Linux Advantages and Disadvantages: Part 1

This is the first article in a series on the advantages (and disadvantages) of Linux desktops over alternatives. While our magazine is all about how to accomplish things with Linux on your desktop, it is important that the why side is also addressed.

There are lots of studies of such issues as stability, security, performance, and reliability of Linux vs. Microsoft Windows. They can roughly be divided into two lists:

  • Studies paid for by Microsoft
  • Studies that conclude Linux wins

Now, before you get excited that I am about to trash the other guys, this is stuff I won't bother you with. Read what you want. Then, if you feel Linux will favorably address your issues, you are ready to start reading here.

I assert that the biggest practical concern is whether Linux will do what you need on the desktop. Rather than, once again, get into a discussion of studies, it is much more direct to just see what you want to do and then see if the tools to do it are available for Linux. Any other approach is more like concluding you can't own a car made anywhere but the U.S. because you don't have metric tools.

If you look at how desktop computers are used in a bank, you will likely find them doing four tasks and only four tasks:

  • Word processing
  • Spreadsheets
  • Email
  • Running a terminal emulator to access a database

Let's start here and see if Linux is ready for this environment.

Word processing is clearly a non-issue. Many Microsoft Windows users are already switching from Word to OpenOffice.org. OO.org offers compatibility to handle Word documents, a familiar interface and a non-proprietary file format as an alternative to Microsoft's .doc format.

The advantages of OO.org go way beyond this, however. With Word, it is common for a whole company to have to make a costly upgrade so that older systems can read documents created with newer versions of Word. This is a good sales approach for Microsoft but it is both costly and troublesome to desktop users and their administrators. As OO.org is free, there is no financial advantage for introducing incompatibilities.

A second advantage is security. For example, the quick save option of Word has resulted in many embarrassments and some serious security problems. Imagine someone taking a love letter to their girlfriend, deleting the text and then writing work correspondence. The quick saved file will contain the original letter and then the transactions to update it to the new letter. Enough said.

File size is another issue. Word documents tend to be much larger than the text they contain. This means more disk space, more complicated backups and, if you email these documents, slower email transfers and/or the need for more bandwidth.

On the matter of choice, in an environment where compatibility with Word documents is less of an issue, KWord and AbiWord are worth taking a look at. Smaller that OO.org, these free products generally do everything that is needed in an office environment.

Spreadsheets are, once again, addressed by OO.org. There isn't much to say here other than they work and users will find a familiar look and feel.

Email is the most complicated on this list--not because Linux doesn't offer an excellent email client but because it includes so many. In a business environment, this decision should be a global one. That is, everyone should be using the same email client. Choices include Mozilla Thunderbird and, Opera's built-in mail capabilities as well as many stand-alone choices. The two most popular are Evolution and KMail.

Evolution is a functional clone of Microsoft's Outlook Express. If that is the current environment you are using, Evolution is the most likely solution for you. On the other hand, if you just need a clean email client, take a look at KMail.

In many business environments, encrypted email is a necessity. PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is the standard for mail encryption. gpg, an "under the hood" program is a free tool which is compatible with PGP. You don't have to learn how to work with gpg directly, Kgpg can be used to manage your encryption keys and interacts well with KMail as well as other clients.

The last item is a terminal emulator. This is just a program that makes a portion of your display act like an old CRT terminal. Much banking software which actually does the transactions runs in text mode in such a window. Most of the rest just requires a web browser.

There are two reasons for this. First, it means the application program can be independent of the computer being used by the bank employee accessing it and, equally important, it is more efficient for the person using it. Teller transactions, for example, are usually no more than entering account numbers, amounts and a few special key presses to send the transaction on its way. A graphical/mouse-based alternative significantly increases the amount of time the teller must spend to perform the transaction.

There are no shortages of answers here. There will be different default terminal emulators depending on your Linux configuration but any of them should satisfy the needs of these database applications. The same is true for web browsers which include Konqueror which is part of the KDE suite, Mozilla, FireFox and Opera.

You may not be running a bank but it is a well-defined business so I felt it a good choice for a place to start. The whole point is to sit down and figure out your requirements and then see if Linux offers a solution.

In the next article I will be addressing the differences to the user between Linux and other systems you have used.

fyl - Wed, 2005-05-18 18:24.
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Yeah, But...

Overall I agree. So much so, that I'm working this summer on setting up the computer lab as a linux terminal server lab. However even in a school enviroment our needs are somewhat more complicated.

1. We have an outdoor program. Most of the maps we use are now digital. I have no equivilent of eTopo for marking up, and printing out maps.

2. The kids have a photo club. I'm sorry, but the Gimp really doesn't cut it for manipulating images compared to PhotoShop.

3. The teachers have a program called "RenWeb" which is a client server program with the server being off in East Horsebiscuit. Only windows.

This list can go on for some time. (If a new machine comes in, there are typically 60 packages to get installed. About half of them have linux/unix equivalents.)

But, not to give up hope: As part of my deployment, I'm looking at setting up ltsp so that one of the programs that can run locally is rdesktop. Then maybe I can run two windows terminal servers instead of 40 windows desktops.

Sherwood Botsford (not verified) - Thu, 2006-07-13 17:50.

I think this article is nice

I think this article is nice for those new to GNU/Linux, as it can sometimes be hard to find out if what you need to get done, can be done.

