In a Life without Walls, who needs Windows?
When I take my laptop to meetings, people are amazed at how fast I can be using the computer. The total boot time from powered off to ready to use is no more than 37 seconds. For most people, they are just starting to see the Windows logo on their screen and I am already checking my email or loading my presentation. How can this be?
Linux to the Rescue
For about the past 10 years I have been using one flavor of Linux or another. Until recently, Linux shared a space on my hard drive with one version of Windows or another. Today, my machine is 100% Linux. The flavor of choice for me is Ubuntu.
Why the change?
There are many reasons that I switched to Linux, but most of them actually have nothing to do with Linux itself. The top 5 reasons:
- Windows was slow to load.
- No more Blue Screen of Death.
- Linux uses far less memory than Windows.
- Collection of free software.
- Cost - Linux is free to use.
Speed and Memory
In the past, when I was running Windows on my machines, I would often have to install new memory with any upgrade, and even with some updates. I consistently had to run 4 gigabytes of memory in every machine to keep up with the photo and video editing I was doing. Back then, memory was not cheap.
The Linux machine I use most often today has 2 gigabytes of memory, and I have very little issue editing high-definition video, even at a full 1080p. I have been using this computer for over a year now, and not once have I had the screen lock up, or the machine just shut down for no reason. It boots in 37 seconds and shuts down in about 20 seconds. Not since Windows 3.1 have I seen times like that, and even then it was not even close.
That's right! There are hundreds of thousands of developers creating software for Linux, and the vast majority of this software is free. Games, productivity, graphics, video, just about anything you need is available already, and new applications are released every day. I have three different web browsers on this machine, I can open any Microsoft Office document, and I can create PDF files, all for free. Want to know my most used software?
- Firefox (web browsing)
- Thunderbird (email)
- Google Chrome (web browsing)
- Google Earth (map software)
- Open Office (free replacement for Microsoft Office
- GIMP (for graphics)
And guess what? All of that was free and more importantly, with the exception of Google Earth, installed when I installed the operating system. Adding games and new applications in Ubuntu is as simple as opening the "Synaptic Package Manager" and selecting the new applications.
Linux is free to use?
Yes, absolutely! You can download nearly any flavor of Linux and install it on your machine and never pay anyone anything. Linux is supported by programmers and other users who develop the applications needed, and most are released under a free license. When you need support, you have several options, including free discussion forums and web sites, built in manual pages, and user groups around the world. There are also options for paid support if you choose that route.
For most users, Linux can be installed and used without any help at all. In fact, my three year old daughter already knows how to load a video and play games on my Linux only machine. More experienced users will find free replacements for almost any Windows software they have on their machine today. And better yet, package managers in most flavors make it simple to search, select, and install this software.
So why are people still using Windows?
The plain and simple truth is that the vast majority of computers users have no idea that there is an alternative, let alone how easy it is to use. Windows was installed on their computer when they purchased it, so that is what they use. Windows is what they use at work so that is what they use.
Don't get me wrong, Windows does what it is supposed to do, and it will always be around. For me however, it became too slow, too frustrating (think BSOD), and just not worth my time and effort. After all, that 2 minutes I save booting up my machine means I have more time to write articles telling you why Linux is superior to Windows.