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For question #1, it is all on personal taste. You can grab a few distros (this is short for distribution). There are no super close ones to Windows 7. A few to look into are (for what beginners seem to like anyway) Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and openSUSE. My favorite is Debian, but it takes a little bit more knowledge of the command line. Slackware seems to also be popular in this particular forum. I recommend researching a little more on this subject because everyone's taste is different.
For question #2, all of the ones stated above are FREE. This is because they are open source, which means that everyone has open access to the original source code of the OS. There no paid linux distros that I am aware of.
for question #3, there are not a lot of software that is directly comparable with windows 7 software. You are going to have to give examples of software that you use. You can, however, emulate windows programs using a fancy program called WINEhq. Again, just do some research.
Your last question, #4, I can't really answer that. I really depends how willing you want to learn about your distro.
Hope this helps! Also, Try and post some of the software that you use commonly. I am sure someone can compare it.
Also, this may be helpful. Forgot to post this . . . http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm
Basically this explains why Linux is not Windows. May I note that Linux is NOT a Windows Clone. This is one thing that new Linux users don't understand, is that Linux did not have Windows in mind when it was created.
If your hardware supports Windows 7, it's good enough for Linux, which is far less greedy. The only problem may be your printer: search on line for its model name plus "linux" and see if there are any problems. Generally speaking, the better the printer, the more likely it is to have Linux support.
If you have any custom or unusual applications, you may have to run them using the compatibility tool Wine. It's generally better to get used to proper Linux applications, though. Normally, anything you can do in Windows can be done in Linux: this is a guide to equivalent software: http://linuxappfinder.com/alternatives
You say that this is going to be for work, so you want something that's stable when it's released and supported for a number of years: not some hobbyist distro, full of bleeding-edge software and with a six-month release cycle. The candidates are
One of the differences with Windows is that you can choose your GUI, although it's best to go with your distro's default one (particularly with CentOS, least so with Salix). CentOS and Debian use Gnome; Salix uses Xfce, although it does a very good KDE. http://www.renewablepcs.com/about-li...-gnome-or-xfce
Another difference is that you can run Linux, albeit slowly, off a DVD or USB stick: try before you install!
Hi. The hardware info is always helpful but as stated most will work depending,,, check the first link in my signature for some ideas (especially the end of #3s description...) best wishes and have fun.
Last edited by jamison20000e; 12-22-2013 at 09:32 PM.