Thoughts on Linux migration

Dec 11, 2008
Updated • Jan 17, 2013

It's been quite a while since I managed to write something here, partly because of work and study, and partly because I didn't know exactly what to write about. But the muse seems to have returned, hopefully staying that way.

So, first off, I wanna welcome our new linux guru jack, really enjoyed your posts so far.

Which brings me to writing this one. For years I've been using varying versions of Windows as a so-called power-user, starting off with Windows 3.11 and hitting every single OS Microsoft has thrown at us since then. And of course, I have some resentments of my own regarding the redmonds and their - seemingly inferior - products. But I learned it to be that way, and that's not easily cast aside.

Come as it may, some years ago I first took a peek into the world of UNIX, and some of its more popular offsprings, namely the Debian, SUSE and - much later - Ubuntu distributions. I never kept one for too long, though.

So, after reading jacks post about the differences between Windows and Linux, I started to wonder again why I didn't manage to stay on, say, Ubuntu, which is in my biased and narrow-minded opinion by far the most suitable distribution for migrators.

After giving it some thought, it came down to the fact that I wasn't able to do things on Linux the way I know them. Everything I tried ended up in me, digging the appropriate distribution's forum and Google for a how-to or the solution to a more specific problem. While this seems indeed narrow-minded, like 'how can he expect to know everything from the start and that everything works out-of-the-box', it's the way it is. Most of us spend 6-8 hours asleep, 8-10 hours at work and maybe have a family on top of that. No coffee or a single meal included. Do the math. I for myself cannot afford to put hours after hours into my OS to make things work that never were a problem before - mounting an external USB-drive, setting up or mounting (samba) shares to interact with my necessary Windows-clients. I'm not denying it that it is my lack of in-depth knowledge of Linux or UNIX in general that causes this, and neither that it bugs me from time to time I'm unable to pull it off, but that's just how it is.

I always said cynically "I'm trying Linux again once they reach final", and I'm still sticking to that, predicting that the one Linux distro that manages to really implement the "easy as Windows"-feeling will succeed in getting the folks to migrate. It will probably succeed in getting me migrated, but right now, I'm putting my knowledge into my Windows-OS for an extra punch of productivity denied to me by the otherness of Linux.


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  1. Jerry McFarland said on October 18, 2010 at 5:16 am

    You know I bought a HP puter with win vista it was almost as bad as millennium was kept crashing. Though I lost a lot of things I used to do on windows I am much happier that I won’t have to pay for an upgrade every couple of years. And much happier that my puter has not crashed like windows I have had a few glitches but I can tell you windows taught me how to hard reboot when needed. Many years ago (Tape driven puters) had to write my own games etc… well I am not that savy any more so I too am lost on mint but the benefits outweigh the lack of knowledge and understanding of Linux

  2. Tim Wylie said on January 16, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I just stumbled across your post and just wanted to point out one small flaw in your ending logic.

    You say when Linux is finally as easy as windows you will switch, but you just noted that you’ve been using windows since 3.1. My point is windows isn’t really easy either, but since everyone has grown up with it, they know the quirks and the hoops to jump through.

    So yes, it will take a lot of time messing around with things until you’re used to a Linux system and it’s understandable if you’d rather use your time on a system you already know, but it’s not a matter of ease, rather one of familiarity.

  3. fromtheyard said on December 14, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    almost all portable applications from work under wine in linux, so windows users needn’t fear. you will still be able to use your most useful windows apps in linux. wine is still a work in progress but its almost near-perfect !

  4. Roman ShaRP said on December 13, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I’m agree with you that Linux isn’t “really there”, but I have to say that iv is right: Linux is different.

    I spend many hours on work and at home too, and I want have a comfortable system, but I want to be free within my OS, and I feel that there is less freedom for user in Vista and there will be far less in Windows 7.

    Those money thoughts plays a significant role too.

    So I, Windows power user, started to learn Ubuntu, and yes – it’s getting better with every release, so I think that I will eventually became happy and cheerful Linux user.

  5. DSpider said on December 13, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    And by the way, if you’re only into Word of Warcraft and Counter Strike there’s always Cedega, CrossoverGames (?) and even Wine !

    ! Note that these are comercial apps (except Wine) but you can always find cracks for them or find them pre-cracked. :)

    There’s also a Linux version of Steam – mostly for FPS games but they seem to add crappy stuff as well.

  6. DSpider said on December 13, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    You should try PCLinuxOS or Linux Mint.

    Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu (which in turn is based on Debian) and comes with Gnome. Works straight “out-of-the-box”, comes with NTFS drivers, video codecs, etc. It even has Compiz-Fusion installed (the Linux counterpart of Aero – found in Vista).

  7. iv said on December 12, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Just to add one more linux-and-windows-are-completely-different-things comment which I believe is simplest explanation to all headaches regarding the switch.
    I remember back when I went linux, first thing that I searched for were antivirus/anticrapwares, registry cleaner/crap cleaners, defragmentation tools, program executables and similiar. i just asumed that it worked the same way and,ofc, asumed that it was the right way. There is NO right way. Windows has it’s neat things, *nix system has it’s own. User has to do little bit of adjusting. Overall, I find *nix systems to be more rewarding in this proces, because when you set it up it tends to stay in working condition for a looooong time. Not my expirience with Windows and it’s “mandatory” 6-8 month reinstall cycles.
    And just to mention that Ubuntu-way is NOT the Linux-way. I did the distro hooping and landed in the PcLinuxOS land which is simply great. Also tryed various Desktop Enviroments and ended up in KDE with some GTK and QT applications and integration of all these apps in PCLOS is also great so i’m a happy camper now. And, ofc, Linux is not the only *nix so i’m currentlu dicovering OpenSolaris and I must say that it’s a very enjoyable environment but little lacking in software.
    Anyhow, it’s all about choices, and there are plenty of those in Linux. Far more, in my experience, then in Windows.
    btw, sorry for any inglish misspelling, a non-native speaker here:)

