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Why Do People Switch To Linux? 746

tadelste writes "During the last month, conducted a survey of readers who use Linux. They asked readers why they switched to Linux and received a plethora of answers. Surprisingly, anti-Microsoft sentiment had less to do with the choice than one might imagine. Linux stands on its own merits. Anti-Microsoft sentiment comes from Microsoft's paranoia, which results in quotes like the one that had Bill Gates saying he'd put Linux in the Computer museum like he has other competitors." A respondent quote from the article: "It took me about a year to switch from W2K to Linux. The timing in the development of all of the Desktop elements has obviously been critical. If I'd tried any sooner, the whole thing would never have come together. Improved hardware support and equivalent apps have been a big part of the successful transition, and, I owe thanks to many in the Linux community for making that happen at an astounding rate and giving me my functional Desktop OS." Why do you think folks switch?
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Why Do People Switch To Linux?

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  • LaTeX (Score:4, Informative)

    by (1+-sqrt(5))*(2**-1) ( 868173 ) <> on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:23AM (#13896709) Homepage
    The ability to typeset sublime mathematics and papers based not on WYSIWYG, but form and content []; both of which may be possible under MiKTeX [], but it seemed most natural to migrate, if not to whose nativity, then to the least hostile environment for work.
    • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aconbere ( 802137 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:35AM (#13896842)
      This is an excelent reason to move over, I find latex support in windows to be abismal, and only slightly better in OS X. But most of the people I know have moved to Linux becuase it's easier (for us). It's easier to install applications, easier to keep them update, and easier to make changes than in Windows. I also got fed up with breaking things in windows and having no way to figure out what had happened or how to fix it. I've found that everytime I break something in linux I can head to my favorite IRC channel, or Forum and have a clear answer in a couple hours if not minutes.

      Clearly this isn't the case for everyone, but Linux/Unix just clicked with me, all the way to make config changes the applications and the underlying architecture. And this is not to expound upon the fun I have tinkering which just isn't available in the windows platform.

      • Me too! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ruel24 ( 621961 )
        I find Linux to suit me for the very same reason. I'm not 100% converted, yet, but I just find Linux easier to install, upgrade, repair, and figure out than Windows. When all hell breaks loose due to a bad install in Windows, I'm absolutely lost, despite using the environment for a long, long time. I've been using Linux for a few years now, and I can actually fix lots of stuff when it goes wrong (but not always). When I can't, I can usually find help from somewhere, whether in a forum, newsgroup, or IRC cha
    • Re:LaTeX (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poszi ( 698272 )
      That's so true. I switched completely from Windows in 1998 when I realized after a few months of using dual boot configuration that thanks to LaTeX I don't need Windows for anything anymore. MikTex was not that bad but teTeX was better.
    • Re:LaTeX (Score:3, Informative)

      by kosmosik ( 654958 )
      You can do LaTeX in WYSIWYM way (M stands for Mean in acronym). Check out LyX: []

      "LyX is what?!

      LyX is an advanced open source document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents, not their appearance. LyX lets you concentrate on writing, leaving details of visual layout to the software.

      LyX was originally a Unix application, but now runs natively on Windows and Mac OS X as well, thanks largely to the cross-platform Qt toolkit.

      LyX produces high qu
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:23AM (#13896712)
    They're not smart enough to download a copy of XP from Usenet.

    I kid, I kid!
  • I always wondered (Score:2, Interesting)

    How many people switched because they were told it was simply 'cool' or '1337' or that it would help them 'h4x05 their friendz b0x', and then moved on from that but sticked with Linux.
    • Re:I always wondered (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:30AM (#13896783)
      I switched because I was bored with Windows. I like trying new distros for fun. I enjoy learning something new because I feel it adds to some imaginary tool box of "things I can do and might need someday." I didn't do it to be cool because just about everyone I know has no clue what Linux is other than that it looks different than Windows. I've been using it exclusively for well over a year now. I keep a dual boot in case I ever need to do something in Windows, which is a rarity these days. I've gotten used to it and Windows seems foreign at this point so there's no "comfort" reason to switch back as there was when I started using it in the first place.
  • For freedom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:26AM (#13896737) Homepage Journal
    for the freedom to modify and fix problems instead of being at the whim of any other vendor.

    • for the freedom to modify and fix problems instead of being at the whim of any other vendor.

      <a**hole> Right, then you're just at the whim of bulletin boards, lack of documentation, lack of drivers, lack of vendor support... </a**hole>

      I don't mean to sound like an ass, but freedom I think is probaby the least of it. At this point, servers are moved to Linux for the software offerings and stability. Desktop users switch for curiosity and the freedom to dabble. I think that "freedom to mo

  • My story. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XorNand ( 517466 ) * on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:26AM (#13896742)
    I'm a long time IT guy. When I first played with Linux a decade or so ago, I couldn't get my Matrox video card to work with X Windows using a Slackware distro. So, I gave it up. Some time later, I gave Red Hat a shot. It installed this time, but then I just sat there and twidled my thumbs. Now what? I couldn't find anything practical to do with it. Windows did everything I needed it to. Years later I tried again, this time with Gentoo. I could get things to compile, so I gave up again.

    This week I just installed Open SuSe 10.0. Why again? Because I really wanted to run Asterisk. I'm a total Linux moron, but it only took me a day or so to install the OS and compile and configured Asterisk. A few hours later, I had a full featured PBX system working and soon to be rolled into production for my small business, for free.

    I was amazed at how easy both the OS and Asterisk were to install and configure. I really think that the usability of modern distros has improved dramatically. That isn't really what's keeping adoption down. In my case, and I suspect many others, it was internia. I didn't really want to use Linux until I found something it did that Windows didn't do, Asterisk.

