Linux on the Desktop
The expression a Linux Desktop means different things to different people, to the technical community is means reliability, flexibility, speed, ease of use, to everybody else, it means a free alternative to the likes of Microsoft Windows and Mac/OSX.
The most frequent question in this context; is Linux really an alternative?
The most frequent but unhelpful answer; are you seriously still using Windows?
But what is it really?
Well, you know what Windows is, the Linux Desktop does pretty much all the same stuff, it’s the same only different, it’s as good only better, I guess that doesn’t help. If you’re only familiar with one computing environment, anything else will seem quite alien and hence difficult to describe. To get us started, here are a few screen shots of the Linux Desktop in action, please click on a thumbnail to take a look.
It may look completely different to Windows, but you will notice many of the same concepts. We have a mouse with a pointer, we have a file manager, we have a media player, we have windows, we have icons we can embed on the desktop, we have menus, we have different themes / wallpapers – it’s really not so different!
The really important questions …
- Will I be able to keep all my files and use them on Linux? – yes.
- Will I be able to browse the Internet, read my email and MSN chat? – yes.
- Will it be more reliable and faster than my old Windows XP machine? – yes.
- Will it automatically immunize me against viruses killing my machine?- yes.
- Will it talk to other computers (incl. Windows machines) on my network? – yes.
- Will it see my Windows server and be able to share files and printers? – yes.
- Will I be able to work with my Word docs and my Excel spreadsheets? – yes.
- Will I get free security updates on a regular basis, like Windows? – yes.
- Can you confirm that there are no hidden charges, is it really is free? – yes.
- Will I have to run defrag on it regularly to stop it from locking up? – no.
- Will I have to install and suffer anti-virus software? – no.
- Will I have to pay for upgrades? – no.
- Will I typically have to pay for additional programs or tools and utilities? -no.
- Will it make the coffee? -actually, yes, but we’re not going to cover that here.
If this is true, why isn’t everyone using it?
One of the downsides of free community software is that there is no huge multi-national corporate behind it marketing it to death and forcing it into our homes. Indeed the contrary is true, Linux will one day render Windows irrelevant and it’s not something Microsoft are entirely happy about. As it happens they do have lots of money and some of that it seems has gone towards trying to keep Linux in it’s place, i.e. away from you.
Ok, if I’m interested, what should I do next?
Well, you have a number of options.
- You could join the forums for some free advice …
- You could read some more …
- You could give Linux a try…
- You could contact a vendor for some consultancy and a quick start…
Just for a change – the choice is yours!
- SPOF #2 – Clustered Filesystem
- SPOF #1 – Storage Node
- Meet the MintBox
- Groklaw Articles Ending on May 16th
- Death of an OS
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