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Why I Use Linux

Most people that know me on any level beyond just a basic hello know that I use Linux in my personal computing for about 95% of what I do. Of course purists would say that I should call it GNU/Linux, but that’s a habit I have yet to adopt. Apologies.

I thought I would take a minute to articulate why I have chosen to be a Linux user. I’d like to think I’m a Linux evangelist, but I’ve only convinced 0.5 people to give it a try, so I guess I haven’t been to successful on a person to person basis of getting anyone to switch over, though not for lack of trying. Well, whatever your reasons are for sticking with Windows or Mac, here’s why I chose a third path.

Background

When I first entered college, I had never heard of Linux. I had purchased a custom built laptop to get me through college, but as I found out later it wasn’t as awesome as it would need to be to get me through all 4 years. Just a standard XP rig of the typical quality available in 2005. But I really found it fascinating that a person could build a computer, rather than buying one from a manufacturer.

I learned about a lot of new things in college, most of them on my own rather than in the classroom. One of the things that I researched and studied most of all in those early days was Linux. I started seeing things about it on various news and tech websites that I was checking out, and I started seeing a lot of snarky Facebook groups and merchandise for sale on the Internet about Linux. It intrugued me, and I started reading about it more and more.

About three years ago, before my Junior year of college, I decided that I wanted to build my own computer. A couple guys I worked with were hard core gamers, and they were the source of much of my early hardware knowledge. They were both Windows devotees, but they agreed to help me get everything I needed on Newegg, and helped me put it all together.

The build did not go flawlessly. As a result of a couple crossed wires attached to the power supply, a bunch of fuses got blown out and half of my house was without power for a couple days. After the blow out, the guys left, and I actually read the manuals to find out what was wrong and fix it.

Once the machine was in order, I began the process of installing Ubuntu, which at this point was 7.04 Feisty Fawn. The installation went flawlessly, and all the hardware worked, which was pretty amazing considering I was bought the latest processor and graphics card and such.

Unfortunately, I had a bad monitor which made everything appear to look like a photo negative. It should have been obvious to me that the monitor was at fault, but it wasn’t. In the end, I shipped the monitor back to Newegg and got a new one, but I also had a computer repair shop install a copy of Vista Home Premium as the only OS on the system.

So, for a while, I had been scared off of Linux, but I was not deterred for too long. I later installed Fedora 9 on my system, only to find out a week later that Fedora 10 had been released. To a novice like myself, Fedora was pretty hard to use. I had to fight it to make a lot of things work that I wanted, like flash support. It was a great learning experience. Since then I’ve done a lot of distro-hopping, but I mostly now use Linux Mint Debian Edition and Fedora.

Why I Use Linux

So, after that extensive pre-amble, here are the five reasons I choose to use Linux as my primary OS: Cost, Diversity, Security, Speed, Freedom, and Adventure. I’ve listed them in order from least important to most important to me.

Cost: Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Linux is free of cost. If you want to try it right now, you can. Just go to the site of any Linux distro and download an iso file. This was why I initially got into using Linux. I was tired of spending money on software. I plan on contributing financially to my favored distros in the future, but it’s nice to know that whenever I need to get a new copy or a different copy, I can do so with no monetary consequence. It’s just about the computing.

Diversity: Don’t like something or anything about your computer? Change it. I’ve used Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint, Debian, Belenix (technically a Solaris derivative), and Puppy. I primarily use Linux Mint Debian Edition right now, but I also keep Fedora going, and I always carry a pendrive with Puppy Linux with me. I also like to try out different desktop environments, mostly GNOME and Xfce, but I’ve dabbled in LXDE. I don’t care for KDE, but that’s just me.

Security: I honestly never had that much trouble with viruses and malware using Windows. I always ran AVG Free, Spybot, and C Cleaner regularly to keep my system in good shape. I think I have had like three viruses total ever. Others I know however, are always falling prey to viruses, malware, scareware, and suspicious email attachments. I like knowing that even if I’m repairing someone else’s system, I mostly don’t have to worry about any of those problems while running Linux (though Linux viruses do exist).

Speed: Just over the Christmas holiday, I installed Fedora 14 Xfce on that original laptop I mentined previously in this post. It runs faster than any of my Windows installations, and almost as fast as my other more modern PCs running Linux, despite it’s pathetically low specs. I needed to print something while I was at my parents house, and it took 20 minutes from boot to paper on their old XP machine. I don’t have patience for that nonsense. I like a fast boot and fast response. I don’t have patience for Windows installations that just get slower over time. I’ve got things to do, and I don’t want the OS getting in the way.

