Saturday, 12 January 2008

Bye Bye Windows

Well I finally made the decision at home to switch from Windows XP on my main machine. As stated on a previous post I had reinstalled my PC with XP in August last year following a trojan. As usual it was beginning to slow down quite drastically with the anti-virus software and anti-spam software. The decision was whether to do a complete re-install or look at the alternatives. Vista refuses to install on my machine, unfortunately, even though I received a free upgrade disk when I purchased the machine 12 months ago.

I have previously looked at Linux as an operating system.Unlike windows when there is one version Linux has different distributions made by different companies. The 2 most known for newbies like me is Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS. So this is where I started looking.

Several other reasons persuaded me away from Windows:
1. You don't require a virus scanner - as Linux doesn't have viruses in the wild
2. You never need to defrag as Linux doesn't fragment files
3. Its more secure
4. Its free, the software is free
5. When you update the operating system you can update every program installed with 1 click.

Both come with LiveCDs so you can try the Operating System before you install it. Although PCLinuxOS looked nice I couldn't get my Ethernet card to be recognised but Ubuntu found it immediately. So it looked if the decision had been made.

All the software I use on my XP machine is already Open Source (i.e. free) and mostly is available for Linux anyway. I use Open Office for my Office Suite, Firefox is my browser of choice and Thunderbird is my email client.

Just before the switch over I found a version of Ubuntu called Linux Mint. Which is based on it heavily but comes included with all the MP3 and DVD Codecs out of the box and works straight away.

So how easy was it to set up. Very.

Firstly I backed up all my files from XP onto a USB hard Disk. Then I defragged the PC. Reboot the PC with the Linux Mint CD in the drive. Once thats booted click on Install on the Linux Desktop. Then followed 7 questions as to what language I wanted, what time zone I was based etc. I repartitioned my Hard Disk which was probably the hardest part so that I had 2 new partitions for Linux. I reduced by XP partition size to create it.

When the installation was complete I rebooted and had a menu whether to start Windows or Linux, booted into Linux and done. The beauty of Linux Mint aswell is I can get to by XP hard disk (but not the Linux disk from Windows). I copied my profiles for Thunderbird and Firefox so I didn't lose any emails or settings.

I can do everything I did in Windows on Linux so far and am using Linux 95% of the time. There is an excellent Community Forum that assists with any problems you may come across and they are especially helpfully to newbies like me.I probably won't completely remove XP completely until I haven't used it for 12 months...just to be on the safeside.

I reckon over the next couple of years as Linux goes from strength to strength more people will switch to it as I have done.


John said...

I prefer CentOS ( but Umbuntu is a fine operating system. I guess it is like me liking Rye Bread and you liking Pumpernickle. :)


Anonymous said...

At least we have a choice. Those poor windows users just have to take what they must pay for.

Anonymous said...

If you used Ext2 or Ext3 for your linux filesystems (typically the default in the distributions you listed), you can access your linux drives from windows with the Ext2IFS driver, which you can get at:

Chris said...

Excellent! Its nice to see more and more people making the switch. This helps the community grow and also shows that Linux has become more widespread not by just the power users and programmers, but also the average user. With the release of KDE 4 this past week, this number is sure to continue growing...
I made the switch about a year ago and haven't looked back since. I still maintain a Windows install for the couple of odd Windows games that I love and the Adobe suite, for which there is no effective substitute yet for Linux (I design web sites and web graphics for a living)...

Eric said...

I'm curious as to why you choose not to try any of the BSD variants.

Anonymous said...

Just keep the windows on your harddisk... even if you doesn't use it for 12 months, there will always be something you need it for.

chemicalscum said...

Just keep the windows on your harddisk... even if you doesn't use it for 12 months, there will always be something you need it for.

When I upgraded to a new system I didn't bother to install a Windows partition. I don't miss and I feel good not to have my system tainted by it.

Mel said...

First of all, Im glad to see you've made the first step in the "Open Source Direction".
Secondly, Im very happy to see alot of Articles like this :) Makes me proud.

Below are maybe some obvious but some great not well known facts about linux

Almost no file system maint. to Ext/RFS/etc file systems vs the maintenance that comes with NFS. Occationally a fs check here and there but... Blah, RARE!

Plus the dynamics of the OS between Kernels. Linux has a very driver friendly micro Kernel vs the Nt Kernel which will become unstable when you add new drivers to the system supported or not.

Building your own Customer Kernel for you Architecture/Drivers/Preference often leads to significant gains! Generic Kernels are good too!

Generally speaking Linux is rather well made vs Windows Client/Server Os's.

Granite Windows has alot of things that are preconfigured and out of the box they "Work" but thats why we have Debian Variants... Some of us just want the Zero config and go life style, and now were getting it. More power to us!

Support Open Source Software writers! Generally around the Holidays I give about 100$ between some of my favorite programs Authors or Groups, and this assures survivability of your current projects, but also lets them know that you appreciate there work! If you dont have the money to do it, Promote them in your blogs and such.

Test Vmware like products and USE them! This is the greatest way to learn more about linux with out screwing up your box. Take a snapshot of your OS from the Vmware test it out and you dont like it, load from the Snapshot WALLAH you didnt kill your OS!

RAM... RAM is an interesting story in the Linux world... remember alot of your RAM isnt taken up by the OS but the Buffers that it creates... This is not a 1:1 concept for microsoft showing you what RAM is... Linux expands and contracts on buffers making the OS look bigger or smaller. Ie you could check your RAM and it says your using it but you could have up to 40% of it buffer by the OS.

Last but not least and ill leave :P

Want to see a Giant difference in the way linux is build/configured/etc try Gentoo/Saybian vs Ubuntu/Debian install. I actually praise company's like Canocial who are getting the average Joe into the Linux Arena ... Lets face it we need to keep in mind that Windows converts also dont have the sense of community that us older linux players have. Were going to have to Adapt to that mentality in our ranks.. I guess what im saying to the Author of this post please join the community and keep going with your exploration there is only more things to learn and more then enough toys to keep you busy.

Things that are missing like games:

Its time for all in the community to take charge and spread the word about linux and as soon as we can make linux a force to reckon with certain types of software that was once Windows will start coming to Linux like 3D games... Because lets face it if we show them a market where gamers are going that isnt driver restrictive and full of DRM we will have won half of that fight, and Soon people will have to migrate to Linux to play those games and then eventually Microsoft will be just a player in the Server OS market... which not to mention that is dropping aswell..!



freewargamesrules said...

I'm curious as to why you choose not to try any of the BSD variants.
I initially looked at Ubuntu because of the wide spread publicity on this Distro. I came across Linux Mint by accident on a thread for Ubuntu.

Another reason I chose it was because I think it was quite an easy transition for a Windows user to get to grip with. (I have no Linux knowledge whatsoever)