Linux Users: Why Did You Switch?

As a Linux Journal editor, I'd love to claim that in my college years I realized the oppression stemming from proprietary operating systems. I'd love to confess that Linux was the natural choice amongst a sea of other options. Heck, I'd even like to say back then Linux was my first choice. For me, however, the story played out a bit differently.

I was just plain old poor. In 1994, I started a computer repair business. I had failed Econ the previous semester at Michigan Tech, so you can imagine how successful my computer business was. It turns out, I didn't like charging people to help them with their problems. Much of my "profit" contained chocolate chips, and for some reason, I'd take people's old broken computers instead of charging labor. (Again, "PowerNet Computer Services" didn't last very long)

So the next year, I enrolled into a local community college. This was both because it was close to my "business", and because university was too expensive. It was during this time I started building computers from all the parts I'd taken as payment. It was also this time that I started using Linux. The price was right, and my Unix experience made Linux a viable option. I fell in love very quickly, and what started as merely a cheap way to learn about *nix developed into skills that would form my future career on several fronts. Thanks Linux!

So now it's your turn. Why are you a Linux user?


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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I couldn't afford an XP upgrade

Linux Learner's picture

I've always had other peoples' computers to use. Apple II, TI 99/4a, studied on a VAX/VMS DEC 10 at university for a while, but never was really very good at any of it. Later borrowed some machines with Win3.1 and 3.11 at a job. Also got to use a couple of early Macintoshes (which I liked).

I have a linux geek for a brother in law, and he's a very nice guy. (I used to joke that the stereotypical awful brother-in-law in the family was me.) Around 1998, he provided me with a box made from salvage, dual booting some version of Red Hat and Windows 95. I couldn't really work the linux partition, and my ISP was not linux-friendly. I ended up using the Windows exclusively until it was stolen.

A couple years later, I boughta new computer with WinME. This will seem incredible, but it worked pretty well for me, most of the time. I gave Red Hat another try (this time with "Linux Clearly Explained," by Pfaffenberger). The writing was good, but once again, networking with my ISP and the windows machines in my home network was an issue, so I gave up on it.

Then I wanted to play World of Warcraft, which never was made to work on any FAT version of windows. I got the windows consultant in the family to pass me a Win2k license, free. I didn't want WinXP; I knew it was bloated as all get out, and had DRM issues that I really wanted to avoid. It wasn't too long before I noticed some Internet issues -- large files would not load completely, and the bottom half of some webcomics would be corrupt, and YouTube videos would hang before finish.

So the linux geek handed me a kubuntu 7.04 LiveCD around Christmas. I installed it to dual-boot with Win2k without a hitch, and then did a distro upgrade, and nothing worked. I did some research, and got going with PCLinuxOS. I dual-booted, doing most of my internet stuff on PCLOS, and WoW on Win2k.

Then Blizzard launched Wrath of the Lich King, which required XP. I didn't have the $90-100 for a license, and there was absolutely no way I was going to trust a hacked copy of an already untrustworthy OS. I knew by now about Wine, but the version in the PCLOS repos wasn't up to running WoW.

I looked up World of Warcraft on the WineHQ AppDB, and saw that Linux Mint had tested well. I downloaded, burned, and installed Linux Mint Felicia. The story continues at ^_^

Vista made me do it.

Anonymous's picture

Vista was the breaking point.

Incompatibility, stupid prompts, bugs, and the realization that Microsoft is one dishonest and creepy corporation. Eeeew!

So I had every reason to check out FOSS.

I never went back.

Vista made me do it also.

Herbert T. Hardin's picture

vista has been the most buggy os i have ever used and i was a The COMO NCO FOR 463rd eng in OIF3 now im trying to teach my self how o use Ubuntu for my multimedia needs for the Granfalloon music co Baltimore.

I use Linux for many reasons.

Ben Dibell's picture

Linux has it's set of issues, but not anywhere near as bad as windows. I switched three years ago when a XP VAIO laptop died, and I was desperate to get something, anything, on that system. I got Damn Small Linux running, then Ubuntu. I liked it. I installed ubuntu on my other machines and used that for a while, then later found out I was more of a Red Hat user at heart. I now have a combo of CentOS and Fedora systems. I was mainly Fedora exclusive until fedora 12. I will wait until 14, and yes, I believe in the 13 is bad luck stuff. It's true, Linux takes a lot of know-how, but not as much as some people think. I love Linux, so very much.


