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Old 10-23-2006, 11:59 AM   #1
bmarquis
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Should I switch to Linux?


Hi everyone,
I have been thinking about switching my notebook OS over to Linux over the upcoming Christmas break. I am a scientific (a chemist) graduate student who works super full time as a researcher.

My main reasons for switching to linux are:
1) Stability- I've experienced the BSOD too many times.
2) 64 bit compatablility- I use an AMD64 and would like my OS to benefit from this.
3) Ease of networking- I move data around quite a bit, run a couple of websites and this would all be easier with Linux.
4) It's open source- I, like most people, am a big fan of open source products. It's not a real great reason, but I would rather have something that is free and freely upgradeable. Also, I like sticking it to the man.

My main reasons against switching to Linux are:
1) Programs- as a scientist I use several specialized programs that there is no Linux counter part for. I have yet to find if two of my major programs work using WINE- MiniAnalysis (very obscure), the chemoffice suite from cambridgesoft (fairly obscure), and Scifinder scholar (not obscure, and rumored to work with WINE). I use all of these programs on a daily and simply can't switch if I can't run them on Linux. I'm also concerned that future programs will not be able to work with Linux. Sorry, I can't post links to the above software yet.

2) None of my co-workers use Linux. This could be an issue since we share a lot of documents, data, etc. I'm concerned that we won't be able to share.


3) It may be obvious at this point that I am not a tech guru, and I don't want to cause myself unneeded problems.

I need to find out if the above programs work on Linux before I switch. Does anyone out there have any experience running any of these programs on Linux via Wine?
For everyone else-
How reasonable are my concerns- are they major concerns? Are my perceived advantages valid?
Do you think it is worth it for me to switch to Linux?

Thanks for your input.
Bryce
 
Old 10-23-2006, 12:35 PM   #2
junme
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the distro for U ?

https://www.scientificlinux.org/

all the apps youl need more
http://sourceforge.net/softwaremap/t...hp?form_cat=97

hope this helps wine's OK most of the time
 
Old 10-23-2006, 12:56 PM   #3
pljvaldez
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Personally, I would be reluctant to do this on my main mcahine if everything on their is important to the work I do. I would try to get a hold of another box and to install linux on. Then try to get the programs working that you need to do your work. If they work, then I would go ahead with the switch on my main machine. If not, well, you haven't stopped your productivity by having to reinstall windows and all the programs.

Now that being said, I might dual boot my notebook if I'm interested in linux. Then as you find comparable programs, you can gradually start the switch. Not to mention you can get used to switching at home. I have a few Windows only programs on my laptop that I can't get around at work. But I dual boot. Most of the time I run linux except for when I need those programs. If it wasn't such an old laptop, I'd try just running them on Windows in a virtual machine.

Sharing data is dependent on the programs in question. Normal documents should share pretty easily as OpenOffice does a fair job of translating to MS Office. Email/contacts should be fine. But if you're sharing some of your special scientific data, obviously that depends on if you can find an alternative or get it running under wine.

As for the pros, I would agree you'll have a more stable system (in general -- depends a bit on the distro you use). The 64-bit argument generally fails since most people don't utilize their machines in a whay that makes 64 bit beneficial. Generally, to really see the benefit of a 64 bit system, you have to have more than 4GB of RAM and be doing some intesive computing like video editing, etc. Ease of networking, I would say depends. Wireless networking is a bit of a challenge many times in linux. You can run servers on Windows (Apache and Filezilla server for www and ftp). They aren't as slick and might suck more system resources, but it can be done if needed.

So there's my ramble. I guess my recommendation would be to get familiar with linux on another machine and see if you can get your programs working before changing over your main work machine. As for your home machines, I would probably change them all over.
 
Old 10-23-2006, 01:18 PM   #4
Chayak
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Well you can always run VMware within linux to run legacy windows apps until you find something to handle it in linux.
 
Old 10-23-2006, 01:24 PM   #5
bmarquis
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Thanks for the input. I agree with your assessment. It probably isn't a good idea for me to switch, but if I do, I will test it on a "throw away" computer I find somewhere.

I keep going in circles on this, because I really want to switch to Linux but I don't think it's quite at the point where I can. Unfortunately, I think that my desire to do this too much at an emotional level. Every time I hear a new advantage for switching, I get all excited and look into it and end up coming to the same conclusion. I should wait. I just would like to get some advice from people who actually have done the switch.

It looks like I'll continue in the "wait and see" department until some of the issues with Linux (ie program compatibility, wi-fi, notebook power issues, etc.) that plague users are resolved. The problem is that it seems like every time Linux seems to catch-up, some great app or hardware comes out that Linux can't deal with.