However, I think this article should also touch on non-newbie GNU/Linux people as well, programmers in particular. While GNU/Linux offers many free and good programs/tools for programming, I think there is a problem with GNU/Linux. Linux, as in the kernel itself, is just fine. I wish they would stop allowing major rewrites in 2.6, and slow their releases a little, but still, the kernel isn't too bad. The real problem with GNU/Linux is GNU, and the GPL. While most people like to claim the GPL is the best license for programs, I, as well as many others, tend not to see it that way. The GPL actually hurts developers by imposing GNU/FSF political ideas on code that you write. If you have the same political views of the GNU/FSF, fine, but that doesn't mean we should be using that license as well. I think Linus actually has a fairly good view of the GPL, in that he doesn't think it's the greatest, but it does what he wants. However, with all the GNU software involved in making a GNU/Linux distribution, it is hard to escape the GPL and it's unrealistic restrictions. Personally, I believe Linux should write it's own license (similar to that of the BSD license) and rewrite the required tools (those that are GNU), and then Linux can finally get rid of the GPL, and Stallman, and actually let programmers do what they want. I think programmers lack of freedom on GNU/Linux systems is the second biggest thing holding Linux back from getting more acceptance.

An - ymous (not verified) - Fri, 2006-07-07 16:19.

Superb

I really liked this paper.
I work in a financial company, doing IT for at least 300 PCs, and I was wondering how many applications would be the minimum to apply on desktop computers.
As a major win-to-Linux migration plan is being developed here, this article gives me a nice tool to both: make the desktop clean and secure (only 4 or 5 icons....could You believe!!!?) and let them (users) know that all that stuff they were used to play with (games ....messenger...whatsoever) will not be here anymore, and they will not be able to reinstall it.
There is a new Sheriff in the County.And You helped me with this lecture.
Thanks.

An - ymous (not verified) - Tue, 2006-01-31 06:02.

Ultimate Newbie

Tomorrow a.m. I'll begin learning Linux on a second computer (installed by a young techie friend). I've owned a computer for 4 years, done everything in Windows, as it was made "easy" for me (or so I thought), become frustrated visiting my brother's all-MAC household, and become thoroughly sick of Microsoft. I finally started supporting the open-source movement via Firefox and Thunderbird.
BUT: In trying to learn about Linux/trying to get tech help with Firefox and so on, from "basics" websites or magazines to chat-help to Linux user-groups and back again, one problem looms: EVERYONE FEELS THE NEED TO SHOW OFF! It is so very much like the experience of an MMORPG, in that it takes awhile to find the mature non-knuckleheads who are actually sincere in helping others. WHY is that so hard for the open-source community to establish? When people like me read "debates" between linux geeks, especially given the mission of THIS magazine, they reboot to WINDOWS!!!!

diomedes (not verified) - Fri, 2005-07-01 12:56.

Oh please ...

Everyone here had some bad luck either with Windows or with Linux !

I read some opinions about stability , installation time , installation ease , windows->linux portability , customer support.

Ok ... i am neutral to the Windows - Linux , Linux - Windows war ...
why ?
Because i don't like Windows , nor Linux ...
even though i use both everyday , i really respect the Sun operating system ...

So ... let me review those opinions ...

First of all ... drivers
Linux has a whole lot of drivers and compatible ones for a whole lot of devices , so does Windows ...
Linux installs them automatically , Windows asks you to insert the proper disk / file.
I wouldn't say this is a Linux-won situation , because it depends on the user ...

Installation
Okay ... so on a ~2.4Ghz computer you say Mandriva is installed in 30 minutes , with all the office suite and bla bla bla.
Windows is installed in 30-45 minutes without the whole office and bla bla bla ...
Well ... this depends ...
You can install linux in multiple ways. And you can install windows in multiple ways.
Personally i install windows once (with every thing i want in it) , which takes about 2-3 hours , then use some "ghost" software to back my partition up , burn it on a cd , and i have my all-system-backup ...
I haven't seen ghost for linux anywhere ... so linux will still be for me "anaconda - install" until i find some.
so linux will still "waste" 30 minutes installing (without customization (aka my chosen theme , settings)) and windows will "waste" 15-30 :).

Installation ease
uhm ... linux and windows are next-next-next-finish ...
windows requires it's serial number ... but you won't die entering 25 characters in a box will you ?
I got errors in both windows and linux installation applications ... so no winner here :)

Portability
office applications - both
sound and video applications - both
development - both
cad and 3d rendering - linux has fewer programs , because it's opensource
games - the same problem as above
server tools - both

Customer support
I never asked for customer support , not even by mail , so ... i wouldn't know if microsoft are jerks in this area or not ...

So ... the Linux versus Windows is a fight no one will win ...
on one hand you have a opensource system , all free ...
and on the other you have a paid one ...

Both of them have advantages and disadvantages , but in the end ...
it's like McDonalds fighting KFC ...
they both are giant companies of the Fast Food industry , but they have different products ...

so ... let's sit back and watch what the two giant operating systems do next ...

The Pirahna (not verified) - Sun, 2006-01-22 08:31.

Ghost software for Linux

There are several that do either a clone drive (ghost) or backup partitions to either a second local hard drive or across a network.

G4U (Ghost for Unix) is the one I use to clone a backup drive every couple of weeks. Here is the url. http://www.feyrer.de/g4u. Usually you can back up a 80 gig IDE (ATA 100) hard drive on a reasonably in fast machine in about and hour. My 64 bit computer clones my SATA II 160 gig drive in an hour.

There is also a program called G4L (Ghost for Linux) which I have not been able to get to clone my sata II drive on an AMD 64 FX2 machine running Suse. Best I can tell it doesn't like the 64 bit operating system.

The first time you use them, both programs are hard to figure out how to "use" but once you understand the steps and terminology both are very easy and fast to use to clone disk.

I also use a program called rdiff-backup to automatically backup twice daily what I install/write to an old IDE 10 gig drive. Then if I have a hard drive crash or "accident" I replace the bad SATA drive witht he one I cloned previously and then copy the "recent additions" from the rdiff-backup IDE drive and in less than 15 min I have "EVERYTHING" just like it was before the "accident". Here is the link for rdiff-backup: http://www.nongnu.org/rdiff-backup/

A spare hard drive and an old 10 gig drive are a lot cheaper than a tape drive and are the easiest and fastest recovery method I have found. Easy enough to where I actually do it... :-)

Keith Daniels - Tue, 2006-07-11 09:03.

ghost?

