Question Should I try Linux?

Isaac Zackary

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With the end of Windows 10 still some time off, I've thought about switching to Linux as a possible alternative. I have about 20 computers, currently that may still be around in 4 years but aren't Windows 11 compatible.

But I do have several concerns about switching to Linux.

Drivers support? Printers, scanners and other external hardware, as well as graphics cards, USB controllers and such are things that are easy to find drivers for on Windows. I have no idea on Linux. There's no sense in having a computer that can't do computer work.

Software not available on Linux? Some of the software that is absolutely necessary for me is not available on Linux and there are no substitutes for them either. Would Windows or Android emulation be feasible on Linux?

Is it worth trying Linux? What would be the best way of going about doing it? I'm not talking about just user interfaces, but getting actual work done. Maybe get a cheap SSD and try a few Linux distributions on it on a computer and see what I can do. Then wipe it and try it on another, then another, and so on. What do you think?

I have zero experience with Linux distros, installation, etc., and am looking for any input on the subject.
 

COLGeek

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Linux supports most hardware just fine. I am sure you could find some obscure, fairly recent device not supported, but those are few are far between.

What specific apps must you keep from Windows? You actually may have options.

If you have a bunch of PCs, what not make one of them a Linux test box and try it for yourself? A distro like Mint or Ubuntu should fit nicely.
 

Math Geek

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there is a learning curve with going to linux that many people find to much to deal with.

it is not completely point and click like windows is, so if the command line scares you, then linux is not for you. if you are willing to spend a good bit of time googling for the right commands, then it will work for you :)

investing in a " linux for dummies" type book is not a bad idea for first time users. there is a lot that is different and you'll want the reference on how to do the stuff you are used to doing. but if you put the time in, getting away from windows is a very positive experience for most everyone willing to make the move!!
 
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USAFRet

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What do you plan to use the system for?

For basic office type things, changing to Linux can be reasonably easy.

Games? Completely different.
Video/photo editing? Can be done with native Linux applications, but different.


For your future path, consider installing a Linux OS in a VM.
I use VirtualBox for this.
See where it takes you.
 
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If you have 20 computers around, you're probably running a business and have a team working on these PCs. Switching to Linux even half of these PCs will make you full-time IT support. Even Windows 11 will make someone calling constantly "Where is this feature burried here"...
 

Isaac Zackary

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If you have 20 computers around, you're probably running a business and have a team working on these PCs. Switching to Linux even half of these PCs will make you full-time IT support. Even Windows 11 will make someone calling constantly "Where is this feature burried here"...
More like big family and lots of low income friends on an assortment of desktops and laptops I got either for free or very cheaply, many of which I've upgraded with another stick of RAM, trying to keep it at at least 8GB, and a cheap SSD while keeping the HDD for file storage (like with a DVD tray caddy in the laptops.) The pandemic kind of made having a computer a necessity for many who didn't have one before. And I just happend to be in a position to get lots of free computers of different sorts and know a thing or two about fixing them up to run fast enough.

there is a learning curve with going to linux that many people find to much to deal with.

it is not completely point and click like windows is, so if the command line scares you, then linux is not for you. if you are willing to spend a good bit of time googling for the right commands, then it will work for you :)

investing in a " linux for dummies" type book is not a bad idea for first time users. there is a lot that is different and you'll want the reference on how to do the stuff you are used to doing. but if you put the time in, getting away from windows is a very positive experience for most everyone willing to make the move!!
Having started computing in the era when computers came with no more than Basic on them, and then MS-DOS, and having used the Terminal in MacOS, I'm sure I can figure it out in Linux.

I'm not so sure the other 20 friends and family members will say the same, unless I can get it set up for them so they can just point and click.

Linux for Dummies sounds like a good book to get. I really liked DOS for Dummies back in the day.
Linux supports most hardware just fine. I am sure you could find some obscure, fairly recent device not supported, but those are few are far between.

What specific apps must you keep from Windows? You actually may have options.
What do you plan to use the system for?

For basic office type things, changing to Linux can be reasonably easy.

Games? Completely different.
Video/photo editing? Can be done with native Linux applications, but different.
Zoom (which there is a Linux app). I'd also like to find a Microsoft Office replacement (Word, Excel, Power Point, One Note). Finding one that's either free or pay one time would be nicer than the current subscription method. I do use cloud storage back up and file sharing (OneDrive), but have been throwing around the idea of building a NAS and sharing it (and the part of the cost) with everyone who needs a way to back up files. We also use JW Library on all these PC's.

