Are You Ready to Switch to Linux?

TUX~!I’m so tired of moronic reasons to “switch to <insert OS>”. And bored tech writers never seem to stop coming up with them. For once I’d like to hear something intelligent written on the topic.

Here’s yet another “switch to Linux” article:

And the “top 10 reasons” for it:

1. You’re Tired of Paying for Software
2. You’re Tired of Upgrading Hardware
3. You’re Tired of Malware
4. You’ve Seen One Too Many Patch Tuesdays
5. You Don’t Have the Time
6. You Like Speed
7. You Like Sharing
8. You Don’t Actually Love Internet Explorer
9. You Want to Be in Control
10. You’re One of a Kind

I’ve got some brief comments on those before I get to some REAL reasons to switch to Linux.

1. I’m so tired of this argument… No. Audacity is not a replacement for a solid audio editor. Sigh… Being cheap is not a real reason. There’s lots of free software on Windows as well.

2. Not too sure on this. The writer doesn’t say anything of any substance to warrant the assertion.

3. Everybody switch and the malware writers will switch. Makes no sense.

4. And Linux never gets updates? If you run Linux, you will be bothered the same way to update software.

5. Instead, spend time learning a new OS, terminal, bash… All computers take time. Still, defragging and whatnot is annoying. However, Windows does require a certain amount of maintenance, which is time consuming, but not as time consuming as learning a new platform.

6. Speed is good. 🙂 But just because you’re using Linux doesn’t mean things will be uber fast. There’s a lot more to it.

7. Extremely lame argument. The exact reverse could be said and would hold more weight.

8. Totally irrelevant to the platform decision. A browser is a browser. They’re all pretty good now.

9. As if most users have the knowledge to tweak and compile their Linux distro. Give me a break.

10. Oh bother… Same as #9 with different words.

The writer doesn’t offer much of anything, other than meeting a deadline for her editor, who’s probably happy with another top 10 list because people like those.

Now, for a non-idiotic approach to the question…


This is crucially important. But you can answer this question with a little thought and reflection.

First, take inventory of the different tasks that you do and the programs that you use to do it. Next, look for replacements for them that run on Linux. Next, and this is the hard part, verify that the replacements work for your purposes. An example will help…

Many people tout OpenOffice and other office suites as replacements for Microsoft Office. Well, yes and no. If you have very basic needs, then you’re good to go. However, if you use Microsoft Office professionally or use some advanced functionality, then it’s not that clear cut. As a concrete example, in the translation industry, TRADOS is pretty much the standard. DOC files from TRADOS include markup that delimits the source and the target languages. This works in Microsoft Office, but not in OpenOffice. So if you’re working with those kinds of documents, then you’re not ready to switch to Linux.

As another example, Photoshop. The industry standard. Do you need it? Can you deal with using The GIMP? Do you need to share Photoshop files?

Another example… Microsoft Exchange. If you work in an office, you may need to connect to it. Is there a client on Linux that will do that for you?

Games? Are your favorite games running on Linux? If not, you may not be ready unless you’re prepared to give them up.

Many programs on Linux only offer a command line with no GUI, though this is getting better all the time. Are you prepared to drop down to the command line from time to time for special purposes?

Finally, are you willing to put in more effort to get the same things done? This is an important consideration that you should not take lightly. Many programs on Linux take more effort than their counterparts on Windows or OS X. Take Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 for example. There are many other IDEs out there, but Visual Studio truly is the Ferarri (or Rolls Royce or Bently if you’re so inclined) of IDEs. Nothing else really compares. But, it’s Microsoft only. Similarly, there is software that only runs on OS X that is top notch with no equal on Linux.

But for the vast majority of things you do, the software available on Linux is more than enough and easy enough to make the transition painless. It is your set of special tasks that you need to pay the most attention to.

So, if you can do everything you want to do on Linux, and you’ve got the courage to make the jump, then you’re ready.

But just because you’re ready doesn’t mean that you have any reason to make the jump. Here are some REAL reasons to make the jump.

1. You know and understand Linux, the GPL, GNU and FSF and agree with their principles and philosophy.

All too often, as demonstrated above (#1 in the article), people think that “Linux” means “free” as in “no money”. If that’s your reason, stop reading. I have nothing to say to you. That’s a crass debasement of what Linux and the FSF are about. There’s lots of no-money software on Windows and OS X as well, so “free” is just a stupid reason.

Linux is about freedom. Freedom as in no restrictions on what you can do with your computer. Freedom to share.

I’m not going to go on at length about this, but it is THE single most important reason and motivation to switch to Linux.

“Free” you can get anywhere. “Freedom” is much more precious.

2. There are no other reasons.

Fact is, the major 3 operating systems are all extremely good. Bickering over tiny details is unproductive. Windows, OS X, and Linux are all good systems that will let you get things done.

I have and run all 3 major OSes. They are different. They’re all pretty good. Most of the “reasons to switch” you hear from most people are pretty much just fanboy bullshit. I rant about OS X quite a bit, but that’s mostly just because I hate Apple fanboys and want to put a bit of balance out there. I use Windows as my primary system because I cannot switch to Linux due to the work I do.

Truth is, most of what we do is in the browser, or is moving into the browser, which makes the OS you use entirely irrelevant.

If you take 1 thing from this, please just don’t listen to fanboy bullshit. All 3 OSes are good, and they will all let you get things done. Switch to Linux if you want to. Or don’t. Either is ok, but only you can determine which is the best decision for you. And if you don’t truly understand GNU or the FSF, then please do read more about it here:

And here:

And have a happy onlife~! =D

EDIT 2011-01-01: Minor edit for “GNU/Linux” vs. the broader term “Linux”.


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