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Old 11-10-2010, 06:05 PM   #1
Cheese Power
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Make me a believer


Hey, I'm a college student that has some interest in Linux. When I first started taking classes, I majored in mathematics but lost interest in the subject. I switched over to computer science and have been learning a lot of basic stuff. I've never really been a motivated person, so most of what I learned about computers or different languages is what I see in class. Now that it's been a couple years, I feel like I really haven't learned much from school. All the classes I've taken seem like introductory courses to a bunch of disjoint topics. Recently I've been thinking about trying out various things on my own, and something that's always interested me (since switching majors) was Linux. I hear from lots of students that once they tried it out, they will never use anything else as their primary OS.

I've been a Windows user for several years, and have never really had any complaints. As I started looking around the web to find information on Linux, it seems that there are issues with the OS when it comes to gaming and proprietary software. For this reason I don't think I'll stop using Windows. However, I've also read that you can dual boot Windows with Linux. This would let you use Windows if you needed to do something Linux could not, while allowing you to take advantage of Linux for other situations.

What are some of the advantages of using Linux to Windows? I don't really care about free open source software, which many times may already be available to Windows. I'm looking for things that Linux can do that Windows cannot or things that Linux does much better. I like the idea of knowing what my system is doing, which Windows pretty much hides. I don't feel it would be worth going through the trouble of figuring out how to get everything working if there isn't some distinct advantage for using Linux in some circumstances.

I would like those responding to tell me why I should try out Linux. What kept you with Linux once you tried it? What are things that Linux does that you just cannot live without? Why is Linux better than Windows when it comes to those things? Any feedback is much appreciated.
 
Old 11-10-2010, 06:28 PM   #2
frieza
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hmm for me it was the flexibility and shear power of Linux by comparison to windows

and while indirectly related to the open source part (yes there are quite a few windows ports of said software), a lot of said open source software works much better natively on linux
also Linux is about choice, if you don't like your desktop environment/window manager you can pick a different one, same goes with any element of the user experience, nothing is locked down to only allow 'signed' modules to run and prohibit 'unauthorized' additions

also with Linux most of the software's configuration is stored as plain text files that can be easily edited with *name your favourite text editor* as opposed to some hidden proprietary binary format

a lot of commonly used software and a good many less commonly used software packages are stored in central repositories for most of the major distribution making finding and installing the software much easier, and instead of updating dozens of individual hardware drivers, one simply updates the kernel (which is usually part of the repository) and ALL the drivers are updated simultaneously.


unlike windows, linux was build around UNIX which was designed from the ground up with multiple users in mind therefore keeping user's out of each others files is easier and unlike windows, only specific administrative tools need administrative privileges to run, making it easier to use a limited user account for day to day operations such as chat, email, web browsing etc.. and leave the administrative user for such tasks

as for dual booting Linux also has quite a few virtualization options for creating a windows box within Linux so dual booting is almost moot on a powerful enough machine and 'wine' also can run some windows programs in a small layer on top of Linux without the need of a full windows install

yes it will probably take some time to learn but in the end it is much easier to use once you learn how

Last edited by frieza; 11-10-2010 at 06:30 PM.
 
Old 11-10-2010, 06:38 PM   #3
sag47
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I'm sure many agree when I say that, really trying out Linux and going through it's paces learning how to use the shell will reveal all of these answers to you. Whether you find they are better or worse than Windows, Mac, or Other is simply a matter of opinion.

I'm a professional in that any OS I use I attempt to learn it's full functionality as a managing Administrator. There's nothing Linux can do that Windows or Mac can't do and visa versa. I don't care what any raging neckbeard tells you. The same can be said about Windows. However the ease of ability to do certain tasks is easier in Linux over Windows (it doesn't mean that it can't be done).

For instance take this blog post I made a while back. I'm sure you realize that if you attempted that same task in Windows you would probably want to punch yourself in the face. It is possible to do it in Windows but it's a lot harder to accomplish, even with batch programming and using the cscript engine.

If you're an administrator I'm sure you know about the Windows Event Log. It is useful however it is difficult to search. Using commands already built into Linux I can easily search it's logs. See this post.

Even professional digital media majors would have a use for the terminal shell as they would be able convert their works to PDF.






The point I'm making here is that you can hear people squabble back and forth about which is better but this will never matter unless you formulate your own opinion. Use it yourself and then come back here and tell US what YOU think. I'm sure a lot of those posts look like gibberish if you've never taken the time to learn the terminal ways of Linux.

