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Old 05-27-2006, 06:30 PM   #1
agentchange
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Pros and Cons of switching to Linux


I still don't know all of the various pros and cons of switching to Linux from Windows.

Will I need antivirus software, or is that included on some distros like firewalls?

Will I have to get a completely new program to replace the functionality of every single one of my old Windows apps, unless the manufacturer makes a Linux version? DOS apps simply won't run in a Linux environment, right?

This will probably sound like a really stupid question, but website accessibility will be pretty much the same as with Windows or Macs, right?

Last edited by agentchange; 05-27-2006 at 06:34 PM.
 
Old 05-27-2006, 06:48 PM   #2
dannystaple
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Hi Agentchange,
This is probably the most open ended of linux questions to ask. Simple Pros: Better security (con- if you roughly know what you are doing and dont get complacent about it), More controllable configuration (depending on how much time you want to spend tailoring things, and which distro you choose), Free (unless you go the RHEL and paid support routes), rapidly moving (community development will mean things tend to go quicker).
Simple Cons: Can be harder to set up hardware (but this really depends on your hardware, and choice of distro - SuSe makes this pretty damn easy), App/software compatibility (although Wine and Transgaming may help here), No CYB paid support (thats cover-your-butt, one reason management classes dont like free software which is free of warranty and merchantability guarantees), Some stuff is really bleeding edge (the flip side of rapid moving, for stability, dont always get the latest and greatest, it might not actually be that great yet..).

You should probably start with an easy distro, like SuSe, or something else, and ease yourself in. There is antivirus software, which is still recommended (although there are not many linux viruses in the wild, it is never acceptable to be complacent), with the most popular being clamAV, which with freshClam can be automatically kept up to date. You can also pay for various vendor versions of antivirus software too.

It is the same with firewalls, there are a whole bunch of open source ones, and vendor ones. If you use SuSe, this is directly configurable from Yast (SuSe's Yet Another Setup Tool).

In terms of your apps, yes you may have to learn some new apps. Again, you can ease yourself over either by starting to get used to using Firefox/Mozilla/Opera and things like OpenOffice under windows, and on the linux box get some of your windows comfort apps running under wine (with varied sucess). If you dont mind paying for it you could try CrossoverOffice. If you want to get games running, you can use Transgaming - which is a subscription based system, although some of them may also run in the free wine (which transgaming is based upon). DosBox, DosEmu and FreeDos may cater for the DOS apps if you want them to run.

Many vendors do make Linux versions of their apps, but it really depends which kind of apps and who.

One thing you should really consider seriously is why you want to switch, and what kind of thing you use the machine you are switching for. If it is general web browsing, basic multimedia (listening to music, watching video or tv tuners and photo browsing) and office, you are probably fine. If it is hard core gaming, you may be okay with transgaming, but it could be a rough ride.

If you want to create music and video, then it gets more awkward, but then unless you are already on a mac, you are probably not doing too much of that. There are still apps designed for this that run in linux that are improving vastly and very quickly.

If you are talking about a development environment or trying out server side stuff, then switching to linux is IMHO about the best choice you can make. The development environments are greater in number, and competing more so they tend to be gaining a lot from that. Eclipse runs there. And for the server side, Apache is pretty much a De- Facto HTTP server. There is a happy medium for development, which involves using Colinux on windows, or running windows inside VMWare for testing stuff.

That should give you something to think about.

Danny
 
Old 05-27-2006, 06:53 PM   #3
Ronald45
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Hi,

First thing you have to consider is which applications you currently use in your Windows PC. In addition, what are the files you exchange with other PC that will still be based on Windows.

Most applications can be replaced, with advantages, by the ones developed for Linux. Others don't. Example of apps that can be easily replaced: mail client, web browser, audio processors, cd burners, media players etc. On the other hand, for example, sofisticated games specifically developed for Windows won't work at all in Linux and not always have the direct replacement.

Another thing is the interoperability of the files generated by the applications replaced. Example: a text file will fully interoperate between Windows and Linux. On other hand, an MS Excel spreadsheet might have some issues. Simple spreadsheets generated in one system can be read/modified in another (Linux/Windows). But if you use all the features developed for one system (macros, special formating etc), there might be some issues.
 
Old 05-27-2006, 09:38 PM   #4
sdexp
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By no means will you ever need to use antivirus on Linux. You need to learn Linux security fairly well and know what to accept and what not to.

Website accessibility is not the same on Linux. It can be difficult to get MIDIs to work sometimes. The browsers you use will operate about the same as they do on other platforms, but their plugins, such as the MIDI plugin and PDF plugin, differ. On the other hand, the Java plugin is the same.

Some Linux commands are linked to DOS commands.

OpenOffice.org is an excellent solution to porting Windows office-related documents to Linux.
 
Old 05-27-2006, 10:53 PM   #5
SlowCoder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdexp
By no means will you ever need to use antivirus on Linux.
Did you write that correctly? You don't think users should at least consider using Antivirus software?

What if you're running SMB and your Windows clients save a document to your Linux box? Linux itself may not be vulnerable to the virus code that may live in that document, but other Windows systems could.

What about unknown JAVA apps that are downloaded by your favorite web browser? Some of those could contain naughty code.