Norton Ghost 2003, works on Linux partitions, I don't know what ghost software you are referring to but Ghost 2003 works just fine for me on Windows as well as Linux...

best regards
sid

An - ymous (not verified) - Sat, 2006-07-08 10:05.

Migrating from Windoze

[quote="Ultimate Newbie"]It is so very much like the experience of an MMORPG, in that it takes awhile to find the mature non-knuckleheads who are actually sincere in helping others.[/quote]

If you're having trouble finding a newbie-friendly Linux User's Group to help you learn to use your Linux Distro, I recommend USALUG. ( www.usalug.org ). I can guarantee you that RTFM is a phrase that is hardily discouraged, and even stomped upon. Everyone there remembers that he once was a newbie and didn't know what Linux was! Just go there and lurk for a while, like I first did ;). Then, if you want to go ahead and learn Linux in a friendly, warm environment, sign up and become a member. I, too, was almost discouraged by the forums that were arrogant and conceited in their replies, but then I found USALUG, where I am now learning (I learn slow, and they are patient with me :) )

BTW, what does MMORPG mean??

JP

JP (not verified) - Fri, 2005-12-02 22:04.

Separating debate from HowTo

Whether the subject is an operating system, a sports team, a brand of beer or a television show, there will be a debate. The trick is how to make it possible for someone to find the answers they need without getting wrapped up in the debate.

Here at TUX, we offer two different kinds of information. In the magazine itself, we offer what we feel is the best information on how to actually get something done. What we cover is being shaped by the questions that get asked.

Here on the web site, we expect to see debate. That will be helpful to some of the readers and it is generally helpful to us to help decide what needs to be in the magazine itself. For example, in the desktop poll we fine that about twice as many people use KDE as Gnome.

There is also more on the way in terms of resources that we will make available to our readers. We're listening and based on the growth TUX is experiencing, you are not the only one in the "just tell me how" boat.

fyl - Sat, 2005-07-02 05:57.

click->click......

Have you tried Mandrake (now Mandriva) anytime??? on a typical P4 2.X ghz (or above) system --which you are comfortable running XP--, it takes just about 20-30 minutes for a full install which includes office suites, multimedia, instant messanger, server etc... All this without asking for any drivers , any serial numbers or product keys and without any reboots. It can even resize your XP's NTFS partitions.

Once installed, it can directly access your windows partitions.

I forgot to menion full multilingual support...

Do you need any further ease of use????

Find out your needs and then select your distribution accordingly... Same thing you do when you choose your windows OS and applications.

sudhanwa (not verified) - Fri, 2005-06-10 00:22.

Xandros must surely take the

Xandros must surely take the installation speed record for ALL OSes. Typically around 10 to 12 minutes on an AthlonXP 2600+ with 1gig RAM, and that includes more applications and suites than anyone could deem useable. I might add that I've tried no other Linux distro with better hardware detection and configuration. Linspire can match Xandros here, but it's not better.

Cheers
Kev

Kev (not verified) - Tue, 2006-01-31 19:11.

Banks and GPG?

Would a bank be able to deploy GPG? Doesn't it allow users to encrypt their mail even frm management and lack the administrative back door features of the original PGP?

An - ymous (not verified) - Tue, 2005-06-07 09:41.

Somewhat Supporting Windows (but not paid to do it)

>There are lots of studies of such issues as stability, security, performance, and >reliability of Linux vs. Microsoft Windows. They can roughly be divided into two
>lists:
>
> * Studies paid for by Microsoft
> * Studies that conclude Linux wins

I think the actual division, not the rough one, would be

* Studies that conclude Microsoft wins
* Studies that conclude Linux wins
* Studies that conclude other OS's win

If you're confident that Linux will win against Microsoft fairly, then do a fair survey. Schmots had some good things to consider. I've heard Linux and Microsoft are often compared to cars, with Linux more as a Standard, and Microsoft an automatic. Well there are more automatic drivers, and Microsoft users. While I do love standards, I would like my car to start when I want to go to work. Linux users/developers would do well to learn this. I use a dual boot laptop system: Windows XP, and SuSE linux. It took me over a week to get Linux on my computer, and I still can't get to stupid battery applet to work without freezing the toolbars. My laptop CAME with Windows. I've installed both on Desktops several times and Windows is a Next>Next>Next>Install>Finish. I'm done. Try installing Gentoo... You may want to classify me as a monkey hitting the next button, but when I start my robotics research, I don't want to be bogged down by troubleshooting my OS. The reason I use SuSE is because of YaST, which makes installing and updating and Networking so much easier. Next thing is gaming. I love gaming, but the games are written for Windows. At the moment, I'm writing this from my Linux side, and I'm sure in the end Linux will win this debate... fairly. But for now Microsoft is ahead, and it may stay there until Linux becomes a Next>Next>Next>Install>Finish system.

Ben Speer (not verified) - Tue, 2005-06-07 07:33.

RE: Somewhat Supporting Windows (but not paid to do it)

I agree that comparisons between operating systems should be fair. In keeping with this, I'll share my installation experiences on my home computer.

Windows freezes my computer when I try to install it. I've reinstalled it a couple of times already (I find I need to about yearly), and I've always had trouble with the computer freezing.

Mandriva Linux (formerly Mandrake) installs every time without any problems. For me, Mandriva Linux has always been a "Next>Next>Next>Install>Finish" install as you call it. Microsoft has been surprisingly aggravating.

Debian Linux installed the first time, but adding packages seemed to get a bit complicated. I don't think Debian is for anyone but the more experienced.

Regarding applications: there are areas where Microsoft is the only solution. As pointed out, Microsoft retains their desired monopoly when it comes to games and CAD software. For most applications, though, either operating system will work.

