Why you should switch to using Linux instead of Microsoft Windows

When you first walked into PC world and bought your first computer, you probably thought your computing worries were over and you could surf the world wide web with impunity, how wrong you were. Just look at all the software you now have to install on your machine just to keep the baddies out, anti virus, anti spyware, anti trojan, anti worm, anti cross site , anti phishing etc etc. All of this software slows your machine , as they all take up machine cycles to run. I’m also guessing that you just love all the delays you get when the anti virus software does a daily disk check.

This can all be resolved by switching to a new way of running your computer using open source software, and that way is called Linux. It is a very simple install - see here - and you will never need all that pointless software again. Linux can do everything Windows can do, but in a slightly different way, and here is the real winner, 99% of the software you will want is supplied free when you install it and you can also download tens of thousands of other programs also for free. Linux can also run 95% of windows applications, if you have a program or game you must have, but it makes more sense just to switch.

Over the lifetime of a computer you could be saving yourself thousands of pounds, just think about that the next time you have to pay £100 for some software.

If you use your computer for surfing the web , writing and storing pictures then the move is extremely easy as all your familiar applications are built in, like browsers from Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome and the Open Office office application suite.

Linux is built on very similar underpinnings as Apple OSX and is very reliable and fast. It has a fantastic security record, which means you can spend far more time doing the things you enjoy with your computer, rather than fixing it. You will also join a world wide community of millions of people who are always willing to help with your problems, and who push the projects forward.

It is very easy to try Linux without changing your computer at all, you can just download a "Live" version and burn it onto a CD disk. Put the disk into your computer and reboot it. Nothing will change on your harddrive, but you can see just how easy and friendly it is to use.

If you have never heard of Linux, that is because there has been a quiet revolution going on within the internet, but it has been used by large companies for decades. It's what powers Google, Amazon, IBM, Oracle and Ebay to name a few. It's what is powering this server so you can read this post, like 90% of the internet you will ever visit. It's what is getting installed on the worlds hottest smart phones like the Google Nexus, Sony Xperia, Motorola Droid in the form of Google Android.

Give it a go, what have you got to lose, and you just might really enjoy the change. I changed fourteen years ago thanks to the advice of a friend, and I have never regretted the move.

Nick, I have to agree, working with MS Windows is frustrating with all the interface problems. I’m now having problems with Adobe Flash Point when I upgraded to version 10 and now even Reader 10 doesn’t work when it did before the FP upgrade. I’ve tried everything recommended on the various forums short of a Registry manual change (which I’m afraid to do not being an IT expert) and nothing works. I have Google Chrome as well and there has never been a problem with it and apparently I don’t have to upgrade it or it’s done automatically. I haven’t had it very long.

Another really good option is the Google Sites, which allows you to build your web site all through your browser. This makes it OS agnostic, and you can use it from anywhere. I agree Front Page is dead, and you would have needed to move to something new anyway, which is always pain I agree.



Hello Bryan,

Indeed, there have been more users complaining about that. Apparently I’ve been lucky because all installations I did were non-nVidia (ATI Radeon (HD), Intel, etc.) and all worked like a charm, even a card/screen combination that Windows refused to make work. A while ago I read on the forum that they’ve been working at it but because it didn’t affect me I haven’t kept up on the progress.

Really a shame because it could be(come) the final OS solution for many. I gave up on DOS/Winblows after too many blue screens from Win 3.1 and went to OS/2. Happily used that OS until recently because it’s getting hard to keep things going well on new hardware. I wanted to make a good choice in order not to have to make another switch any time soon. Would love to dive into FreeBSD and become proficient with it but lack the time so will have to do with PC-BSD until I better understand the OS and Unix in general.

About your problems with the graphics adapters, it may be a good idea to inscribe to the PC-BSD forum and ask them about the problems with your specific hardware. If no improvements yet then at least it will keep them awake and aware. I’m quite certain that they’ll come up with better support for non-nVidia. The PC-BSD crew seems to (try to?) contain themselves as far as 'nix n00bs (like me) are concerned.

Happy computing!

I totally agree, the most certain thing you’ll lose when kicking Macro$haft bloat-ware off your computer is aggravation. GNU-Linux is great, the only sore point might be that there are so many different distributions which doesn’t make for an easy choice and often Linux users have switched around quite a bit before they settle with the distro they feel at ease with.

Now there’s another operating system that we may choose to install, like GNU-Linux it is a Unix family OS, it looks like it, it is as rock stable as the best Linux distributions, it’s also free and comes with what is probably the easiest and best installer ever.

It’s the ‘desktop’ or ‘Joe Sixpack’ version of the venerable OS FreeBSD and is called PC-BSD. Long time ago it were the BSD people who did the development and maintenance on the original Unix (AT&T/Bell Labs). After some legal battle with AT&T the BSD people made a free version available for the computer (PC) we all know. Out of this development FreeBSD was born.

