As most in the computer field are aware, (unless you live under a snow drift in the Arctic) Microsoft has released the latest version of their OS, Windows 8. I will state right now, for the record, that I have not tried it and, as a matter of fact, never even saw it in action, save a YouTube video I watched touting it’s features. I’ve only recently switched to Linux full-time, though I did dual-boot using Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit for a couple of years. (and before that I dual-booted using WinXP and Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, which was my first outing using the Ubuntu distro back in April 2008) During that stint, the dual-boot was a waste of drive space considering I almost never booted into the MS OS. Sometime around April or May of this year that all changed with the arrival of a laptop I had purchased in Feb. that I had installed Ubuntu 10.10 on.
The laptop came with a 256 GB SSD drive that, like I said, I installed Ubuntu on. (I went with 10.10 because it was what I was using on the previous laptop, and was quite pleased with) It came pre-installed with Windows Home 64bit that I immediately upgraded to Ultimate 64bit for, I think, around 150 US dollars. I continued doing the dual-boot option until Ubuntu’s LTS 12.04 64bit version came out in April. (LTS=Long Term Support, for the folks new to Linux, which now means 5 full years of support, patches and updates!) The support period for 10.10 came to its’ EOL (end of life) so I did the upgrade. Around this time, I decided that as little as I was using the Windows part of the drive, I might as well go ahead and officially make the switch to full-time Linux use. I haven’t looked back, and as far as I’m concerned, this version is the best one I’ve ever used.
I know some of you are wondering why I’m not mentioning that last month, the new version of the distro I’m using was released, so here’s the mention. Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal. Well, number one, I’m comfortable with 12.04 and, until there is a release that will support Optimus technology (i.e. nVidia’s hybrid graphics systems which only supports MS at the time of this writing, although they, ‘nVidia’, say they are developing Optimus support, cough-cough) I’m content with what I have. Also 12.10 is not an LTS version. As a home user, this isn’t that big a deal, though if your in an environment that utilizes Linux on multiple machines, then being able to count on updates and support for 5 years is quite important.
Since Linus Torvalds developed Linux, it has astounded it’s critics by becoming quite a robust OS. The fact that it is free, (almost all distro’s are, though you do have to pay for a couple) is a very compelling argument for its’ use. The amount of software available, in my opinion, easily rids one of any worries about whether or not your going to be limited by what you can or can’t do with it. I have a good friend who is using a ‘white-box’ system he built in 1995 and is running Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake on. He says that for him, it is still as ‘able’ as any of his ‘newer’ machines. That is the simple beauty of Linux. Your old hardware can still be relevant, and even made useful.
Today’s Linux is far beyond the old ‘console’ or ‘dos’ type only displays, where everything was accomplished by typing in esoteric commands that only programmers could comfortably utilize. It is a very graphical (if you want it to be) and user friendly environment, with even the most novice user in mind. If your even a little bit comfortable in Windows, or Mac’s for that matter, you will totally be able to be up and running, with just about any distro of Linux you choose.
In light of all of this, if you do decide Linux is the path for you, then please, consider making a donation to one of the Open-Source, FOSS, or distro folks. The FreeBSD Foundation would be a great place to start. There are many developers out there working feverishly to make things better for Linux. For the most part their work is done gratis. With MS charging 80 US dollars for their latest flavor, consider Linux, and if you like it and want it to continue to improve donate the 80 dollars you would have spent on MS to your favorite Open-Source project!