Why I started using Linux


I don't think I've ever stated why I started using Linux in a post. I thought that I'd started using it 6 months ago but I've been using it for about a year. I'd already started to go down the route of Open Source Software around about 2 years ago when I started to use firefox. I'd gone there after using Opera for a while. Yes, there were teething problems, but the tabbed browsing along with the staggering amount of plugins convinced me to stay. Even though Internet Explorer 7 has tabbed browsing, I think that the tabs are a bit too big and clunky. Plus in Microsoft's aim for a simple GUI, it seems to be twice as hard to find options or the other useful menus that it has. It also doesn't like Outlook Webmail in terms of security. Not a good thing for my company's external access to email.

My partner introduced me to Ubuntu. It's a Linux distro (distribution) produced by a company called Canonical. The CEO of Canonical Mark Shuttleworth was the first civilian geek tourist in space and was in fact the second space tourist. Ubuntu is based on the Debian distro. What the genius of this distribution is that it includes useful apps for your word processing, spreadsheet and database needs (OpenOffice), email (evolution), graphical manipulation (gimp), browser(firefox). These are just a small part of it of course. Ubuntu also is available with different GUI's. The main flavour is GNU/Linux. You also can download the Kubuntu distro (Ubuntu with KDE desktop. You can also get Xubuntu (xfce desktop) which is a lighter GUI for the desktop and so can be used on older machines with less space available. There is even an academic version for kids called Edubuntu. HP has even seen the light and in South Africa, you can buy an HP with Ubuntu installed if you wish to.

I'd been curious about Linux in the past. But the distros available seemed a bit daunting, plus I wasn't sure if I would find it as easy to use or as useful. After all, Linux is just the kernel. There's a heck of a lot of the younger generation used to having a gui and using it rather than the terminal (or command line). If you've been using Linux for a long time, then it may not occur to you that the rest of us do not know how to install an application easily. Plus some of the instructions like: "download the tar then tarball it", sounds like the arcane mutterings of Merlin. What the beauty of Ubuntu as a distribution is that it makes it easier for us terminal virgins by giving us a GUI option. I know that the terminal is better for knowing what is going on for the various components of your PC. Plus I know that it's important to know what processes are running on your PC, especially from a security point of view. I need to know this as I'm in IT.

However, most users do not. They just want to be able to click on synaptic package manager then they can search for the application or function that they want and install it by selecting it. Then they can finally click apply.

(A package manager is a mechanism for downloading applications from a group of applications held online in a central area (repository) and then installing it automatically. No-fuss, no trying to find the executable (.exe file) just that, simple).

I installed Ubuntu as I was curious about it. As I had Windows installed on the desktop I would boot between Windows and Ubuntu. Partly because I was on dial-up and I couldn't get my win modem working. Then I got broadband, the ubuntu partition got used more and more. I've stopped booting the windows partition, I'm thinking of wiping it and installing fedora instead and learning about that. I feel more in control of my machine, no longer is Microsoft nagging me with all that genuine advantage crap, when even when there's a legal copy of Windows on my machine annoys me. Sure it's not perfect, you do need a bit of help and guidance on why your videos and mp3s aren't playing at first. But there's a community out there to help. I'm planning to post more about this and give anyone that wants to read it a starting point. Plus there is literature out there designed to help the rest of us mere mortals to get on this Linux kick.

I'm not going to slag off Microsoft. It has its uses and there's a reason why it is so popular for business. It provided a standard for people to use. However I feel that it's a monopoly, it provides little choice for the consumer population out there. So I want to do my little bit and make it easier for the rest of us to join in. Linux shouldn't just be the domain for the geeks. I want to give the choice back to you guys.