Freedom: I don’t have much to say here. Others have explained it all more eloquently than I have. If you want to read about software freedom, look up Richard Stallman. I can’t say that I agree with him on everything, or even most things, but I do value the freedom that using FOSS affords me. If you ever want to scare yourself, read the license agreement that comes with any Apple software, such as iTunes. I’ll take the General Public License any day.

Adventure: I started looking into Linux because I knew there had to be more to computing than what Microsoft offered. I don’t hate Windows or Microsoft Office. In fact, I think Office 2007 and 2010 are awesome. But I want some adventure in my computing. I like it when I have to fight to make things like sound or graphics work. I think the installation and setup process is almost the most fun part.  There’s always something new to learn and new challenges to face.

So there you go.

My long-winded explanation for why I like to use Linux. I’d be glad to answer any questions you might have about Linux that I can, but my knowledge is far from complete. There’s always something new to learn! Do you use Linux? Why, and what distro? Have you ever thought about trying it? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a good one.

48 Comments

  1. Kenny Strawn wrote:

    Yeah, many of my fellow high school students (with the exception of one) have no clue that there is a free OS that exists, and that OS is Linux. However, people still don’t listen. They think that if Windows came with their computer it must be free, but in reality the PC manufacturer had to pay for Windows to install it — millions of dollars out of their own pockets simply went to Microsoft. That’s how Microsoft is able to retain its monopoly position — by blinding the public from freedom and making them think that they are getting Windows for free when in reality they’re paying for Windows as part of the cost of their computers.

    Hopefully Android-x86 (http://android-x86.org) will change this.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 11:29 | Permalink
  2. Russell wrote:

    Kenny, I couldn’t agree more. I guess many people are just happy to stick with what they know rather than trying out something that might be better and much less costly. I know that almost anyone could do any word processing or spreadsheet making with Open Office, Abiword, Gnumeric, or other programs, but it’s easy to just stick with what you know and shell out cash for MS Office, or resort to piracy, which is never a good idea. I’m just happy that OS choice exists.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 11:34 | Permalink
  3. Linuxrich wrote:

    Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed reading it.

    On your reasons for using Linux, for me, part of the adventure is extending what my systems can do over and above what comes as standard features by installing different apps and tweaking config.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 11:38 | Permalink
  4. Russell wrote:

    Linuxrich, thanks for reading! It really is a genuine pleasure to get a computer to do something you didn’t know it could do. Nothing beats Linux in terms of customizability.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 11:41 | Permalink
  5. wilfredo carbajal wrote:

    LINUX is for challenger people, that like to make the difference to create something that still don’t exist.
    that is why I attach to it. I use ubuntu ultimate edition. Im happy with it!

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:14 | Permalink
  6. Russell wrote:

    Wilfredo, thanks for reading and thanks for the comment! You definitely need to have a bit of a creative spark to fully appreciate the joys of Linux, although almost anyone would benefit from at least giving it a try.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:20 | Permalink
  7. Wayne wrote:

    Hi Russell,

    Good write up. But you didn’t mention a very good distro for newbies. PCLINUXOS. I started Linux with RedHat 6.0. Never could get it to do what I wanted (may what I wanted was the problem?) Graduated to to Mandrake 7.0 (I think) and found Texstars’ rpms that were better than Mandrake’s own. Then Tex started his own distro and I’ve been there ever since. Mint seems to be a great distro as well, and I’ve tried others but always go back to PCLOS. It just works for me and has a great group of forum members. Friendly and free spirited.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:20 | Permalink
  8. Wayne wrote:

    By the way I’m 78 YO, and been into personal computing since the early days. I’m an engineer and they dropped an IBM pc on my desk one day and said use it. It came with two 360K floppies, And DOS 1.1.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:23 | Permalink
  9. Earl Violet wrote:

    Hi, Russell,
    I am at the other end of the spectrum. I’m 65 years old and have been using Linux since Ubuntu 5.04. I am not at the bleeding edge of hardware; I use a P4 I bought for $50 and upgraded with scrap parts. I use Ubuntu, Linux Mint Debian, and Debian running fvwm window manager. I also set up Debian on a couple of old Sun machines … just to do it.
    I learned a lot from setting up the old Sun machines.
    I use Linux because it is easy and does everything I want and, as you said, is a lot of fun.
    It is also fun being a 65 year old “computer geek” and do quite a bit from the command line. I enjoy switching to a terminal and getting things done quickly, especially with some Windows ‘guru’ looking over my shoulder.
    And there sure isn’t a generation gap with Linux.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:27 | Permalink
  10. Russell wrote:

    Wayne, I’ve never used PCLinuxOS, but I’ve heard good things about it from people in my local LUG. I think my experience with Mint is like your experience with PCLinuxOS, I just keep coming back to it, even if I stray a bit to try out other alternatives. I’ll have to give PCLinuxOS a try.