Why I Switched

RobbyC's picture

I switched because of the never-ending cycle of garbage that Windows users have to deal with:

-unexplanable BSOD's
-general unresponsiveness of the GUI
-stupid license agreements

I started dual-booting Redhat 7.3 back in the day. (I was initially scared of "Linux"). I didn't make the full switch until the Redhat 9 release. Since then I've tried almost every linux distro there is. At work we are running Ubuntu and at home I run a mix of Gentoo, Debian and Mythdora.

A quick fix, so I thought...

Tubby's picture

The reason I switched was that I found Linux dirt cheap (ebay $10) and I thought it would help fix the problems I was having with Windows XP (programs not responding error messages.) Now, I want to buy windows 7, because I'm not a PC genius and I have troubles playing DVDs, screensavers freeze, and keyboard is less funtional. I seen the Linux Journal yesterday and glanced trough it, trying to solve and improve my new OS (Linux XP 2010 Freespire.) It was like trying to read a language you dont speak/write. Today I'm checking out the WWW, which I dont have on my PC, for the same reason. Learning how Linux works. How do I get DVDs to play, do I need the internet to use Linux, is Linux good for multimedia, so many questions.

If there's a website for NEWBs let me know.

Don't Give Up

ProfBib's picture


Sorry to hear that you had some trouble with your first go at Linux. I'll see if I can give you a little help.

First off, you needn't pay to try Linux: You may either download an image which may be burned onto a CD/DVD or, if you are not comfortable with that, copies of most Linux distros may be ordered online for a very low price (considerably less than the $10 you paid on eBay). Some distributions will even send you an official copy of their Linux free of charge. As long as you are a new user, Ubuntu (my Linux of choice) still does this. Check out the ShipIt program at: It can take some time for delivery, so if you'd like something faster, I would be happy to burn a copy of any Linux distribution in which you are interested and mail it directly to you. Just send me your mailing address (ebibbee AT gmail DOT com) and I promise to have it in the mail for you this weekend.

As for DVD and other difficulties, these are common problems for new users. To solve them, you can usually install the appropriate packages to enable things like DVD playback (simple as point & click) or try a distribution that already has these capabilities enabled (Linux Mint, for example).

There are a plethora of Linux websites for new users. Juergen Haas has some great tutorials on

You may also want to check out the "Going Linux" podcast:

Best of luck,

I switched because..

Gyran Gymble's picture

I've grew up playing in Dos and reluctantly crossing over to 95, 98 and XP. I dabbled a little in Mandrake but didn't know what I was doing and so quickly went back to M$.

When I bought my new laptop it came with Vista on it and it lasted three days before I formatted the whole computer and replaced it with Ubuntu.

What really got my goat about Vista was the fact that it was dumbed down so that they could claim "ease of use" and it is one of the most patronising things I've ever seen. I tried to delete a file and it asks me three times before it actually does it.
"Are you sure that you want to delete this file?" YES
"Did you know that deleting files means that others can't access them?" THERE ARE NO OTHERS.
"Would you like to talk to your system administrator before this file is deleted?" THAT DOES IT WHERES THAT LINUX DISK?

I may be exagerating but not by much and Cthulhu and myself are very happy now.

Why I switched

Anonymous's picture

I dual booted vista/ubuntu 8.04. I found that i never booted into the ms partition. So when i upgraded to 9.04 i Just used the whole disk and the rest is history.

How I've learned to deal with *nix

hello-world's picture

The first OS I knew well was TRS-DOS. I never grokked CP/M. My arguable favorite OS was DEC's VAX VMS. I was confronted with Unix on my first pass at getting a BS in Computer Science back when Unix was relatively new.

I'm almost ready to become a complete Linux convert due to Ubuntu Linux. It allows me to accomplish anything I have to do under MS Office, because of Sun's OpenOffice and/or other freeware. Hint: World of Warfare (even the latest extension: "World of the Lich King") can be run on Ubuntu Linux platforms.

Computational number theory is a hobby for me. An AMD 64-bit Athlon box running a free version of Linux, loaded with one's choice of the many available free C/C++ compilers and x86 assemblers, suits my needs quite well, and (cool thing) costs me almost nothing beyond the price of an inexpensive compubox).