You say you spend more time getting Linux to work properly than Windows. I find the opposite to be true. Moreover, my not-so-computer-savvy fiancee had to finish her work online using my Linux box just yesterday. We failed to reach Bill Gates, so we still don't know what was going on.

In my opinion, software is improved through competition, so for the sake of those of us who use computers, I hope the competition never ends.

Michael Duckwitz (not verified) - M - , 2005-06-20 15:25.

Try again!!!

As I can see you are a proud Linux user, but you are thinking Linux is no so good as M$. In my experince -a short 2 years of course- there are some things Linux can't do yet, BUT that things are things that M$ will never do!!! Recovering damaged systems as an example, M$ is poor to do it with himself, and linux do miracles. In other side there is not enought corporative software in open soure (note that linux uses Opensourece software, but Linux, is the kernel OS, not the sofware univerese), but this is a matter of time only. For end user level, linux does anithing M$ does, maybe in a diferent way of M$, but it does. Linux is not perfect, but it have the two only advantage that M$ will never offer to the user: CHOICE and a A STRONG-FRIENDLY-COMMUNITY. If Suse is not working to you, then go to Mandriva, Fedora core4, or etc. Try with diferente kernels 2.4.29, 2.6.11, etc try with different GUIs, KDE, Gnome, XFCE, BlackBox,etc. Try the zillions of packages, etc. I admint to you taht at first time the new linux user will be frustrated, BUT (BIG "BUT"), only because in the most of cases he is tending to misconcept the way linux function. This was my matter... but now I using linux for productivity every day, without big problems. The only problem isa the time I spend transforming archives from M$ Office to Open Office and little things like this.
At this time Linux can do anything BUT you need to learn how to do it. This is the only matter. Our M$ previus learning blocks our minds to re-learn other ways to do things.
Suggestion: go to www.distrowatch.com if you want to know about the almost 400 linux distros out there.

NobodyXXX (not verified) - Sat, 2005-06-18 10:03.

more...

I forgive to say about installation... First, M$ install good, with no mayor problems, BUT this dammed thing only install to your system the pure OS. You will lost tons of time installing antiviruses, antispywares, office suites, burners, players, Drivers, Drivers, Drivers etc. (Note that the default driver to M$ Xp work bad to the most of cases and you will need to install the driver from the hardware vendor) AND Linux does all of it in a one time install if you want. Try anaconda installer, if you want (RedHat, Fedora, etc.) as an example, you will find Linux installers are fine with you AND you dont need to pay (or pay a lot) to get good help.

NobodyXXX (not verified) - Sat, 2005-06-18 10:14.

Let me first describe my situ

Let me first describe my situation.

I have a old Gateway PC. It is a P3 500 system. I did upgrade the RAM to 512 (PC100) and HDD to a 20GB. I had also upgraded the CDROM to DVD-CDRW combo drive. Please note that the new components that I had put in is relatively old.

Now I have set up the system as a dual boot with MS Windows 98 and SuSE Linux 9.1. I had installed NERO burner software version 6 that came with DVD-CDRW drive. All the components worked fine under MS Win 98 and Linux.

Now MS says they don't want to support their MS Win98. It is very sad. Now I had to upgrade to latter version of MS Windows. I chose MS Win XP (Home). I did a clean install (Format-install). Now I use NTFS instead of FAT32. Re-install the NERO version 6. Now my drive doesn't detect mini-CDRW disks and many DVD formats which used to work before. I checked the drive under Linux. It works like before, perfect.

Now, for the most interesting part. Call MS for support and I get the response "sorry". Not to say that I had never faced problem with installing SuSE Linux. But when I call my Linux vendor (SuSE). Amazingly they walked through to ensure my system is up and working.

I have installed and worked with other flavours of Linux like Mandrake, Red Hat. All this vendors have helped me get my problem solved.

My inference:
1. No OS may fit all the different HW that you have. MS Windows doesn't even boot my iMac, which Linux does and work on iMac. Linux has been ported to many harware. Sad to say that so called proprietry OS doesn't still support many different common hardware.
2. MS doesn't know what customer service is all about and hence Linux wins the installation test.

Immanuel (not verified) - Sat, 2005-06-18 03:49.

Actually windows install is m

Actually windows install is more Next > Next > Enter CD Key > Re-Enter CD Key > Check CD key is they one that come with that specific version, etc, etc. Try installing mandrake / centos / debian / ( not gentoo ) on decent common hardware and you'll find the install faster than windows. I commonly run up debian on basic hardware in under 15minutes. I administer an environment of 90% windows desktops / servers, that 90% is decreasing as administration of those machines increases. I'd suggest buying a playstation if you want games, or get winex.

An - ymous (not verified) - Wed, 2005-06-08 03:21.

i think that even the linux c

i think that even the linux comunity is developing fast windows is still very farr away. it is just not practical giving all ./configure make ... rather than just a click
and also people that use software want to be able to do their job fast and easy. and windows dows that the best. ok, linux may be better but if you put a monkey in front of a computer it will still find it easir to use windows.
it is just not made for the usual every day users

An - ymous (not verified) - Thu, 2005-06-02 02:36.

Linux vs Windows

This is just my experience. I bought my first pc 5 years ago and was surfing the web within less than 2 hours with Windows. After 2 years with SuSe Pro 7.3 & 9.1, Mepis and a few others, $80 invested in a modem said to work with Linux (it probably does) I'm still not on the net with Linux. No I am not giving up for I am totally against any monopoly
Yes I read the manuals and search the web (with Windows) haunt the Linux sites but I am yet to find information put in a language I can understand. Linux may be free to download off the web along with many free packages but what good is free if I have to spend thousands on computer schooling to Learn what it takes to do the things I want to do with a computer.
I "do: like the idea that there really isn't anyone to bitch to and therefore Microsoft can't just buy Linux out and illiminate the threat it is to Windows.
Is Linux more stable with better operating systems? I really don't know. I have both of my machines set to dual boot with SuSe and Win 2k and right now for me I have less problems with Win 2k and neither of my machines have been to a computer shop for repair because I've learned to maintain each. One day I hope to be able to say the same with a Linux box, but at present I see this as taking a lot longer than it took for me with Windows.
Am I for Linux (no matter the distro) YES. But it looks as though I have to support Microsoft in order for me to get up to par with a Linux operating system. I read how great Linux is but have to use Windows to read it. lol
Thanks. Thats my side of the story. I'm stubborn and one day will learn what it takes with Linux, but I see many turning from it not wanting to play modem of the month just to surf the web.

pappynv (not verified) - Tue, 2005-06-07 22:56.