    It must have been fun back during the early days of computing. My dad often tells me about programming in COBOL and using punch cards and so on. We’ve come a long way.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comments.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:27 | Permalink
  11. Russell wrote:

    Earl, I’ve always found that there are Linux enthusiasts of all ages, and I definitely appreciate the perspective of people who have been using computers longer than I have. As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, I’m part of the generation of people who have grown up with computers my whole life, so it’s always nice to hear from people who can remember a time before the Internet or when things were much more challenging to accomplish.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:29 | Permalink
  12. Claude wrote:

    I agree with this article 100%. I am a Linux user since Red Hat 5 days. There is one other big reason that I use Linux; I have old hardware and no matter which version I install I don’t have to go out and buy a new scanner, printer, camera etc. Try that with windows, good luck. Also as I get comfortable with older applications they don’t disappear mysteriously as they do in Windows.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:33 | Permalink
  13. Russell wrote:

    Claude, isn’t it interesting that a new fast machine running Windows will inevitably over time become slow and almost unusable? My parents have a couple computers lying around their house that were close to state of the art running Windows XP when they were new, and now, still running recently re-installed XP are barely responsive. I threw Fedora 14 Xfce on one of these over Christmas as I mentioned above, and it’s like getting a brand new machine.

    Good point about applications mysteriously disappearing on the Windows platform too.

    I appreciate your comment. Have a good one.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:37 | Permalink
  14. Brian wrote:

    The use of the word ‘adventure’ in the lead-in intrigued me into wanting to follow the link to your post. Many people complain of mundane lives, but fail to follow any opportunities to learn and enrich their lives. They whinge and bemoan inadequacy rather than do anything about it, and Linux’s openness gives them SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY. I primarily use Fedora because it has a much wider scope than consumerist distros like Mint, although Mint is what I usually set up for newbies because the support is also aimed at that group. My biggest hassles of late, is the pathetic technical response by peripheral device manufacturers who have so-called “knowledge of & support for” Linux, but their actions suggest otherwise, or the ownership claims by manufacturers on the installed OS “warranty” on a new machine, which only arise when you want to replace it.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 12:54 | Permalink
  15. Russell wrote:

    Brian, I definitely hear people complain all the time about how their computers perform poorly and are virus-ridden, but as soon as anyone suggests an alternative (other than the oh-so-trendy Mac), they instantly seem to love their computers.

    I’m a big fan of Fedora myself, especially the Xfce spin that I’ve started using recently. For a while I had Fedora running on all my machines, but when LMDE came out I switched back for the most part. Gotta love that choice and easy switchability!

    Linux support from many manufacturers is pretty miserable. Thank goodness members of the Linux community work so hard to get drivers/functionality for new devices.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment!

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 13:03 | Permalink
  16. Randy wrote:

    How do you cross wires on a power supply? All the PC power supplies I’ve seen use standard, keyed connectors.

    I am glad to have a fellow linux evangelist. I’ve been using it for 4 years now and have only converted two people (and they’re married to each other…).

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 13:04 | Permalink
  17. Russell wrote:

    Randy, I may not have described what was attached wrongly well enough. I had pretty limited knowledge of hardware at the time, and I just remember looking in the manual and realizing that there were two spots to plug one cord into, and we had chosen the wrong one. I’ll have to open up the side of my desktop some time and look at it. I just remember that it blew some fuses and I had to call an electrician.

    Why is it so hard to get someone to try Linux? I wonder all the time. Glad to hear that you got a couple people on board.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment!

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 13:07 | Permalink
  18. Cory wrote:

    Hey there,

    I started a website to help with some of the ease of installing Fedora for the beginner. I find myself repeating a lot of the same things to new Fedora converts, so I just made a website for it. This will allow them to try to figure things out without needing to look up all the commands for it.

    http://geekface.ca

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 13:14 | Permalink
  19. Russell wrote:

    Cory, thanks for posting, I’ll be sure to check out your site.