  8. VD said on December 12, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    You can setup Ubuntu with KDE as well

  9. lefty.crupps said on December 12, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    > one Linux distro that manages to really
    > implement the “easy as Windows”-feeling

    Oh I fear that day; Linux is NOT Windows, people, and if, after being accustomed to both, you still feel that Windows is ‘easy’ then just stick with it. Linux, once you know whats up, is pretty damned easy. It also happenes to be DIFFERENT; once you remove those differences you just have Windows, and I don’t want that. Thankfully, we do have distro options to keep us occupied when “WinUbuntu” decides to make another release to try outrunning their bug listings.

  10. darxide said on December 12, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    I totally agree. I have tried ubuntu and other distros many times (every time ubuntu has a new release). I always have to spend hours on figuring out how to do something. I finally get frustrated and leave the ext3 partition on my hdd to rot for the comfort of windows XP. However, after the release of Ubuntu 8.10 I haven’t stopped using it on my laptop and am seriously considering running it on my primary home PC. I’m not sure if it is due to improvements in the OS that made my experience better this time or if it was finally becoming comfortable and knowledgeable with the linux platform.

  11. Dim said on December 12, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    OK, you can’t spend a few evenings to make the move. If you don’t spend your time, you spend money. So keep paying for (at least) an OS and anti-virus software. I see no problem with that, it’s your money and your own choice.

    I made the move to Ubuntu. And after some time my overall productivity has increased comparing to the productivity in Vista. But you are free to do what you want.

  12. Genisis said on December 12, 2008 at 6:53 am

    There is no hiding the fact that Ubuntu or Linux, in general for that matter, 100% ready to take over the market in OS’s. However, IMO I feel that it is damn close and getting there more and more every day. To put a percentage on it IMO would be about 85%.
    If there is “blame” to be put on “reasons” for Linux not being 100% is due to the fact that hardware manufactures and software developers are not willing to develop their products for the Linux OS. Its all about the money to them. Understandably, it costs alot of money to R&D these products and the software. I feel that until Linux starts changing the minds of the software developers and the hardware manufactures, it will be stuck in the “Not quite there yet” mode for a while.
    Like I said earlier, I do see some things beginning to change and it is getting better as time goes on. Im using Ubuntu and love it! I only use my Winblows box now for occasional gaming, some photo editing, and a few other things that I have not figured out as of yet on Ubuntu.
    Just my 2 cents.

  13. Here_Here said on December 12, 2008 at 4:21 am

    Agreed, I’m no Windows fan boy and will be sticking with XP until it’s demise but Linux just isn’t there yet. The deal breaker for me is Linux (FreeType) CAN’T render TrueType fonts like ClearType can in Windows. I don’t mind hunting down terminal commands and scripts but fonts are a basic necessity. Come 2014 when XP dies I’ll gladly give Linux another shot.

  14. VD said on December 11, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Well I guess the thing about migrating is in fact a question of what you use your PC for, or rather which programs you use and for what purpose.

    My girlfriend uses her PC mainly for surfing the net, chatting, some office stuff and once in a while to burn a CD/DVD or play a browser-game.
    She got a new notebook last year with Vista and I am pretty sure that given about 1 or 2 hours to configure a linux with a windows xp look a change to one or the other would have been the same for her.

    I like to use my PC a lot for games (esp. WoW^^) which would lead to a lot more time for configuration/maintenance. I’ve read quite a few articles about WoW (and other games) on linux but like Stefan and Woble pointed out there is always the driver issue and not all games being suitable to operate on linux.
    Apart from that I do dislike using shell commands beingt content with my about 10 dos-commands that so far proved sufficient in my about 10 years of working with computers.
    When it comes to software I am just basically a user and I don`t want to reprogramm half of my OS just to get things running ;)

  15. Dotan Cohen said on December 11, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I find it interesting that I can just install once and _use_ Kubuntu for years (one machine is going on a year and a half since installing Kubuntu 7.04), while with Windows it was constant maintenance. Anti-virus updates, defrags, botched installs, printer drivers, you name it. I was always fiddling with the computer, I think that Windows _makes_ you a power user by making problems. I don’t want to be a power user, so now I use Ubuntu and that’s it. No maintenance!

  16. Womble said on December 11, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Stefan thank you for your unbiased thoughts. My experience is quite similar to your own.

    There are a number of reasons why Linux doesn’t cut it for me yet.

    Until very recently I still used a Dell CRT screen, even in the supposedly user friendly Ubuntu I found myself having to configure H/V rates manually, WHY? If something as widespread and simple to probe as a Dell monitor can’t be autoconfigured what hope is there?

    The second issue I have is with sound drivers, not Linux fault I know but is a hugh obstacle nevertheless. My experience here is that you have to be very selective about which card/chip you use because many of the supposed working drivers are flaky at best.

    My third issue is nobody’s fault but mine really but I put my fingers into a lot of pies and i’m frightened of missing out on something because it’s only available on windows.

    I see no reason why Linux shouldn’t dominate the server world because their more dependant on OS core services than apps but the bar to gain an advantage on the desktop is now way to high for anyone to ever overcome I believe.

    I Conclude by saying I would love to use an other OS simply because although I don’t have any real problems with Windows, after thirteen years(wow time flies!) of use it has become a bit of a bore.

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