    I think it's time that many OSS developers stop trying to play catchup with MS; you're already there. If you don't set the bar any higher than trying to reinvent the functionality already present in Windows, the masses will never take notice. There seems to be this idea that people hate MS and/or Windows and are looking for any excuse to move to OSS (Lindows is a perfect example of this mentality). I don't think this is the case. I'm not looking for a reason to abandon Windows, I need a reason to move to Linux. And the best way to get my interest is offering me things that Windows can't.
    • No one switches for just the operating system. It is the applications that run atop it that make the difference. In your case it was Asterisk. Glad to hear that you have crossed the bridge.
    • There seems to be this idea that people hate MS and/or Windows and are looking for any excuse to move to OSS (Lindows is a perfect example of this mentality). I don't think this is the case. I'm not looking for a reason to abandon Windows, I need a reason to move to Linux.

      Exactly. The only line of Linux advocacy that's less convincing than "It's not worse than Windows any more!" is "You have the source code so you can fix things yourself!" Sane computer users choose the software they want, not the software

      • Re:My story. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by swillden ( 191260 )

        You have the source code so you can fix things yourself!

        It may not be a great way to advocate Linux, but I'd say that statement sums up my primary reason for liking it. I think many programmers find it a very convincing argument, particularly after they've gotten used to working in an environment where they have control over and visibility into every aspect of their computing environment. For me, going back to Windows, or even OS X, feels like slipping into a straightjacket.

    • Applications (Score:5, Interesting)

      by QuaintRealist ( 905302 ) <> on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:41AM (#13896882) Homepage Journal
      I agree - this describes why many people (myself included) switch. To paraphrase James Carville, "it's the applications, stupid". After years of using OS/2 and Windows 9x, I watched my brother-in-law scroll through a list of free debian apps until he found what he needed to solve an engineering problem.


      So I set up debian on an old box, and proceeded to duplicate all of features I used in our medical practice. I was sold, and although I use Slackware now, could never go back to "I need $functionality, so I'll need to go spend more money to get it".

      If I use software at work, I support the people who wrote it, too. Applications sell the OS, which has worked in Microsoft's favor for years. Increasingly, this is working for Linux
    • Re:My story. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Homology ( 639438 )
      I'm a long time IT guy. When I first played with Linux a decade or so ago, I couldn't get my Matrox video card to work with X Windows using a Slackware distro. So, I gave it up. Some time later, I gave Red Hat a shot. It installed this time, but then I just sat there and twidled my thumbs. Now what? I couldn't find anything practical to do with it. Windows did everything I needed it to. Years later I tried again, this time with Gentoo. I could get things to compile, so I gave up again.

      I stopped using Li

    • Re:My story. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:04PM (#13897108) Homepage

      I think it's time that many OSS developers stop trying to play catchup with MS; you're already there.

      Ah, but nobody actually *is* trying to play catch-up with MS - at least not as far as most of the high-profile projects I've looked into (such as the Linux kernel itself, KDE, Mozilla etc.) are concerned. I don't think I've ever seen anyone saying "Windows does this and that, we have to, too" on lkml, for example, with the possible exception of noobs who just got Linux yesterday and subscribed to the list today, and even those are few and far between. Generally, the focus is not on being better than anything else; the focus is just on being *good*. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why Linux is actually successful, but MS still doesn't understand it.

    • Re:My story. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spacejock ( 727523 )
      A couple of years ago I was all fired up about converting my computer-owning relatives to Linux. (None of them are interested in gaming, other than solitaire-type time wasters.) Over time I've moved on from the cold-turkey method to the boiled frogs plan. One by one I switched them to Firefox, Thunderbird and a single app at a time. A couple more years and all their vital data will be in nice portable files, and when their Windows partition requires yet another fresh install I'll be able to p
  • Why switch? (Score:2, Informative)

    I switched from Windows to Red Hat out of curiosity and because I was tired of BSODs. It's one of the best decisions I have ever made. The next "switches" have been between linux distros, until I found the one I love.
  • Some people hate the color blue.
  • Why use Linux? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shads ( 4567 ) * <> on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:27AM (#13896759) Homepage Journal
    Because it works flawlessly once installed.

    We do alot of heavy duty database servers and the windows servers have a tendancy to start locking up anytime you patch something to close a security hole. The linux servers have no daemons running except for the database and ssh, there are times we go 6-12 months without needing a hotfix or patch. Even when they need patched it doesnt require a reboot, it doesn't take the machine down, and it doesn't change the day to day operation of the machine with new errors and new crashes. We use linux because it works.

    End of story (I'm sure BSD would work as well, but our familiarity with a company is much stronger on the linux side of things.)
    • I call BS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jdgreen7 ( 524066 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:01PM (#13897093) Homepage
      Saying anything works "flawlessly" once installed in absolute BS. I've had plenty of "flaws" on my "Linux" sytems. I've had kernels crap out while compiling a module, daemons mysteriously shut off without leaving a log trail, one of my monitors in a dual monitor (Xinerama) setup come up with goofy vertical lines after a reboot which worked "flawlessly" before I shut down the system and with no xorg.conf changes whatsoever, only to reappear perfectly fine after another reboot... The list goes on.

      There will ALWAYS be flaws in a complex system. It's just part of the game. However, the goal is to minimize the downtime due to those flaws. Windows "flaws" tend to be easy to fix because so many people use Windows and you can do a quick search to find 8 million other people who've had the same problem. Linux has a lot of that, too, but you have to know where to go to get the right answers sometimes. What makes Linux nice is that it comes free with a plethora of debugging aids and the source code as well.

