With Linux I can do everything I could do with Windows and more. Linux is very modular and is also infinitely customizable, don't like your dial up or printer utilities..., don't like your GUI, just change them, try that in other OS's.
Software and security updates as well as bug fixes are available in real time. Because Linux and most of the software available for it is open source, there are thousands of people worldwide pouring over source code, writing and submitting fixes daily.
Linux is available for free download or you can order a copy on the internet for a couple bucks. These cheap cd's come with no manual but help is as close as the internet newsgroups.
When you buy Linux in the store, you're actually paying for the manual, technical support and any extra or commercial software that may be included. Most software available for Linux is free (Open Source).
Linux is a true, multi-user, multitasking operating system. It's very stable and rarely needs to be rebooted. An application may crash once in a while but it will not bring down the entire system.
While no operating system is "crash proof", in general it's extremely difficult to crash a Linux machine. With Linux you need not worry about Alt-Ctrl-Delete, Blue Screen of Death, Scandisk-Defrag, Virus's, and Expensive upgrades.
How can you resist that cute penguin?
Which Linux distribution should I use?
As you may have noticed from my site, I'm a Mandrake fan but I'm an even bigger Linux fan so I'm not going to advise you on what distro to use. It's a matter of personal preference, like Coke or Pepsi.
If your new to Linux I suggest first trying a distro that's known for it's easy installation like Mandrake, Suse or ELX Linux. Better yet, if you have a friend that uses Linux, use whatever distro that he-she uses, that way you can benefit from their experience, then once you become comfortable with Linux you can venture off and try other distro's. I won't go into any details but here are a few distro's I tried and do not recommend using:
Caldera (few installation options, slow to release new versions, just your basic Linux clone)
Lycoris (few installation options, never installed correctly, very buggy)
Corel Linux (dumbed down, limited packages).
Will my hardware work under Linux?
With the exception of some winmodems, your hardware will most likely work. Linux now supports a multitude of hardware. You can go here to see if your hardware is supported in Linux:
Can I have MS Windows and Linux installed on the same computer?
Absolutely, Mandrake has a tool called DiskDrake. DiskDrake allows any user to easily create, modify and resize disk partitions using an entirely graphical interface. You can use it to resize your Windows partition and make room for Linux. I've recently resized my fat32 windows partition with DiskDrake and had no problems.
Linux uses a graphical boot loader (Lilo or Grub), both of these will give you the option to boot into either Linux or Windows. You will also be able to access windows files on your Win partition right from Linux.
To access Linux files from your Win partition there's a program called Explore2fs, however Explore2fs only works with the Ext2 Linux file system so if you intend to use this program you'll need to specify ext2fs when you partition your drive for Linux.
Can I run my Windows apps-games under Linux?
Yes. Many MS applications will run just fine on Linux with a program called Wine. Wine is an implementation of the Win32 API on top of X and Linux. Think of Wine as a Windows compatibility layer. With wine you can now run MS Internet Explorer, MS Office, Forte Agent, Cuteftp to name a few as well as many popular MS games.
Codeweavers sells a couple of modified versions of wine, Crossover Plugin will let you run most of the plugins available for MS Interent Explorer in your favorite Linux Browser, Crossover Office will let you install and run MS Office 97-2000 in Linux. Codeweavers also has a free version of wine that will let you run many MS appz and has a nice graphical installer. Go here to see some screenshots of CrossOver runnging Office 2000 as well as some other MS appz.
Transgaming sells a modified version of wine called WineX, this will let you install and run many popular MS games in Linux.
There are also some programs available that will actually allow you to run the entire Windows OS right from within Linux in a virtual machine. For more details click here.
Can I Use AOL With Linux?
No and Yes. AOL experimented on a Linux version a while back but AOL's official shpeel is that "it would be too difficult to support AOL on Linux given the 200+ versions of Linux". Lindows plans to release a version of Linux that will run the AOL client with a modified version of Wine and beta users have reported some success. Tina Gasperson of NewsForge reported that she was able to run the AOL 5.0 client with Transgaming's WineX 2.0. Tina reported that instant messaging and email worked fine however chat and web browsing did not, the latter may be because she did not have IE installed. So there you go, I'd be willing to bet that AOL will be fully functional with the aid of Wine in the very near future.
