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Convinve me not to switch to linux

  1. Jul 1, 2008 #1


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    Lately I've been haveing some trouble with the Windows Xp on my laptop so I thought about switching to Linux. I use my laptop mostly for programming, writing documents, and browsing the web. Is there any good reason for me not to use linux? I dont want to make a stupid mistake and erase my windows installation only to discover that I can't get anything done with linux. So can anyone give me some good reasons not do switch? (the web is filled with reasons to switch, I'm looking for reasons not to).
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  3. Jul 1, 2008 #2

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    Why the conundrum? You can switch toLinux, and then switch back to Windows, and then back to Linux again if you configure your machine with a dual boot.
  4. Jul 1, 2008 #3


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    Never decided to swich, as I am writing software for Windows, but Junior did - and he uses his computer just the way you described. No idea how it looks like right now, as he moved away almost a year ago, but last Summer the only moments when he was using my Windows machine was when he wanted to relax playing some FPS :smile:
  5. Jul 1, 2008 #4


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    I only have 60GB, 30 of which I'm using. So I don't think that I have enough room for a dual boot.
  6. Jul 1, 2008 #5
    If you don't want to learn a new OS then i guess you shouldn't switch....
  7. Jul 1, 2008 #6
    You could try Knoppix on a bootable cd, or one of the distros bootable from a usb drive.
    That would let you play without making changes to your existing system. I poked around with knoppix 3 or 4 years ago and it was pretty good even then. I had access to all of my system resources and files on the hard-drive.
  8. Jul 1, 2008 #7
    Try the dual boot option before you decide to switch.

    People get compassionate about these things; I will try to be as objective as possible.

    As far as speed and stability, I think they are about equal (overall, from my experience). I have had a number of problems with both Kubuntu and XP (32 bit) Pro where they became unstable and had to be reinstalled. In a desktop environment, I do not really see either a speed or a stability advantage of one over the other, though Linux has the advantage of having lightweight (though feature poor) versions.

    Viruses: This one has to go, hands down, to Linux. Linux is not necessary more virus resistant than windows, but there are probably more new malware programs being released for windows every day than have ever existed for Linux.

    Software: Hands down to Windows. Scientific software is just about the only commercial software commonly available for unix. Everything else is usually Windows only, with the possibility of a Mac port. Linux has free alternatives, but they rarely are in the same league. Open Office is usable, but it cannot hold a candle to MS Word or Corel Wordperfect.

    Customization and tweaking: I would give these a tie. Linux can be hacked to your heart's content. Windows is much easier to adjust the settings on, install software, et cetera.

    Ultimately, I say give ten gigabytes to ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, or some other distro, and see if you like it. One advantage of Linux is that you can establish native X sessions to lab computers and servers. Windows can do that, but it requires a lot of extra software.
  9. Jul 1, 2008 #8


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    The easy way to 'test the waters' on windows is Wubi (included on the Ubuntu boot CD)
    It installs from windows and builds a single file on the windows filesystem, it installs Ubuntu into this file and gives you a boot option - but otherwise leaves your windows install untouched.
    It can then boot linux natively - it isn't running under windows so no performance hit.

    Some isssues running Linux on a laptop:
    Any power/sleep or Fn- special keys might not be supported.
    Some power saving modes might be harder to configure
    Limited support for somewireless chipsets (there is now a way of using the windows drivers under linux)

    Run the ubuntu live CD first to check what works on your machine.
  10. Jul 2, 2008 #9
    I wouldn't recommend linux* unless you like computers as a hobby, or have other people to help you who do have computers/linux as a hobby.

    *Here I am speaking of the general state of GNU/KDE/xorg/Linux as it exists right now. I think free software is great, but wouldn't want anyone to "waste their time."
  11. Jul 2, 2008 #10


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    I think it has really turned the corner - where if you want a machine to do web+email etc, you can just rely on it working without constantly doing updates/security fixes and worriying about virus scanners..
    If you need an app to do 'X' you can install it directly rom the package manager and have a reasonable chance of it working - as opposed to searching for a windows util accross many shareware boards and hoping it isn't a virus/trojan.
  12. Jul 2, 2008 #11
    And what happens if app X doesn't exist for Linux?

    The standard answer is of course to find a free alternative. The problem, however, is that Linux alternatives to many of the well-known commercial Windows/OS X applications either don't exist or are, frankly, pathetic.

    I use Linux every day since I find it convenient for doing what I need to do. But there isn't a way in hell that I'd recommend it to someone who (i) doesn't have the time to spend setting it up, (ii) doesn't have a good overall knowledge of computing, (iii) doesn't have the time to spend fixing it when it inevitably breaks. It's not -- and probably never will be -- a reasonable alternative to Windows/OS X for people who want their machine to just work.
  13. Jul 2, 2008 #12


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    Yes - if you need you computer to do 'real' work, then the Linux alternatives to Office/Autocad/Photoshop probably aren't going to do it for you - unless, as you say, you are a hobbyest or a free software zealot.