MMMM...

Please try one of this:
1) Buy a PC with preinstalled Linux. As I can see is the best for you.
2) Please, try, really try OTHER distro: Suse is a linux distro BUT IS NOY LINUX in all. Suggest: Mandriva, Mepis, Fedora, etc. (search info of distroes in www.distrowatch.com or here in this page of TuxMachines)
If you really want ioffer to you some little help: phantasmathos@yahoo.com
IC

NobodyXXX (not verified) - Sat, 2005-06-18 10:26.

Linux Vs Windows

"After 2 years with SuSe Pro 7.3 & 9.1, Mepis and a few others, $80 invested in a modem said to work with Linux (it probably does) I'm still not on the net with Linux."

"I have both of my machines set to dual boot with SuSe and Win 2k..."

You have managed to get 2 PCs setup in a dual-boot environment but still can't figure out how to get on the internet??? I'm sorry, I just don't buy that.
Dude, d/l a copy of mandrake and follow the wizard for a standard install - you'll be up and running in 15 minutes.

If after that, you honestly can't get rolling - join a user group - they're all over the place now.

An - ymous (not verified) - Thu, 2005-06-09 23:32.

Linux vs Windows, if you're a Newbie try Linspire !

I too wanted to get away from Windows for the same reasons as you. I have few computer skills. I ran into the same problems with Mandrake that you had with Suse. I finally bought a PC with Linspire 4.5 on it. I was able to get online straight away. My son, who has computer skills, used the same Linspire 4.5 CD to install on another computer we had around the house. It installed perfectly -- it recognized the modem too. Linspire is not free of cost. First you must buy the CD, then I HIGHLY recommend that you subscribe to their 'warehouse' of programs, most are free to subscribers. I click on the program I want and it installs itself. It's simple. Linspire members have access to a lot of support on line. It helps ---I've had to request it when trying to install my digital camera.
Good luck with your entry into Linux ! My wife and I RARELY ever use our Windows XP computer since we bought Linux ( Linspire). You can read about Linspire at www.linspire.com
George

GeorgeM (not verified) - Wed, 2005-06-08 21:31.

to pappynv

about the modem you have.
An $80 modem should work, specially if this is an external one (serial). Internal winmodems sometimes work and sometimes not, just for your information they are not really modems, they are sort of acoustic couplers, not modems and they need some software to make them work. Manufacturers don't write drivers for linux or they don't publish the technical information needed to write drivers because of their strong commitment to M$. Unfortunately this is the way some dirty bussiness work in this world. I hope this will change sometime.

An - ymous (not verified) - Wed, 2005-06-08 20:39.

Which is easier?

I'm always surprised to hear from people who say the Windows is easier to install and use. In my office we have both Windows and Linux desktops. Given a new computer, I can intall Linux and have it completely ready to use with all of the needed applications in under one hour. To get the same computer ready with Windows takes about four hours. By ready to go, I mean: OS and applications installed, patches applied, and configured to use the office network.

A typical Windows machine at my office will last for 15 months berfore I have to wipe the disk and reinstall Windows. My policy when troubleshooting Windows is to give up after 30 minutes and just reinstall. I don't think I spent 30 minutes troubleshooting the all of Linux desktops in my office in the past year.

Granted, I know Linux well and I know how to get things done on Linux. Windows systems can be reasonably functional desktops, but in my professional experience Linux desktops are consistently easier to set up and maintain. Maybe I should get better at working with Windows, but I don't see any great benefit in doing so when I can use Linux instead.

tec (not verified) - Wed, 2005-06-08 09:20.

Windows-Linux Software Comparison Web Site

We need a Windows-Linux software comparison clearing house web site. Us newbies could just look up what software we used on Windows (or describe basic function, example: automated audio recording) and Linux equivalents would be listed alongside. Anything like that already exist?

Thanks.

Peter Chase (not verified) - Wed, 2005-06-01 14:01.

Here!

You are in one of the best pages for newbies. Suscribe to TuxMachines and you will get the Magazine they are doing SPECIALLY for newbies. There are 3 volumes now. (I use it to learn some new trick and Im not so newbie!!)
IC

NobodyXXX (not verified) - Sat, 2005-06-18 10:30.

table of equivalents

Check out this website
http://linuxshop.ru/linuxbegin/win-lin-soft-en/table.shtml

Aloha

An - ymous (not verified) - Sun, 2005-06-05 16:11.

Fifth App

I would kindly suggest another application run by many users and that would be Quicken and its sister, TurboTax. Quicken is the only thing keeping my wife from moving to Linux. Well, that and I'm still learning.

nemski (not verified) - Tue, 2005-05-31 12:58.

Quicken Equivalent

Frustrated with Quicken (poor Intuit support and corrupted, inaccessible files), I moved all of my family accounting to GnuCash, distributed with the Fedora (Red Hat) and other versions of Linux. I am very pleased with the change. Take a look at: http://www.gnucash.org/
I do not know if there is a Linux equivalent of TurboTax, which I have used regularly with greater success than Quicken.

An - ymous (not verified) - Wed, 2005-06-01 16:10.

Other things to consider

While I agree that you should consider "what functions you need" your answers were a little simplistic.

I want to start by saying I am a linux user in an all windows enviorment but I had to do some tweaking to be able to do so. So with that in mind, lets look at the first and most obviouse problem..