For your future path, consider installing a Linux OS in a VM.
I use VirtualBox for this.
If you have a bunch of PCs, what not make one of them a Linux test box and try it for yourself? A distro like Mint or Ubuntu should fit nicely.
I do have a spare laptop (Dell Inspiron E1705) right now I could try Linux on and also have several unused hard drives (up to 500GB) lying around. I might try the VirtualBox though too. That sounds interesting.
 
Another thing you should know is that most Linux distros offer a downloadable ISO file, that when it boot on a computer, it boot into what's called a "Live desktop".

That means, for what ever computer you want to test a Linux distribution, you use this for:
  • Make a first impression - see how the menus work, the look and feel, etc.
  • You're testing it on your hardware and therefore have a very good idea if it works or not (i.e. if an old piece of hardware isn't able to properly display the screen this are probably a no-go for you).
This is a list of what a Live-desktop are NOT intended for, and other information.
  • Test the respons of menus and so. When booting from a DVD or USB stick, the transfer speed / general performance of the storage media will be a major bottleneck for perceived performance.
  • Unless you decide to install or doing by purpose, the Live desktop doesn't touch the existing OS in any way. So it's totally save to test and then when you remove the bootable medium, the Windows play along as usual, doesn't even know there have being something else on there.
  • It usually takes one USB stick for one ISO file to boot, so testing several distros can be a hurdle. However, there is a new kid in the street - the Ventoy tool. This is a package that allow you to make one bootable USB stick, and then you can put as many ISO images on it as there are space for. There are some non-Linux OS'es that Ventoy doesn't support yet.
  • And lastly - for ISO files on a usb stick, you can't just copy the iso file to the usb (unless already made bootable by using Ventoy tool) but you have to use a special software tool to flash it to usb stick.
[edit]

As a new user, there are plenty to learn and there are some possible pitfalls - or just things that for the moment are best to avoid while learning to navigate Linux. Those are from mine experience, from when I started to use Linux (not everyone would agree).

The desktop
There are a "jungle out there" with many Linux distros and each of the desktop versions usually offer one or more desktop variants.
A new user would probably not get into dealing with those that are not familiarly looking and looking odd from a Windows perspective , or having a Forrest of choices. Therefore you probably should avoid starting with Gnome, Enlightenment or Openbox.

Easy distros for beginners
You'd probably want to pick a distro that have a desktop that are somewhat resembling Windows, and also that are supported for a couple of years ahead.

This is my list of distros you probably want to start with:
  • Linux Mint. It comes in 3 main flavours (desktop).
  • Linux Lite
  • MX Linux
  • Ubuntu Mate, Xubuntu - those are in my opinion more easy for new users than the standard version of Ubuntu with Gnome desktop.
Another pitfall you should avoid is to use an old version of any Linux version. Most Linux distros have a due date (how long the distro will be supported). When that date are past, the OS will work just partially. The desktop and programs already installed will work, but you wouldn't receive updates and will start having issues installing new software.

This is one pitfall I learned the hard way on my first Linux computer, as it went a couple of years and I couldn't understand why I couldn't install new programs (or the list of programs pointed to very outdated versions).
 
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COLGeek

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Zoom has a Linux app (as previously noted) and there are definitely alternatives (free as well) to MS Office like LibreOffice and OpenOffice, both are very feature rich and capable (and work in both Windows and Linux environments, by the way).

JW Library might be problematic.

 
Here, I put together a small collection of YouTube videos about Linux for beginners:

Chris Titus Tech - 6 Mistakes New Linux Users Make
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkrN4uAcDGk&t=359s


Chris Titus Tech - Windows 10 to Linux Mint | Introduction
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hwWAOBOsJs


DistroTube - Windows Users Need To Install These Programs IMMEDIATELY!
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYW0bcE_Wl0


Switched to Linux - Getting Started with Linux (play list)
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUGoRvvwACA&list=PLjwSYc73nX6aP25fS3ZMgZsB5XGB9fLbJ


This one - not for learning, but. . . .
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gA9_k52FdM

[EDIT] - added another nice (relevant) youtube video for this purpose
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA5EsBtNXAk
 
Last edited:

Math Geek

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Having started computing in the era when computers came with no more than Basic on them, and then MS-DOS, and having used the Terminal in MacOS, I'm sure I can figure it out in Linux.