The best way to tackle this task is to actually use Linux in your work place to accomplish tasks. You'll find that as you use it more you exponentially decrease the amount of time it takes you to do anything. You may also find that you'll never need a mouse again. If you would like people to point you in the right direction for learning this stuff simply ask or use google yourself to find it.

Hope that helps,
SAM


-------------------------------EDIT
One thing I would like to point out that reminded me when I read frieza's post is package management. As a Windows user you're used to popping in a CD and running setup.exe. Or downloading your software from a website and then installing it.

However Linux uses package management. A central place to get all of your software. No websites to visit or CD's to mess with. Search for your software, install it, use it. It's very simple and a strong point for Linux.

Last edited by sag47; 11-10-2010 at 06:44 PM.
 
Old 11-10-2010, 06:50 PM   #4
rich_c
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Welcome! You might like to read this.
 
Old 11-10-2010, 07:16 PM   #5
frankbell
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This is also another good introduction.
 
Old 11-10-2010, 11:09 PM   #6
mlangdn
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At the risk of sounding a bit flip, you really ought to measure your motivation. Linux is great for me, but I was motivated by a desire to learn something new. I bought a boxed set of Mandrake Linux 8.0 on an impulse buy one day in Wal-Mart. I couldn't even get online because Linux didn't have much support for winmodems. However, there was support for my winmodem. On my own, and after much research, I learned how to download, configure, and compile a driver for my winmodem. That was daggone satisfying!

Get motivated first - that learning curve is not as steep as it once was, but its still there.
 
Old 11-10-2010, 11:45 PM   #7
chrism01
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Here's a good place to find a list of nearly all Linux distros (different variations on the Linux theme):
www.distrowatch.com. Usually anything in the top 10 list is worth a look, but you can try any you like the name of
They're all free.
Currently the ones most often recommended to someone who wants an MSWin-like experience are Mint & Ubuntu.
Note that a lot of distros have LiveCD version; this means you can run the entire thing from your CD/DVD drive WITHOUT installing it, thereby protectng your current stuff.
Obviously it'll be a bit slower than run off an HDD.
If you want to poke around underneath the GUI (ie cmd line), start here: http://rute.2038bug.com/index.html.gz

Note that if you are studying CompSci, Linux is good because you can explore everything you've heard about in class & see how it's done in a real OS; the advantage of Open Source.

As above, the cfg files are usually just plain text and all the src code of the binaries is freely available in the repositories.

Welcome to LQ
 
Old 11-11-2010, 12:15 AM   #8
tiredofbilkyyaforallican
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I do agree with downloading more than one distro. as each one is a bit different than the next.You would also be smart to check compatibility issues with any hardware IE. printers etc. I found my Lexmark was OK with Linux. some are not.In all I went through about a dozen distros.before I found Mint (the one I use as my main OS).My wife and I do not use windoze anymore as everything we needed there we found with Linux.
 
Old 11-11-2010, 07:17 AM   #9
onebuck
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Hi,

Welcome to LQ!


Members have given some very useful information. Since you are still in school, I suggest that you look up a LUG (Local User Group).


Linux User Groups
is a World list that may provide a LUG near you.
Linux Meetup Groups
is a good way to meet other local Linux enthusiasts to talk about the latest news and software.

You could check with Student Affairs to see if a Linux Group meets on campus. Your discipline offices may have some leads. Another dept would be EE or other Engineering disciplines that may have LUGs.

You could downloaded here on LQ via Download Linux.

Just a few links to aid you to gaining some understanding;



1 Linux Documentation Project
2 Rute Tutorial & Exposition
3 Linux Command Guide
4 Bash Beginners Guide
5 Bash Reference Manual
6 Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide
7 Linux Newbie Admin Guide
8 LinuxSelfHelp
9 Getting Started with Linux

The above links and others can be found at 'Slackware-Links'. More than just SlackwareŽ links!
 
Old 11-11-2010, 07:54 AM   #10
TobiSGD
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Sorry to say that, but nobody can make you a believer, you just have to do it by yourself. Try the links given by previous posters and see if Linux will fit you.
But, for completeness: My main reason for using Linux is that I can do everything with it, install it on old hardware, tailor it to my personal needs, even install it on Macs and other hardware, and all for free. That are things you can not achieve with Windows, or only very hard.
 
Old 11-11-2010, 08:55 AM   #11
alli_yas
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Quote:
I like the idea of knowing what my system is doing, which Windows pretty much hides
I think this is the key statement from your post. This is probably the BIGGEST advantage of Linux over Windows - as the user; you can control practically everything your system does down to a micro level (though the lower level you go the greater your experience needs to be )

When you've used it for a while, you'll start seeing how much control Microsoft has taken away from the user. Whilst this may be fine for some...most of us like to know and be in control of what our PC's do.
 
