I am moving toward becoming a Linux user. A little over a year ago my wife and I bought a brand new Dell Dimension desktop…dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and the latest Windows operating system, Vista Home Premium.
What a mistake! I thought the complaints about Vista were just from a bunch of whiners. What I found out was that Vista is really bad. Now part of the problem could have been with the “Dell Recommended” McAffee Security Suite or maybe the dial-up internet connection but in the end Windows Mail, Vista’s own email program, became unusable and apparently unfixable except by a total reinstall. So I setup to use Outlook 2003 for our email client. Vista will not recognize it as the default email client and offers no way to select it as such. After six months of trying to make Vista work, I tried to get Dell to let me trade it back in for Windows XP; They credited my account $100 so I could purchase it myself, which I did. When I tried to install it I found out that there were no drivers included. I don’t mean a few unusual drivers, I mean for things like my modem. I never activated the copy of XP. I asked my older son to download a copy of Ubuntu and send it to me.
The long and the short of it is that Ubuntu installed pretty easily. It found my network and my printer…both worked. It had problems with my modem…a WinModem. When we went to DSL that problem was resolved. Ubuntu is loaded with installed applications…all free of charge.
Over the winter I worked with the gumstix computers, also Linux based, and started to get the hang of using the command line and knowing where to look when things go wrong, which they do occasionally even in Linux. I have installed Linux, all versions of Ubuntu, on four different computers now and I am moving toward making it my standard operating system.
For the mundane computer uses like email, web browsing, word processing, and spreadsheets, Linux is not much different than Windows, except that it is more reliable and is considerably faster. But I have found the real power of Linux is in the command line. Yes, you can run “cmd” in Windows but you can’t do much there. In Linux, you can do so much…play and record audio files, build complex scripts to do almost anything you need done, log into another computer on your local network (or one on the internet) and run programs on the remote machine, and a lot more.
Linux isn’t perfect and most folks are happy with Windows, maybe because they don’t need anything more than that. And maybe because they don’t know what they are missing. Linux fits my needs in a computer right now much better than any flavor of Windows. I still dual boot three of the four computers I have installed Linux on with Windows for specific tasks as needed, but I am spending more of my time in Linux now.
The Vista machine? We still use it mostly in Vista for my wife’s benefit…email, browsing, word processing, spreadsheets. Oh, I had to pull the WinModem out of the box for Vista too…it was causing Vista to blue screen…a lot. Since I did that it is relatively stable…as long as you don’t try to do too much with it.