I'm not so sure the other 20 friends and family members will say the same, unless I can get it set up for them so they can just point and click.

Linux for Dummies sounds like a good book to get. I really liked DOS for Dummies back in the day.
nice, i'm old school and started with DOS/BASIC so never was scared of command line.

if you can get it set-up and make the day to day point and click for the users, it'll be fine. so long as you know what's going on :)

the other nice thing is since they won't know how to do many things on it, it'll be harder for them to break things you'll have to fix later. lol
 
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If you are looking for some Linux distros to try that are more user friendly, I suggest Linux Mint, Pop OS, and Ubuntu.

Linux is known for its ability to run well on older computers and breathe new life into them... so if you have some older machines that won't work nicely with Windows 11, Linux could be a good option for you, depending which variety you choose (some Linux varieties are better for older computers than others). There are specific versions that are great for older computers.

In the past, people have said Linux isn't great for gaming but Valve/Steam are changing that with Steam's Proton service that runs a lot of Windows software on Linux very nicely.

Linux is also a lot better for protecting the privacy of the user, if that matters to you.
 
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ktriebol

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Isaac, Linux Mint comes with Libre Office automatically. It has a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program, etc, just like Microsoft Office. It functions very much the same too. No new training required to learn how to use it. In fact, you can download a free Windows version of Libre Office if you want to see what it is all about right now.
 

MasterChief86

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Concern 1: Most distros support most of the hardware. I have tried more than 20 distros now and the only ones that don't support all the hardware out of the box are vanilla Debian and Deepin. And Mint was having WiFi dongle issue on a 20 y/o PC. MX Linux worked fine on that. 19.3, 19.4 and the latest ver 21. With that said, Ubuntu, PearOS, Pop, Clear, Fedora, OpenSuse, Arch, Artix, Endeavor, Manjaro, Kali, Zorin, Mint, Siduction and more... all have worked fine for me. All the hardware supported right out the box.


Concern 2: What software are you looking for? Most software OR their alternative are available. for example, Libre Office, PSPP and GIMP. Emulation is possible through a number of VB and Android emulators. Oracle VB works just fine.

Concern 3: Handpick a few distros like the ones I mentioned above. get a 32 GB USB and burn some of them on the USB at the same time using Ventoy. Select the one you want to try out while booting. Give it a go and see how it feels.


Most Linux installs like Fedora, Ubuntu, MX Linux, Mint, Endeavor and Zorin are pretty easy to install. The process is self explanatory. YouTube has tons of videos on their installation. Just be sure to partition the drives right.Usual partition scheme is the following:

SDD1 > Boot (usually FAT or EXT4 depending on the distro)
SDD2 > EFI (not required for every distro)
SDD3 > Root (EXT4 usually)
SDD4 > Home (EXT4 usually)
SDD5 > Swap (Linux-Swap)
 

Isaac Zackary

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The more I look into Linux the more applications I'm finding that aren't compatible.

JW Library
Winlink
Echolink
Lots of disk writing tools for older systems and consoles (PlayStation 2, MSDOS on 486, Commodore64, CoCo2 etc.)
for a few examples.

:(
 

Bob.B

Respectable
With the end of Windows 10 still some time off, I've thought about switching to Linux as a possible alternative. I have about 20 computers, currently that may still be around in 4 years but aren't Windows 11 compatible.

But I do have several concerns about switching to Linux.

Drivers support? Printers, scanners and other external hardware, as well as graphics cards, USB controllers and such are things that are easy to find drivers for on Windows. I have no idea on Linux. There's no sense in having a computer that can't do computer work.

Software not available on Linux? Some of the software that is absolutely necessary for me is not available on Linux and there are no substitutes for them either. Would Windows or Android emulation be feasible on Linux?

Is it worth trying Linux? What would be the best way of going about doing it? I'm not talking about just user interfaces, but getting actual work done. Maybe get a cheap SSD and try a few Linux distributions on it on a computer and see what I can do. Then wipe it and try it on another, then another, and so on. What do you think?

I have zero experience with Linux distros, installation, etc., and am looking for any input on the subject.
A lot can happen between now and 2025.
Will msft abandon the millions of w10 users......beats me.
 

