What to do after a failed Windows-to-Linux migration

Did you read an article or blog post hyping up Linux as a cure for all computer problems? Did it give you the impression that Linux is for smart users and Windows is for suckers? Did you think Linux would do everything Windows did… but better? More importantly, after being misled by pro-Linux propaganda, were you extremely disappointed about having to return to Windows?

I’ve read many such stories on the Ubuntu Forums from disgruntled would-be migrants to Linux (Ubuntu, specifically, since it is the Ubuntu Forums, and I am a Ubuntu user). This duped user has had too much trouble migrating to Linux (usually a combination of culture shock and incompatible hardware) but doesn’t want to deal with security problems in Windows.

Well, here’s my advice to this user:

  • You can secure Windows. If the only reason you’re migrating to Linux is security, look into a program called SuRun. It allows you to create a security setup similar to the sudo implementation Ubuntu and Mac OS X use. So you can run almost always as a limited-privilege user, and when you want to temporarily escalate to administrative privileges (say, for Windows Updates or badly written programs that require you to run as an administrator), you can do so with a simple right-click and password authentication.
  • You can experience open source on Windows. If switching to Linux is too much of a culture shock, you can ease yourself in by exploring various open source Windows applications.
  • Hold out for compatible hardware. If the idea of eventually switching to Linux appeals to you, keep your Lexmark printer and Broadcom wireless card for now and use Windows. But the next time you’re in the market for a peripheral or hardware component, do a little bit of research and find one that’s Linux-friendly.
  • Hold out for preinstalled Linux. Taking that last bit advice one step further—the best way to have a positive Linux experience is to experience it the way most Windows users first experienced Windows: preinstalled and preconfigured. Let Asus, Dell, or HP handle all the setup and configuration. Keep using that Windows computer until it’s “too old,” and then buy a new computer with Linux preinstalled and just turn it on and have it just work. No fussing with editing text files. No installing drivers. No recompiling kernels.
  • Just give up. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with Windows if that’s what makes you happy. If you have the money for it, if it allows you to run the software applications you need, and if a Linux migration is too much of a headache for you, stay with what works for you.

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8 Comments

  1. Apparently lots of large organizations have no trouble running Linux!

    The world’s largest science experiment, CERN’s new Large Hadron Collider runs entirely on Linux. In fact all of CERN, Femilab and many other large science labs run only Linux. Windows is too insecure to be used in a situation where you are colliding high energy proton beams! You could get a BSOD at the wrong time.

    The World Wide Web was invented at CERN, along with the web browser, the hyperlink and the web server, so they have some computer experience that has impacted the rest of us.

    Good run-down at:

    http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/large_hadron_collider_switches_if_its_end_world_it_will_be_powered_gnu_linux

  2. Yes, there is that option as well. Generally speaking, though, if someone has Linux-unfriendly hardware, it’s best to wait to get that replaced with something friendlier, and then just about any Linux distro with the latest kernel will work with it.

  3. Where did you get that feeling?

    The only replacements I know of for MS Office are Gnome Office, KOffice, and OpenOffice.

    OpenOffice and GnomeOffice are both available for Windows.

    And Windows also has Microsoft Works, don’t forget.

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