    Have a good one.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 13:20 | Permalink
  20. Jon wrote:

    Nice Article. I started using Linux myself around 2007 and have not been able to go back to windows. I personally got tired of maintaining Windows, there were a couple of times when an activeX controller created two Dynamic-link library that supported one another, and it made surfing the web under IE a pain as it would redirect and pop-up a crap load of Ads. I can’t stand IE but my wife likes it so I decided to fix it. It took me three days to pinpoint these files and remove them manually, that fixed the problem though.

    A friend of mine gave Fedora Core 4 back in 2005, and I played around with Linux for a short while, while in the US ARMY. I’ve tried quite a few Linux Distros, Fedora Core 4, Fedora 8, Zenwalk, Debian, Ubuntu, Puppy Linux, Slax, Mint, Slitaz, Tinycore, tinyme, CentOS, and some others. I have currently just settled down with Linux Mint for now, though I am interested in Fortress Linux.

    To be honest I don’t think many people understand that Linux is a Juggernaut moving towards the future. It is in a sense taking over, the only section that it seems to be lacking is the Desktop Computer area. I also think that many do not switch to Linux because of Learned Helplessness. At any rate I just wanted to put my two cents in

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 14:50 | Permalink
  21. Russell wrote:

    Thanks Jon. I always find it frustrating when family members that are dependent of me for maintaining their systems are extremely hesitant to try an alternative that might expand their knowledge and make their lives (and mine) easier. I think calling it “Learned Helplessness” is extremely accurate. I guess not everyone cares about computers or finds them interesting, so maybe that is part of it. At one point I was helping my sister set up a Windows 7 netbook, and for fun I booted it off of a flash drive running Linux Mint 7, and she used it without incident for over an hour before I told her she had been using Linux. And she still wasn’t interested in using Linux over Windows even after doing it unconsciously. Maybe she’ll come along some day.

    Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading, and thanks for your military service. Have a good one.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 14:59 | Permalink
  22. Robert wrote:

    Nice article,
    I had a similar experience while I was at school. I had heard a lot about Linux but started with Caldera Linux and was thrown at the command line, without any knowledge after I had installed it with floppy’s. So that did not start well.

    A few months later I learned about FreeBSD (how Yahoo was using that in their data center) and decided to give it a try. This time I printed the entire handbook and after installing I was in business.

    Fast forward 13 years later and I am still using FreeBSD as my internet facing server. Had deployed an OpenBSD webserver and am using Linux Mint and Ubuntu as my primary desktop OS.

    Still sad that I had to buy a Windows 7 based laptop because I could not find a Linux laptop here in the Netherlands. As my girlfriend is used to Windows, I had to buy windows 7 and office 2010 cd’s which I am using in Ubuntu with Oracle’ s Virtualbox.

    And in a few months I hope to buy myself an Ipad if version2 comes out.

    Would like to buy a Android based telephone but not before I’m 100% sure I will be able to sync my contacts with some email client in Linux.

    So I think I’m a FOSS enthusiast who would like to see FOSS prosper, but who thinks closed source will be here for a long time.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 16:33 | Permalink
  23. Russell wrote:

    Robert, I’ve been wanting to give FreeBSD a try, but I haven’t installed it yet, just read a lot of documentation off of their website. As I understand it, it’s pretty hard to beat *BSD for its stability. It really is tough to find a vendor that sells Linux laptops. I have no experience trying to purchase one in Europe, but this article talks about a guy that was able to get Dell to sell him one (http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/buying-a-dell-without-windows-is-not-easy-but-possible-20101228/). I’ve heard from others in the UK that it is hard to get Linux systems there, but every once in a while someone gets Dell to sell them an Ubuntu rig.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting!

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 16:39 | Permalink
  24. Daniel wrote:

    Wayne, and rest – It is a fact that liux is getting better traction amongst older people than School/College age individuals.

    Something that need to be addressed for Linux to take a larger share of the IT user community.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 19:15 | Permalink
  25. Russell wrote:

    Daniel, I have observed many older folks using Linux too. I’m probably the youngest member of my local LUG at age 23. I briefly worked for Best Buy, and on the rare occasion that anybody I spoke with was a Linux user, most of them were older as well. I guess as the folly of youth drops away, so too does some of the penchant for using Windows. Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting!

