Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why I switched to Linux

I haven't posted much to the blog for the past few weeks, mainly because I've been spending a good amount of time switching the operating system of my used laptop to Linux, replacing Windows 2000. Why did I switch to linux? That's what this post will

As anyone who uses Windows(tm) and accesses the internet knows, no matter how careful you are, you really need to have a good virus scan or 2 available. I had been using Comodo and AVG scanners for at least a couple of years, both of them are free for home use. (The very first virus-scan software I used was McAfee, which ran on a floppy disk!) At the end of 2008 I was notified that Comodo was changing their software from single-purpose firewalls, virus scanners etc. to a 'suite' where all of those functions would be integrated -- and the minimum (operating) system requirement was Windows XP. My laptop has (only) 256mb of RAM, and if it would run XP it'd be very slow, so that wasn't an option. Spending several hundred dollars to buy a new laptop or desktop computer also wasn't an option. I still had the AVG scanner, but at the beginning of this year they basically went the same route, going to a 'suite' of virus and malware detection with minimum system requirements of Win XP. I did find one anti-virus software that would run in Win 2000, that being ClamAV. Since I'd heard of linux several years ago, I decided to do a bit of research and find out if that would be a viable option.

I discovered that linux has come a long way since I'd first heard about it 10-15 years ago; as far as ease of use, etc. When I heard about it back then, I'd heard it required a lot of programming to get it working, and learning programming wasn't something I wanted to do. I've been using a PC since the early 1990's, back in the DOS days, so I was comfortable with a command line, but it had been several years since I've really used one.

Also, back in the late 1980's / early 1990's or so, IBM and Microsoft had entered into a joint venture to develop a 'multi-tasking' OS -- they called it OS/2. At some point they parted ways, and IBM took over development of OS/2, when they released the version they called 'Warp' in 1994 I got it, and really liked it. It ran Windows 3.1 programs as well as DOS programs and OS/2 programs. There weren't many native OS/2 programs, but it seemed to run Win 3.1 and DOS programs better than they ran on their own. And being able to have more than 1 program running at the same time, back then, was pretty incredible for the DOS platform. It wasn't just a pretty task-switcher, it would really run a report in 1 task while you were writing a letter in the other task-window, while you were downloading your emails in yet another window; all in 8 mb of RAM, which is hard to believe today.

For various reasons, I believe mostly due to marketing agreements with Microsoft, almost no 3rd party software developers were working on or planning OS/2 software releases, and then Win95 came out, and though I thought OS/2 was a superior OS, it basically lost out to newer Microsoft developments. You can read the Wikipedia link above for more of the details. Though I tried at various times over the years to be a fan of Microsoft, I never quite succeeded. So now seemed like the right time to find a viable alternative.

In my quest for a Win2k virus scanner, I did run across a good malware detector that I used for a couple of weeks before I switched to linux -- I'd recommend it to those of you still using Windows. That is WinPatrol, it was nice to have Scotty on patrol for a brief time.

I decided to take the plunge, and part of that story will be in the next blog post.


Richard said...

Your story is getting to be more and more common these days...lots of folks are starting to make the switch, having finally realized the true cost of using Windows(tm) as opposed to the freedom in the alternative. I suppose now with Google's new Chrome OS coming out soon, Linux will be even more popular. Welcome to our world, if you need any support we're always glad to be of assistance.

Cia W said...

Thanks for stopping by, Richard. And thanks for the welcome.

I've found on both the Fedora Forums and Puppy Forums that there are a lot of helpful people out there. I've even been surprised to discover that now & then someone will ask a question I can answer! I may check out a general Linux forum at some point soon, too.

I did my best to do a search on google or dogpile (I like dogpile!) or the forums before I posted a question, I know it can be annoying to see someone ask something that's been answered several times in the last couple of years. As I noted in my saga post I just posted -- there is a lot of good info. out there, you just have to find it.

Thanks again!