We asked the devoted Linux users, the dual-Windows-and-Linux-booters, and the newer converts to the open-source operating system last week why they made the switch to Linux, and received over 330 responses as of this posting. The answers were sometimes level-headed, often passionate in their embrace of open-source culture, and occasionally induced a laugh (or a cringe) with tales of the last straw before switching. Read on for a look at why a good number of Lifehacker readers took the time to learn, customise, and adopt to Linux. Photo by Sphinx the Geek.
It makes sense that inheriting an old laptop or desktop, or upgrading to a newer system, would inspire many folks to check out an operating system that usually costs less than $1—the cost of a CD-R—to use and install. Two of our commenters described how a free Linux CD revived an old system. Photo by ryanrocketship.
... I had an old laptop that just wasn't doing very well. I was ready to get rid of it, but thought I'd give Linux a try. I installed Ubuntu and suddenly all the hardware worked, the OS ran smooth, and the laptop was actually quite useful again.
What else can run so smoothly on old hardware? I did a HDD install of Damn Small Linux on a 233mhz, 96mb, 3gb hdd, severely antiquated Thinkpad 560x. I have turned it into a quick web-surfing, emailing, m3-playing machine. Resurrected from the dead!
Dislike of Microsoft's practices/OS
We tried to make it apparent that we weren't asking for a laundry list of popular Vista/XP grievances, but it's hard to ignore the obvious—some of the requirements and demands the Redmond giant places on its customers caused some of you to seek out a more welcoming alternative:
Windows Genuine Advantage made me switch. I rightfully owned my copy of XP and they came up with that garbage to ensure my copy was "genuine" (and it was). Microsoft's guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude turned me off from Windows.
Commenter dspratomo was more than just annoyed at copyright "reminders"—Windows products in his country were the source of extortion and accusations:
First time copyright law exist in my country it was a chaos, because most of the software is the pirated version, and the police just keep asking for legitimate software actually they're just looking for excuse for bribe, because back then even the police and the law court using pirated software ....
This one is easy to understand. Linux is definitely friendly to anyone who wants to tweak their desktop, set up automated actions, or reinvent their system's look entirely. But early-bird commenter XPditer put it best:
Q: Why do people climb Mt. Everest?
A: Because it's there.
Photo by BotheredByBees.
I wanted to try something new. What happened to the satisfaction of achieving something on a computer? Yes Linux is hard at times. But the rewards are tenfold.
You discover the beauty after you find out how Linux can easily be an Apache, FTP, SVC or RDP server.
Also, it's so much prettier than Vista or OS X. I mean how awesome is the desktop Cube or Cylinder!
The tipping point was during the Christmas holiday last year. My work PC's disk failed and I was able to get it up and running faster with an Ubuntu install (restored my data from an online backup). I kept Windoze installed in a dual boot mode once I got a new disk, but use it less than once a month now, if at all.
The merits of Linux itself
Cake isn't just an alternative to ice cream, and Linux isn't just an alternative to Windows. The OS is based on one of the most tried-and-true system in the world, and it's geared toward letting users do whatever their imaginations and skills can allow. Here's a few examples of users taking a shine to this ethos. Photo by Charl van Niekirk.
Ubuntu makes a better OS: Plain and simple. It really is. I'll take a command line and config files over window's registry and dll hell anyday! More proof: windows update vs. ubuntu update manager. My wife's xp machine will reboot on her while she is working if she doesn't click the restart later button every 5 minutes. She has 10 programs constantly bugging her about updates avaialble from her system tray. Instead in linux, update manager handles it all in one place, only needing a reboot on kernel updates (about every 2 months.)
That was a Sunday evening, and the whole next week I didn't boot into Windows at all (and this is my work machine). By the next weekend I was so completely hooked on Linux that I couldn't believe that I hadn't started using it years ago. All that time wasted downloading and cracking software, when there's such an abundance of excellent free and open source software just a click away!
Those are just a few of the comments we spotted. If you've got a unique story to tell, do so in the comments.