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 19:23 | Permalink
  26. Randy wrote:

    I too am a linux convert. I’ve been tinkering with linux since about 2002. I started with debian. I tried it but kept running into hardware issues so I kept mainly using windows. about the time Ubuntu 8.04 came out I installed it and found myself using it more than windows. Then about 2 years ago I bought a windows 7 family pack of 3 licenses. I installed them on my daughters, wifes and on my computer as a secondary os. Then it happened, my daughters computer said the license was counterfeit. I knew this wasn’t the case since i bought the family pack from tigerdirect.com, and it was an oem. I called Microsoft as instructed spent an hour trying to get it cleared up, then without ever talking to a Microsoft representative was told there was nothing further they could do. I would have to purchase another license. That was the end of Microsoft in my home. I promptly removed every copy of windows on all my computers and installed Ubuntu and I’ve never looked back. Now I tend to prefer Pinguy Linux. I dual boot with ubuntu and I keep KDE handy to impress my windows using friends. I push Linux as much as I can. I love it.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 20:03 | Permalink
  27. daemox wrote:

    Russell,

    I appreciated your post. Though, I am curious on two points.

    1), I’m aware that there have been and technically can be viruses on Linux, I’m just not aware of any successful examples. Are there or have there been, or did you just throw the bit in about viruses to be technically correct instead of practically correct? :)

    2) your final point on the adventure of Linux seems to imply something like “Linux is hard to use/configure, thus it’s an adventure.” Am I misreading this, or did you intend it to mean otherwise?

    I personally use GNU/Linux as I find it less time consuming and less problematic than Windows. There’s definitely new stuff to learn (unless you’re just happy to use Firefox and browse), but I don’t find Linux harder or “more adventurous” than the Windows/Apple environments.

    Anyway, thanks again!
    daemox

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 20:05 | Permalink
  28. paul wrote:

    I’m another old (ie, 60) Linux fan. I got an Associates Degree in Electronic Technology right after the Altair 8800 was written up in Popular Electronics magazine back in ’74 or ’75. So I had some DOS, CP/M, and VAX experience early on. Eventually I became a manager of a tech writing group and became familiar with Apple computers. In ’98 I started messing w/Linux and finally switched over completely in 2006. I’ve been loving every minute of it.

    My distros of choice are aptosid, PCLinuxOS, and Debian. I’ve heard good things about Linux Mint Debian so that’s next on my “try out” list.

    Re the slow XP machines… The registries are probably messed up. Another advantage for Linux. The Windows registry gets mucked up after some time and the system performance drops off. Since Linux is not designed to use a registry, it’s not a problem.

    PC repair shops love Windows because it represents a recurring revenue stream due to viruses/malware and messed up registries.

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 20:08 | Permalink
  29. Anthony wrote:

    I find most people are too riddled with fear over the unknown. And, to quite alot of people their computers are the “unknown”. Even if they use them everyday they just dismiss learning more out of some preconcieved notion that it will be “too hard” or deadly fear of “breaking something”. Personally I think windows XP is broken out of the box and there isn’t much you can do to make it worse.
    I also couldn’t agree more about the sense of adventure involved too. I have used solaris, bsd, haiku and even Mac OS X just out of curiousity. It is important that we break down our mental barriers and expand our horizons in all facets of life. We have nothing to fear, but fear itself … And, diseases, gunshots, runaway buses and well we all can’t live forever ;)
    Anyway I am working on my own little project based on Debian using Xfce. If anyone happens to read this and feels adventurous I have beta images up at http://www.salineos.com

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 23:08 | Permalink
  30. paul wrote:

    @Anthony
    Okay, so Saline OS will be the next distro I try. It sounds fast and stable.

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 00:03 | Permalink
  31. Russell wrote:

    Randy, I got a copy of Windows 7 Professional before it came out officially through a college professor of mine that also did work for Microsoft. I thought it was OK, not really that different from Vista. At the time I was dual booting 7 and Fedora, and I had each of them on a dedicated hard drive. After a couple months of use, the 7 setup would start crashing and blue screening all the time for no reason. I’ve never bothered to fix it, haven’t booted it since February. I just mount the hard drive if I ever need to access the files.

    I’ve never used Pinguy, but I’ve heard good things. I’ll have to give it a try.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 09:07 | Permalink
  32. Russell wrote:

    Daemox, I mostly mention the potential for Linux viruses to keep myself from getting arrogant or overconfident about security. Even on a superior system like Linux, one still has to be careful. It seems I heard about a virus a while back that affected Windows, Mac, and Linux, but that on Linux the virus could be stopped simply by rebooting, whereas the problem persisted on Mac and Windows. I wish I could remember what it was called.