      I'm tired of seeing the "Linux works flawlessly" argument. NONE of the major OS's run without a problem. OpenBSD has only had 1 remote vulnerability, but then again, it comes out of the box with basically NO services running. The more services you introduce into the system, the more flaws you expose.
  • by technoextreme ( 885694 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:28AM (#13896761)
    it's just there. I just want to try something different. My view on life is to try and learn about everything I can. It's odd though. My university has Mac's, Windows, and Unix computers but as far as I know no Linux computers.
  • Why I switched.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ride Jib ( 879374 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:28AM (#13896769) Journal
    I switched because of morals. I felt guilty stealing software that people were trying to sell. I can't afford much of the software I used in Windows, and I felt better about myself using free software in Linux. That and, well, the stability, customization, etc that comes with the territory.
    • Re:Why I switched.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bastian ( 66383 )
      Hear hear. I started using Linux back in high school because it was "cool," but I moved to Linux being my primary desktop OS in college when I decided to be a software pirate.

      Wintel is not a hospitable place for people who are neither rich nor unethical.
    • That's what made me switch at home finally. I love Linux. I've used since I first started looking for cheap/free C programming tools back in 93/94. I would go searching for things like "free c compiler" or "free programming tools" and I kept getting hits for gcc and Linux. So I bit. I downloaded slackware and just started playing with it. I loved it then and still do. But I kept Windows too. Same as most I guess, I wanted to play games, had jobs creating crappy little office automation tools in Access and V
  • by BushCheney08 ( 917605 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:29AM (#13896775)
    I switched for the games. I can play tetravex for hours (and I do).
  • by jejones ( 115979 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:30AM (#13896781) Journal
    They posted the question in a forum and gathered the responses.'re talking self-selected responses, which pretty well guarantees a non-representative sample, even if the responses are interesting. I wish they'd done a real live survey.
  • At the time I switched, the Win2k VM was driving me insane, making me wait for swap for minutes at a time with a gig of RAM and ~500MB resident. The explorer was just nuts. Delete a start menu entry and wait 5 minutes? And then there was the peerless combination of your POP mail client and norton antivirus, which at the time had a small fit and opened a window for each message it processed, as well as popping a dialog you had to click through every time it found a virus (so, about 100 times a day).

    There wer
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 )
    Sheesh, asking geeks who are already on a linux oriented site why they switched and trying to overlay their reasons on the general public?

    Non-random surveys are just junk.

    A better use of their readers and our time would be to ask why they didn't look at other alternatives to Linux, like Apple or even better, why they chose one paticular flavor of linux over another.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:33AM (#13896809)
    Power is the biggest factor it seems. No, not speed. Power over the system, flexibility. For all that Windows is easy, it comes at the price of limiting your freedom to mess around with stuff.
    When asked can I do blah with Linux, the answer's pretty much yes out of the box. With Windows the answer's yes if you buy X, Y and Z.
  • I like Pain (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 8400_RPM ( 716968 )
    I've been using linux for a few years on my home laptop just to stay ahead of the curve. I'm a windows Sys Admin, and I want to be ready.

    I'm not a huge fan though. I cant play half the videos I download, wireless in suse sucks. Fedora stoped loading KDE completely one day for no apparent reason.

    IMO, linux is still 10 years behind microsoft.

  • by Orasis ( 23315 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:33AM (#13896815)
    Thats basically it for me.
  • At the time, I was still running 98SE. I had a rar'ed up DVD image that I wanted to play with, but it was just slightly over 4G, and thus, couldn't be uncompressed in 98, it would die at 99%. I knew that Linux could handle larger files, so I installed that. I was extremely impressed, and immediately got to playing with everything in sight, and never looked back. That was about 3 years ago now and I have absolutely zero interest in Windows.
  • by styxlord ( 9897 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:34AM (#13896837)
    Though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has a huge friendly penguin as its mascot.
  • I really hate having to type a 24 digit product key number every time I install something.

    Seriously, I still need XP for games and contract development work, although my back-end is entirely Linux based.

  • by Ucklak ( 755284 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:36AM (#13896845)
    • My Access Database and forced upgrades
    • Hated having to reinstall every 8 months for performance related issues when defragging and general cleanup didn't help
    • Hated the reinstalling process where upgrades take the better half of a day (I've just cleaned up some 2002 OEM machines that we have upgraded from and are selling to the public. The upgrade process DOES take a better half of a day)
    • Really liked learning another OS that didn't have 'hidden' features - (You have to buy a book on how to hack the registry and even books on the market aren't complete)
    • Uptime
    • Stability
    • Linux has the latest and greatest and experiemental stuff whereas Windows is at least 5 years behind (Windows still requires defragging of the hard drive, Mac and Linux don't)

    • 1.a.) Why are you using access for a database for anything but the simplest information?
      1.b.) No one is holding a gun to your head and making you buy a new copy of office. You like what you've got? Keep using it.

      2.) Get windows XP SP2, and stop downloading spyware. Plus, it's only the power users that notice it. Most of my clients when I was consulting had their origional install of windows XP and it was running slightly slower than it used to, but they didn't really care. Also: try using linux as a de
      • "2) ... Also: try using linux as a desktop for 2 years and see if it doesn't start slowing down when you install a new program once every week or two, new hardware every 6 months, and new graphics drivers and security patches once a month."

        I've done that and it doesn't. Why on earth would it get slower? In fact in my experience it tends to get quicker and more optimised over time. Which is what you'd expect. I'm running a new install now because I updated my machine, before that I'd been running Linux on a
  • Most users don't switch to Linux. Most users have never heard of Linux, and don't really care to have anyone tell them about it either.
  • I'm with the people in the article... I didn't try Linux because I hate Billy or his Microsoft company. I switched because I got pretty good at Windows and wanted to see what else was out there. I wanted to see what all the talk was about for Linux. Back when I first tried it, Linux was a challenge just to install.

