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The Linux Test Drive

Move over, Windows!

16
July
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Not too long ago I decided to give Linux a serious test drive. Instead of doing the usual live-cd route, I wanted to actually install a Linux distribution and have a fully fledged experience. It used to be that people would shy away from Linux because of so-called "horrid" experiences with trying to find drivers, in particular wireless drivers. However, tremendous progress has been made, and I doubt you will ever have a problem with most Linux distros discovering your hardware.


So it has been around two months now, and I'm not sure I need to go back to Windows again, at least not for this laptop. For anything besides gaming, Linux distros can be a very refreshing and fun change. I think one of the huge novelties is the fact that there are so many distros out there; literally 100s that you can test out and try, all for free. I chose to install Linux Mint, a distribution based on the ever popular Ubuntu. Both operating systems are based on the largely influential Debian OS. If you are trying out Linux for the first time, you literally cannot go wrong with Ubuntu or Linux Mint. They are both super easy to install, and provide a fantastic user experience upon usage. Here are my thoughts:


What I love:


-The system is stable, and up-to-date. Updating your system, as well as all of the packages you have added is super easy. In Windows, each application you get needs to be updated separately, and even then, who knows if you have to pay for the update, or if any updates are even available. In Linux Mint, you have one update program, and from there it will update EVERYTHING.


An image screenshot of the update manager:




-No viruses/spyware/adware etc!! User files and system files are separated. This is smart, and I'm not sure why Windows has never followed this scheme. To access system files, users will need root privileges and need a password. Even with out anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc etc, I have never been infected, which shows the remarkable security and stableness of Linux.


-Many of the essentials needed for day to day activities are pre-installed, including Open Office for documents, Firefox for browsing, Thunderbird for e-mail, Pidgin for instant messaging, Gimp for photo editing, as well as much, much more. All free and no illegal downloads needed! Also, if you need new software, it is literally a breeze to get it. You most likely won't even have to download from the net, just go into the software manager, do a search, and with one click you can install the software! If you are getting suave with the command line, you can easily get software there as well, using commands such as sudo apt-get "package".


A screenshot of the software manager:




-Ultimate customizability: You can change everything! There are four different desktop environments to choose from; so you can literally go with whatever floats your boat. Along with this, the newer desktop environments come with very slick visual effects and transitions, if your into that.


Standard Linux Mint desktop:




-Easy to do certain tasks: For instance, if you wanted to resize a ton of images in Windows, there is no real easy way to do this without getting software. However, in Linux, it is literally less than 5 lines of code to resize a whole folder of images using a small bash script.


-Free: Enough said!


What I dislike:
-No standard gaming: Literally, this is my ONLY complaint. If you are a gamer, most likely you won't want to just run Linux as your only OS, as the gaming experience is almost non-existent. It would be really nice to natively be able to play PC games, but, as of now besides running a Windows environment in VMware or WiNe, you really cannot play games developed for Windows well.


So there you have it! My experiences with Linux Mint over a 2 month period. If you are even questioning whether you should try it, DON'T! Just try it as a live-cd, I guarantee you will not be disappointed!!





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