    Regarding the adventure portion, there is no reason why Linux has to be hard to use, you’re absolutely right. In my experience, Mint is extremely easy to use and configure. The only problem I’ve ever had was getting a Ralink wireless card to work, but for the most part with Linux all the hardware just works unless you’re using something really funky. I’ve found Fedora to be more challenging to configure as a “windows replacement” although it’s definitely not impossible, and I’ve done it enough times now that I know what I’m doing for the most part. When I first tried Fedora I had no idea what I was doing, and it was hard for me to get it to do everything I wanted, and that was part of the fun, making things happen that weren’t happening by default.

    Great point about Linux being less time consuming and problematic than Windows. Whenever I have to use Windows I get very frustrated by how lethargic it almost always seems to be.

    I guess I was implying that Linux was “hard” when I maybe should have said “unfamiliar.” And the unknown is the best way to find adventure in my experience. I like the adventure of trying something new that I don’t know how to use and finding a way to make it all work for me as I would want it to.

    I really appreciate your comments, have a good one.

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 09:13 | Permalink
  33. Russell wrote:

    Paul, you raise a good point about PC repair shops loving Windows because of they can expect to constantly have a string of repeat business. I’ve known a couple people in the computer repair business that use Linux personally and have recommended it to a few customers, but it is definitely a potential ethical dilemma to keep recommending and repairing a Windows system when a person’s interests and needs might be better served with a Linux installation.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 09:18 | Permalink
  34. Russell wrote:

    Anthony, like Paul, I’m going to give Saline OS a try. I’m becoming a huge fan of Xfce because it takes a fast Linux system and makes it even more responsive in my experience.

    I read an article recently about how people have that mental block you mentioned with computers that is entirely psychological. People of all ages are constantly learning new interfaces when they get new phones and DVD players and video game systems, but as soon as they face the prospect of a different interface on a computer they freeze up. Maybe if people thought of switching from Windows to Linux more like switching from a bag-phone to a fancy new iPhone or Android phone, they would be more excited and less intimidated.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, and thanks for suggesting the new Distro to try. Have a good one.

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 09:22 | Permalink
  35. Bob wrote:

    Like you I started with Ubuntu 7.04. I found out about Linux in of all places E-Bay and their OS section. I was interested but didn’t really have the time to try it out, that is until I was injured severely while skateboarding with my son( a whole other story). I suddenly had the time to give it a try, and have been using it ever since.

    I agree with the adventure aspect and I love keeping my apps up to date and trying out alphas and betas of new software and distributions. I also love using Virtualbox for the few things that I need that are windows only.

    Great article, thanks for posting!

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 12:53 | Permalink
  36. Aguila wrote:

    Hi Russell,

    thanks for your article. My reasons for using Linux are

    1 .Curiosity
    When my company gave me a laptop with OpenOffice installed instead of MS Office, it was the first time I got in touch with FOSS. That got me interested in the issue and after a while of reading and using different OSS apps, like GIMP, Inkscape, and Scribus I thought “well, why not go completely open source and use Linux?”

    I installed OpenSUSE 10.3, but had to many troubles (because of dependencies mainly) to make it my primary or sole OS. But then came

    2. Frustration

    I have two ThinkPad laptops, both came with Vista Business preinstalled. Vista ran into an endless loop during updates TWICE and I had to reinstall all over. That was what got me really fed up with Windows.

    I got deeper into Linux, installed Kubuntu 9.10 on one of the laptops and tried different distros on the other, among those Fedora 12.

    But it was only after I installed PCLinuxOS 2010.4 that I was really blown away with Linux and made it my sole OS. PCLinuxOS really runs out-of-the-box and the best about it is the nice and helpful people in the forum that always jump in if you’re in trouble.

    It’s easy as Mint, but a rolling relase and offers a choice of five DEs as a standard.

    Go try it out, I really love it!

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 16:49 | Permalink
  37. Chuck wrote:

    A great article! I agree with what you said and have practically identical reasons for using Linux myself. For me the “adventure” of trying new Linux distros is a huge reason for why I enjoy it so much. Mint is also my favorite distro and I currently use 10 with the GNOME desktop. At some point I look forward to trying the Debian version.