With a good macro assembler, one gets exactly the machine code one expects. A good C/C++ compiler can come damned close. More Linux systems than I have tried allow for both.

Why Did I Switch

Jake's picture

I was doing CNC programming and many times I had to do hand typed programs -- which the company had to pay for MSDOS versions and to be legal on the machines needed a current license. Rather than pay for MSDOS versions after 6.0 floundered - I started using Linux on as a boot disk on a 1.44 floppy and it had a really good Text Editor - and it was free then as is now - so that started my Linux use.


Scarabeus's picture

In consulting for some small non-profit organizations, we introduced Linux obviously to reduce costs, since these groups function mainly on donations. However when setting up Windows servers for the inevitable essential software package written for Windows only, the most serious limitation we found is the licensing. After working through the license agreements, I now wonder if there is any installation in the world (outside of MS of course) that actually conforms to these. Every machine that uses any service on a Windows server must have a paid up license to do so, and that is impossible to track if people are connecting in from outside. We shifted all services such as DHCP, DNS, mailserver, file services etc onto a Linux machine, and this is the only one that interacts with the Windows server apart from the remote desktop login.

As for a personal desktop, well there are some frustrations but Linux is fast and reliable and does everything except play a few games that I like. I made the switch, like many others here, after battling with Windows installations that auto destructed at the worst possible time - no need for any viruses to achieve it. The saga continues as I help friends, family and colleagues with their Windows disasters.

Old hardware is new again

zaine_ridling's picture

It was really Vista that did it for me, although I had been carping about Microsoft since 2003 and their announced plans for MS Office, which turned into the MS-OOXML debacle, a spec which Microsoft itself doesn't even support! Second was the cost. I could no longer afford to continue upgrading the software I was using, and I came to a fork in the road. Having dual-booted Fedora since early 2005, by October 2006, I finally made the switch. I keep a Windows machine in the corner, but it's been turned on three times in eight months, each time to alter a particular data file that's ancient from one company.

I've been frustrated a few times, but overall I've been excited to run Linux and to know that it only gets better every year. Linux has effectively doubled the life of my hardware compared to being on the Windows platform. Finally, a Linux Journal subscription in 2009 has so far been one of the best gifts I've ever given myself!

Linux is the easiest

quixote's picture

I know. That's not supposed to be true, but it is. I started using computers in 1978, on a university server with a Zilog 8000 chip, running Unix System V. Even that was easy compared to the alternative: typing out hardcopy letter by painful letter. I got my own first PC in 1983, running DOS. That too was easier than the alternative: getting on my bicycle to use the university's terminals. Then came Windows 3.1 (the earlier versions were seriously unusable), Win 98, Win 2000, XP.

But starting around '97 or '98 I was also experimenting with RedHat. Totally hopeless. Screen resolutions were all over the map. OpenOffice had to be installed from a tarball, and it took the university's linux geek to help me get it running. Default when unpacked was to be read-only. You had to know to chmod. Sheesh. CUPS was another adventure. I became good friends with the uni linux geek just because of how difficult it was to get anything printed. And so it went. I kept using Win 95 or whatever it was.

Along the way, I tried Macs. Sure, they were cute. But a folder couldn't have more than a few hundred files in it. It would lose its tiny mind over its desktop every chance it got. Watching the bomb appear was only funny the first couple of times. A toy operating system that wasn't at all easy to use for anything real.

Then along came some version of Word (2000?) that only allowed a limited number of uses before it forced the buyer to register with Microsoft. I'd been around computing long enough to know what it meant to have licensed software. It meant that when it rolled over and died, a nerd showed up from the company and fixed it. Microsoft did not do that. Microsoft had *sold* that software. And I'm ornery enough to want software I've bought to stay bought, thank you very much.

I went back to trying RedHat more seriously. There were still way too many issues, but I plugged away until a guy at a computer help desk turned me on to ubuntu. That was 2005 and I haven't run anything else since. I run Windows in virtualization once a year to do my taxes.

The last three days I've been back to fighting with Windows to set up an XP laptop for my niece. What would have taken me about two hours in ubuntu, has already taken three days, massive frustration, and lots of "there ain't no way to get there from here." And I'm still not done. This is the so-called "easy" system? :shock: You couldn't push me back to that with a bulldozer.

