Well, with all the hype I figured I’d touch on the news. Microsoft finally decided it’s ready to put Vista to the test and stop shipping XP. It’s time for Vista to either sink or swim. As the article linked above points out, people really have two options…
- Move away from Windows completely (try a different OS)
- Shut up and do as Microsoft tells you
As someone who got fed up with Microsoft a long time ago and switched to Linux back in the Windows NT/2000 time frame, I’d like to think the first option would be most people’s choice. Mac is definitely pushing for it with all the great commercials bashing Vista. I do think Mac still has one main problem though, price. For an every day user who isn’t concerned about graphical editing, the Mac still costs quite a premium. Two years ago when I was searching for a new laptop I considered going with a MacBook, but it just wasn’t worth the extra money for a tightwad like me.
Linux has also come a long way since I switched to it about 8 years ago. I am a programmer and self proclaimed computer geek so I don’t mind tinkering with advanced settings behind the scenes and opening a shell to get thing done, but I can definitely understand that a large majority of people would cringe at that idea. But since that time, Linux has come a long way in being a good, solid, desktop operating system for a normal every day user. If you’ve been using Windows for years, it will likely be a slightly painful switch as you learn your way around a new desktop, but if you’re a brand new computer user, you shouldn’t have any problem at all. It even comes with OpenOffice which can read and write files in the Microsoft .doc format! I have tried many different distributions and they all have their specialties, but if you’re looking for your first Linux machine and want something easy to use without having to open a shell (command prompt), my first recommendation would definitely be Ubuntu. It’s easy to install and has been designed for this exact use and has a great community of users and developers. You can even order a PC from Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed for you.
While option one is definitely the option I’m hoping for, I am a bit of a realist and realize option two will likely be the path most people end up taking. It’s the “easiest” path and for those of us in the working world, most businesses continue to go the Windows path as well. Though I am proud to say that I am writing this post right now on my Fedora 8 Linux desktop at work. All of our IT department uses Linux as their main desktop and I’m trying to convince the powers that be to let me pilot a few employees from other departments on Linux as well. So we’ll see how that goes.
So, if you’re looking for a new computer and have heard horror stories about Vista (believe them, they are all true from my experience), I urge you to try out Linux. Either order a new system from Dell or another vendor with it pre-installed, or get a CD or DVD and install it on your current computer (it’s really easy). It will even run on your current hardware without having to upgrade to more than 1GB of RAM (http://keznews.com/2151_How_Much_Memory_Does_Vista_Need_). A lot of distributions even offer what they call a “Live CD” which means you can put the CD in your computer and boot it up and you will have a working linux pc without touching any of the data currently on your hard drive. This is a great way to test drive different distributions to find the one you like best. So I hope you’re up for the challenge and let me know the results!