Linux For The Normal

Screenshot of Kubuntu 11.04
Whatever else, Linux these days is beautiful. Screenshot of Kubuntu 11.04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s all very well, but why would you – an ordinary person with no particular ideological bent or business need – want to use Linux? Obviously if you’re reading this you’ve already got a perfectly good computing device of some sort. It will have an operating system from Microsoft or Apple or Google that you’ve spent time – perhaps years – getting to know. You may have spent a lot of money on software that won’t work with anything else. Why would you even dream of starting over with a whole new system?

I admit, this applied to me too. Now and again I would install Linux, marvel for a while at how all that great stuff was available for free, and immediately go back to the system I paid money for. Not because it was better, but because I knew it better. This catch-22 of not using Linux because you don’t know it and not knowing it because you don’t use it could go on indefinitely, always keeping you from taking that last step over the threshold. Unless and until a situation arises where nothing but Linux will do. And this is what happened to me recently.

Twice in fact.

The first case was a family member who’d acquired a PC with no working hard drive. He could’ve bought a copy of Windows for about €100. But why? He didn’t need Windows in particular, hadn’t spent years learning its little ways. If he was going to get to know one system, it might as well be the one that wouldn’t keep asking for money. On top of this his main reason for getting the computer was to go online, and for that Linux could not come more highly recommended. Viruses that attack it are too rare to seriously worry about, and it is designed in such a way that if one did get on it could do little harm. So we resolved to set him up with Linux.

And there was my own case. As I was telling you earlier, I recently built a system with more memory in it than you could conceivably shake a stick at – 16GB. However, the ordinary 32-bit version of Windows can’t make use of anything like that much. Just as bigger cities need longer phone numbers, you need a modern 64-bit operating system if you want to call up a serious amount of memory.

And here’s an annoying thing, there is no Windows upgrade path to the 64-bit version. So adding RAM can mean you have to buy a whole new license. For about €100.

Or you give Linux a go, and never pay for software again.

Hmm.

So there are people in some quite ordinary situations who could save considerable money by using Linux. And needless to say, it has other advantages apart from low cost and security. It’s also the most customisable, flexible system. There’s so much sheer choice in fact that it can seem a little intimidating at first, so next time out I’ll talk about where to begin.

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3 thoughts on “Linux For The Normal

  1. I was a habitual Windows users, but I needed a new computer when Vista was out, so I jumped ship and got a Mac. I don’t love OSX – it’s nice enough, but there are irritations. I do love not having to run and update antivirus software all the time though, so I figured it would make sense to move to Linux next. Inertia says stick with Apple until my version of the OS become obsolete, but would you say there’s any compelling reason to switch earlier?

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    1. No I don’t see any reason to rush, unless there’s some expensive software you need that has a good Open Source equivalent.

      Or you find you’re tempted to get get an iPad and an iPod and an iPhone and an iTV, in which case I urge to move to Linux NOW before Apple eats your soul!

      Or unless you want to change before you just get too used to the Mac way of doing things. Though one of my favourite things about Linux – especially with KDE, on which I’ll be writing more soon – is how customisable the interface is. So if you’ll be able to tweak it in a Mac direction if you want – using top-left-corner control buttons on windows for example.

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