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1937 posts

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# 18579 15-Jan-2008 12:23
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I am a long time Windows user, since Dos 6.22 Tongue out

I've toyed with Ubuntu on an old Pentium 133Mhz laptop because it was suggested that instead of running Windows 98, I should run an OS that gets security updates. And no supported Windows would run very well on that computer.

Now I have a new computer with Vista, and I've acuqired an Ubuntu 7.10 install CD.

Why do people install Linux? (I'm asking here to avoid moderation but I would have preferred to post this in the Windows forum, as I am more interested in why WINDOWS users choose to install Linux)

Are you trying to "stick it to the man"?

Because it's free?

Is it because of some compelling features?

Or something else?

I'd definitely install Linux on an older computer that wouldn't run modern Windows very well, given that the OS would still be a "supported" OS. But on a newer computer that can handle Windows, is it worth the potential hassle?

Dual boot - of course that's an option. The only time I've dual booted is for Windows 2000 and Windows 98 (to keep gaming support). But once my computer got older and unable to play games, I never used Windows 98.

I actually don't think I'd use my alternative OS - I would probably end up always using the one I preferred (likely Windows given the application support).

I'd like stuff to "work" when I install it or plug it in. As much as Windows gets a bad rap, it does get reasonable support because of the sheer numbers of people using it. When I buy USB hardware, I'll get Windows drivers because that's what the common consumer expects. Whereas I am more limited in what I can buy if I want Linux support. Another reason Windows feels more suitable.

Anyway, I hope this can be a more healthy discussion than the previously locked thread. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Uber Geek
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  # 104979 15-Jan-2008 14:03
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I use Linux (Debian and Ubuntu) because...
  • I know what I'm doing
  • I want to do what I want and have the OS just let me, while at the same time, the OS should do everything it can to make my life easier. Make stuff easy, but don't get in the way if I want to be different.
  • I like the price, and the philosophy
  • It's faster. That's not saying much when looking at Vista, anything is faster than Vista. ANYTHING.
  • Getting the tools (or diversions) I need is much easier, no trolling around the internets, getting random software from random places and installing all this un-vouched-for and uninspectable binary only packages for me. If I want a tool to do a job 99.9% of the time, I'll find a suitable candidate in the official repository with a simple apt-cache search (or using a graphical package manager) and install what I find with apt-get install .

    James Sleeman
    I sell lots of stuff for electronic enthusiasts...

    1008 posts

    Uber Geek
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      # 105004 15-Jan-2008 16:12
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    I use opensuse 10.3 - not because I dislike windows (I do like XP - it's a very good OS) but because when it came time to buy a new computer I could purchase Vista which does not run that well (in my opinion) or XP (fork out money for an old OS) or install Opensuse 10.3 for free - an up to date OS which works very well and does everything I need.

    Easy decision really.

    I previously have played around quite a bit with Suse 10.1 and 10.2 so it wasn't a big jump ditching windows altogether.
    I haven't regretted my change for a second.


    1937 posts

    Uber Geek
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      # 105007 15-Jan-2008 16:20
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    I'm fairly proficient with computers but only at a superficial level (basic troubleshooting, working through self-help/wizards, googling for answer and implementing them, etc.).

    But could I really use Linux smoothly? When I acquire peripherals and don't have drivers, what do I do then? I don't know the first thing about creating stuff so that it would work in Linux.

    I would have no qualms buying an EEE PC and using it "as is", but when it comes to a more advanced computer I actually want to add stuff to use with it, and Windows drivers are always supplied - same cannot be said of Linux (stuff at Dick Smith used to have good Linux support I think, but not so much now?)  

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    Uber Geek
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      # 105050 15-Jan-2008 20:31
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    but when it comes to a more advanced computer I actually want to add stuff to use with it, and Windows drivers are always supplied - same cannot be said of Linux (stuff at Dick Smith used to have good Linux support I think, but not so much now?)

    You'd have to be using a fairly obscure piece of hardware for it to not work with linux these days (dependent on the distro you select of course).
    The problem for most people moving from Windows to Linux these days is not that Linux is harder to use or has less support for hardware / drivers etc. It is simply that Linux is different ot windows and requires learning - you can't expect to know how to use it within a couple of days of trying it out - it's not the same as windows.
    One thing I will say about linux for new users is that support can sometimes be a little slow in coming forward - I've found the trick is to be persistent in forums etc.

    Hawkes Bay
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      # 105052 15-Jan-2008 20:41
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    I enjoy using Linux because of the community support, the 'nice' side of the open source philosophy (well written software, without restrictions), the fact that the distributions I use (Ubuntu in various forms & Fedora, and might try OpenSuSE too) are easy to use, hardware support is great these days, and on a middle-of-the-road box (Geek as I am, I just have a Sempron 3400+ with 2GB RAM) - it just flies along.

    I mostly use XP at home, and Vista at work (Im part of our guinea pig program at work for Vista). I really like XP, and dislike Vistas lacklustre (read: slow/boggy/buggy) performance on my dual core 2GB tablet.

    2104 posts

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      # 105055 15-Jan-2008 20:52
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    For a server situation though, Linux is better for me in that it is so easy to remotely manage, even from my phone, via SSH.

    Linux is also a lot more transparent, when something goes wrong the error message will often (not always) be clear about the problem. This makes debugging easier.

    And finally, it's about tinkering. With Linux you can tweak/hack/modify almost any piece of the system you want. You can't do this with Windows.

