I have been using Linux as my primary system since late 2005. I had had other more or less random encounters with various flavours of Linux before that, but those had been times when you couldn’t get your sound/graphics/whatever working and good internet sources were scarce.
I have tried lots of different Linux distributions and always been leaning to the most stable and usable ones. Slackware could look as a strange choice at first, but actually it is one of the best ones for really learning Linux (and command line). During my Slackware era I used to try different cutting edge distros such as PCLinuxOS, SUSE or (K)Ubuntu. PCLinuxOS looked good and even recognized all hardware (those were times, when even Windows XP had problems with some peripherals and required additional drivers), but since it was built upon Mandrake, it was also quite lazy. At last I installed Kubuntu and have been running on it up-to-date.
I am more productive using Linux than Windows and this is my experience:
- Got a hanging program? Kill it instantly and run it again. (got Windows? Well, wait for half a minute and maybe it will allow you to terminate it, finally)
- Some heavy program slowing down whole system? Find it via
top(or through GUI) and deprioritize it quickly. (no such an option on Windows as far as I know)
- Need to do WHOIS lookup on a domain, traceroute, ping or some <joke>kiddie-scripting</joke> stuff? No need to search for internet services. Everything is right in there.
- Are you an avid listener with lots of music? One word: Amarok. Better than user-unfriendly iTunes (ever tried to have your music on multiple devices?), better than good old simple WinAmp.
- Software sources – you can have Linux installed and fully equipped with everything you need (office suite, email, instant messaging, system tools etc.) before first actual run. Updates are also easy – and continuous (small packages, fast download – compare that to Windows gigantic monolithic updates).
- Eye candy – not that important to me, but some people require it. You got wider options to change wallpapers, add widgets, change panels, have six virtual desktops on a 3D cube etc.
- Bug reporting and problem solving – no operating system is without bugs and Linux is no exception. You can sometimes encounter weird bugs on a pretty standard hardware configuration. Advantages are that there are multiple highly effective problem solving systems up and running. Google is your friend and in 95% of time you will find the solution. Bugs are very well documented, user forums are widespread. In comparison, Microsoft’s knowledge base is rarely of any help.
- Last, but not least: no viruses, spyware or other kinky stuff – no need to reinstall system from scratch, ever. I have witnessed friends pulling their hairs out due to Windows falling down under spyware, trojans and viruses. Be supportive to these less well-off.
There are also some things not that good, though:
- GIMP – graphic editing program that has the worst windowing interface (thus also user experience) ever. Period. Fortunately, there are some lighter alternatives.
- Some internet-related applications missing or not usable. You would expect Linux to cover any and all internet protocols and services. Sometimes, this is not a case – I used to have problems finding good software for DC++ network three or four years back.
- User experience could rarely be an issue, too – although many things have been standardized for a while, you will find some weirdness still in there. Basic users are fine, though.
It appears to me that more powerusers are switching to Linux than ever before. Now it’s a good time to make a switch for people (family, friends) who ask you to set up their computers, too. They will be safer and no viruses mean no more panic calls. The choice is yours.