    I didn't have enough time to really get into it and didn't make the complete switch, but I will probably give it a shot later on.
  • Cost and more (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I_am_Rambi ( 536614 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:37AM (#13896850) Homepage
    As a college student, funds are tight. Migrating to Linux I found a plethra of free software that was very useable and worked well. I also found Linux to be easily used on old hardware, which I have alot of. That, and the lack of viruses, and spyware helped in the migration. I don't have to worry about keeping virus definitions upto date, nor spyware definition. I don't even have to worry about a registry! All the tools that I need are available for Linux, and very customizable. Linux supports everything that I need and more. And then customizing the kernel, and compile flags. Linux is the way I want, not the way someone else wants.
  • Why do people switch to Linux?

    1. Chronic Nerdyness.
    2. Windows BSODS.
    3. They think that just because something is free it also costs nothing, or next to nothing, to operate it.
    4. They are developing an embedded system and want complete freedom to recode the OS.
    5. They have sat down, done the math and found out it makes sound business sense to do so.
    ... the list goes on ...
    N. Masochism?
  • from Microsoft's paranoia, which results in quotes like the one that had Bill Gates saying he'd put Linux in the Computer museum like he has other competitors

    "In the world without walls noone needs Windows or Gates."
  • by chiller2 ( 35804 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:39AM (#13896870) Homepage
    Jefe> We have had many answers for the switch to Linux!
    El Guapo> How many answers?
    Jefe> Many answers, many!
    El Guapo> Jefe, would you say we have a plethora of answers?
    Jefe> Yes, El Guapo. You have a plethora.
    El Guapo> Jefe, what is a plethora?
  • This is a pretty naive conclusion. The reason a person will say they did something for, when asked, may be different from what really caused them to do it. Of course someone who believes in the Linux cause will say that they came over on the merits of the operating system. The real causes may have been much more political or emotional. Asking someone why they did something can only tell you what they want you (and maybe themself) to think.
  • by smindinvern ( 920345 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:40AM (#13896874)
    I switched to linux about 4 years ago. At the time, I was one of those l337 h4x0rZ all into windoze kind of people, I really didn't have any reason to switch to linux except that a friend recommended it to me. I don't think that the majority of people switch because they hate windows, or even the cost of it. I think it's a whole lot more common that someone hear about it, or something that it can do, or something that it supports, and their curious and try it out. Just my opinion, but that's the way it was for me, and most people who tell me about their 'conversion'.
  • The question is a bit too broad. Linux can mean a hell of a lot of things.
    Personally, I've helped many people kick Windows for Knoppix because once you walk them past the perceived limitations of a read-only OS, they get to a point and a light goes off and they're like --bling! Oh yeah, why do I want my personal files mixed in with all that OS crap anyway? It's not like you can't save files. You just don't have to worry about someone else's files screwing with your system. It's
  • by Dink Paisy ( 823325 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:41AM (#13896881) Homepage
    I switched to Linux in 1998, and used it almost exclusively until 2002. Then I switched back to Windows.

    I used Linux because it was more convenient. I was writing a lot of code that had to run on UNIX systems, and it was nice to be able to write and compile it on my home computer. I also had better connectivity; the Windows terminal programs I had at the time were quite lacking. I did use Windows for a while in the summer of 2000, when I had a job writing code for Windows and Macintosh.

    Qualifying the reason I switched back is harder. I had an interview with Microsoft in 2001, and although I didn't accept their offer, I was quite impressed by the people I met while interviewing. So after I got frustrated with the distribution I had been trying in 2002, I decided to give Windows a try again. Windows certainly isn't perfect, but overall it has been a much less frustrating experience than Linux was. A big part of that is Cygwin, which has helped smooth out a lot of the rough edges that Windows has. My regular environment now includes the Windows port of Vim, Cygwin/X, and VNC, but I still find that Windows is more convenient than Linux is.

    I no longer have Linux installed on either of my home computers, but I still use Linux almost every day at school. The biggest reason is that rebooting annoys me, so since I completed the switch back to Windows, I've rarely used Linux at home. I miss it at times, not so much since the connectivity of Windows to Linux is good, but there are still a few things I can do better with Linux. For example, gcc on Linux is more compatible with gcc on Linux than gcc on Cygwin. I'd really like a low cost virtualization option so that I could run Linux without rebooting.

    • I'd really like a low cost virtualization option so that I could run Linux without rebooting.

      VMWare has a free beta "player" now, and you should be able to download various VM images here and there...they offer a "browser appliance" VM from their site, and I was able to boot it to a KNOPPIX CD instead and reformat the virtual partition. I was trying to install Win2k3 but failed, but I don't expect there would've been a problem running debootstrap or another Linux installer using that VM with the free playe
  • I do telecom for a living and simply won't accept anything that's not solid. 24/7/365.25 is not just a requirement in telecom. It's standard business practice. We measure anual downtime in minutes. I can get that with Linux and solid hardware. End of Story.
  • Ok, so why people switch according to the quotes from the Article:

    I just wanted to try something different

    Ok, curiousity, check

    because my best friend was a Gentoo-fan, he set up Gentoo for me

    Ok, crammed down throat, check

    I changed to Linux because of the Fiddle factor

    Ok, nerd factor (this would be my factor too mostly I guess), check

    It took me about a year to switch from W2K to Linux

    Ok, this is a how not a why.

    I first tried Linux out of curiousity mainly

    Curiosity, check-check

    windows 3.1 on 286 what a n

  • For the chicks.

    I switched because of all the 'tang I knew I'd score being a Linux stud. Is there another reason?
  • This is such a troll, but it's still a funny and apropos quote:

    Linux is for people who hate Microsoft... BSD is for people who love Unix.

