Most standard computer programs are available for Linux. If you depend on specialized programs, such as specific genealogy programs, you will need to run Windows; more about this at the end.
Several Linux programs can read and write Microsoft Office files. So, if all you do with a computer is manage e-mail, create documents, create graphics files and use spreadsheets, Linux programs do all those things very well.
Until recently Linux has been more difficult to install and use than Windows. However, over the last two years there has been a concerted effort by several Linux companies to make Linux easy to use by an average user.
But why should one bother learning to use a new operating system other than the Windows one she is now using?
Here are the reasons:
- Linux hardly ever crashes, mainly because the basic low-level operating program (called the kernel) that keeps the computer running is small. So, even when things go wrong with some higher-level part of the operating system or with a program, the kernel keeps chugging away.
- Linux almost never has to be rebooted after installing a new program. This saves much valuable user time and aggravation over the life time of a machine.
- In most cases the Linux file system does not have to be defragmented regularly, such as Windows does, to keep it from slowing down.
- Linux allows up to 16 different views of the desktop, I use 4 of them. In other words, programs that are running can be associated with different views of the desktop; you will see only the program windows for the desktop view of current interest. It is easy to switch from one desktop view to another by buttons on the task bar.
- There are many free or inexpensive programs available for Linux.
- It cost less to install and operate.
By the way, most of the servers that provide web pages on the Internet are running Linux.
There are several different versions of Linux that are vying now for the desktop market. I have tried Red Hat and Linspire (previously called Lindows, a version of Debian). I highly recommend LinSpire (http://www.linspire.com) for general users for the following reasons:
- It is inexpensive.
- It is designed to look and operate very much like MS Windows.
- It installs easily and fast.
- It comes loaded with all the programs that are needed for web browsing, e-mail, and word processing and many other tasks.
- It has good on-line support.
- It has an inexpensive add-on called Click-N-Run that allows the user to simply click on hundreds of programs toLinspire install them on Linspire. (Buy Linspire and Click-N-Run together to save money.)
- Permission is not needed from Microsoft or Linspire.com to move Linspire from one machine to another owned by the same person. In fact, it can be installed on as many computers as there are in a given home at no extra charge.
- You can install it as a dual boot with a Windows system in order to try it out while still keeping Windows available.
- You can get Linspire on an inexpensive light-weight notebook.
If there is a need for a few specialized programs that are not available for Linux, one can run Win4Lin in Linspire in order to be able to run Windows 98 (Win4Lin Version 9x) or Windows XP (Version Pro 1.1). the total cost for both Win4Lin and Windows 98 is about $200. I have done this on my Linspire notebook and it works very well. You can buy Win4Lin 9x on Click-N-Run.
One last note: Linspire does not automatically set up a non-root account. It is best to do that and always run programs from that account. Then only use the root account when changes need to be made to the system that only a root account is allowed to do.
For information about how I set up a Linspire light-weight notebook to run Windows 98: http://www.roperld.com/GenLinNotebook.htm
Articles source : http://arts.bev.net/roperldavid/Linwincomp.htm