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Opinions or Options: An Honest View of Windows versus Linux


aum
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A war is going on in my house. Yes, that’s right. I call it “The War of O.S.’s.” My wife prefers Mac. My son is clan Microsoft. And I come from the foreign land of Linux. However, in recent years, we have called a truce. I don’t bring up why I think Linux is better and they don’t try to sell me on why it’s not. As long as we keep to the treaty, there is peace at the Catron household. Well, maybe it’s not quite that bad.


We are, however, people who have strong opinions, preferences, and tastes. That’s pretty much universal. Most people have a favorite sport, favorite team, favorite TV show, or favorite topping on their pizza. Not everyone drives a Ford, Dodge, or Chevy. Nor do we all have the same choice in a restaurant or shop in the same store. Everyone has their own set of likes and dislikes, some more popular than others. And that’s okay. In fact, I believe that is a very good thing.

 

How many of us would enjoy going to a restaurant that only served one thing on the menu? Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s not, but there are no other choices. Would we be okay with that? Would we come back? I suppose it depends on if we like what they are serving, but for the most part, we expect businesses to give us options that way we have the freedom to choose.

 

Now I want to tell you why I fell in love with Linux. Back in the 1990s as a young boy, I discovered computers. My dad ran a construction company and bought a brand new Tandy Computer, which I thought was fascinating. Later we got a Personal Computer with Windows 3.1. It had icons and folders, all this neat stuff that I’d never seen before. I became an avid Windows user for many years clear through Windows XP and then straight to Windows 7. There were times when things went wrong; times when I’d get malware or a virus or I’d do something to mess up the registry and have to start all over – reinstall. But for the most part, I was satisfied. It was something I knew. I understood. It was comfortable.

 

Then came Windows 8. Yes, the infamous game changer. In 2012 Microsoft released Windows 8 with a completely new interface called the Start Page, along with other things like an app store and newly designed settings menu. The main focus for these changes was to make it easier for touchscreen usability. At first, I was excited about the new release, and even though it seemed intimidating, I learned my way around. After a while, however, I became frustrated. I could no longer use my computer the way I was used to using it. So many changes made for slower productivity. I had trouble finding things and learning to jump through new hoops to find them. I was so used to a “Start Menu,” that getting used to a “Start Page” where I felt almost forced away from having a desktop, made it seem uncomfortable and stressful. On top of that, I found the app store hardly ever worked. It would take forever to load and many times wouldn’t. But the last straw that “broke the camel’s back” was when my system kept breaking down with the “blue screen of death.” I was stuck with a computer that I could no longer use and no installation disk to reinstall the software. What was I to do? What other options were there? All I’ve ever known is Windows and every PC I’ve ever bought came preinstalled with this Operating System. It was like going to a restaurant with only one thing on the menu and now I didn’t like what they were serving.

 

So I began to search. What got me interesting in the first place was when I found out that Office was no longer included. It was a trial that eventually you’d have to pay for. Well, that made me a little upset. Here’s software that I’ve always used, it’s always been included with the purchase of the computer, and now it’s no longer free. I’ve got to buy it on top of what I’ve already spent?

 

That began my search for something free-of-charge that I could use in place of Microsoft’s Office Suite. I came across OpenOffice and then discovered LibreOffice. I found it very similar to what I was used to using and (YES!) FREE. That sold me. That got me thinking, were there other options out there besides Windows, without “blue screens of death,” registry issues, malware and viruses, and FREE?

 

The answer – Yes! I found something called Linux, specifically Fedora and then Linux Mint. I installed it on my laptop and became a Linux user ever since. I’ve never looked back.

 

Linux set me free.

 

You see, the common misconception with Linux is that it’s something only computer gurus, geeks, and coders can use. Many people think that the only reason you’d use a Linux based Operating System is for hacking purposes. The other misconception is that a Linux based Operating System is so much different than Windows or Mac that you’d spend all your time learning something new.

 

All of this I’ve found to be untrue, by a long shot. Yet fear – fear of the unknown is what keeps many from trying it.

 

What is truly interesting about the Linux Community is the vastness of options. When I discovered that I had a choice, that I wasn’t stuck with something I didn’t enjoy, it was like my eyes were opened to a brand new world that I never knew existed. Plus if I didn’t like one, I could just download another distro and try it out. If something wasn’t stable or fast enough, no problem. Why? Because I had options.