  • a series of interviews with users who switched to Linux then subsequently switched back to either Windows or OSX. Or, alternately, users acquainted with Linux from a development or support perspective but who refuse to migrate. I probably fall into the second category, though I've been contemplating giving SuSE 10 a whirl.
  • I've made the switch, but just the other day had a friend complain because he changed out his blown MB on his XP box and was having problems with the XP license validation "feature" that checks for hardware changes. It all seemed so foreign... I said "you've gotta be shitting me... you paid for it and STILL can't run it?"
  • I did it because I felt like Windows was artificially limited in its flexability (which it is, for reason I appreaciate and understand better now). The business I work for is switching because Linux servers are A) better supported, both through companies and the community B) cost. Of course we switched from Solaris which has...erm, dropped in price. But I still prefer trouble shooting a semi-obscure Linux problem then just about any Solaris problems I've seen.
  • User friendly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aurb ( 674003 )
    I switched to linux because windows wasn't user friendly enough...
  • by galaxyboy ( 825541 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:50AM (#13896982)
    I would generally be happy to deal with a few quirks in Open Source software on Linux in exchange for the many benefits that the community provides. The major reason I haven't switched is because of the lack (that I know of) of budgeting and tax software for Linux. I love Quickens ability to download my transactions from my financial institutions automatically and I love doing my taxes electronically. Are there Open Source equivalents to these products?

    I think this brings up a general problem in that Windows is generally supported first by software and a lot of hardware where Linux is either an afterthought or it is supported soley by the community and therefore there is a lag time for getting the functionality I want.

    Maybe it has been a while since I used Linux for "consumer" activities. Maybe it has improved enough to use. The fact is that most customers don't want to write device drivers or software for the problem that isn't yet solved.

    • by optimus2861 ( 760680 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:57PM (#13898280)
      I love Quickens ability to download my transactions from my financial institutions automatically

      I did too -- until Intuit disabled my version's online features to force an upgrade.

      That was the day I moved to Gnucash and never looked back. I may not have my online features, but I'll be damned if I'll let some app vendor remotely shut off some functionality on me again for no good reason (and before anyone pipes in that Intuit may have had security reasons -- no, they didn't. I packet-traced what was going on at the time when I was figuring it out. Even when I downloaded my transactions from my bank's website directly and tried to import it to Quicken after disconnecting from my bank, Quicken would "phone home" to Intuit before processing it.)

  • by evilandi ( 2800 ) <> on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:51AM (#13896996) Homepage
    For people of my generation, brought up with the 8-bit computers of the 70's and 80's, it isn't so much a question of why we switched from Windows, but why we picked Linux as our PC platform.

    Myself, I never saw a GUI as something useful beyond desktop work. For remote servers I find Windows cumbersome, bandwidth-hogging and prone to popping up some mandatory modal pop-up upon reboot before my remote control software kicks in- leaving me 5000 miles away with no access.

    Servers, IMHO, don't need a GUI.

    For my desktop, sure, I use Windows, because that's what my company supplied by default and that's what my games run on at home. But my desktop doesn't matter - it isn't where the real work is done.

    I "switched" to Linux - for the stuff that mattered - because it was the most comfortable, familiar server OS that fitted with my commandline heritage and ran on hardware I could afford. I could have quite easily been a *BSD chap too.
  • by jaymzter ( 452402 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:51AM (#13896999) Homepage
    Switching to a GNU/Linux distribution because you're anti-Microsoft is not a long-term reason to switch. I switched because GNU/Linux was the only stable OS I could run. I got sick of Win95 crashing, Win98 crashing, and WinNT crashing, and being a new computer user, figured *something* better had to be out there. I heard about RedHat, tried it, and never looked back. Because it was *stable* (or more so, relatively speaking). I started using computers in 1997 and was on GNU/Linux by 1997.
    It's the apps and the freedom, that's why people switch.
  • by Flounder ( 42112 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:52AM (#13897002)
    I was a Mac user for a long time, only switching to Windows for financial reasons (cheaper to build a cheap PC than buy a cheap Mac).
    I tried Linux off and on the past few years, finally moving to Linux full-time a year ago. First with Mandrake 10.1, now with SUSE 9.3 (probably upgrade to OpenSUSE 10 in the near future).
    I switched for three reasons. First and foremost, I got tired of spending more time dealing with spyware and viruses than actually working. Second, I'm developing a Java3d-based web game, and wanted to ensure cross-platform compatability. And, third, the free-as-in-beer software eliminates the guilt due to pirated software (Office and Photoshop are frigging expensive).
    About the only thing I miss is game compatability. If a native Linux client ever comes out for Civ3, Civ4, BF2 or GTA:SA, I'm screwed productivity-wise.
  • Open Office & after (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ir0b0t ( 727703 ) * <mjewell@openm[ ] ['iss' in gap]> on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:54AM (#13897023) Homepage Journal
    I'm a non-coder professional who recently moved my office desktop to linux from Windows XP. (i.e. I don't know much about much when it comes to the mysterious boxes my office needs to do its thing.) I was able to madk the change by installing Open Office on Windows and practicing with it.

    After I was comfortable with it and had moved over all of my many, many forms and other documents needed to run my office, I moved the rest of the way to linux. I chose Mandriva with a Gnome desktop. Though I have not found an open source counterpart for every proprietary application I used before, with Open Office I could make it work.

    Why move to a linux desktop? Lots of reasons, but, at the top, I guess it felt to me that every time I turned around, another sales rep was billing me for another upgrade or another license.

    If it wasn't that type of bill, it was a bill from technical support to fix a problem that did not exist before I made some vendor-mandated change to my office system. My old documents don't open any more. The formatted is messed up. That feature I need so much has been moved. Etc.

    I'm embarrassed by how much money I spent for a technical support providers that ended up talking on the phone with the technical support provider of another vendor. To my mind, that's a ridiculous situation that is largely remedied by the open source approach.

    It has been a long, steep hill to be sure. I am never going to look back though.

