Why Did You Make the Switch to Linux?

Read almost any blog or forum dedicated to the free, open-source operating system Linux and its diaspora of distributions, and you might assume that the users are almost exclusively haters of Microsoft or, occasionally, Apple. A system crash or price concerns might have led to a few "switches," but the truth must go much broader and deeper. So we ask our open-source switchers (and dual-booters): What made you pick up that first installation CD and give Linux a go? Was it an experiment with some older hardware? A killer app or idea you saw in action? The principals of open source? Or were you truly escaping from a restrictive system, like Mark Pilgrim? Post your story in the comments below, and we'll review them for a future post.


    I still dual boot, but I really only use XP for games.

    1. A couple of virus hits in a few months - because my antivirus/firewall was impossible to configure *not* to start scanning the computer at random times - usually when I was playing a game and grinding my computer to a halt.

    2. Frustration at the "User-is-an-idiot" mentality of windows - can't install things where you want etc.

    3. Curiosity - I've always been a tinkerer.

    There's still a few things I cant do on Ubuntu (I have a WM6 PDA - it would be nice to be able to sync that more easily), but overall I've not looked back. I really only XP for games now.

    I run Ubuntu exclusively.. well, almost. My work laptop runs Ubuntu natively, but I have to run WinXP in a VM for a couple of apps which wine doesn't support very well, and for which there is no reasonable FOSS alternative (MS Visio, MS Outlook).

    (As an aside, I do have a license for XP. And for VMWare workstation, even though I am using Sun Virtualbox instead as it's seamless window support is nice)

    I work in IT, I like technical things. I feel that my laptop is so much more flexible now it runs Linux. For example, the wireless driver support for my laptop is better under Linux. I can now sniff in promiscuous mode. A couple of weeks back someone brought in an external Mac drive that they thought was broken. I plugged it into my laptop and can read it natively - out of the box. I have a well documented and reasonably powerful shell for the times I need to juggle files around, or grep through a couple of Gig of log file. I can (and have) made modifications to applications that I've downloaded to add sometimes quite esoteric features that I've needed.

    All these things can, I'm sure, be done on Windows too. But a Linux desktop environment just feels more capable to me, and far more integrated - it's a proper operating system, not some deranged collection of flash animations that a marketing department invented.

    I run many operating systems at the moment: XP, Vista, Linux Mint 5, Fedora 9 (32 and 64 bit), Ubuntu 8.04 (32 and 64 bit), Dreamlinux 3.1, openSUSE 11.0 and Kubuntu 8.04. I made the switch to using Linux (in a dual-boot config in one instance, virtual installation in another, and single-boots on several other machines) some time ago, desiring a comprehensive, integrated work environment, and wanting to experience (and contribute to) a growing system that was built by its own users.

    Linux is an operating system which is largely based on a simple philosophy - the idea of freedom and democracy in creating practical software. Creation and improvement of software is driven by the needs of users. Thus, Linux is a constantly-evolving operating system, making it versatile, yet potentially unstable.

    In recent years, whilst Microsoft has sought to retain its dominance over the PC market, Apple has sought to create a monolopy in the exclusive market share that it owns (a motivation that I despise). So, it was the philosophy of Linux that attracted me - I decided to try an operating system that was really built to serve - Linux is the product of hobbyists, entrepreneurs and corporate expertise, minus the drive for profit.

    Apple's Mac is user-friendly and convenient because they are all-controlling, allowing them to drive up their profits under the facade of "customer service". Microsoft Windows is despised because of the sheer multitude of externally-produced applications, which often create a chaotic and unintegrated work environment.

    As a careful and knowledgeable computer user, I rarely have problems with my Windows installations - or with many of my past Windows installations, meaning that my switch to Linux was not necessarily motivated by a need to escape Windows. Moreover, my switch was driven by my own desire to try something that didn't make me feel like I was a customer - I wanted to be a real user, within a vast community of expertise. And, of course, Linux is free :P

    As Greg mentions in his post above, Linux is a far more "integrated" operating system. On the one hand, it combines most of the useful, everyday applications in one convenient package, and on the other, it doesn't retain a monopoly of control over the development of these applications. Thus, the availability of third-party apps, built to operate and integrate with other third party apps was a feature which really seized my attention. Linux is literally a system which is built by users, for users, and best of all, for free.

    Started "experimenting" with a Slackware derivative (Dragon Linux) in 1999. I wanted (and still want) something I can control. Love the security of linux and the power of bash. Run Debian "Sid" exclusively. No VMWare/Virtual Box/Wine to be seen anywhere.

    I started dual-booting XP and Ubuntu out of curiosity, and found after a few weeks that I wasn't using Windows any more. Now I run Ubuntu with an XP virtual machine (there are still a few Windows apps I need, unfortunately), and I have a Debian box to play on.

    I started experimenting with linux when I decided that waiting for my virus scanner, 3rd party firewall, itunes, windows defender, windows update, and 34525265 million other tiny programs to load on boot was taking a fraction too long - 5 to 6 minutes I had to wait before I could even move the mouse. This was all stuff to stop me getting spyware and ad-ware, so who knows how bad it would have been *with* some spyware.

    Loaded up PCLinuxOS, and have since played with Fedora 8, the beta of fedora 9, and have now happily settled on Ubuntu 8.04.1 LTS. it does everything I want - except sync with my iPhone.

    So i've got a small xp partition that has a web browser, virus scanner and iTunes, and the rest of my time is spent in Linux... and god do I enjoy it. Even my girlfriend prefers using it to windows... which is nice.

    If anyone is aprehensive about taking the plunge - do it! or at least start with a live CD of one of the distros - run an OS completely from your RAM to see if you like it!!

    I switched to linux because MS gave me no choice. No choice what so ever.

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