    You can also replace the word Linux with FreeBSD, NetBSD or OpenBSD. Linux is becoming really popular now with distributions like Ubuntu.

    Ubuntu is a great entry into Linux, but I also feel it's a bit like Windows in that it hides a lot of the real aspect of Linux from the end user. Which is fine, except for when it breaks! It still offers a lot of great software at an excellent price though and is certainly what I'd suggest for a first time entry.

    If Windows was to become Open Source I'd still stick to my FreeBSD to Linux. Fundamentally I think it's cleaner and better thought out in most ways, though the filesystem naming conventions could use a massive overhaul, that's still stuck in the 70s!

    Every operating system has its merits though, it's a shame so many people are totally biased in one direction. I'm posting this from my laptop booted into XP. It's great as a base operating system - Most of the apps I use are Open Source though!

    1937 posts

    Uber Geek
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      # 105058 15-Jan-2008 21:02
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    Linux is also a lot more transparent, when something goes wrong the error message will often (not always) be clear about the problem. This makes debugging easier.

    And finally, it's about tinkering. With Linux you can tweak/hack/modify almost any piece of the system you want. You can't do this with Windows.

    To be painfully honest, I wouldn't even know HOW to tinker :/  


    3000 posts

    Uber Geek


      # 105059 15-Jan-2008 21:09
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    Same thing here, used Windows and DOS from it's early incarnations and still have operational examples of all the oldest versions.

    I toyed about with FreeBSD back in the day and used it marginally but support then was pretty non-existent, it was there for the tech-savvy whom dared only.

    My take on it
    Why choose linux?

    Linux now has support for all but the most obscure hardware and Linux runs with blistering speed on almost all older hardware as it's much more efficient with CPU.
    It's something different
    Linux also has a lot of very good applications now written for it which are often far better than their Windows equivalents.
    It's FREE and comes without restrictions allowing you to do what you like with it, you can shove in another "look" on the fly.
    It's super reliable.

    If you want to see what linux can offer in applications (but use Windows currently), I suggest taking a look at and downloading some of the applications that are made for both linux and Windows.
    portableapps allows you to simply delete any software you do not like without having to bother uninstalling.

    Why choose Windows?

    Games and basically every application is written to run in Windows..
    XP is a good operating system from a new user (with all it's little helpers), to an IT pro (stripped)

    1937 posts

    Uber Geek
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      # 105171 16-Jan-2008 11:58
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    I don't know what this situation is known as, but I'll explain it from my own perspective.

    I bought a computer from the PC General many many years ago (Pentium 90Mhz) which was my first x86 computer. It came with Dos and WFW 3.11, and I was able to play games on it.

    Previously I had used an Amiga, and loved the Workbench - imo much much better than WFW 3.11. On the release day of Windows 95, I pondered all day about purchasing it, and finally gave in by the afternoon. When I got back from the shop and installed it, the computer booted into the desktop and then there was a long pause. What an anti-climax :) Back before I knew much about computers, I thought installing a new OS would bring me great excitement! But at the end of the day, it's JUST an OS ;)

    Anyway, I advanced in my computer knowledge and built a computer from scratch in 1998, and thus was able to buy Windows 98 as an OEM edition, cutting down the price. Windows 2000 Professional (academic) would be my final retail purchase of an OS. (And I still love Win2K).

    I just bought a new laptop with Vista pre-installed - the cost of the OS is "hidden" to me as I'd struggle to buy a laptop with no OS (EEEPC excluded).

    If I was building a new machine, then I think I WOULD use Linux, because of the cost. I could always buy Windows later if I decided that I needed to.

    What's changed?

    Well I don't play games on PC any more. So Windows is no longer a requirement for me. OS cost comes into it as well. A couple of hundred dollars is reasonable for the lifespan of the OS, but the FULL version of Windows costs much more than this. Compared to zero, that's a lot of money, especially if the free option works for me.

    So yeah, I have a soft spot for Linux, but because I've obtained Windows for "free" (hidden cost), I happily use it, and also in a way would feel that I've "wasted" money if I don't use the OS that costs money, compared to one that is free. But if I had to pay for Windows on a machine, I'd give Linux a fairer shot. Very strange thinking I know.

    460 posts

    Ultimate Geek
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      # 107250 28-Jan-2008 20:38
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    The interesting thing about these threads is that the arguements change over time.

    It used to be that linux was hard to use and Windows was easy. That's not the case anymore.
    It used to be that linux had yucky hardware support. Today its much better.

    Today the issues are largely around software availablity. It's still true that there are big-title games & applications only for Windows (or Mac) but as far as all the little things go - every time I use XP/Vista I find its missing loads of things.

    Vista still don't have SSH support, for example. A few years ago, that wouldn't have been a problem.

    Any linux distro you get will be a compilation of software from all different places. The real key difference is that Windows is an established set of files, and there is a distinction between OS components and user apps. That line is really blurred in even the most official/commercial distros.
    Edit: I guess for me at least, the real motivation for switching was that I felt I would rather support/use a computer system built from colaboration between all parts of the globe and different groups, with different strengths & weakeneses. To me it's a better example of human progress than a world full of computer systems built up, researched (& arguably controlled or inhibited) by a single company.

    206 posts

    Master Geek


      # 107263 28-Jan-2008 21:03
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    >Why do people install Linux?

    I needed an efficent and resource friendly host for VMWare to run windows xp guests.



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