    But in the 'computers for grannies' segment, where you just want a machine that you can safely connect to the net without worrying and where there is generally a freely downloadable app X to view file format Y, I do think Linux is pretty much there. As shown by the range of mini notebooks that are using Linux.
  14. Jul 2, 2008 #13
    I was never a "computer hobbyist," nor did I have people sitting next to me when I first installed Linux, but I've been using Ubuntu for nearly a couple of years now. I have had problems, sometimes very irritating, but I have been able to solve most of them. But that involved Googling around for solutions, or posting on message boards. If you think that that's too difficult, then don't switch to Linux unless you have someone in the know close at hand.

    As for the hard-disk space, you can create a separate home partition where you can store all your personal files like music and photos, and create a dual boot. There are now programs (small ones) which allow you to access NTFS drives from Linux and ext3 from Windows.

    I use my computer for the same purposes as you do, and I don't really find anything inadequate. These days I don't even have a need for Windows...for the most part. I still prefer to download pictures from my digital camera with the software that came along with the camera.
  15. Jul 2, 2008 #14
    Actually, I think this is going to be a huge problem in the coming months for the following reason. For all of the ire it attracts, Windows does have at least one massive advantage: it's essentially a stable code base. Once a major version of Windows is released, that's it: you can be sure that the system will remain essentially unchanged for three years or more. Even OS X, which sees major releases about once every eighteen months or so, offers a stable code base.

    On Linux, however, things are very, very different. There's a really rather strange perversion within the Linux community to release new versions of a given distribution every six to eight months. (Ubuntu is a good example of this since it averages a new major release every six months or so.) This wouldn't be a huge problem were it not for the fact that each release typically includes new versions of toolchains: different minor versions of gcc, glibc, and so on. Even if you're not doing compiling from source or developing, updating the toolchain causes massive problems because of the widespread use of dynamic linking without intelligent version checking. Going back to the Ubuntu example, I've never -- not even once -- been able successfully to update the distribution without breaking it. If I want to update, I have to reinstall the entire system from scratch.

    You could, of course, suggest that I avoid updating the operating system and instead stick with a version I know to work. Well, fine. But what if some application I use has also been updated -- a new feature added or a bug fixed -- and I absolutely need to use it? But what if that application doesn't work with my current glibc because the minor number is 0.0.1 off? If a static binary isn't available for download I have to update glibc, that's what. On a pre-installed mini-notebook this implies installing all of the developer tools: gcc, glibc, qt-devel, and so on. Hardly something that a granny is going to do, is it? And then I've got to update everything else that's sensitive to updates in glibc. But will the update manager provided with my Linux distribution manage to achieve this? Of course it won't. That sort of thing would require testing...

    Everything's hunky-dory in the world of Linux-running mini-notebooks at the moment. But just you wait until people start trying to update their software...
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2008
  16. Jul 2, 2008 #15
    There are the LTS versions that are supported for 3 years on the desktop, and new version is released every 2 years. I have never stuck with an LTS (actually, there has been only one prior to 8.04), since I have done three or four successful upgrades [to different new versions] by just inserting the Alternate CD, but if Ubuntu were to stick to their ease-of-use-to-the-new-user ideal, I don't think you'd need tinker around with anything to get the update of a browser or some other application.
  17. Jul 2, 2008 #16
    I regard 8.x -> 8.y where x<y to be a change of version. This happens every six months, not every two years.

    Regardless, using an LTS version because you believe it's "supported" for three years is a bit pointless when all of the Ubuntu developers jump ship to a new version every six months and start ignoring launchpad reports for older versions because they're no longer sexy.
  18. Jul 2, 2008 #17


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    And to add to never ending discussion about Windows vs Linux it happens now and then that security updates to Windows (which are often installed automatically) break software that was working OK before, thus it is not that simple that WIndows code is stable for many yaers.

    I have two examples from my own practice, one that costs me a lot of time in technical support work (not in my chemical software, but in educational programs that I sell on Polish market) - program that worked for almost ten years suddenly stopped to work. SetCooperativeLevel() from DirectDraw locks instead of returning error code.

    Second is not that bad but still, nobody likes when installation procedure stops with Program executed invalid operation message... Luckily it happens after all important operations has been done. Once again, I have traced it to error in Windows library. Instead of returning eroor code (which will be correctly treated by my program) it actually generates an error.

    These details are completely off topic, I am postibng them to make you sure I am not just repeating opinions, I have an actual hard evidence.
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