linus Torvalds not only works on the Linux kernel, but he's also part of the development team behind the open-source dive log and dive planning application most of you out there know as Subsurface. Read more

openSUSE Tumbleweed Gets XOrg Server 1.19 & Irssi 1.0, PulseAudio 10 Coming Soon

openSUSE Project's Douglas DeMaio is informing the Tumbleweed community today, January 18, 2017, about the latest software updates and other improvements delivered by a total of two snapshots released last week. Read more

today's leftovers

  • Linux use on Pornhub surged 14% in 2016
    Pornhub is one of the preeminent porn sites on the web. Each year Pornhub releases a year in review post with anonymous details about the site’s users. More and more Linux users are visiting Pornhub, Linux saw an impressive 14% increase in traffic share in 2016.
  • Amdocs partners with Linux Foundation to accelerate OpenECOMP adoption in Open Source
  • Calamares 2.4.6 Distribution-Independent Linux Installer Delivers Improvements
    The Calamares team is proud to announce the availability of the sixth maintenance update to the 2.4 stable series of the open-source, distribution-independent system installer Calamares, for Linux-based operating systems. Calamares 2.4.6 comes approximately two months after the release of the previous version, namely Calamares 2.4.5, and, as expected, it's a bugfix release that only delivers various improvements and bug fixes for some of the issues reported by users during all this time.
  • Shotwell Photo Manager 0.25.3 Released
    Photography fans will be pleased to hear that a new bug-fix release of photo management app Shotwell is now available to download.
  • AntiX 16.1 is available for public
    AntiX is Debian based Linux distribution. It uses lightweight desktop environments like Fluxbox, Icewm, Xfce, etc. This distribution is originated in Greece and is typically ideal for old systems. Few hours ago AntiX team released new version named AntiX 16.1. It is based on Debian Jessie.
  • Tumbleweed Preps for PulseAudio 10, Gets Ruby, Python Updates
    Developers using openSUSE Tumbleweed are always getting the newest packages as well as updated languages and past week’s snapshots delivered update versions of Python and Ruby. The most recent snapshot, 20170112, brought Python 2.x users version 2.7.13, which updated cipher lists for openSSL wrapper and supports versions equal to or greater than OpenSSL 1.1.0. Python-unidecode 0.04.20 was also updated in the snapshot. Another update related to OpenSSL 1.1.0 was PulseAudio 9.99.1, which is a release in preparation for PulseAudio 10.0. PulseAudio 10.0 includes compatibility with OpenSSL 1.1.0, a fix for hotplugged USB surround sound cards and and automatic switching of Bluetooth profile when using VoIP applications.
  • Genode OS Framework Planning For Async I/O, App ABI, Qt5 Plans For 2017
    The Genode Operating System Framework has announced their planned roadmap for this year as the involved developers continue working on this original OS initiative. The overall theme of the Genode OS work in 2017 is to focus on stability and scalability, but there is also much more on their road-map for this calendar year.
  • PrestaShop
    Helping people overcome the challenges of building and growing an online business is what the PrestaShop open-source ecommerce platform is all about. The significant PrestaShop 1.7 release provides innovations focused on three themes: sell faster, create easier and code better.
  • This Week in Spring: Reactor 3.0, Open Source CD, and All Kinds of Cloud

Linux on Servers

  • IBM i Open Source Business Architect Lays Out A Plan
    Enterprise level application development is no place for open source languages. Can you believe it? That was once the widely accepted truth. Jiminy Crickets! Things have changed. The number of the stable open source distributions available with comprehensive support and maintenance goes well beyond common knowledge. Industry giants, successful SMB players, and mom and pop businesses are finding good reasons to use open source. Even IBM uses open source for internal business reasons. There are reasons for you to do the same.
  • Lightning Talk - Realizing the Multi-Cloud Promise of Kubernetes by Blake White, The Walt Disney Co.
  • How Disney Is Realizing the Multi-Cloud Promise of Kubernetes
    The Walt Disney Company is famous for “making magic happen,” and their cross-cloud, enterprise level Kubernetes implementation is no different. In a brief but information-packed lightning talk at CloudNativeCon in Seattle in November, Disney senior cloud engineer Blake White laid out a few of the struggles and solutions in making Kubernetes work across clouds.
  • Puppet Launches its Latest State of DevOps Survey
    Folks who are focused on container technology and virtual machines as they are implemented today might want to give a hat tip to some of the early technologies and platforms that arrived in the same arena. Among those, Puppet, which was built on the legacy of the venerable Cfengine system, was an early platform that helped automate lots of virtual machine implementations. We covered it in depth all the way back in 2008. Fast-forward to today, and Puppet is still making news, creating jobs and more.