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Switch to Linux, or stick with Windows?

by mark_mc123 / December 17, 2011 10:58 PM PST

Im fed up of Windows, it recently updated and took about 5 hours to install then when I turned my laptop back on, the updates apparently failed and Windows decided to 'revert changes'.
So, I've been looking into swapping to Linux - Im looking for opinions on pro's and cons to switching. How big are the differences? Is it actually more reliable? Can I install it along side windows (i.e without uninstalling windows)?

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All Answers

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This one is simpler than it seems.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 18, 2011 12:36 AM PST

If you know Linux and if the applications you want to use are on Linux then you do that.

Some need to run Office (the one from Microsoft) and well, you as a Linux user know that's a little hard to do.

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Depends on you
by Jimmy Greystone / December 18, 2011 12:50 AM PST

It depends on you, and as Bob suggests, the apps you use. Some will be fine with OpenOffice/LibreOffice as an alternative to MS Office, some won't. Some people have other "must have" apps that will not run under Linux.

As for the differences, that kind of depends on the distribution you use, but to get some basic idea of what you might be in for, you could download the Ubuntu distribution and try it out. It lets you boot the entire thing off the DVD so there's no installation required. Then you can play around with it a little and see what you think.

Alternately, you could install a distribution or three into a virtual machine a la VirtualBox or something similar. Also a very low risk proposition, since if you don't like it, you just delete the VM and that's it. You'll likely get a better feel for the performance of Linux in a VM, but you'll be less likely to know if there are any potential issues with your laptop's hardware that would become apparent by booting the OS directly. So, you'll probably want to do a little mixing and matching of the two. Maybe boot the install DVD, see if it falls over from lack of hardware support. If not, then go ahead and install it into a VM.

Many people, however, seem to find Mac OS X as the happy medium between Windows and Linux. That is, a Unix foundation with a Windows-ee interface. So that might also be something to consider. Looks like you're probably about due for another laptop in the next year give or take, so if you have an Apple store or something near you, you could go in and play with one a little and see how that grabs you.

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Linux Ubuntu
by pgc3 / December 18, 2011 1:20 AM PST

You can use both, if you so choose. The latest version of Ubuntu is 11.10 and is really slick. As other posters have noted this is NOT Windows and there are differences such as Open Office which is a functioning office suite that is built into Ubuntu. There are so many plugins, tricks and tweaks to do so many different tasks it is nearly mind boggeling but I have used it as a dual boot system for years and really like it. As the others will tell you, there can be some bumps along the way but there are usually ways to smooth them out. No, it isn't for everyone but those, such as myself who use it generally really like it, it can be a lot of fun. Your choice, good luck!

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5 hours for update?
by ahtoi / December 18, 2011 1:44 AM PST

I probably would not blame MS for that. Somehow I think something got lost through the traffic. But if you ask me...I think linux is great. Yeah, MS did not get too much money from me.

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As the others have said ...
by Edward ODaniel / December 18, 2011 7:41 AM PST

whether Linux is for you or not depends mostly on the applications you need or want to run.

If there are any games you can't live without check to see if there is a Linux version (most will not have one).

You can install Linux (Ubuntu is a popular distribution) alongside Windows 7 and dual boot the computer or you could make use of a live cd or dvd while you see how you and Linux get along. If using the Live CD running from your CD or DVD drive or a Live USB version you will need to realize that the Linux distro will be running considerably slower than if installed to a hard drive simply because the CD or USB media is slower than a hard drive.

If you are CAREFUL to not disturb the recovery partition on your Dell computer you could also simply install Linux on the hard drive and if necessary use the recovery partition to restore the computer to factory condition.

Just like with Microsoft's Windows, Linux "reliability" depends much on what the user does or doesn't do. Linux Distributions have LOTS of patches just like Windows and just like Windows, if you do not install them you are leaving yourself open for security exploits.

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by mark_mc123 / December 22, 2011 9:22 PM PST

Thanks for all the feedback guys.

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Be safe dual boot.
by KenHusveg / December 23, 2011 5:14 AM PST

My laptop with Windows was acting up about 6 months ago, I thought I was going to loose everything. Got Ubuntu set up with a dual boot. I don't use it very often but having it there is reassuring. The other bonus is there's some very good software only available on Linux.

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