A year without Windows and a new love of Linux

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

A little over a year ago, back in April 2013, I set myself a challenge. For so many years I, like countless millions, had used Microsoft Windows for my computing needs… and nothing else.

You see, I had heard a lot about Linux and had dipped an experimental toe into its watery depths, but I still relied heavily upon Windows.

So my challenge was to switch to Linux as my main operating system, whilst blogging about my experiences.

I figured I would be in a better position to talk about Linux, if I actually used it properly, instead of hovering on the periphery looking in as an observer.

You can read the blogs I wrote way back when this all started here: https://www.alansitsolutions.com/blog/tag/working-without-windows/

What drew me to Linux in the first place? Well for one thing my inner geek yearned to ‘have a play’, but I also wanted to find out if it was true that Linux is effectively immune to computer viruses. I had also heard that Linux is much more secure than Windows, which means those pesky hackers have a harder time too. To top it off, Linux is generally free and so is a lot of the software!

Now it may surprise you to learn that you could well be using Linux yourself without realising it. Android and Chrome OS are both based on a Linux kernel for example. For my challenge I chose to use Ubuntu, which you can get here: http://www.ubuntu.com/download Just download the file (it’s rather large) and burn it onto a DVD. You can run Ubuntu straight from the live DVD if you want to try it out before committing, which is also a good way of telling if it will install on your machine.

Anyway, I ended up going the whole hog for obvious reasons and what am I doing a year later?

Still using Linux that’s what. I have become a Linux advocate and convert.

I am fairly sure it would have been harder a few years ago, but with the growing usefulness of cloud computing, I am finding I no longer need to use Windows. All I need is a computer with an internet browser for the majority of my work.

All of my columns are written using Google Drive from within the Chrome browser, for example.

For everything else I have managed to find equivalent programs for free to replace such things as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Microsoft Outlook and the rest of the Microsoft Office suite. My development needs are met by Netbeans (free), Filezilla (free) and Geany (free). Oh and those last three are all available on Windows too. If I fancy playing a few of my old favourite games, then Steam takes care of that (Valve are porting their own games to Linux), in addition to all the other games out there already

What is more, whenever a new version of Ubuntu (the flavour of Linux I use) comes out, I can upgrade for free. I don’t need to worry about ongoing license costs, because there are none. I will always have the most up to date version of the operating system and will never be in the position that the creators stop supporting my PC. Sorry Windows XP users, but it is true.

Would I say that Linux is right for everyone? No. However, you won’t know unless you try.

Alan Stainer




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