One man's experience
Tired of your computer crashing all the time? Tired of being a slave to an upgrade cycle that forces you to pay hundreds of dollars per computer to upgrade to a new version of Windows and/or Office every couple of years just to stay compatible, but not getting any real improvement in return? Tired of not having a choice? Well you do have a choice. It's called Linux.
My name is Michael Davis. I build web sites. (How do you like this one?) So I spend a lot of time working on computers. Until recently I worked exclusively on machines with the Windows operating system installed. However I have always been intrigued by Linux and irritated by Windows. Eventually I took the plunge and tried Linux. To my surprise I found it to be easier to use than I had expected. This web site is about my experience migrating from Windows to Linux. I hope the information here will help others make the migration too.
Why use Linux? Well first off, it's inexpensive! You can buy it cheap or even download it for free. You can save hundreds by buying a computer without Windows installed on it and install Linux instead. Secondly it is very robust and not nearly as crash prone or buggy as Windows. Linux is also far more flexible, secure and powerful than Windows. But with the added power and flexibility comes some added complexity. If Windows is a screwdriver, then Linux is a Swiss Army Knife by comparison.
Until recently, Linux has had the reputation of being the "not quite ready for prime time" operating system due to its complexity and its difficulty to install and configure. The belief was that only the most elite computer geeks could figure it out. This has prevented Linux from really catching on big time with ordinary people who have to use computers, but don't consider themselves "computer experts". In spite of all of Windows' faults, you have to admit that it is at least (fairly) easy to install, and the average secretary can be trained to use it productively.
However, recent releases of Linux are much easier to install, configure and use these days. In fact, you don't even need to worry about installing Linux anymore to try it out on your computer. Today there are many "Live CD" versions of Linux that run without the need to actually install anything on your computer. The rest of this web site is going to focus on one particular live CD version of Linux called "Knoppix". With a live Linux CD, getting up and running in Linux couldn't be simpler. You just put the disk in your CD drive and reboot your computer. Presto, you have Linux up and running on your computer. And if you don't like it, just eject the CD and reboot back into Window$. If you do like using Linux, then you can install it on your computer in place of, or even alongside of, Windows.
It's getting so people who come from the Windows world (like me) can (relatively) painlessly and easily migrate to Linux, and finally get out from under the thumb of Microsoft. And if I can do it, you can do it too. I'll show you how on this web site.
I'll be using examples from my own experience migrating from Windows to Linux. I'll take you step by step through getting Linux, test driving it and setting up a dual boot Windows/Linux system. I'll cover some of the common problems that people have getting Linux running and configured. I'll show you how to get your Linux machine talking to, and sharing files and printers with your Windows machines. I'll point you toward software you can run under Linux that can replace the most commonly used applications in the Windows world, that not only works as well or better than the Microsoft versions, but is either free, or very inexpensive. In short, I'll show you how to leave Windows and Microsoft behind and enter the wonderful world of Linux. And I'll do it in a painless and gentle way through the use of Live CDs and dual boot systems. This will allow you to continue to use Windows and do your work on your computers as before while you learn to use Linux. This approach also allows you to back off and return to the environment you are familiar and comfortable with at any time. That's why I call this web site a "gentle" introduction to Linux.
This web site is not going to be a definitive guide to all things Linux related. That would take the equivalent of a library full of books. I will point you to other resources (books, web sites, etc.) that contain detailed information on subjects I touch on in more general terms. This web site is intended to give you just enough information to get you up and running in Linux. Learning Linux in depth will be up to you. I'm going to assume you are already familiar with the basics of how operating systems work and subjects like partitioning hard drives. I'm also going to assume that you are at least familiar with how networking and file sharing is done in the Windows world.
This web site will grow and new sections will be added as I gain more experience with Linux. I'll be talking specifically about Knoppix and Debian Linux here, but most of the advice should apply to other Linux distributions as well.
Once you have made the migration to linux you can show your pride and trumpet your achievement. Print out this "bumper sticker" and plaster it on your computer(s) at work if you are forced to suffer by having to use using Windows there. It's fun and it impresses the hell out of your coworkers.