IE.
Man I don't like Internet Explorer but the majority of company websites are written for it, from activeX scripts so simply authenticating that it is IE. To get around this I installed IE in linux using Crossover Office. Crossover Office (hear on refered to as CXO) is not a free program. I paid about 40 dollars for my licence and its worth every penny. While I use firefox 99% of the time. There are some job required items that I need IE for.

Office.
While I too use OO.o I do so because I am a more advance user than most. People dont like learning something new or having something different. When they call Company X and say "I have a problem with the Word/Excel sheet you sent me, these forms/macros/links arn't working.. Company X will ask "Oh, which version of Word/Excel are you using. Just be aware that they work differently and you need to adress that when you consider a switch.

Terminals.
Ok here you oversimplified. Most commercial end database terminals are either AS400 or a Unix system. For example my company uses a Versyss program that only runs on SCO or AIX unix. This program only works with c330/332/332e terminal formats. These formats are closed source, propriatary formats. Once again I have to use CXO to run my windows based terminal application.

Email.
This is definitly the lynch pin, mainly because of Microsoft Exchange. MS Exchange is a very complex server program, and most companies that run it use it to its fullest. No default linux program will connect to an Exchange server. Now there is a plugin for Evolution that will let you access your Exchange server via the Outlook Web Access conduits but its flaky, for example. I have about a dozen things schedualed every single day. Thats a lot of items in my calander. This mass amount of info causes evloution running the ximian plugin to crash. Once again CXO to the rescue. I have to run Outlook 2000 in it and its not 100% perfect but it works.

Now I love linux, but you need to have a more informed and more balanced explination of what is good and what is bad. You have to decide whats the best tool for the job, not what you want someone to use.

Schmots (not verified) - Fri, 2005-05-20 08:52.

other things to consider:

other things to consider:

e-mail?

> no default linux program will connect to an Exchange server

what do you mean default linux program?

are you sure there are not any?

check

An - ymous (not verified) - Tue, 2005-06-07 05:59.

Windows AND Linux

VmWare gives us another possibility in orther to work concurrently with Linux and Windows on the same machine. With VmWare you build a VM (virtual machine) with a Windows Operative System within your Linux system. Only when you need to operate a Windows Application then you open your VM, run that application, and return to Linux with an easy switch.

But the advantages of VmWare are so many that an special issue would be deserved

xj (not verified) - Fri, 2005-06-03 00:00.

Virtual Machine

I call myself an "advanced novice" when it comes to computers, their use and maintenance. Have built several systems to use in my home and in my business, set up and maintain several web sites with my limited knowledge, and so forth, but consider my knowledge gained over the past 20 years since buying my first computer, a Tandy 1000a XP clone, to be practical but not in the realm of 'expert.'

Having said that, I really like the idea of using virtual machines but have not found the idea easy to execute in the real world on an average machine. For instance, most of my machines run about 512meg of RAM or so. That has not cut it for running a VM at all. Dual boot has worked better. I'm now typing away on a dual boot machine with WindowsXP Home and Freespire. Tried installing Suse but it took a while and didn't work properly on my notebook. In all fairness, there was a faulty battery connected to the notebook at the time, which kept WindowsXP from using the touchpad or keyboard, so the fault may not have been with Suse at all. (No kidding.)

I prefer Freespire and Linspire etc. in many ways but must have Windows to run some financial modeling / proposal software from various insurance companies - in the course of running my insurance agency.

Wine doesn't run those proprietary programs -which I need to run my insurance agency. I bought a version of Win4Lin (crossover office tailored for Linspire) which worked fine with Linspire 5.0 but when I moved to Linspire 5.0v2 that version of Win4Lin didn't work any more. Kind of like the Microsoft upgrade cycle in some ways, unfortunately.

Don't get me wrong. I really like Linspire; I switched to it after trying XandrOS and several other distros, and have stuck with it. They do have fairly responsive support, and an easy way to send in a diagnostic report.
However, it's pretty difficult to actually talk with someone if you need an answer NOW rather than by Email.

On the other hand, I've actually been able to talk with Microsoft support many times. I consistently refuse to pay for support calls, and always get through to a support person; I've found that Microsoft support people tend to know what they are talking about probably 80% of the time. Unfortunately, I've needed to talk with Microsoft support many times -- and many times because one of their helpful updates trashed my system.

Linux is really good in many ways. When Linux distros can do the following, there will be little reason to continue using Microsoft OSs in my office:
1. remember the wireless networking settings on my notebook so I don't have to fiddle with those settings every time I take my notebook to a new location.
2. better WINE, or
3. alternatively -- convince more software developers to port business applications to Linux / or maybe make it easy for an 'advanced novice' like myself to recompile windows applications to run in Linux.
4. Make it possible to use Virtual Machines etc. without having to run 85 gazillion gigabytes of RAm to do it.
5. Make it possible for me to run my music composition software in Linux. I've used that music composition software for ten years, and really don't want to learn a different system just so I won't have to stop booting into Windows to use it. Yes, I know there are music composition packages in Linux -- but there is only so much time in the day; and some of the Linux music composition packages I've tried look pretty but are incomprehensible in real life. Music composition software is more complex than word processing, so learning a new system is not very attractive to me. FYI: I use a shareware program I paid for over ten years ago. It's called "Noteworthy Composer," and it's really good as well as affordable for a new user to get involved with it. No, I don't sell it. (g)

Well, that's way too much for now.

thanks for TUX magazine, and for this helpful discussion board.

Trent

Trent Hall (not verified) - Tue, 2006-12-26 02:14.