My first computer was a

JohnFS's picture

My first computer was a Commodore Amiga. I loved it. I remember seeing Linus Torvalds' usenet announcement of his kernel project, and I took a look at the prehistoric Linux. I decided it was interesting, but more suited to people with a lot more expertise than I had.

Over the years, I looked in on it from time to time, tried to get it going, failed, tried again later... I had no real success until about 1995. Red Hat put together an operating system that a non-expert like me could use, proving that it could be done.

Because of my lack of any depth of expertise, I couldn't really say it was better than Windows, but it was more fun. It was explorable in ways that Microsoft seemed afraid to allow. The fact that it bore some similarity to The Amiga OS, made it seem like an old friend. Sometime around 1998, I got rid of all my Microsoft stuff, and have never regretted it.

To all the volunteers who made Linux what it is today: Thanks!

Used Macs until their crippled version of un*x

Pete H's picture

I'm surprised more users haven't come from Macs. In 1993 I had the wit to realize that Windows couldn't compare with Macs (IIRC, 3.11 vs. 7.0) and began my Mac collection. But soon I heard of NetBSD and before long was running same on a Mac IIsi (with 1-bit X-windows!).

I continued using (used) Macs through System 9.22, and when I finally got one that would run OS X I was unimpressed with the layer of crap between the tasty BSD center and the user, also with the ridiculous CPU-eating GUI (all that memory to look pretty! - I still like TWM, though of course I don't use it any more), and the whole Mac mindset had changed: Originally, home hobbyists could create programs with Hypercard; the whole ethos was getting things done and the default system noise was a person saying "quack!" How cool was that?

Now the Mac community mostly comprises really insufferable trendy yuppies and people who want to listen to the Black-Eyed Peas on iPods whilst dancing down the street! And, as I said, their OS is crap. I put Fedora/KDE on my Lombard and bought an Intel desktop, also on Fedora/KDE. KDE is a pretty, but completely configurable, interface, and underneath is real, accessible Linux. Even cooler!

Simple - Windows fatigue

Gani Albany's picture

Like some other Linux converts, I simply got tired...tired of:

1) Doing regular on-demand scanning for trojans and other malware
2) Defragging my hard drive
3) Endlessly installing security patches from Microsoft
4) Removing software only to find out that it left behind countless items in the registry
5) Having to scour the Internet for software, software updates and/or drivers because Windows has no central repository for such stuff
6) Not having total control of how my desktop looks and behaves
7) Having to install anti-spyware programmes, malware scanners, anti-virus software and bloated firewalls without making my PC 100% free from the gremlins
8) Having to cope with system slowdown because of item no. 7

With Linux I now have peace of mind whenever I turn on my notebook,

I had several computers in

Anonymous's picture

I had several computers in the family that were costing money to keep updated with antivirus software (which was needed). I started with Debian Woody on my home desktop, learned it, then started to dual-boot the other computers. I set the router to not allow internet access when people booted windows, which helped a lot with the virus problem (kids go everywhere). I also liked the ability to reload a messed up windows partition with dd. Since then, I installed Knoppix on my parents' computers (hard drive boot using freedos) - great that they can't mistakenly change things when 500+ miles away, and unlike their friends, they never got a virus. I haven't upgraded windows since win2000. Linux takes some time to learn, but it is great to never have a virus in the house on a linux partition.

burned my fingers to often....

rottex's picture

I'm running linux (gentoo) here.
Yes, I was running all? M$ species since 12 years. Also touched solaris , openserver....
Since 4 years we use now EVERYWHERE linux (desktop , servers , gadgets ...);
M$ world now is rather red-shifted here.

just a few reasons (as probably said before from the colleagues):

1) no costs, no annoying and confusing!! licensing
2) centralized , maintained, open software repositories
/ you can even read what the software artists "talk/argue/dream" on several forums.
3) always up-to-date; selectively stable or experimental.
4) good online, battlefield-proven documentation
5) slim and only on the box what we really need
6) easy to debug in case of troubles
7) since KDE4 compiz etc. no way to switch back even on desktops (full blown desktop-box here right now needs about 385 MB vs. "optimized" M$oft Windows7: 0.8 GB)
8) easy to maintain written software for customers
(after rewriting code through the M$ Matrjoschka (win311, Me , 98 , 98SE, XP and VISTA / SBS , Server 2005 and 2008, MsSQL) and the fact that I/we had to have to many resources bound for every version, we step by step stopped that. Here is also windows 7 running (curiosity...) ; again the same M$ trap as always (just analyze the dlls :-)) nothing new really, except the name and more bloat plus fancy wrapping...
9) easy GLSA checking
10) clear configuration files
11) more pfunn, since IMHO its a more technical approach instead of Try&Error , and even more phun when you start feeding "the community"
12) Freedom ! Most of the time I can choose between several concepts of how --> core <--- components should work.
13) can't stand rebooting :-)
14) virtualization power and clustering
15) fast and more reliable !
Especially when using realtime-kernels for CNC and music :-))
16) easier and clearer to administer everything IMHO
17) by the time, was fed up with the way M$ was/is acting on the market. Especially that I have to send back all the time M$ home-versions of systems I buy for us and our customers...