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 18:29 | Permalink
  38. Ray wrote:

    I too have been using linux (ubuntu) since Dapper Drake. I use the alpha 2 often times just to learn the newest version. I tried Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha 2 recently and it required a better video setup than my pc has and reverted to the plain Gnome desktop. I hope they don’t get too big for their britches in the future. I’m just fine with Gnome and can do without the new Unity and it’s requirements. I also love fixing windows virus laden machines by booting off of a linux live cd. Never to go back to WIN.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 00:12 | Permalink
  39. Nick Altrup wrote:

    Russell, I don’t have much to add here. I just wanted to say that I am in awe of how much traffic you generated for this post. 37 comments? 19 Tweets? 9 FB shares? Dang man…YOU BE KILLIN’ IT!

    Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 19:31 | Permalink
  40. Russell wrote:

    Thanks for the compliment Nick. Before this post I had about 250 site views from 4 countries. Now I’m up to about 1500 site views from 81 countries. I really have to thank the moderators (or whatever the official term is) at LXer.com for approving my article when I submitted it to them. I think that is by far the biggest driver of visitors to my site. In addition to my appreciation to LXer for publishing my article, I want to thank everyone that linked to it, tweeted it, shared it, commented on it, and just plain ol’ read it. I’m really encouraged by this, and I am excited to continue trying to deliver worthwhile content in the future. I’ll be posting December site statistics in a new post soon, so check back if you’re curious about a little more in-depth knowledge on how my site has been doing.

    Have a good one.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 20:22 | Permalink
  41. Russell wrote:

    Hey friends,

    Check out my latest blog post. Thanks for reading!

    http://www.russellhollander.com/2011/01/03/december-site-statistics/

    Monday, January 3, 2011 at 06:25 | Permalink
  42. knøl wrote:

    A fun read!

    I started using Mandrake 9.0 (or was it 9.2?) back in 2002-2003 out of frustration and anger with windows 98. It would always be MS’ own applications that would completely lock up the system (IE, mediaplayer) to the point where the only way out of the mess was to hold the power-button pressed for 5 seconds. And then I would get ‘yelled’ at for not having turned my computer off properly!

    Sure, I had some struggles (especially with my ATI gpu working 100%) and some frustrations, but I was stubborn enough to stick with it. I didn’t know anything about packages, so i went through compiling and dependency-hell, but it was a useful learning experience.

    I’ve been using ubuntu now since 7.04.

    The reasons I love linux are a lot like your reasons; free, freedom, secure, fast, customizable. Now I decide how my desktop works. I don’t need to install dodgy, cracked programs. I don’t need to run viruschecks. I don’t need to worry about what web-pages i visit.

    I’ve also installed it for a couple of friends who are completely computer-illiterate, and only want to surf, chat and download some torrents. Never one complaint, and I never have to go back to sort out anything they’ve messed up. It just keeps working.

    Friday, January 21, 2011 at 20:27 | Permalink
  43. Russell wrote:

    Hey knøl, thanks for reading and thanks for commenting. I’m glad you’ve been able to convince some computer illiterates to use Linux. I’ve found that even if a Linux system would be perfect for someone with lesser technical knowledge, they cling to their virus-ridden and slow-running Windows systems because it’s all they know. It’s great to be able to help spread the usage of Linux, and there really isn’t a better system out there for someone that just wants to browse the internet and maybe type a basic document every now again.

    Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 09:33 | Permalink
  44. Russell wrote:

    Hey, check out my latest blog post, a review of Saline Linux. Thanks for reading.

    http://www.russellhollander.com/2011/01/21/saline-linux-review/

    Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 09:34 | Permalink
  45. Curt Howland wrote:

    Russell, I came at this a bit differently.

    I, like several of the other posters here, have been a long time out of the “20-something” category. My first computer job was mainframe operations in 1981, after getting a TRS-80 for Christmas ’78. I learned UNIX while working at NASA, found Apple’s “AUX” when working at Apple, and seriously considered buying the Coherent clone of UNIX for the PC, but was just too busy.

    In 1995, a friend mentioned Linux in a business meeting as “a well supported UNIX, for free” in response to my giving a report to management about my complete failure to get Solaris86 to even install, much less run. Although management dismissed Linux out of hand, I immediately wasted valuable company time downloading the 14 (or was it 16?) floppy disks of Debian and installed it on a 386-33 at home.

    Everything that I had become accustomed to at NASA on $10,000 hardware worked for me on my 5 year old home machine. Even then, Linux made “new again” supposedly obsolete hardware.

