Examining options for Windows 98 users - Part II
In my previous article I examined the first of two options available to people who currently use Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, or Windows Millennium and face a potentially tough decision following Microsoft's decision to retire these operating systems. In this continuation I set the stage for purchasing your new machine and encourage your consideration of buying a Linux computer when buying a newer more powerful machine.
Now before you rush off and order the hottest new model featured in all of the Dell advertisements, let me tell you why you should buy a new machine with Linux pre-installed at the supplier. We have covered many of the technical reasons why you should choose Linux, and I won't repeat them here. I'd like to focus instead on some reasons that are pertinent to Windows users that are considering the switch to Linux. One perspective you should seriously consider is committing completely to Linux with your new machine. Instead of considering a double boot configuration, consider switching completely and ordering a machine with Linux pre-installed.
First of all I'm suggesting that you jump into Linux with both feet because the time is right. If you're reading this you are already on the edge of the pool. You're looking for a change and you don't want that change to be to Windows XP or Windows Vista. As I've prefaced this article, you already have a working machine, although it has reached a dead-end -- at least in terms of operating systems support and options. So before you go searching your new machine, consider the following reasons why you should jump into Linux and not look back:
- Vendor supported Linux installation
- Embracing the future
- Real support
If you purchased a Windows machine and you wanted to get Linux installed, then you would have to reconfigure the hard drive by installing a dual boot Linux partition on your machine. Assuming you were successful with the installation, afterwards you would be responsible for the future support of that configuration. With a pre-installed Linux machine, you can receive support directly from the manufacturer. While that support might not make the jump effortless, it will provide some protection from a catastrophic problem. Some suppliers might even offer extended support options for sale with the purchase of a new computer.
Linux will not replace nor displace Windows from the world of information technology. However, everything points to Windows sales beginning to decline and market share shifting to Linux. The combined forces of Linspire, Mandriva, Novell, and Xandros will continue to achieve strong growth and pursue further improvements in their desktop offerings. These alternatives are going to make choosing Windows more and more difficult, especially for people who are buying new equipment.
Choosing Linux now also means that you will have made your last operating systems selection. Due to the freedoms guaranteed by the GNU Public License, GNU/Linux can never be closed from the world. This means that switching to Linux means a permanent switch to Linux. Once you find a distribution that meets your needs, no one can ever force you to move to something else. You're in control. By picking a distribution that also has a vibrant and active community you can rest assured that you have found an operating system that will be with you for a long time.
One of the biggest misconceptions of Linux and open source is the lack of support for the software. It is a misconception because most people and companies have little or no support from Microsoft and other software vendors. If you do have support and you encounter a problem, it is your responsibility to prove to the agents of the company that your problem is bonafide. If you can't recreate your problem consistently, many vendors will ignore your request until you can. For the home user, if you have an application error with a proprietary piece of software what are your options? For the home user, I know that there is real support available from real users of Linux. Furthermore, this support extends to having access to real engineers or developers, who can help you with your issues, all without having to prove to anyone that your issue is re-creatable.
Where is this support available? The open nature of Linux promotes sharing and technology transfer. This openness means that through Internet relay chat, mailing lists, and forums there is a large community available to field your questions. In many of these forums there are no stupid questions, the participants are there to help. Others do ask some for some groundwork before submitting a question, but typically it is not burdensome. Typically, the biggest challenge lies in finding the right source of support. For help in this area, always check on the Linux distribution's home page or project home page for support options.
Combining all of the technical, security, and stability benefits with vendor support, embracing the future, and obtaining real support pre-installed Linux offers a convincing alternative to Microsoft Windows. In the next article, I'll examine the alternatives for purchasing a new computer with Linux pre-installed. There are some tricky vendors out there who still want to sell you a Windows machine, but with TUX's help you'll have the right information on hand to make a good choice.