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Is it worth shifting to Linux as your desktop OS?

Recently, many people have begun asking: is it worth shifting to Linux from Windows XP or Vista? What about home users? What about gamers? What about offices?

Let’s first go through a short list of the main pros and cons of using Linux instead of Windows:

  • Pros
    • It is very stable, does not need reboots very often
    • It usually is faster than Windows on the same PC
    • Very secure: you’ll probably never need antivirus software
    • Highly customisable – you can configure Linux distros to work and look exactly the way you want; with a bit of effort, the effect can be magnificent
    • Excellent in networking environments: suffers from none of the networking shortfalls Vista has
    • Best of all, most of the best distros are completely free to get and use
  • Cons
    • Much of the common software you are used to is not available for Linux – you have to use it in roundabout ways or find alternatives
    • A completely different way of working – you have to get used to thinking differently
    • Not as standardized as Windows
    • Professional technical support not available for most of the free distros

So is it worth shifting to Linux as your main desktop OS? Yes, if the following points apply to you:

  • You are willing to learn something from scratch
  • Stability and security are high concerns for you
  • You want speed, and customizability
  • You work in a strongly networked environment
  • You have a powerful internet connection
  • You can work without, or use alternatives for, common applications like Microsoft Office 2007, Adobe Creative Suite, etc.
  • You can work without professional support, and learn from online forums
  • You are not a professional Windows developer
  • You do not use localized, on demand, software that runs on Windows only

What Linux distros and their apps CAN do (despite what you may have heard):

  • Play all music and videos
  • Work with all common document formats, like Words, PowerPoints, PDFs, TIFFs, etc.
  • Interact powerfully with networks
  • Develop software
  • Anything else you can think of – Linux can do it: you just have to look around a bit


Additional points from readers are welcome, and will be added to this post.

  1. 2 January 2009 at 2:42 AM

    It is well worth saying that such a distribution is available, it-s MAC OSX which will run every program under the sun seamlessly and has a flawless version of virtual Desktops 4.0 in case you need and sensitive use of you windows partition you created with Boot Camp. Easy to use as a calculator, and sharp and precise like the best and unusable prgramable HP calculators. Software for anything you will ever need that you will gladly pay for, because it works. Don’t think I-ve rebooted any of my macs in at least 6 months. That being said I love linux and it’s versatility of use, all it’s down to the point applications and If I ever where to find a distro that would just work, and not let me down after 5 days of learning and setting up. I would gladly switch. All distros have stopped working in record time or go crazy, and I tried them deep and well. Right know I-m running Mandriva, but already 3 days later I’ve had to set up the sistem again because of the signal 11 crashes from the KDE 4 interface, which I have to say has changed into an interface that I absolutely beautifull and the personalisation of the desktop is EXTREME and exetremely usefull. I think there is about nothing you can’t persolinez in this distro to look work and feel EXACTLY like you want it to. And WINE will run any program under the sun, needless to say Virtual Box will run your windows partition wonderfully and with less bugs than windows would usually have, AND THEY’S BOTH FREE!!!! You can run OSX as well but since I-m using MAcbook Pro, I only virtualize my existing partition, but I hear friends out their telling me they too run OSX on their PC’s, but please pay for that software as it is again incredibly made. So please, Linux Dudes from the sky, will you just make something that WORKS, and keep Puppylinux a good watch, best distro out that, and with all the pupplets which conpletely change your feel and software you can run a personalized version from virtually a book (usb drive preferable) and it will zoom and dust any operating system out there in pure “just working business”, UBUNTU is overbloaded, so are all distro’s that descend, SUSE 11.1, Ark, FreeBSD, Mepis (very good), and all the other distro’s will let you down in one way or another. So my advice is, until any of the Linux systems works like MAC, why run anything less. Plus the Machine just seems to work forever, my ibook hasss been running for 5 years now, osx 10.3 and it still does it-s job wonderfully, and so do the rest….. they just WORK!

  2. 2 January 2009 at 3:47 PM

    @ Granbaba: First of all, thanks for writing such a detailed comment.
    This post was about whether it is worth shifting to Linux from Windows. Even for that, I only recommended scenarios where I it would be worth it.
    But what you refer to is the Mac experience. I have had the privilege of using a Mac for a short amount of time, and I have much the same opinions as you do: it is powerful, stable, smooth, and not to mention the fact that it is by far the slickest desktop out there.
    But I have a major problem: here in Pakistan, Macs are difficult to buy, and even harder to maintain, simply because there is zero off-the-shelf software available for it.
    My word on the Mac is: If I could, I would. But unfortunately, I can’t.

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