Please don't EVER consider your system 100% bullet proof when it comes to security and viruses. Even when you have an updated system there are ways, perhaps not yet known, to wreak havoc on your Linux box.
 
Old 05-27-2006, 11:38 PM   #6
IBall
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Although no system is 100% bullet proof, the only reason to have Antivirus is to stop you spreading Windows Virii to other Windows machines, like SlowCoder said. Most virii will not run on Linux, but you can still spread Virus infected files by mistake.

For a newbie, I suggest an easy distro, such as Ubuntu or Fedora.

--Ian
 
Old 05-28-2006, 05:14 AM   #7
dannystaple
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All, I will go back to my original response and point out that you should never be complacent about these things. Although at the moment there are very few real native Linux virii in the wild, that does not mean there is not one just round the corner. Yes, with the linux security model, and the fact that you dont run your browser as root (you dont right?) then you are less likely to run into trouble, but it does not mean it will never happen. In fact, there are scripts that are designed to automatically brute force their way into linux boxes, and turn them into zombies by getting them to run similar scripts say otherwise and could be considered virii. You only have to google denyhosts (a rather useful tool to deal with such scripts) to see what I mean.

It is pretty naive to come up with "some linux commands are like DOS commands", yes they are, but I think the original poster actually meant to run real DOS apps, in which case he should use DOSBox, DosEmu or FreeDos for those.

The browser PDF plugin issue can be awkward on windows too sometimes, AcroRead often causes IE to freeze up for a few moments. You can most definitely get the real Acrobat plugin for mozilla browsers on Linux anyway, so they shouldnt be a problem. I have not tried to get MIDI working though, so I can comment, but generally it is only activeX components that I cant interact with on Linux. MosX (a component in the transgaming suite) handles some of those though.

I agree with IBall, on Ubunto or Fedora, but would suggest SuSe too. Ubuntu, being Debian based, may leave you in fewer headaches with package management.

I would also second Ronald45, that switching to new applications is not always a disadvantage, as many of them may offer the net gain of having new and better features, more stability or integration than the windows equivalents anyway.

Danny
Danny
 
Old 05-28-2006, 09:47 AM   #8
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdexp
By no means will you ever need to use antivirus on Linux.
As others have pointed out, I believe this is incorrect--Do you mean to imply that it is impossible to write a virus for Linux?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdexp
Some Linux commands are linked to DOS commands.
DOS was derived from Unix, therefore some commands are similar. To me, when learning Linux (or Unix), it is much easier when you DON'T know DOS.
 
Old 05-28-2006, 11:26 AM   #9
marsm
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Using Linux on one computer

If you haven't had troubles with viruses on your Windows system (which means you're intelligent enough not to wildly download/open/execute everything), you won't have trouble with them using Linux.

Basic security: keep your Linux system up-to-date by getting your software from official sites/mirrors, su (become root) only when necessary for system maintenance, installing things, etc. Turn off all unneeded services (e.g. cups, sendmail, ssh, ftp) and use strong passwords like this: Aj3"%ag"7uqw45

Browsing the web

Firefox displayed every single page I've come across so far and mplayer has accepted any format I've seen. If it wouldn't play, I'd get an error message, see which codec is missing, download it and it would then play.

Yesterday, after browsing with Linux/Firefox/mplayer for almost a year, I was stumped, though: mtv.com wants a Windows media player with DRM support, you can have a look at it for yourself.
 
Old 05-28-2006, 11:59 AM   #10
routers
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i working with international logistics company , the whole office totally using linux desktop (no windows) almost 2 years , started from fc3 now all use fc4.
i have no problem with the system not really need to do maintenance just 3 month one time run

su -c "yum -y update"

for each system , im thinking if one of the my office server can be livna mirror would be nice

about security i using dedicated firewall which is called IPCOP,

cheers

just 5 cent from me
 
Old 05-28-2006, 12:16 PM   #11
hand of fate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdexp
The browsers you use will operate about the same as they do on other platforms, but their plugins, such as the MIDI plugin and PDF plugin, differ.
Actually the PDF plugin is the same for Windows and Linux.
 
Old 05-31-2006, 05:10 AM   #12
dannystaple
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Carefull

Careful not to oversell this. I am a big linux proponent, and have only linux desktops in my household, but make sure people do understand what it is they are getting into with this! Overselling it may just lead to disappointment and then people running back to windows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marsm
Using Linux on one computer
If you haven't had troubles with viruses on your Windows system (which means you're intelligent enough not to wildly download/open/execute everything), you won't have trouble with them using Linux.
While this is generally true, I would still strongly advise having a virus checker, firewall and installing tings like the "noScript" extension into firefox, just as I would on windows.

Quote:
Firefox displayed every single page I've come across so far and mplayer has accepted any format I've seen. If it wouldn't play, I'd get an error message, see which codec is missing, download it and it would then play.
Again, there are very few websites I have trouble with myself using firefox as well, having used it for years also on the windows desktops that we use at my workplace (no choice there). It is mostly activeX sites (most of which use it completely unneccesarily) that wont run - for example, the Egg site loads fine, but the egg money manager (which many other banks already find questionable) requires activeX.

Danny
 
  


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