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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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  • I always wondered (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cjkinniburgh ( 915605 ) * on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:25AM (#13896728)
    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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:31AM (#13896797) Homepage Journal
    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 Orasis ( 23315 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:33AM (#13896815)
    Thats basically it for me.
  • Mod up (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:40AM (#13896873)
    This is actually an insightful response. Linux's total real end-user marketshare has not increased since ~1998. The number of people using Linux to browse the internet seems to have actually declined since Windows XP came out. The truth is that no more than 1% of home users use Linux on the desktop, and only a tiny minority don't dual-boot with Windows.

    The few people who do 'convert' to Linux, imho, often do so because they want to run Unixy applications, not because they prefer it as a desktop environment. Infact, I'd venture so far to as that many who use it either grudgingly tolerate or even hate its inadequacies, but still use it as a tool to access the apps they want like they do with Windows XP.
  • 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'.
  • 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.

  • 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:Why I switched.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:41AM (#13896884)
    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.
  • Re:Why I switched.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:48AM (#13896947) Journal
    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 Visual Basic, have a family that I thought wouldn't adopt Linux well. After XP came out and validation became a necessity I started feeling worse and worse about running MSDN copies of Windows from work. Feelings about MS aside I don't like the idea of taking something for free if the developers of it doesn't want me to do that. I'm not much into the games anymore but my family still needs an easy to use OS so I took the plunge and put Ubuntu on my wife's PC and on the family PC. Looking back I probably could have done it even sooner but by now, with the sharp, user friendly interfaces people have built around X my family has no problem at all adapting to Linux. The best example is my daughter; she uses Word XP at school and AbiWord at home. She has never complained to me that something didn't format correctly when switching from program to program. Of course she's not embedding complex objects into her documents or making extensive use of tables. I know these things do cause issues for people but for the day to day user who is just typing a paper for school Linux does just fine and better in some cases. And last but not least my monthly sessions of removing all the crap of the family windows PC are just distant memories. :)
  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:49AM (#13896962) 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.
  • User friendly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aurb ( 674003 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:49AM (#13896974)
    I switched to linux because windows wasn't user friendly enough...
  • Burnout (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sladey_slater ( 876045 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:50AM (#13896980)
    I switched because I work on MS servers, MS desktops, and a network powered by MS. When I come home, I want something that's not going to 'hurt my eyes,' that 'just works,' and that doesn't require all the overhead required to pamper a windows box.
  • Re:LaTeX (Score:2, Interesting)

    by inverselimit ( 900794 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:51AM (#13896991)
    Definitely. LaTeX, the Emacs to edit it, and every other app useful for a mathematician with computational tendencies (singular, macaulay, etc) is native to linux/unix. Plus my enlightened department (which includes the author of xdvi) doesn't touch windows.
  • I switched just for the operating system. I was tire of not knowing what was going on with my windows box. Things would be running in the background that I had no idea what they were, and it takes a bunch of third party tools to figure it out. There was no easy way to tell exactly what was going on with my system. I would see a lot of rundll's a lot of svchosts, and various other processes that are part of the operating system, but aren't invoked by the operating system itself.
    Windows has a way of hiding what is going on inside. I didn't like that. I didn't want to have to buy a bunch of tools to tear down my computer just to see what was happening. I also didn't like the registry. Some things are fairly easy to distinguish what they are, but other things are just plain cryptic. And if you decide to remove the wrong thing, you might as well just re-install.
    So I did switch because of the core os. The applications that run on Linux are a bonus.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Re:My story. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:57AM (#13897051) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Re:I'm surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:04PM (#13897112) Journal
    My first Linux install in, oh about 1993, was largely because I was running a BBS and 486SX-25 with a whopping 8mb of RAM and 200mb of hard drive space was being rendered useless under Windows 3.1 when somebody dialed in to my WaffleBBS background DOS session. In return I got full blown UUCP, sendmail and a whopping load of great stuff. Of course, it only furthered my sad, pathetic addiction to the command line, so that even in Windows, I still go to cmd.exe or install bash.
  • Re:LaTeX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poszi ( 698272 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:08PM (#13897161)
    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.
  • 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.
  • Freedom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gnuosphere ( 855098 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:15PM (#13897244) Homepage
    I switched because the Linux kernel is released under the GPL which respects my freedom. It can be combined with other free programs to make a complete operating system respecting my freedom. There are other reasons why I switched but they are all trivial compared to having freedom.
  • 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.)

  • Boredom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by InsurgentGeek ( 926646 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @12:39PM (#13897470)
    The primary driver for me was boredom. I don't just like to use computers to get things done - I like to play with them, understand how they work and generally tweak and fidget. So, I got off windows and onto a series of Linux distros until I found one that was the right balance betwwen usability and tweakability.

