Killing the Five Myths Against Linux
By Mark Rais, author of the new book
Linux For the Rest of Us 2nd Edition.
Over the past few
years, I have tried to focus almost exclusively on helping small
companies and inquisitive users move to Linux. I realize that
much of the hesitation to apply Linux in the business and home setting
extends from five core myths. Yes, its true that some people
hesitate because they adore their Windows environment. But most
users I have worked with tend to shy away from trying out Linux simply
because they believe a myth.
In response to their concerns, and because more and more new and
inquisitive users desire to try Linux but remain hesitant, I document
these core five myths and put an end to the shameless ritual of
attacking something that works.
Before I begin I should also note that there are plenty of great user guides for people who need detailed guidance around business Linux use, such as this excellent article from Comparitech.com on Linux VPNs. Plenty of good sources out there making Linux easy to use even for business needs.
Linux is hard
to install. Especially if I am not sure I want to keep it, but
just try it out.
Some cynical Linux gurus end up making snide remarks to such well
meaning users. Hey, how often have YOU installed Windows?
Knowing full and well that almost no user ever installs the Windows OS,
and if they did, they would potentially encounter the very same
concerns, these Linux experts mock the myth. However, for
the sake of the newbie who truly wants an answer not a snide remark, I
always respond in the same way.
I slip an SuSe Live CD into their drive and wait. As they watch
Linux loading up on their Windows system they start to panic and say
wait Im not ready for that! I smile and reassure them that I
am not affecting any of their existing files. Soon enough the
crisp interface, driven I must add by KDE Desktop
, finishes loading and I double click on
the Mozilla browser icon.
I open a website, for instance Linuxtoday.com, and then let them see
and use Linux for real. Hey, it automatically installed my
SpeedStream DSL modem, cackles my newbie user in glee. Yes, and
sound works fine, so does the mouse, and selecting and using his HP
printer is done in about a minute from the
YaST hardware config tool. The tool is conveniently located under
the main menu by choosing System, then Configuration, then YaST.
But what if I dont want to try out SuSe
I have no intention to sell
a particular flavor to any new user.
Instead, I confirm that the same thing is available with most of the
major flavors including Debian, Fedora,
Mandrake, or derivatives including
Knoppix and Xandros
among many. Plenty of choices that work and work well I might
add. Most importantly, the user did not have to install to see it
and try some of the features. Of course, getting the most out of
Linux requires an installation.
Installing the versions I name above is as easy as walking through a
step-by-step wizard that explains and then recommends each
option. Ive installed everyone of the flavors noted and they all
come with very easy to understand graphical tools.
Most importantly, they all offer an option for new users to automate
the installation so the techno-blabber is absent and getting started
with Linux is simple.
In seriousness, not everything is seamless all of the time. Some
people encounter an issue while most do not. For instance,
sometimes hardware is unsupported under Linux such as
Winmodems. Nevertheless, most of these issues can be overcome
post-installation. As with any full operating system install, you
may need to tweak the software, add a driver, or change a configuration
such as for your sound card.
However, if you have ever reinstalled Windows, youll see a marked
difference. Under Linux, YOU are empowered to correct almost any
issue or make almost any configuration change.
The result: it is just as easy if not easier to install Linux as it is
to install Windows. And most importantly, today there are plenty
of ways to try out Linux without even making changes or installing
anything on your PC.
Linux is free
and therefore unsupported.
A few years ago this was a real hurdle for me to address. People,
especially business owners, viewed the term free with cheap and
worried that there would be no support once a migration to Linux
Today this myth is easily removed by simply using Google and running a
search on Linux Help. Available at the touch of a keyboard are
many Linux support forums, user groups, free consultation and
documentation, and thousands of people who want to help new users learn
and grow. Its easy to find many specific forums for using Linux
for small businesses, for specific flavors
like SuSe, and for super
new users who need a helping hand
There is plenty of free and friendly Linux support available across the
spectrum of needs from enterprise to new home user.
Linux is for
techies and does not have an interface like Windows.
Believe it or not, I still have a number of people hesitant to try
Linux because they have never actually seen a Linux GUI! For
those who have still not seen and understood that Linux not only offers
very refined and professional interfaces, but several choices of
interfaces as well, please look at some of these screen shots:
There are not only highly professional and easily customized interfaces
available; those already familiar with Windows can readily understand
and use them.
There is not
much software developed for Linux available.
It is very true that Microsoft still reigns over the software industry
of the world. However, lists like
this remove the myth that software
for business and home use is not readily available for Linux.
Volumes of programs are released everyday for business use and home
desktops written for Linux. And many of these programs are
releases from major software companies that also produce for Windows
and Macintosh. The video game industry
is not alone in this. For instance, the Peoplesoft EnterpriseOne
is available for Linux
Adobe is continuing its move towards Linux as well
Why would major software development companies take Linux initiative
unless there was a strong demand and benefit for Linux use?
To use Linux I
have to give up my Windows software and buy new software.
I appreciate this point since many companies and individuals have put a
lot of money into their existing software.
Ironically, one of the greatest hesitations of moving to Linux among
individuals relates to losing access to their favorite video
games. There are several readily available solutions for those
concerned with keeping their Windows software.
Wine offers Linux users a means of running their
Windows software through Linux using an emulator. To get a sense
on how much Wine offers users you can simply do a Google search on
Running Windows Games on Linux and see the results. You may be
surprised to find that people have addressed running all sorts of
software through the FREE Wine emulator!
For those who are locked in to their Microsoft applications for some
time due to licensing terms, there is always the opportunity to use the
reasonably priced commercial alternatives to run software under Linux
including: CrossOver Office
, which is a
company owned product that allows use of Microsoft Office products
running under Linux; and Win4Lin,
which allows the running of Windows software under Linux.
Finally, another option is simply to run Linux as a dual boot, where
you can gain the significant benefits of stability and performance
while keeping your Windows system and software fully accessible.
Years of effort and development have already addressed the myth that
moving to Linux means giving up your Windows software. Today,
there are plenty of ways to gain the benefit of both.
Most importantly, Linux offers significant reduction in licensing
costs, while enhancing performance and stability, and granting the freedom of
choice. Now its up to each of us to choose Linux.
Mark Rais has written numerous
industry articles to help those hesitant to move to Linux
including: Using DSL and Linux,
Moving to Linux, and the new book
Linux For the Rest of Us 2nd Edition
available from your favorite on-line retailer.
Linux is a registered
trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft, Windows, Windows XP, and
Microsoft Office are the registered trademarks or trademarks of
Microsoft Corporation. In some cases the term Windows has been
used to help denote Microsoft specific GUI, and the term MS may also
have been used to help denote Microsoft owned products. ALL other
service marks, trademarks, and registered trademarks are owned by their
respective companies. The information on this web page is
published explicitly as opinions and is not to be deemed factual or
verified information. For factual information refer to more than
one source and judge for your self.