    There is a lot more to say on this subject, but these reasons are at the top of my list.

  • Unix-like (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:57AM (#13897046) Journal
    For me it was because I wanted a Unix-like OS on my PC. Why not *BSD then? Well, in January 1992, *BSD wasn't available at any price a teenager could afford.

    But Linux was, however barebones it was. Unlike DOS, there was no 640K limit on the early release 80386 machine with 2.5MB of RAM I bought cheap from a mail order house selling surplus computers (this was the early 80386, complete with bugs). Instead of all the nastiness of DOS/Windows 3.0, it was a nice, smooth flat memory model. With a proper VMM. Demand page loading. Etc. In January 1992, you had a boot floppy and a root floppy. To install this "distro", after making your hard drive partition, you just did a cp -a from the root floppy to the root of the hard drive. Then you used a hex editor to modify a couple of bytes on the boot floppy to tell it the root device was the hard disk. There was no LILO - it couldn't actually completely boot strap from a hard disk, you still needed to put the kernel on a floppy!

    But it was a real *nix like system on my PC with many of the limitations of DOS gone. Very quickly it gained LILO, a proper init/getty/login and a TCP/IP stack (before Microsoft even had heard of the Internet). The NET1 TCP/IP stack was *extremely* basic - it could only work on a /24 subnet, but it worked. Since then, Linux has gone from strength to strength.

    I learned C on that machine. In 1993, when I upgraded to a '486 with a whopping 80MB drive, I could install X as well - and learned all about Xlib. I wrote a media player on that 486 for playing Amiga MODs (basically a pure Xlib based playlist editor, complete with a VU meter for visualisation!) Wish I still had the source. In 1993, a 486 with 16MB of RAM could compile the kernel _under X_ without touching swap. I used that machine to learn about sockets, C++, NFS and all sorts of things that would have cost me thousands I didn't have in the proprietary world. My humble 486 was better than the Solbourne S4000 (Sun compatible) workstations at university that cost an order of magnitude more money!

    I have had Linux on my PCs ever since because I like it. I've usually also had a Windows partition too, but a couple of years ago, I realised that I was only booting Windows once every three months and decided to blow it away when I got the then new Fedora Core 2.

    Currently, my home is home to three architectures and three operating systems. I have a 333MHz UltraSPARC system running OpenBSD, a PowerBook running OS X and an Intel PC running Fedora Core. Linux still gives me the freedom to tinker - that's why I like it.
  • Why I switched (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:12PM (#13897198)
    I read Stallman's essays when I was younger {he's written a few more since then} and thought This is great, but it doesn't go far enough. We need to take by force what is rightfully ours. So I went about my way, exercising Freedoms 0 and 2 with or without anybody's -- but, it has to be said, towards the end, mostly Microsoft's -- sayso.

    However, as I grew up I also realised the importance of Freedoms 1 and 3. In the 8-bit days I had dabbled with BASIC and machine code. The 16-bit years seemed somehow as though something was missing. I had this wonderful spanky new machine and yet I couldn't make it do exactly what I wanted it to do! I was all ready to pull out my old BBC model B from the loft, when it hit me. I wasn't hurting the software industry one iota by illegally copying their products -- I was just as dependent upon them as any paying customer. I needed Freedoms 1 and 3, and that meant I needed the source code. In the Beeb days, it was enough to disassemble a machine code game to make silly changes, like changing the keys or adding extra lives or disabling collision detection {with 32K of ram, and a framebuffer eating 20K of that and the OS eating another K or so for itself, the game was very hackable}. Or, of course, there would be listings printed in magazines, to be typed in over the course of several days; and these often could be improved upon. I realised I was missing Freedom 1 in a big way.

    I had used VAX/VMS and UNIX at university, some years before. Though I actually preferred the former, because it used words instead of symbols, the latter was the direction in which all things were going {and VMS even had a "unix emulator" -- append /CLI=SHELL to your username when logging in}. I had even tried Linux -- with plenty of help from someone else. It must have been about 1992 or 1993. He booted a floppy in a PC in a lab, and it came up with a Unix login prompt. You could telnet to it {it was safe to send a plaintext password in those days} from anywhere in the world. And run vi on it. Vi was not as nice to use as EVE -- but you could run vi with just about any terminal that supported even rudimentary cursor positioning.

    When a friend of mine gave Linux a serious try, I decided that it must be worth a go. In the end I set up an old machine running Linux -- Debian slink; or it might have been potato, I think -- as a "modem sharer" so that my Windows 95 box and any machine I borrowed could both use my single, 56K dial-up line. When my ISP of the day introduced individual cgi-bin directories, I set up apache and perl on my "modem sharer" so it could be used as a testing environment for my scripts.

    And when I bought an Athlon XP 2000+, I knew I had to make a serious decision. Would I dual-boot Linux and Windows, or single-boot Linux? The Windows 98 SE installer disc answered that for me. It didn't believe there was such a thing as a whole gigabyte of memory on one motherboard, and barfed. I ended up installing Mandrake 8.2, got for me by a broadband-enabled "warez n pr0n d00d".

    And I never looked back. One day I picked up my e-mail using kMail. There was a message from my erstwhile ISP asking if I knew anybody who wanted a job doing a bit of programming and system maintenance. I said "yes, me!", and got the job.
  • Surprising? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by going_the_2Rpi_way ( 818355 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:35PM (#13897440) Homepage
    Surprisingly, anti-Microsoft sentiment had less to do with the choice than one might imagine. Linux stands on its own merits. Anti-Microsoft sentiment comes from Microsoft's paranoia, which results in quotes like the one that had Bill Gates saying he'd put Linux in the Computer museum like he has other competitors.

    I don't find this surprising at all. You don't run a business on emotion -- you run it on what works. Linux works. And well. And I can do things with it I can't do with MS.