Say Bro you're way to heavy e

Say Bro you're way to heavy esse. Chill. These guys are still trying to figure out how to startx. Relax man, they got time. Let them enjoy their experience. A little simplistic is the idea here.
You reply is very much a real world analysis of the computing environment for the professional. However there are those of us that are simply trying to learn and go one step at a time. Not everyone has the need to get as complexed as you are describing for the general population that this magazine is geared for the advantages and disadvantages article is just fine. The idea here from what I see is to KISS and once the foundation is laid down then one can build and advance. You are trying to make things a lot harder than they need to be for this forum. What is it about tech heads that make them feel like they have to rain on newbies? Do they really need to do this in order to feel adiquate or surperior? If you would read (sound familar? RTFFC haha) the front cover of the magazine you would see it is for "new Linux user". There are many other places on the web that can get as deep as you want to get so maybe this forum is too basic for you. Who knows maybe one of these readers will fall in love with the nix's and decide that they can make it all compatible. After all it's the open source community that has an environment that encourages willingness to share and not be intimidated to ask questions as well as coming down to the level of the environment. When some asked a specific question about a c330/332/332e terminal format, or some such complexity then that would be a good que for you to flex you mental muscle and come to the rescue.
Be smooth.

J. Dorrill (not verified) - Tue, 2005-05-31 10:27.

No you need to read

He is writting this from the point of view of whether or not a bank can switch.. thats a business, not just a first time linux user.

Schmots (not verified) - Wed, 2005-06-01 14:47.

on a completely different (no

on a completely different (non-technical) level, the main advantage that Microsft has over whatever flavour of linux that you care to use is that Microsft is dominent in Schools and the work desktop.
people more often than not have their first computer experience using Windws..
its very difficult to persuade people to re-learn, so they put up with crashes, viruses, spyware and continue with what they know

linux vendors need to organize a program of linux in schools, much like ubuntu is doing in South Africa.
Many governments around the world are ditching Micrsft in favopur of Linux.germany, China, Cuba, Chile and im sure there are many others..

An - ymous (not verified) - Wed, 2005-05-25 03:04.

and you can thank microsoft for that...

Yes, unfortunately there are some problems running Linux in a corporate environment where Microsoft is still the standard.

I met Bill Gates about 3 years ago and he honestly believes Microsoft products are the ONLY thing that will reliably support government and corporate operations now and in the future.

The problem I see is that much of the world believes him.

sbaltzer (not verified) - Tue, 2005-05-24 06:31.

Hmnnnn

there are somethings that windows does and does well, I'd like to see a very easy way to back up dvd in linux, also games run better in windows, and hardware generally works better, but this is probably because what it's designed for, also, installing programs are a cinch in windows, not so with linux, primarily because there are a million distributions out there each with a somewhat diffrent installing program, and while yes most of the software for linux is free, so is the microsoft ones if you have the right filesharing program, if linux wants to become a contender they really need to unify their installation program so that the number of files needed to install a program comes down to one, while still keeping the source available for development, in other words it needs to be more user friendly, the /root and / and /media really isn't as user friendly as the C/programfiles or c/windows, or the D drive, and the tar.gz, or .deb aren't as user friendly as the .exe file. in reality a web browser is a web browser, and a word processor is a word processor and the programs dont' really matter because the formats are so familar, but what really needs to be worked on it's unification, afterall, a linux devided cannot stand

An - ymous (not verified) - Sat, 2005-05-28 01:28.

Alright. First off you have to look at causes.

You write this and you have a very simple understanding of filesystems.

Linux is a UNIX derviative. UNIX has been around since 1965. Windows has been since 1984 when it stole its stuff from apple who actually stole what it had from Xerox. The UFS type FS is a remarkable way to handle devices and systems, because when it comes down to it, everything in UNIX is a file. The reason people have a hard time is that Windows is a very modular micro kernel. So it comes with a base and a standard set of libraries that are open. Linux is a monolithic kernel therefore the software has a different way of integrating with the system. I work for a Computer Consulting Firm and I have taught more people to use Ubuntu and Gentoo easier than I could tell them how to use the full features of windows. If you have a way that Linux does things and you want more modular driver support, go to BSD. Try FreeBSD or NetBSD, they have great documention and simplified installers where you can hit next next next if that your bag. Good Luck and Be Open and Free

ph (not verified) - Wed, 2006-02-01 00:21.

Re: Hmnnnn

Now I am using Mepis Linux, Debian based and compatible, and using KDE.

In terms of hardware Linux has both strengths and weaknesses. The weakness is that not all vendors develop drivers or open the specifications for open-source programmers. Even when they do, they may be buggy or outdated. Nevertheless, Linux outshines Windows in hardware autodetection and autoinstallation. Also, Mepis comes with the closed nvidia drivers easily installable.

Installation and update of any program in Debian and Debian-compatible repositories is as easy as an Automatic Windows Update. Actually, I don't think you can get more userfriendly than .deb and apt-get and its graphical wrappers, such as kpackage or synaptic. With all the dependency issues automatically taken care of, it is much better and friendlier system then in Windows where you and up having various programs installing identical or similar software components doing the same things, sometimes in conflicting ways.

Multiple root directories labeled arbitrarily from c: onwards is hardly a user friendly feature. It has become more of a bug. You never know what is going to be the letter of your CD-ROM and I had an issue once in XP with a USB drive failing to get autodetected because it tried to use a letter already used by a network drive. A well defined directory structure with clearly labelled locations for each device is in my opinion a much more user-friedly to me.

And more flexible for that matter. Moving the /home directory on a sepparate partition is hardly difficult even for a beginner and is the default installation in most distributions. If one tries to move the equivalent "Documents and Settings" folder (or "Program Files" for that matter, but it makes less sense) on another drive to protect it in case of a clean OS (re)install, etc. requires advanced administrative skills.

On the other hand, a browser is not just a browser, even if we put aside the security issues. Opera or a well-extended Firefox ar much more user-friendly then Internet Explorer in any but the most dangerous ways.

A word processor is a word processor only as long as it is consistent, when ease-of-use is promoted by marketing against technical common-sense and logic.

