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.