    Linux proponents do themselves a huge disservice by posting "M$ sux" posts everywhere. The whole '[they] doth protest too much' thing comes to mind.

    I choose Linux for Linux, not as a slap in the face to Mr. Gates.
  • Cron and pipes! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by raddan ( 519638 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:36PM (#13897450)
    Why? Easy! I can schedule stuff in cron, and I can string things together using pipes. There's little you can't do with the built-in tools in Linux and these two features.

    I remember the day that I realized I could use my computer to record my weekly radio show, encode it, and move the whole thing to my iPod before I came home-- automatically! I was just totally floored. Now I'm building a system to monitor the temperature of my homebrew in my fermenters.

    Sure, Windows has pipes. But most programs can't take input on stdin and require user interaction. Useless to me!

    (And for clarification... I don't actually use Linux... I use BSD. But for most uses, they are essentially the same.)

  • Common thread (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:39PM (#13897476)
    No big surprise, but virtually everybody who has commented in this forum, and in the "survey" has something in common - they are tinkerers who like to play with computers and/or write code. I am not terribly surprised by the lack of expressed anti-Microsoft sentiments. First of all, that group is smart enough to couch their reason in a positive way (Linux is great!) since they know how the former would be perceived. Second, I really believe that for tinkerers Linux is a strong alternative to Windows. Stuff is free, the hardware is cheap (thank you Microsoft) and there are plenty of tools and lots of "help" in the form of sample code, open source, etc. However, that population only covers about 0.5% of the overall computer-using population. The big question is, how many of the remaining 99.5% are using Linux, and if so, why did they switch.
    • Re:Common thread (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Wonko ( 15033 )

      The big question is, how many of the remaining 99.5% are using Linux, and if so, why did they switch.

      My parents computers and my girlfriend's father's computer are running Debian or Ubuntu. When I originally set up my parents computers I installed Windows 2000 on them. This was about 4 years ago. Since I was 1500 miles away, I thought it would be more useful to have a system that other people nearby could easily support. Boy, was that a mistake.

      They mostly surf the web and take pictures. I have h

  • by Tracy Reed ( 3563 ) * <[gro.teloivartlu] [ta] [deert]> on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:39PM (#13897479) Homepage gets chicks!
  • My Story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kwalker ( 1383 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:10PM (#13897819) Journal
    I switched because I was used to DOS and I was taking to UNIX like an otter in a river. I wasn't happy with Win95's problems and when I found out I could get Linux for a reasonable price, including an introduction book.

    Now I stay with Linux because of the power I have over the system. It does my bidding, not Microsoft's, Apple's, Sun's, or anyone else. I can find out every process that is running on my system nearly instantly, and I can kill almost any errant program (The only exception is if it hangs while waiting on the kernel which is hung waiting on a device driver). It hasn't crashed since April, and that was my bad. I can do everything I do with a computer (browse; e-mail; IM; rip, stream, and listen to music; watch, transcode, and master video; edit images; wordprocess; work on spreadsheets; balance my accounts; and sync data between devices. And let's not forget that I can program in practically any language used by more than 50 people.

    The only thing still lacking is a large selection of video games (The kind I like anyway), but I'm so busy with other projects that I haven't even had time to re-install Windows 2000 (WinXP has never touched my hardware) on my games partition since I upgraded the guts of my workstation back in June.
  • by Hosiah ( 849792 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:17PM (#13897876)
    (1) Security. About the millionth time my wife watched me stay up all night scraping viruses, malware, crap and crud out of Windows because it ground to a halt every time we tried to use the internet, and seeing me screaming in frustration and bashing the desk and miss a whole night's sleep, SHE prodded me a little closer to switching.

    (2) Work. Linux lets me be as smart as I always was; Windows forces me to be slow and stupid. Linux comes out of the box with more tools (tools, I say. Not frou-frou doodads and games!) than you could buy for Windows if you had Bill Gates' bank account. Yes, I tried MS-Visual-Basic and Visual-C++. Say what you will. Say you love it. That's your opinion. My opinion is, they're retarded. My apologies to any retarded people offended by this.

    (3) Innovation. Let me second the idea put forth by several others in this thread: the stupidest thing you can do with Linux is follow in Window's footsteps in the interest of getting more people to switch from Windows. Forget trying to make "I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Windows(TM)". Continue to blaze Linux's own trail as it has always been, and let everybody else catch up if they can.
    So: innovation: Live CDs. Linux that can run from floppies, USBs, old computers, everywhere. A true multi-tasking system (new to me, anyway) able to compile in one desktop, render 3D images in a second, download in a third, and let me play a game in the fourth without a bit of lag - it's like being four people on four computers! The variety of having my choice of 1000 different distros, so I can have it my way, and choice of different desktops (Fluxbox is my favorite, and I had a chance to shop around for a while to get there).

    (4) Free! Free forever! Hundreds and hundreds of distros to download free! All the software for it free! Read the source code for free! Roll your own for free! Release your own for free! Even the games are starting to improve - every time I find a Supertux, an ArmegaTron, a Tower Toppler, or a Metal Blob Solid, I'm doubly happy with it because I didn't have to pay $10-70 dollars for it.

    PS Save the standard, flaming, aggravated responses this time, willyah? If you can't tolerate reading other people's opinions, you're at the wrong website. If you love Windows and hate Linux, good for you! But we're asking me.

  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:38PM (#13898100)
    I'd toyed with Linux many times, and dealt with the usual gripes: missing h/w support, disto overload, lack of app replacements, etc. I had no great love of Windows, but it worked for me. Linux was a lot of fun to play with, but there was no real outstanding feature to drag me over, once Win2000 was stable enough to run for weeks at a time.