Old 11-11-2010, 11:59 AM   #12
frieza
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alli_yas View Post
I think this is the key statement from your post. This is probably the BIGGEST advantage of Linux over Windows - as the user; you can control practically everything your system does down to a micro level (though the lower level you go the greater your experience needs to be )

When you've used it for a while, you'll start seeing how much control Microsoft has taken away from the user. Whilst this may be fine for some...most of us like to know and be in control of what our PC's do.
indeed. I would take it one step further, with windoze, all of the core components such as explorer, messenger, and even the GUI engine are tightly integrated with the rest of the operating system to the point that if one part fails the whole thing is at a risk of failing.
With with Linux this is not so, thus it is less likely that one part crashing will crash the whole OS, I rarely have to reboot the whole OS, I usually kill the crashed program and restart it, or at worst restart the GUI engine, not to mention because they are separate pieces it is that much easier to uninstall them and install alternate programs that perform the same task that might be better suited to your needs. That and even though some programs have flashy dumbed down, simplified, GUI interfaces, quite often there are advanced controls or CLI options that can activate more powerful features so someone who knows what they are doing can do more with the program.
 
Old 11-11-2010, 02:43 PM   #13
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheese Power View Post
I would like those responding to tell me why I should try out Linux.
I won't try to persuade you; you'll either persuade yourself, or you won't.

Download some Live CDs; try them out. In particular, have a look at some of the system-level 'hacking' (not cracking) CDs, you'll either think, this is cool, I'm prepared to put some effort into to learning this, or you won't.

Quote:
I switched over to computer science and have been learning a lot of basic stuff. I've never really been a motivated person, so most of what I learned about computers or different languages is what I see in class.
You'll either persuade yourself, or you won't.
 
Old 11-11-2010, 03:08 PM   #14
stress_junkie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheese Power View Post
I would like those responding to tell me why I should try out Linux.
Mainly because you are curious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheese Power View Post
What kept you with Linux once you tried it?
It was a struggle for me. I started using Linux in 1995. It was not nearly so well developed as it is now. I started to use Linux because I wanted to learn Unix (UNIX) and I could not afford to purchase a Sun Microsystems workstation.

I've stayed with Linux for those reasons and more. Here are some of those reasons.
1) Linux doesn't run Windows viruses so there are fewer viruses that will attack Linux. Also, viruses that would attack Linux will usually have limited ability to affect the system files.

2) Microsoft hides much of the system operation. That makes it difficult to diagnose and fix some problems. Many Windows techies reinstall Windows to fix any difficult problem. Even Microsoft often states that reinstalling Windows is the preferred way to address many problems. Forgot your password? Microsoft says reinstall Windows. That's pathetic.

That is not often the case in Linux, at least not after you've learned how the software works.

3) Linux doesn't have a registry. The Windows registry is the main reason that computers running Windows slow down over time. A Linux machine will run as fast on the day it is retired as it did the day it was built.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheese Power View Post
What are things that Linux does that you just cannot live without? Why is Linux better than Windows when it comes to those things?
I have five computers. They are all dual boot with Linux and some flavor of Windows. Two of these computers are always running. One of the these two runs Windows 7 by default. It runs my Magic Jack telephone service. The other computers run Linux by default.

I use the Linux for all of my web surfing, email, business documents, safely storing Windows antivirus software to copy onto my USB flash drives for business service calls. I only use Windows for the Magic Jack and to learn about Windows.

I like feeling safe when I'm using the Internet. I think that's what I like best about Linux. I'm don't have to worry about Koobface or rogue antivirus viruses or other threats that target Windows computers. I like being able to read email without worrying about embedded malware.

Mind you, Linux is not completely safe from viruses or other software threats. It is mostly a question of probabilities combined with separation of system privileges. Most viruses and other threats target the Windows platform.

I'm not a Windows hater. I dislike Apple and Microsoft but I don't hate their products. If you like Windows then stay with it. If you are curious about Linux then use it occasionally until your curiosity is satisfied or until you prefer it to Windows.

Mostly have fun and enjoy the freedom to choose that is provided by open source software even if you don't use the open source products.

Last edited by stress_junkie; 11-11-2010 at 03:10 PM.
 
Old 11-11-2010, 03:20 PM   #15
Cheese Power
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Thanks for all the replies! This is pretty much what I was looking for from other users. I'm going to try it out next time I get some time.
 
  


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