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Is Linux Right for Me?

Written on January 10, 2020 by Ben Bohnen
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With the impending doom of Windows 7, we get an increasing number of users asking me if moving to Linux is a viable alternative to making the jump to Windows 10. In this article, we will be covering the pros and cons of switching to Linux to help you make an informed decision on whether or not Linux is for you.

What is Linux?

Linux refers to a diverse ecosystem of operating systems that are based on the Linux kernel. A kernel is the software that is at the core of every operating system, including Windows and MacOS, and it dictates how the software and hardware interact. You may already be aware of some of the more popular distributions (or “distros” as they are commonly called) that are built upon the Linux kernel like Ubuntu, Redhat, and Mint. There are hundreds of Linux-based operating systems out there, and they are not solely reserved for created desktop and server operating systems. Android, Playstation 4, and any number of IoT devices use the Linux kernel as well. For the sake of this article, we will keep our focus on desktop and server distributions.

How do I know if Linux is for me?

Linux is a much more user-friendly operating system now than it ever use to be. Most distros ship with a graphical user interface (GUI) and there are now many different flavors of desktops to choose from to tailor your experience to your liking. Most of the software available on the store is open-source and free, and you can usually find an alternative or equivalent application that will compare to what you might be using on Windows or MacOS.

Sounds Simple Enough, Right? Well..

With the above being said, Linux is not for everyone. While it tends to work well on most hardware, you might find that some assembly may be required when it comes to proprietary hardware. Installing the drivers needed for the devices (typically video cards, WiFi adapters, and other expansion cards) isn’t always straight forward, so for some, it can be frustrating to get their system up and running. You also might find that the software may not be as polished or user friendly as the Windows/Mac equivalent, so there may be a learning curve to get over. At the end of the day, if you want an operating system that “just works,” then you are probably better off making the jump to Windows 10. However, for the self-learners out there that do not mind taking the time to expand your Linux knowledge, you might find yourself among the individuals that appreciate how special Linux can be.

Where do I Start?

The first step is to decide which distro of Linux you would like to install. There are hundreds of distros to choose from, and this can seem rather daunting at first. Which distribution you pick will depend on what you will be doing with your system.

For home or office use, we would recommend a Debian based distribution like Ubuntu or Mint. There are far too many Debian derivatives to list here, but I have found Ubuntu and Mint to be friendly to new users. Both have a robust GUI (Graphical User Interface) and are well supported by the developers. We would recommend that you grab the ISO directly from the distrobution’s website. Below are the download links and install guides for both Ubuntu 18.04 and Mint 19.

Another factor to consider when looking at your distro options are the applications supported. If you are coming from Windows, then a lot of the software that you are used to using may not be available or compatible with Linux. You may be able to get Windows software to work with the use of an application called “Wine,” but it can take a lot of time and research to find the right tweaks to make to get the software working. Instead, we would recommend that you take a look to see if there is an alternative or equivalent software offered on Linux. One of the benefits of being an open-source platform is that a lot of the software is free to use, but you will find that there will be differences; so take the time to try the software to see if it is something you are ready to learn and work with. If you do find your software, or the equivalent, available for your prospective distro then you are ready to give it a try.

In Closing...

A Linux distribution can be a great option if you are comfortable and have time transitioning to a new operating system. There will be some learning involved if you plan on picking up Linux for the first time. It isn't for everyone, but generally if you are willing to find out why Linux continues to grow in popularity, you may be pleasantly surprised with what you uncover.

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Tags: Linux, Operating Systems, Software, Ubuntu
Richard

Good morning everyone, I read that for my Puget Windows 7 system (completed updated and working smoothly at present) I can use:

"Robolinux, however, does something unique. It’s the only distro, to my knowledge, that makes working with Windows alongside Linux a little easier for the typical user. With just a few clicks, it lets you create a Windows virtual machine (by way of VirtualBox) that can run side by side with Linux"

I read this from:
https://www.linux.com/tutor...

Will this system isolate Windows 7 completely from a safety standpoint?
Do you think a not very competent computer person could do this, and then keep it maintained?
Is there a way to get help to do this?
Thanks, Richard

Posted on 2020-01-17 13:53:38
Geek Zero

Hi Richard. No, just putting Win7 in a virtual machine, if you do nothing else, will not help

I have a Win7 VM that I have to keep on 7, there are programs on it that fail on Win10, even in the various compatibility modes. I have that machine in a VM now, but I also (deep Geek mode here) put it on a separate VLAN and have that VLAN firewall blocked to the outside world. That's good, but if/when a hacker compromises another machine on my network, even on an isolated VLAN, it's possible that hacker could pivot and attack that machine. Nothing on it is worth going to further steps so I'm okay with this level of protection for the 7 VM.

If you just put your 7 install on a VM, it's still at high risk as Microsoft is not providing further updates unless you get that machine on the ESU (extended support update) program which is only available to Enterprise customers with an Azure account.

The best way to protect that machine for you is 1) put it on a VM then 2) remove any and all network adapter(s) for that VM inside VirtualBox. Isolated from the network it's safe, but quite likely also not very useful. This is a major part of why many of us are leaving Windows and Macs behind, there comes a time where no updates are available and Apple/Microsoft/Google (if you have a ChromeBox) intentionally obsolete your gear in an attempt to force you to spend more to upgrade. Welcome to why Linux / BSD win.

(leaving deep Geek mode)

Posted on 2020-01-17 19:08:18
tnjazzgal

Can you recommend a distro or two for a Linux newbie who currently uses W10 and needs to do regular home stuff, plus streaming videos/movies, editing photos/videos (but no gaming)? I'm moderately tech savvy, but would still like to minimize my learning curve as much as possible, both for usage and for maintenance. I would need something that allows me to use a wifi adapter/antenna. And would also like access to the "app store" with as large as possible selection of Windows alternatives. Thanks so much!

Posted on 2020-05-03 21:12:48
Ben Bohnen

The two Distros that I could recommend for your situation would be either Ubuntu 20.04 or Mint 19. Both Distros are derived from Debian and will have access to a pretty extensive "app store." I would suggest that you get two USB drives and use a utility like Rufus to create an install USB of each distro and use the option that allows you to try the OS in a live environment. You will be able to look around the desktop and search the repository for the softwrae that you are looking for. If there is a software that you use regularly on Windows that is not compatible on Linux, then you can usually be able to find a Linux analog that will meet your needs with a little research.

You can game on Linux with relative ease so long as you have the hardware that meets the recommended specs. There is is a Steam client that you can download and install from the repository. Once you are logged-in, Steam will list all of the game that you have that are natively compatible with Linux, and I think you would be surprised to find that there are many big titles included in that list. Valve has been working on a compatiblity software called "Proton" that is derived from WINE that will allow Windows only games to be played on Linux. It is currently in beta, so your experience with Proton may vary from game to game (Sorry, I got off on a tangent there, but it sounded like you might want to game on Linux if it was possible). If you want to game, I would recommend Ubuntu, or Pop OS which is a Ubuntu derivative that is more geared towards easier NVIDIA integration (and gaming).

Posted on 2020-05-04 02:21:04