Unlike the development of the different GNU-Linux distributions, which consist of many separately developed parts that together make a complete distribution, the development of the few different BSD forks (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, PC-BSD to name the most well-known) is done as a whole. The advantage is that there are virtually no so-called dependency problems like one will experience when using GNU-Linux.

PC-BSD is developed on top of FreeBSD and features the KDE desktop and many bells and whistles. An interesting new addition to the superb installer is to make it possible to install the operating system with the desktop of choice. Available will be several of the most well-known desktops (KDE, Gnome, XFCE, LXDE, Fluxbox).

Installation of user programs like for instance Open Office, Google Earth, The GIMP (like Photoshop), etc. is made easier than under Windows by means of PBI’s (Push Button Installers) and actually all one needs to do is to download the PBI and click a button or double click the file icon to have the program installed.

Another advantage is that the choice of file systems includes ZFS. One major feature that distinguishes ZFS from other file systems is that ZFS is designed from the ground up with a focus on data integrity. None of the other file systems provide sufficient protection against data corruption.

More information about PC-BSD can be found here:

PC-BSD Main Site

PC-BSD Handbook

PC-BSD Downloads (All Free)

PC-BSD Forum



That’s great news Alan.



Well, the best way to save your contacts is to export them to a CSV file ( don't worry about what that is, it's a standard format and lots of programs can understand it).

Here is a link on how to do that.


Now you have two options here. You can either now import these contacts into a web based email client like Google Gmail - which I would highly recommend. Have a look at this site on how to do that.


or you can now import them into one of the email clients you can use with Linux - Thunderbird or Evolution.

I would however use this opportunity to move you email to the web, as it offers many advantages immediately

1) Accessible from everywhere that you can connect to the internet - not locked to one computer

2) Free anti spam/virus checking for all email

3) Automatic backup and saving of all your email - you need to do a thing

4) Use multiple email addresses on your one account - very useful feature

Alan, make sure if you go down the web mail route, make sure you test that all your contacts have moved across successfully before you change anything permanently. Also it is probably worth printing out the CSV file onto paper, as although it won't look that pretty, all you data will be there and can be recovered manually if the worst happens, but at least you won't have lost anything.



Alan, first lets back up all you work first. Get yourself a USB harddrive or USB pen drive, and copy all the files you want to keep to a safe location. Keep them in folders, like music, documents, videos, browser bookmarks etc, as they will be easier to copy to your new home directory when you have finished.

Once that is done, and you have tested you can still read/use those files, it’s time to upgrade.

Today the easiest Linux system to use it Linux Mint - http://www.linuxmint.com/

Download the 32bit Live CD, and burn the ISO file to a CD or USB pen drive. Once you have done this, re-boot your machine with this , and select the install option. Don’t worry, you can remove the old system completely, and you can copy your backed up files back once it is finished.

Once the machine is rebuilt, you can re-insert your backed up USB harddrive and copy all those files into your home directory, and the various directories that will be their.

Spend a little time finding your way around, and remember, you have you files backed up, so playing and experimenting with your new system you will not lose anything.

Now join the linux mint community , where you will find a wealth of useful and friendly information and help, and feed back here and let us know how you got on.

Things are a little different, but with a small amount of effort you will be up and running within hours.



I’m with Nick… we’re 100% Linux here (Fedora 12, to be exact). It’s so good these days, it just works. And you can boot it off a memory stick to try it out… all you need is this:

Then choose your poison (all the popular versions are there) and follow the instructions! Like I say, we’re Fedora here, but new folk might be better starting out with Ubuntu. We have specific reasons for our choice - it isn’t necessarily the best/easiest option.

What are you waiting for?? :wink:

VirtualBox has allowed me to test out many different Linux versions, I even tried Windows 7 Beta when it was available (didn’t like it much and soon removed it).

It’s a great way to experiment with out tying up another PC or making mess of the one you use. So far I have tried out, Android, Chrome OS, Win7 and a host of Linux distro’s.


I would also recommend VMWare Fusion; it’s a purchased product rather than free but has proved to be very stable on my Macbook Pro and has allowed me to virtualise all manner of different Operating Systems seamlessly. The ‘fusion’ function is excellent where it drops the main operating system desktop window and just places your chosen application (Microsoft Outlook for instance) directly on your Mac desktop.

I recently did some work on testing a virtualised application with some colleagues; my installations of Ubuntu and CentOS proved far more stable on the Mac/VMWare Fusion combination than their WIndows/Virtualbox equivalents.

Catherine, there is a way to do that, using a tool called VirtualBox. It allows you to run Windows on a Mac computer so you don’t have to change machines or re-boot everytime you need to use an old legacy windows application. it is not that difficult to set up if you are happy setting up an operating system from scratch, which is actually easier than it sounds. There is plenty of good documentation on their site - VirtualBox

I use one of these virtual machines all the time for testing and running old applications , and it works a treat.