    When someone says Linux is hard to configure, I recall taking days hand building the mod-line in Xfree86 to support my monitor for 1024×768 GUI. So I smile, and indulge them that yes, it does seem hard sometimes. Kids these days! We had to eat DIRT! Ha!

    I’ve tried a plethora of distributions over the years, and for some reason always go back to Debian. I recently installed PCLinuxOS onto a thumb drive, which is fun and very pretty with the Enlightenment desktop environment. Useful for rescuing data from virus-riddled client machines.

    To echo what you and other posters have said, the usual computer user does not care at all what the OS is, they want their applications to work. Every Windows version has been a sub-standard software platform, but breaking people out of the habit is what is hard.

    My mother, now 81, saw her friends having miserable times with Vista, so when her XP laptop was finally to be replaced, we went out and bought a new system and she told me to, “Just put Linux on it!”

    The secret to having her be happy with her Linux system is to LEAVE IT ALONE! She has the applications that she likes to use, Firefox for practically everything, XINE for movies, Penguin Solitare for card games.

    Some things Windows does make simpler, like connecting to Wifi hotspots. She had to have me on the phone helping her, simply because the default in WICD is “WPA2″, and she didn’t know to change it to “WEP”, while Windows automagically adapts to the encryption mode of the hotspot. Ok, one for Windows.

    I fancy myself a consultant, but I’ve never been able to convert anyone to Linux. Not my ex-wife, not my paying clients. OpenOffice, Firefox, GIMP, people accept these gladly. But they will NOT give up the “familiarity” they think they get with Windows.

    BTW, you have a very nice blog setup here. Good use of color, not too excessive even with the YELLOW that would usually drive my eyes buggy. My last blog effort was in 2000, and you can tell I wrote it in vi. http://priss.com/Ride2000/

    May your blogging bring you fame and fortune, and your aim never waver,

    Curt-

    Monday, February 7, 2011 at 08:33 | Permalink
  46. daemox wrote:

    Curt,

    I enjoyed your reply, however one bit I’d like to comment on.

    WICD may not adapt to the security standards of a given network but the wireless client on Linux Mint and Ubuntu (at least) does (I don’t know the package name off hand and I’m stuck on a work system currently). So, I think we can go ahead and take that point away from Windows. :)

    Take care and thanks for sharing your experiences!
    daemox

    Monday, February 7, 2011 at 10:30 | Permalink
  47. Russell wrote:

    Curt,

    I worked at Best Buy briefly and someone brought in 2 TRS-80s to be recycled. We fired them both up just for nostalgia’s sake, and one started smoking. I don’t know what they did with them, it’s a shame that they just probably got destroyed.

    It really is a shame that the average computer user who has almost no needs other than the browser and maybe a word processor and spreadsheet program can’t seem to kick the Windows habit. I think part of the problem must be the fact that people don’t understand that the OS is just a platform for running programs you need to get things done.

    I’m glad the yellow coloration on my site isn’t too offensive. I wanted to do something different than the same old collection of blue and silver I see all over the internet.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, and thanks for reading/commenting.

    Have a good one.

    -Russell

    Monday, February 7, 2011 at 12:49 | Permalink
  48. pai wrote:

    Some points suit me much.

    Cost thing dominates my decision to use Linux :). It’s free. I use pretty cheap netbook without CD drive, so I just download the ISO of a distro I’m interested with, install it into a USB disk, then give it a try using live version. Soon after, I’m free to decide whether I install it permanently on my harddisk or not.

    Speed is also main factor for me. While I may be so sleepy waiting WinXP/Win7 booting and running applications on my netbook, I don’t have anything to wait using Linux. Boot time is crazy-fast, waiting the desktop to come up is crazier :). Moreover, I have started using fast DE like Xfce and LXDE. Man.. regret to be so late to learn Linux :(.

    Installing Linux, desktop environments, new applications, drivers etc. is very fun and challenging. And honestly, mostly I’m on Linux not using it for daily works, but for fun of the adventure.

    I tried some distros: Ubuntu 10.10, Fedora 15, Linux Mint 10, PCLinuxOS 2010, BlankOn.. Currently I’m back using Linux Mint 10 which is originally comes with Gnome, but for speed’s sake I installed Xfce.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 03:46 | Permalink

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Electronic World on Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 04:51

    Do It Before You Buy A Laptop !…

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  2. Russellhollander on Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 21:58

    Russellhollander…

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