Can Linux Replace Microsoft Windows For Me?

July 4, 2009

linuxLast week, my wife and I had some time to kill before the post office opened so we decided to hang out at the nearby library for a bit. While there, I pursued the various magazine back issues and came across Linux Format, a UK-based publication devoted to Linux information and topics. After reading through two of them, it perked my interest in using Linux on my aged Dell D610 laptop (currently running Windows 7 Beta). In addition, my wife’s recent desire to switch to an Apple MacBook Pro (which is running a derivative of Unix) also got me thinking of possibly using an alternative to the Microsoft Windows OS. Could I switch off of Windows to something else? Would I have everything that I needed to continue working effectively?

Since the various available distributions of Linux are free for download, I decided to take some time and explore two of them, specifically Fedora and OpenSuse. Both of these flavors of Linux were rated highly in the Linux Format magazine, so I thought they would be a good bet as an alternative.

Luckily for both of these distributions, they have a “Live CD” version which allows you to boot up the OS from a CD (or DVD) and test out their flavor of Linux without actually installing the OS on your disk drive. I decided to go this route, since it was the most noninvasive method of checking out the Linux OS without altering my existing Windows OS installation.

Note, that Linux has different GUI environments that you can choose from, which will define the user interface (i.e., windows look-n-feel, menus, etc). I decided to test out the KDE interface for Fedora, and the GNOME interface for Fedora and OpenSuse.

So to start, I simply inserted one of the Live CDs in my CD/DVD-ROM drive and rebooted my system. It took a while for Linux to boot up (since it was reading everything from the CD-ROM drive), but after a few minutes I was up and running with Linux! Read the rest of this entry »