    I'd like to know how many people have been caught by what happened next. I've got servers, desktops and laptops. I got sick of the noise and clutter. Apple announces the Mac Mini and I've always loved Apple's displays. Why don't I just buy a mini and "X" into my other machines. I'll put them in another room. Hmmm, this is very cool. Silent, full access to my machines. OK, I'm bored. let's play with the Mac a little. Wow, this all works pretty nicely. Wow, this is all Unix under the covers. Cool, I can install just about whatever new software I want. Sure does work well with my camera, iPod and flash drive. Maybe I'll just swich over my mail to the Mac - seems easier. I just need to write a one page document - maybe I'll just do it here. Jump on the web? Why open X - I'lll just do it here.

    Two months later the Mini has been retired to the TV room, I am the proud owner of a shiny new maxed out Powerbook with an attached 20" display and, for the most part, my Linux systems are sitting in the backroom being file and Popfile servers. I was captured by the Mac interface, lack of hassle and integration between components.

    Any other switch (then switch) types out there?
  • 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.
  • 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 pbibb1657 ( 891320 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:12PM (#13897833)
    I record live music (Jam bands ie WSP, The Dead, moe) and I bought a Sony PCG-K13 laptop to use for this purpose,while recording and transfering dat tapes using Windows XP Home edition, Cool Edit 2000 would lock up for no real reason that I could find and it was just a pain in the ass in general I had a gig of ram and freshly defraged hd lots of hd space but it would still lock up at the worst of times I dont think I made 10 full recordings out of 50 tries. Well one day at work the hard drive quit I got a message that the Operating system was being recogized or some thing similar to that , to make a long story short I didnt get very far with Sony support and I didnt save any codes or numbers under the windows deal so I didnt get very far with MS, a guy at work always talked about how happy he was with linux (he runs gentoo) and that a hd wouldnt cost very much and Mandrake was free. So I replaced the hd and downloaded mandrake 10.0 official . In less than 1 hour I had my laptop connected to the internet and in less that a week I had this laptop doing all the other chores I do with music (ie converting shn and flac to wav and editing,recording) It has done this flawlessly since the beginning. One day I thought how nice my laptop worked with linux and what do I even need windows for anymore so I installed linux on the desk top . Im not a computer genius by any stretch of the imaginiation but I was able to find real solutions to all of my problems fairly fast,and I was never able to do that with windows
  • beg to differ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by matthew5 ( 916509 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:16PM (#13897868)
    I use Linux because: -I prefer it as a desktop environment -I can spend more of my time being productive rather than eradicating spyware and defragging my hard drive -The tools and apps available are at least as good as those for Windows with very few exceptions, all of which fall outside of the scope of my needs -The stability is amazing Note: I hadn't run a "unixy" app in over 15 years prior to my complete switch and I had used MS products since MS-DOS 3.0 all the way to WinXP. I don't hate Windows, Bill Gates or anyone/thing associated with them. I just wanted to offer a counter to the parent's last paragraph
  • by GT_Onizuka ( 693787 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:20PM (#13897902) Homepage
    I don't know. I've been using Linux for awhile (3 years now) and I gave Ubuntu to a friend. He had some questions, and I was fooling around with it. Does it go against convention often (like the whole no su, sudo for everything)? If it does that unneccesarily, it seems like it's just going to make the person not understand Linux, but understand Ubuntu.

    I know there are differences between distros, but that seemed a little drastic to me, and I was afraid more simple conventions like that would be changed for seemingly no reason. Personally, I'd rather initially have a hard time, but in the end, be able to operate, for the most part, a *nix box without too much trouble.
  • by greylouser ( 532845 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:26PM (#13897972)
    I've been playing around with linux mostly as a hobby for the last 4 or 5 years. When I set up my last computer, I made sure to include two hard drives, one for linux and one for windows. I mostly used the windows side of things (yes, mostly for the games), but one day it started hiccuping at boot. Eventually, I couldn't even get a dos prompt anymore. I'm sure I could've fixed it, but since I had basically everything I needed on the linux side - office applications, ftp, palm software, OCTAVE (I used to use MATLAB, but for the most part OCTAVE is just as good for everything I've tried so far) - I just migrated over there.

    I've been using only linux at home for about 6 months now. It's actually been pretty helpful not having the games, because I get a little more work done, and get to spend more time with my family. (Although I have been spending a disturbing amount of time lately with gnugo.)

  • 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 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 tagattack ( 412693 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:07PM (#13898350) Homepage
    I switched because of my interest as a developer. Even in the MSDOS world most of the code I played with in my early days was in the public domain. When a found a plethora of powerful development tools and a free way to follow the unix way of things, the choice was obvious.