Isaac Zackary

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A lot can happen between now and 2025.
Will msft abandon the millions of w10 users......beats me.
That's the thing that has me perplexed. Microsoft did nothing to keep Windows 10 from being installed on older hardware. I have several PC's that originally came with Windows XP, and got cheap OEM keys (non transferrable) to put Windows 10 on them legitimately, and many of them work perfectly fine for what they're used for. Sometimes I've had more problems with certain 2 year old computers than 15 year old ones. And what frustrates me the most is one 2 year old computer in particular isn't Windows 11 compatible, according to the App and Microsoft's list of processors.
 

USAFRet

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That's the thing that has me perplexed. Microsoft did nothing to keep Windows 10 from being installed on older hardware. I have several PC's that originally came with Windows XP, and got cheap OEM keys (non transferrable) to put Windows 10 on them legitimately, and many of them work perfectly fine for what they're used for. Sometimes I've had more problems with certain 2 year old computers than 15 year old ones. And what frustrates me the most is one 2 year old computer in particular isn't Windows 11 compatible, according to the App and Microsoft's list of processors.
Yes, Win 10 spoiled us on compatibility with older hardware.

Historically, that has not always been the case.
Many previous OS changes did not work well with older hardware.

And the TPM requirement is something that MS has been pushing for years. The manufacturers mostly ignored it. Until now.
 

Bob.B

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That's the thing that has me perplexed. Microsoft did nothing to keep Windows 10 from being installed on older hardware. I have several PC's that originally came with Windows XP, and got cheap OEM keys (non transferrable) to put Windows 10 on them legitimately, and many of them work perfectly fine for what they're used for. Sometimes I've had more problems with certain 2 year old computers than 15 year old ones. And what frustrates me the most is one 2 year old computer in particular isn't Windows 11 compatible, according to the App and Microsoft's list of processors.
Time will tell.
Nothing to get excited about yet.
 
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punkncat

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I say absolutely, yes.

There are many flavors of Linux install that are easy to use and well supported online. My personal preference is Ubuntu. It just makes sense. When it doesn't just go ask on the web.
I am certainly not as well verse in it yet, but am learning both by way of VM and physical install on an older machine.
 
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Is it worth trying Linux? What would be the best way of going about doing it? I'm not talking about just user interfaces, but getting actual work done. Maybe get a cheap SSD and try a few Linux distributions on it on a computer and see what I can do. Then wipe it and try it on another, then another, and so on. What do you think?
It's probably "worth trying" if for no other reason than to satisfy your curiosity.

However...............

You will soon enough start bumping your head against your lack of knowledge. "How do I do a certain set of tasks that I easily did in Windows?" Move files, backup files, run virus scans, maintain the OS, find an app to do X, Y, or Z.....hundreds of other things.

How do you react to frustration?

I don't know what you use PCs for....but you might find that after 100 hours into your experiment you haven't gotten very far. So you say to yourself "is it going to take me 300 hours behind this keyboard on Linux before I am halfway useful"? Or 500 hours?

At what point would you capitulate and backslide to Windows?

It's one thing to approach Linux as a hobbyist at home might, leisurely.

It's another thing entirely to use it as a Windows replacement in a 20 PC environment.
 
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Isaac Zackary

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Well, I guess I better try it and see. You never know until you try something if you'll like it or not.

On the other hand I guess I'm just a bit frustrated. My newest PC, this Surface Go that I bought less than 2 years ago from the Microsoft website and is still under their extended 2 year waranty, says it's not W11 compatible. It may still work with W11, but it's just frustrating that Microsoft would do that, sell a product and 2 years later tell you it needs to be replaced.

If I do end up sticking with Windows at least I can look for a machine that best fits my needs. My desktop has a second gen Core i7, dual SLI FTX 590 graphics cards and is much more computer than I need, and has a 1,000W PSU. Using my computers for HAM radio, I need something that's low power. Something that could run off a battery bank off grid for days in a snow storm.
 
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Isaac Zackary

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They doesn't tell you it needs to be replaced. You can still use win 10 like many other users.
True. And I can probably do so for maybe 4 more years. Some UI apps I use do leave older versions of Windows behind, including older versions of Windows 10, so who knows what will happen with those.

On the other hand it's just irritating to go to update Windows and always be greated by a parragraph and a red circle and X explaining how every PC I own and work on is not Windows 11 compatible and that I can open up the PC Health Check app just to be told the same thing.
 

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