 

The popular site DistroWatch.com lists the top 100 most popular Linux distros with ratings and details for each, but there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of options available. Now if that seems intimidating, it can be, just as it would be if you went to a new restaurant and needed a few minutes to look at the menu before making a decision. But you’ll never know if it tastes good if you don’t try it. The same goes with Linux. I’m not saying that you have to try it, especially if you are satisfied with your current Windows Operating System. But don’t feel like you are stuck with what you have. Most Linux distros follow the same similar layout as Windows 7, Windows XP, or Windows 10 with an application menu on the lower left of the screen. The system tray and time are on the right with your open applications in the middle, all on the taskbar (panel) at the bottom of your screen. You don’t need to know code to use Linux. It can’t hurt, but it’s not necessary.

 

Currently, I use KDE Neon because it is the latest and most feature-rich desktop environment in my opinion and it operates very much like Windows with more ability to configure to my liking. In the past, however, I’ve tried several different options that are available. Coming from a former Windows user, I’d recommend Linux Mint Cinnamon, Zorin OS, Feren OS, or MXLinux. Any of these would feel very at home. Although, there are many other fine choices as well. Each distro provides detailed documentation and it’s own set of preinstalled software out of the box. If you’re looking for something with not a lot of bloatware, then I’d recommend KDE Neon. Neon provides only the essentials and the latest Plasma Desktop with all the features.

 

And never forget, having options is a good thing. You have the freedom to choose your desktop experience. Use it wisely. As far as the war in my house, well, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
BimBamSmash

The "restaurant" example is used wrong in that article. The correct way is - using Linux is like having the option to visit endless number of different restaurants (i.e. distros). To the customer's delight, their menus will be free, but the items will be extremely limited, and identical across all of those restaurants. No verities - unless you are prepared to roll up your sleeves, head down to the kitchen, design/change and "compile" your dish to your liking!

 

Problems? You have to have the required culinary skills (i.e. coding skills). You need to be familiar with a professional kitchen (i.e. using the Terminal), and be ready to do see and work differently than how things are down at the comfort of your standard home kitchen (i.e. different UI/conventions/ecosystem, etc). Plus, you need to be bold enough to head down to this kitchen (i.e. Linux Community), and work among the pros who work down there just to get that dish of yours going. Oh, and don't forget that if you needed a tool or advise down there, you should be ready to be either flamed at for being a noob, or be spoken to in technical and unclear terms that only the experienced in the field - or worse - those who have worked in that very kitchen, can understand.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think Windows is all that delicious [ready to eat] dishes served by all around restaurants across the globe and all linux(not kernel) OSes are some of these weird ingredients! that nobody knows what are they, how to make dish of them and why are they even exist except very closed community that enjoys with them.

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Linux = Stability & Security

 

Windows = User-Friendliness and Compatibility

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I'm always glad when I see this conversation happening, as I find myself more often than not with inner conflict to jump board from Windows to Linux (by lack of Mac hardware and the affordability thereof).

 

Every now and then I download the latest Ubuntu, Fedora or ElementaryOS.. wishing to convert to an ecosystem outside of Windows more permanently.

 

I don't mind the OS learning curve, and in fact enjoy the performance enhancement compared to Windows.

 

But each time I find myself returning to Windows, for 2 reasons only: Adobe and Office.

 

Yes I'm a casual Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign and Illustrator user, but just haven't found the Linux alternatives comfortable and to my liking. Same with Office, my 365 subscription offers me the ability to work with complex spreadsheets from work at home, and vice versa, and OneDrive has kept life in sync. Enterprise Plugins etc. are built for MS Office only.

 

Nothing against Libreoffice, and in fact they have earned all my respect for driving a true open source document format, while MS makes the compatibility of their docx and xlsx files for competitors a mess..

 

What would a win win be for me?

Linux with MS Office, and Adobe.  I'm not looking for free alternatives either, and happily pay the 365 subscription for the entire family, with having adequate cloud storage and apps for all mobile devices. For Adobe, yes I buy the Photoshop /LR combo subscription and get great access to al lot of design resources.

 

I think my dilemma is one shared by many.,. and would love to see MS and Adobe finally respect Linux as an enterprise or personal utility workstation, by making their applications compatible with all its features.

 

This even had me consider an M1 Macmini.. Simply because how well optomized these software suites were designed for the architecture and OS.

 

 

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Compatibility has been a major issue:  I tried various Linux Distros, but no one managed to show correctly the Ink-Level of my HP Printer.

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