Common Myths and Misconceptions About Linux
There's quite a bit of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) coming out of Redmond, WA these day's. Here's some of the things they're saying:
"Linux is hard to install-learn"
Most Linux distributions have become quite good at detecting hardware and have developed extremely easy installation routines. I find it much easier to install Linux on a new drive than Windows. I was surprised to find that when I first installed Linux I wasn't asked for Video, Soundcard, SCSI, USB or Ethernet drivers, everything was detected and running when I booted. When installing Linux there's no need for a boot disk, Fdisk or Format. Just set your bios to boot from your CDROM and you'll be very surprised just how easy it is.
Going from one operating system to another (MS to Mac, MS to Linux) can be difficult at first, but it doesn't have to be. The two most popular Linux Gui's, KDE and Gnome provide environments remarkably similar to Windows.
"Linux is a toy"
Linux is being deployed more and more everyday by Fortune 500 companies, governments, computer makers and consumers looking for a low cost, stable, secure alternative to the bloated, unstable, virus prone, closed sourced O/S that their currently using. Here's a few for example: IBM, Compaq, Dell, Apple Computer, Sun Microsystems, Dreamworks, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic, Amazon, AOL, Home Depot, Burlington Coat Factory, Amtrak, Winnebago, Korean Air, Virginia Power, NASA, European Space Agency, US National Security Agency, Mexico City and my former home: the City of Largo, Fl., as well as millions of home users around the world.
"Linux isn't scalable......it doesn't perform"
Linux, as well as Apache server software continue to draw fans with their performance, flexibility, and scalability. The new 2.4 kernel now supports multiple processors, RAID, multiple file systems, and a variety of different protocols.
"There's no support available for Linux"
Most Linux distributions sold in stores are shipped with documentation and offer initial telephone and email technical support for registered users. Small and large businesses can get 24-7 support through a number of Linux commercial support companies like Linuxcare for example. Free technical support is available on the internet 24-7 via the Linux newsgroups. The Mandrake newsgroup alt.os.linux.mandrake is full of some very helpful, friendly, knowledgeable people.
"There's not much software available for Linux"
Ok, this statement is absolutely ridiculous. Mandrake Linux has over a thousand different applications on the installation cdroms. When you install Windows on a new hard drive you really can't do much without installing alot of third party software after the installation. When you install Linux, you have everything you need at your fingertips from the first boot, Word Processors, Spreadsheets, Cdburners, IRC, ICQ and AOL Im clients, MP3 players, Graphics Viewers & Utilities, MPEG players, Newsreaders, Games etc.....
Not only are there Linux clones available for applications like AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, IRC but there are also native Linux versions of Netscape, Opera, Realplayer, Compupic, Igloo FTP and many others.
OpenOffice is a free version of StarOffice and is an excellent Office suite. If you tried StarOffice in the past and didn't like it, try OpenOffice. It's been rewritten and now has much of the look and feel of MS Office, it's very easy to use, very stable and runs great. By default documents are saved in the new XML format and Openoffice has improved MS import/export filters for MS Word (97, 2000 & XP) .doc and .xls files.
Codeweavers sells a modified version of wine called Crossover Office, it will let you install and run MS Office 97-2000 in Linux. This is great if you have a copy of MS Office, if not I'd recommend using the excellent free OpenOffice suite instead of shelling out big bucks to MS.
Unfortunately Loki a company that ported games such as Quake III, Civilization Call To Power, Descent 3, SimCity3000, Soldier Of Fortune and many others has recently gone bankrupt. You can still obtain copies of these games from the link above, but they'll be gone soon so hurry.
Fortunately Transgaming sells a modified version of wine called WineX, this will let you install and run many popular MS games in Linux.
Here are some links to a few Linux gaming sites:
The average PC user doesn't care what OS their running so long as it runs their favorite appz-games. The average PC user doesn't even know what version of Windows their running, go ahead and ask your Mom and she'll probably give you the version of Office she's running instead. If Linux is to succeed on the desktop, it will have to target the average PC user. This is a problem because the average PC user does not want to install an OS whether it be Linux, Mac or Windows. PC manufacturers have backed away from pre-installing Linux out of fear of retaliation from MS, the US court proceedings against MS may or may not change this. Once Linux becomes available pre-loaded on desktop PC's, only then will hardware and software companies start supporting Linux. Until that happens, MS will have the upper hand in the desktop market.
As you read this, Linux is literally taking over the corporate and server markets. This is due in part to recent changes in MS licensing fee's, the inclusion of "product activation" in it's newest software and also due to the recent round of worm attacks (code red, nimda) on the MS IIS servers (Thanks Bill). The corporate world, especially in Europe and Asia have become keenly aware of the cost, stability and security advantages that come with deploying Linux.