I hope that eventually Linux use becomes widespread enough that apps and hardware are made with it in mind.
 
Old 10-23-2006, 01:35 PM   #6
haertig
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmarquis
My main reasons against switching to Linux are:
I love Linux, and I am a strong advocate for the OS, but I'd say your three "reasons against" trump whatever advantages you list (for the moment - until you learn Linux).

I second pljvaldez's recommendation ... try Linux, but on a DIFFERENT computer!
 
Old 10-23-2006, 01:41 PM   #7
rickh
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Since you are technically oriented, and, presumably, are starting off with a pretty powerful system, you might consider this: http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?is...23/#firstlooks

Windows could easily be one of the shared OSes.

Last edited by rickh; 10-23-2006 at 01:42 PM.
 
Old 10-23-2006, 01:49 PM   #8
haertig
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmarquis
The problem is that it seems like every time Linux seems to catch-up, some great app or hardware comes out that Linux can't deal with.
If you're planning on playing the "wait and see" game for Linux compatibility for the relatively obscure and specialized programs you appear to require, then you might be playing the game for quite a while. The programs you need may work fine under Linux, then again they may not. The more obscure and specialized the program you need is, the longer you may need to wait (or port it yourself!)
 
Old 10-23-2006, 01:49 PM   #9
paul_e_t
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Ref: bmarquis
23 Oct 06 original

Quote:
Originally Posted by pljvaldez
Personally, I would be reluctant to do this on my main mcahine
. . . . .
So there's my ramble. I guess my recommendation would be to get familiar with linux on another machine and see if you can get your programs working before changing over your main work machine. As for your home machines, I would probably change them all over.
Some very good advice in particular about using another box on which to first experiment and learn.

When Linux runs on your machine it is stable and runs well, but:
I have three boxes that will not run linux well. Two because of the on Mother Board (Mobo) graphics card that corrupts images and the GUI. The two boxes problem also has power supply needs because newer 3d graphics cards require larger power supply units (PSU). The third one just fell over (a very reliable Compaq 6600 with possible booting problem with Grub) for unknown reasons in a linux software upgrade. This sys I'm on how (HP pavilion a620n) Athlon 3200+ XP has dual booting issues (I've tried three times)so I'm not attemting again until I get a new AM2 mobo with Pacifica processor that has the hardware virtual tech built in the processor. I do a lot of writing (text files ) and after putting in a week on one page of research I can no longer spend days rebuilding a fallen system.
Please do come back here and let the community know how things went with you as far as Pro and Cons go. It would be a good contribution from you.
Best of
Paul T.

Last edited by paul_e_t; 10-23-2006 at 02:02 PM.
 
Old 10-23-2006, 05:02 PM   #10
mikedeatworld
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try it - if not, dual boot!

Find an old PC of yours or purchase a really cheap machine. Run Linux and use that as your primary machine. Then as you progress, you'll notice what software you will need. Search around the Linux forums, and use things like apt-get to search for software that may be compatitable with the software you typically use in windows. Soon after, it will become clear if you can switch or not. Also, you can always dual-boot!
 
Old 10-23-2006, 06:35 PM   #11
masonm
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Setting up a dual boot system will allow you access to Windows to get critical work done and also allow you to explore how Linux will work for you.
 
Old 10-23-2006, 10:16 PM   #12
RedNovember
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I would definitely suggest a cheapo computer.
 
Old 10-24-2006, 12:39 AM   #13
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chayak
Well you can always run VMware within linux to run legacy windows apps until you find something to handle it in linux.
Or QEMU....I just got this running on RHEL4 and it is impressive (an d free)

At work, I have a desktop--Linux only, and a laptop--dual boot. Windows only gets used maybe once a week--today I had to run Visio, and it would not even come close to running on WINE.

there are almost always ways to share files--pdf, jpg, etc. OpenOffice works with the MS world about 95%. Now that MS is going to support ODF, this will improve further.
 
Old 10-25-2006, 10:11 AM   #14
bmarquis
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Thanks for the advice. It looks like it will be more of a gradual switch to linux. I will try to acquire a cheapo/free laptop this winter and install linux on it. I'll use this to learn the ropes and see if I can run my programs using some sort of Windows emulator in Linux. Depending on how this works, I will either switch to a Dual OS machine or bite the bullet and go 100% Linux.
Thanks again, somewhere down the line I can check back in once I'm in Linux land and tell you the trials of my journey.
cheers.
 
  


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