If you are considering switching from a Windows only or a Windows & Linux combination desktop, then this article may be of interest to you. I have gone from a Windows only to Windows + Linux to an only Linux laptop in about a year and a half and am now comfortably surviving without Windows at all. I am sure that other users like me can do this too without a problem.
What does “user like me” mean? This means that you use your computer for any or all of the below mentioned uses.
- Watching movies in various formats (avi, mpeg, wmv etc)
- Listening to music in various formats (mainly mp3, some .ogg)
- Browsing the internet extensively for visiting sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and basically everything else.
- Watching videos on the internet.
- Playing flash games on the internet.
- Chatting via instant messenger services like MSN, Yahoo, GTalk.
- Constantly checking your email (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or others)
- Storing and cataloging the photographs that you take with your digital cameras.
- Editing images before you upload them to various online photo sites like Flickr, Picasa, JPGMag etc.
- Downloading large files from the internet via torrents
- Creating and maintaining one or more blogs.
- A little bit of html, css, php code tweaking required to keep your blog looking nice.
I am usually doing one or more of these things when I am using my laptop. I thing I have covered most activities that are done by most computer users not counting people who use their computers for very specific functions.
Moving from a Windows only system to a Windows + Linux system was not a problem for me. I was comfortable with Windows and Linux, Windows for multimedia and Linux for everything else. However it is only recently that I have moved to a Linux only system and chucked my Windows Vista installation. All the tasks mentioned above I can now do on my Linux box and there is a lot more for me to discover in terms of the sheer number of apps that are available for a Linux system. The only thing that was making me retain my Windows Installation were the proprietary applications that came with things like my SLR Camera and also to some extent my Canon printer.
However these restrictions no longer hinder me as I have been able to replace proprietary applications with free open source ones and hardware manufacturers are also supplying Linux drivers for their systems more actively mainly due to the advent of Ubuntu in my opinion. I use Linux Mint which is also an Ubuntu derivative. The only hardware that I currently don’t have full support for on my Linux system is my Windows Mobile smart phone. However I am halfway there and it shouldn’t be too long before that is done too.
So if you were thinking that switching to a Linux only system but were concerned about how you would continue doing what you have been doing so far, you need not worry about that. Hey, you can even make your Linux installation look like a Windows installation if you want. I am quite sure that you really wouldn’t want to though.
As for the applications you can use for the tasks above, here are the ones I use.
- Watching movies: Totem and VLC Media Player
- Listening to music: Rhythmbox
- All things on the internet: Firefox and Chrome Beta
- Instant messaging: Pidgin which allows you to log into all networks at once
- Email: Thunderbird
- Photo storage and management: Picasa for Linux. There is also FSpot which is popular tool for this
- Photo Editing: The GIMP in place of Photoshop, Phatch for batch editing
- File sharing: Transmission
- HTML/CSS: Bluefish Editor