Airhead, non-techie, blonde who can barely operate the toaster, with absolutely no knowledge of the subject whatsoever, pops head round door…

    • For me the key thing about Mac’s is that I can get it out of the box, plug it in and live a hassle free existence. I have no desire to ever look under the bonnet and accept that I may be paying a premium for this. The other thing is that as Nick Six Pack mentioned (apologies Mr Nick A - H but I think the other Nick might be secretly flattered by any references to his six pack so I’ll make one :slight_smile: ) is that the Mac is so nice to use, work with and look at. Might sound nuts but if I’m staring at a screen all day, I would rather it is a Mac, free of endless leads, cables and other dust gathering apparatus. I have to confess that I’m a mac addict, have an i phone - best buy ever and am currently lusting after an i pad.

Nick A - H - I’m going to try to drag my dad into this discussion - he is a lurking network member and a solicitor should anyone need one. He’s recently bought a Mac but finds that he still has to run his windows machine as there are some legal software packages that he can’t run on the Mac. Is there a way round that? Sorry, that’s probably a vary vague question! Thanks to all for all the input! **

Ducks back behind door…

A couple of things , it was a generic reference to joe six pack as the definition of a limited ability user, and not a specific one.It depends on the user and what he/she is using the tool for. I spend most of my working life under the hood of the OS to make sure things are working correctly, so it is a necessity for my work requirements that I have that access and complexity. One size fits all is never going to satisfy all users.

Linux has been around for a very long time. and is most definitely not a copy of OSX, but like all systems they borrow ideas from each other. OSX history is based on a slightly different branch of the Unix evolutionary tree, but they are very similar under the hood.

Apple hardware is extremely expensive when compared to commodity hardware from Dell,HP or Sony which will all run Linux perfectly. This will give you all of the benefits of Linux but at a fraction of the cost of an Apple/OSX setup. As with all things you are given a choice, and the Apple premium price vision is not everyone’s .

As you are a happy OSX user, it may well not be for you, and the people who will gain the most are the poor sufferers of Microsoft windows software, like Windows VIsta which was truly awful. I know many OSX users that happily use Linux for many tasks using virtual machines, so it might be useful to you in that mode. This allows you to have a complete LAMP development environment installed locally to test against for web applications.

I do however feel you might be waiting a very long time if you think computers will ever provide a completely seamless/easy environment for all work situations, for a lot of software that is not one of their design goals. Speed, compactness of the memory footprint, real time performance, multi-threading and multi-platform support are considered far more important. Things that most people use everyday, but don’t even know they are there, like DHCP,DNS,APACHE and TCP/IP. These are what make the internet heart tick, but none of them are particularly easy to setup,manage or configure, but they were never designed to be.

In all honesty with the way that companies are rushing to the cloud with their desktop applications , it will be possible to blur the OS requirements of any home user machine to just having a fast and reliable browser. We are a long way down this track now, but once Google launch their Chromium OS, that distinction will have been blurred completely, the browser will be the operating system. The user experience then will be as easy as using a browser, and as easy as it is going to get for a long time.

Interesting take on the promise of what IT can or should deliver , I have never seen it as a methodology to make things so obvious that any joe six pack can achieve their limited requirements , but the ability to achieve complex tasks with relatively minimal input. I suspect this view comes from using Linux as core infrastructure tools to build complex systems as opposed to using them solely as a word processor, though it does that equally well.

I have to say I have always found the Mac UI rather strange, but lots of people do like it and find it useful. All of the latest Linux releases have very straight forward and intuitive interfaces, and with the latest Ubuntu release will be more familiar to Mac users with the window buttons moving to the left. I would suggest just run up a distribution on a machine and see how you like it.

It is now very easy to use and run, and on many levels just works, but that is because I just use software that works with it. I think if you try to move without accepting some change, then it will be a more difficult process, but eventually very worth while. At the very least you will save money on the hardware that you use, as Apple hardware is always expensive.

Hopefully we can persuade you to switch in the not too distant future :wink:

I agree Bob, Linux mint is a great Linux version, and is definitely worth a look for new users.

Linux Mint
I will pop over and have a look at your site, you might want to read my blog over at Codsplaice, where I post on all things open source.

It is also worth mentioning for this site, that there is a booming market and demand for people with Linux/Open source skills, so learning this new technology could be financially beneficial as well as a lot of fun.


Hey there,

good post. I have been a Linux Mint user for a few years now. Never looked back, never missed Windows and I never will. I am currently writing about Open Source software on my site http:www.tint-network.co.uk

Open Source is brilliant for anyone in business, saves money and stops you being tied to a single platform.


Fantastic advice Nick - thanks!