    I'll freely admit, I pirated as much software as anyone (and I've never met any long-term computer user who hasn't), but it started to bug me after a while. First, on a practical level, trying to find a crack/serial for the latest version of something was a pain. But mostly, I just started to realize this is NOT something that I wanted to do. Especially as I was moving more and more towards an IT-heavy career. I went on a personal crusade, only to use free software if at all possible, and buy what I needed otherwise. School gave me the free student copies of Windows/Office, and the free software movement was rapidly filling in the holes. I could set up many machines entirely guilt-free, and importantly, HASSLE free. Eventually, I assumed that OEM copies of Windows and/or more income would provide the replacements for free Windows CDs.

    Then, Product Activation happened. It initially annoyed the hell out of me on principle, but I did it. After all, it's just an extra step in an install. Then I started reading the horror stories. Calls to Microsoft when you've changed more than 2 pieces of hardware. Begging to be "allowed" to re-install your OS. Booting up a second computer built from spare parts and not being allowed to put an OS on it. Granted, in 2001 you wouldn't exactly use a 5 year old PC to run XP, but the writing was on the wall. I looked to the future and realized I most definitely did NOT want to be trapped this way. So early in 2003, I switched.

    What was funny was, most of my complaints/issues with Linux had gone away by about RH8. Installs were a breeze, apps aplenty, it seemed like Linux had matured enough for me. So I spent the next 2 years always trying the latest and greatest, and every time it's been amazing what "just works".

    Meanwhile, every few months I get asked to work on someone's Windows box. And every time it just feels older and older. XP has had no significant updates in 4 years now, that I'd notice when actually using it. Half the hardware you have to download drivers for. It can take hours to patch, reboot, patch again (because the first patch had to be installed separately), reboot, etc, etc, etc just to get a working system. Yes, you can spend the time building your own slipstreamed discs - or you can just download the latest Linux distro, all up to date. And updates happen ALL AT ONCE. For all software.

    The last straw was the other day. For fun, I tried to get 2000 back on a spare box. Fully legal disc.

    Windows Update wouldn't work unless I installed their "genuine Windows advantage" software. Sure, I can manually download dozens of patches and apply them manually. Or, I can take the chance that Microsoft might think I'm a criminal, and then have to beg my way to forgiveness.

    Screw it. Linux is far easier to use for me. That's why I switched, and stay switched.
  • by loose_cannon_gamer ( 857933 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @03:12PM (#13898847)
    I've read the top moderated 100 posts so far, and several things haven't been mentioned enough, so I'll mention 'em, since they're my reasons and all.

    1. Free-ness. Free as in beer, free as in food, free as in do-whatever-the-heck you want with it free.

    2. Package management. I prefer gentoo for this, and there is something poignantly beautiful to me about the concept of 'emerge sync' & 'emerge world'. Windows update somehow makes me want to grab a weapon and get medieval (though to be fair, so does/did the red hat update network, but see the next reason).

    3. Choice. If there's some software application I need, it probably can be found on sourceforge or via my package manager of choice. The biggest difficulty is choosing which of the many alternatives to use.

    4. Community. I read slashdot mostly because I find opinions of people like me whose opinions don't match mine. Nerdly as it may sound, I use Linux because Linux 'gets' me, it works for me in most of the ways that Windows drives me insane. Linux users by choice form a club, and I find that generally, the people in that club are the kind of people I like to hang with, or at least can hold a coherent conversation with. Amusingly, this doesn't hold for me and the Mac, but that's a post for another day.

  • I don't switch... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fitten ( 521191 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @03:16PM (#13898877)
    I just add to my collection of tools. I have several boxes and run more than one OS on them. I use the tool that fits the job rather than waste my time trying to make the tool fit the job or making the job fit the tool. I have no OS religion and all OSs are lacking in some area or another.
  • by CharlieG ( 34950 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @03:33PM (#13898988) Homepage
    I've been a computer programmer for a LONG time - by 1984 I was making at least part of my living programming. Ive seen stuff come, and stuff go

    What usually makes people adopt an OS (I'm NOT talking me in particular)
    1)The Killer Application - an application that runs on YOUR OS that runs NOWHERE else. Honestly, for at least 2-3 of the transitions I've seen, it was (at least partly) the "Next great spreadsheet" - Apple II - VisiCalc - IBM PC - Lotus 123 - Windows - Excel/Wingz/Word for Windows

    2)The OS does something itself that the competition does NOT - In the case of Linux, It's generally things like firewalls/stability etc - THIS "something" generally has to be a bigger "something" than #1 - or it leads to slow adoption

    3)Cost - and I'm NOT talking $$$ or even TCO as measured in studies, although they are certainly PART of the "Cost" I'm talking about, and in fact, in a corp environment, TCO aproximates the "Cost" I'm talking about. In my case, talking about individuals, it's more $$ and effort combined. For a person just starting in computers, there is little "cost" in moving to Linux - but to the person who has spent a lot of years learning to use Windows and it's applications, there is a "Mental" cost of re-learning how to do things. For us geeks, this is fun, and the cost can be negative (hey, we LIKE playing with new stuff), but to most people, any skill set change is real, and a bother. Why do you thing the average PC doesn't get patched/have it's anti virus updated - too much bother. They run the PC until it breaks, and then get someone to "fix it" - and in fact, often the "fix" is to buy another computer!! I've seen perfectly good PCs thrown out, because the owner doesn't want to bother - they spend the $500 or $1000 on a new PC, move their data, and get a new toy, and have fixed their problem. Doesn't seem to make much sense, until you figure that for a LOT of people, if you figure in their time as money, it's actually cheaper to do this - let's face it - if you earn even $10/hr, if you save 50 hours over the life of the PC by NOT updating, etc, you have paid for a new PC!! (which has all the NEW toys...)

    It comes down to - we are not normal users (thank goodness)

BLISS is ignorance.