The reason I like Linux is its relative stability and reliability and not least its modularity. I think that for Linux what is more useful is an easier inter-operation of the various projects.

Radu (not verified) - Tue, 2006-01-31 08:47.

Unity

Yes, the linux communities need to become united in creating a unified package manager. When I first learned linux, I didn't have the internet. So, unfortunately, I had no idea what package manager meant. I knew there were things called RPMs and junk, but no idea that was program installation. Its funny when I think about it now, but its something all the noobies will face. How do I install things? I, personally, have never had a pleasant time installing using ./configure && make.

We in the linux community need to take ourselves seriously and unite. We are a powerful group and need to act like one.

Lunarcloud (not verified) - Sun, 2005-06-05 11:32.

--but what really needs to be

--but what really needs to be worked on it's unification, afterall, a linux devided cannot stand.

I totaly agree,

An - ymous (not verified) - Wed, 2005-06-01 07:08.

Umm no

.... and while yes most of the software for linux is free, so is the microsoft ones if you have the right filesharing program ....

Um, Linux software is free.. and legal. Using a filesharing program to get office doens't make it free. It makes it stolen.

Schmots (not verified) - M - , 2005-05-30 12:06.

Free as in freedom

And everyone is forgetting about free as in freedom. So it is not enough that the application is free as in 0€. What is important is also that the source code is available and everyone who wishes can look at it and modify it (if you know how) or learn from it to make it better and this continues on and on so we get better apps. And not just one specific app. Other alternative apps can also take out the great ides and use them in their apps. This keeps the level of competition very high and very fair. And all this freedom and openess is a very good thing for the user.

Jure Repinc (not verified) - Thu, 2005-06-02 11:47.

Outlook to Evolution - how to migrate?

How to export my existing emails from an outlook 2000 to evolution (Fedora core 3). I tried this and failed. I could not find any way to import a .pst file. This stopped my migration to Linux from Windows.

Regards,

James

James (not verified) - Tue, 2005-06-07 05:34.

Outlook to Evolution - how to migrate?

http://outport.sourceforge.net/

An - ymous (not verified) - Thu, 2005-06-09 23:44.

pst to linux mail

It is possible to import outlook mail files to evolution. There's a command line utility that I think is called readpst or something along those lines that will convert your pst file to a format readable by evolution. It's just a matter of putting the resulting emails into your home evolution folder, (under .evolution or something like that). There are other multiple ways too, like using kmail. I went through the same thing you went through when i was trying out kmail, thunderbird and evolution. If you need more details just say and i'll look for the forum link that helped me......(mind you it was ubuntu but i think it would apply in your case too)

Mark (not verified) - Tue, 2005-06-07 08:40.

I am not convinced that linux is good

let me put this as formally and as simply as possible:

First of all, linux does not support most hardware
Secondly, it is no where NEAR userfriendly.
There are no software standards
>> no common shortcuts
>> no common functionality
True there may be several powerful software available
but what is the use of these software if each of them looks different
and acts different as compared to shortcuts and other standards?
Not only that, most of the softwares available do not have proper documentation. thus expecting its users to magically discover its functions by experimenting.
Thus most of the software are useless

I have seen that most linux users are in fact ppl who try to show off proving that they are "advanced" users and know a "Lot" abt computers. I have myself seen these guys resort to M$ applications to do thier work

An - ymous (not verified) - Sun, 2005-11-13 02:33.

re:I am not convinced that linux is good

The previous poster is apparently totally clueless.....

QUOTE: "First of all, linux does not support most hardware" ....... a more apt phrase would be "Some hardware manufacturers only produce hardware for M$"

QUOTE: "Secondly, it is no where NEAR userfriendly." Now that's completely and utterly stupid..... OBVIOUSLY you haven't installed any distro recently. It's easier to install Linux, than it is to install M$ XP.... quicker and you get more software installed by default.

QUOTE: "There are no software standards" ROFLMAO .... Right..... in your small mind M$ sets the standards... when in reality M$ wants to dictate software standards to everyone else. One note..... how "standards" compliant is M$ web browser? ........ wake up.

QUOTE: ">> no common shortcuts
>> no common functionality"
ok...... you have OBVIOUSLY not used KDE on Linux. Why don't you actually "try" Linux for a few months before making a stupid statment like that.

QUOTE: "True there may be several powerful software available
but what is the use of these software if each of them looks different
and acts different as compared to shortcuts and other standards?"
So...... you admit that its powerful software..... but apparently you aren't dilligent enough to take the time to learn to use such powerful software. Heaven forbid you actually have to "read" something to use a computer...... Your shortcuts and standards appear to be simply to conform to what M$ has ingrained into your brain as "standard" .... sorry, they don't get to set "standards" for me. As for how they look, you can make your Linux setup "look" anyway you want it too....... it's THAT configurable.

QUOTE:"Not only that, most of the softwares available do not have proper documentation. thus expecting its users to magically discover its functions by experimenting.
Thus most of the software are useless"
Wow...... you discount software based on that totally in depth perspective and in reality you are showing how lacking you are in any real knowledge of Linux. Most software DOES have alot of documentation, and learning to use google and ask questions will bring you a wealth of information that your brain probably couldn't process, but that's another story.

QUOTE: " I have seen that most linux users are in fact ppl who try to show off proving that they are "advanced" users and know a "Lot" abt computers. I have myself seen these guys resort to M$ applications to do thier work" Wow...... again you impress me with your "knowledge" .... basing your lame opinions on your limited personal experience which is obviously REALLY limited. I do work with Linux everyday, I don't use Windows (ever) , and i get by just fine. In fact I converted my entire office over to Linux, and the people that use the machines actually prefer using software that just works.

No virus worries, no trojans, no weird crashes, no backdoors, no holes, no underhanded TOS crap. Get a clue troll.... know what your talking about before you post crap like that.

Troll Killer (not verified) - M - , 2005-12-05 20:30.