    The reason I never switched back is more important, I think. I've found windows interface to be cumbersome, and I find features common to X11 desktop environments to be things I can't live with out...Features, such as multiple work spaces, window shadowing, window grouping, and auto-configuration (pekwm !) and placement of windows I struggle with not having access to in Windows. As well as that fancy global copy on select clipboard.

    In addition to my actual use of the environment itself, which is almost emulatable in windows these days (but not really to my satisfaction) I have found programming in windows (as well as more often than not just with priorietary software that never gets good code review) to be increadibly painful. The API's are nonsensical, cumbersome, and downright ugly even for the most basic of operations. The .CreateTextFile method still haunts me to this day.

    These are just the surface reasons, for a developer such as myself, to not only make the switch but buy in whole heartedly. I'm not even going to get into the fact that when they made me start running Windows 2003 Server on my dev workstation at work I started spending a lot of time dealing with issues such as my desktop crashing, my second display failing to function at random, and so outlook siezing up at random.
  • My story. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OhHellWithIt ( 756826 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:09PM (#13898365) Journal
    1. I can't afford to buy a new computer everytime a new version of the operating system comes out.
    2. Windows scripting languages *suck*. (I don't usually use that word, but this is one of those times there is nothing else appropriate.)
    3. Neat tools I keep finding to do things like create PDF from images/text, or nmap.
    4. Viruses don't target Linux as much, so I don't have to worry about updating McNorton.
    5. Better control over my networking.
    6. Better documentation, believe it or not.
    7. I keep finding restrictions on how I can use the software (whether or not it came from Microsoft) in the licensing agreements, like the "no benchmarking .NET" in something I installed for my wife recently.
    8. Commercial software vendors think it's okay to stick ads or nosey bundled software in their products.
    There may be more. The short answer is that I'd be an idiot not to switch.
  • Re:Common thread (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wonko ( 15033 ) <> on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:17PM (#13898428) Homepage Journal

    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 has much fewer calls from them with problems since I switched them, and they are happier with the machines now. I have no idea what percentage of your 99.5% people like my parents fall into, though. I do assume it is a fairly large number of people. :)

  • by SlashingComments ( 702709 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @02:47PM (#13898648)
    We had 2000-2500 servers running an old OS and has to be converted to something which is remotely managable (we had a global deployment). We ran only a single application written in-house. The reason it worked and worked well (still today) becuase.

    1. Programmers were agnostic - they can write code on anything

    2. System Admins were non-religious about OS

    3. Management could multiply 2000 with 0

    4. I put my ass on the line for this

    Oh! BTW all these were done back in 1995. We just did not tell anyone since we felt that it was a strategic advantage over our competition--have them use MSFT!

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • Re:LaTeX (Score:2, Interesting)

    by urbanRealist ( 669888 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @06:28PM (#13900580)
    The chances of finding a solution to a problem depend a lot on the category of the problem. Generally, Windows users can expect much better hardware support than Linux users. On the software side, I've spent hours googling a problem (with file permissions, for example) on Windows. The information to solve a similar problem with Linux didn't even require googling, just reading the chown and chmod man pages. For Windows, I needed subinacl, which isn't even installed along with the OS.

    On the flip side, I've been using Linux for years but finally switched to Windows for home use this year because I couldn't get my usb wireless adapter to work with Linux.

  • Me too! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ruel24 ( 621961 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @06:33PM (#13900633)
    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 chatroom and get it fixed and without all the snobbery I get from Windows "experts". Many Linux gurus are actually interested in helping your figure it out without demeaning you in the process, though there are a few jerks out there in the Linux newsgroups.

    Also, I hate to sound cheap, but I can download a good quality free Linux distro like OpenSuse, Mandriva, Fedora, or for more experienced users, Mepis, Debian, Ubuntu/Kubuntu or whatever and have just about any application I'll ever need. I do, however, believe in supporting my distro and OSS in general, and tend to buy my distros. But even then, you can get Suse Linux for about $60 US and have just about everything you want. You'll spend more than that for Windows, and you don't even have a single application to work with. When I built my last Windows machine with a fresh, legal copy of XP Professional and got updated versions of all my favorite applications, and even new ones that I wanted, as well as armed it with utilities like Norton's Internet Security, I'd spent nearly a grand on software alone. Now, to top that off, all that software has EULA's. The only EULA I got with my Linux installation is to agree to the GPL.

    Another thing I like about Linux is the excitement in the platform. Linux is constantly under a state of improvement. So many hands are involved that the backbone of Linux, as well as all the shiny bling-bling you see on the desktop are under constant development and improving all the time. Windows XP came out in something like 2001, and looks and feels about as tired and old-hat as the Chevy Cavalier did when they (finally!) put it to rest.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."