M$ definitely did a great job (especially liked Visual Studio), but I think its time for new concepts.

linux is not easy, but worth every key-stroke and just be honest: how many hours did you spend with M$ products during your life investigating weird things and how often did you swear because definitely the software was crap ?!.
During the the time with Linux of course also sh*it happened, but Linux was all the time blaming ME !! :-)

Looking back, it would have been better, if Linux would have emerged 10 years earlier... so, grab it now !

Brickindows is a piece of

Anonymous's picture

Brickindows is a piece of (bad word goes here). And the performance is too slow.
Been using linux (different distros) for about 1 year, and i am still impressed how good it is

Microsoft wanted big yen!

Chinese Emperor's picture

I rule China I am emperor. Several years ago I sought network my vast and superior kingdom. Microsoft ready with offer that easy to refuse. I chose Linux instead, because freely given like communism and glorious realm of China. Now penguins everywhere. Fat birds with little red flags.

I switched because I was fed

phobos_anomaly's picture

I switched because I was fed up with the crash/burn reinstall cycle of windows. Coming from unix, I just couldn't get used to that kind of "usability" and eventually discovered linux in 98. downloaded redhat, then suse, then ubuntu, then finally debian. Been using that for years now. Never looked back. No more spyware, no more bsod's, no more defragging and no more near daily reinstalls.

Less of a switch, more an addition

Anonymous's picture

My first PC was a an 80286 'laptop'. It ran DOS 5.0 and a thing called PowerMenu - which is a lot like a curses application. Anyway, I continued along the Microsoft route through Win 3.11, 95, 98, 98SE, Win2k, WinXP. It wasn't until quite recently I figured I should see what linux is about, firsthand. Out comes the ubiquitous Knoppix CD..and I have to say I was not impressed (v3.x) - not enough to make me switch - but I was intrigued.

Fast-forward a little and I figured I should give it another go. So I tried Knoppix 5.1, then Backtrack 3 [mostly for the software suite]. Now, I've never had a virus problem with any of my machines, even with 24/7 DSL directly connected under WinXP - I maintained my machine(s) well. So how and why did I change? Well, XP served my needs just fine -- until I quit working with digital audio and video and started a degree in computing.

Eager to learn new skills, I made a decision: move to linux outright and force myself to learn.

As I'm also studying for my CCNA, I figured Backtrack 3 would be useful. At the time I only had one machine: a PIII 850MHz laptop with 128MB RAM. Yes, XP would run on it, and yes it was painful - so it had to go for these reasons also. Backtrack 3 was in fact my day-to-day OS for a time on that machine. Thankfully my financial situation has improved, and I now run that same laptop with Backtrack 3 and Slackware in dual boot. I have a 2nd laptop (P4 2.8GHz / 768MB) with the same OSes. My main machine has an Intel Q6600 and 4GB of RAM, 50% overclocked, cool and stable. It runs Slackware 12.2 and I use virtualisation to keep on top of assignments and the like which require MS Office 2k7. My text editor of choice is kate or notepad.exe, depending on where I am and what I'm doing. My 4 Cisco lab machines are mostly PIII machines with one 2xAthlonMP thrown in. They all run Slackware and WinXP (dual-boot).

So it's pretty clear that Slackware is the distro I favour. Looking back at the title of this post.. how is [linux] an addition, when all of my machines run Slackware?

Well, I study on-campus at my college.. and they use (you'll never guess): Windows XP clients / Win2k3 domain controller. I'm there for about 40 hours a week with various modules and classes, all told. I still spend over half my computing time using Windows XP!

Just as the previous poster indicated - moving to linux is great, but neglecting Windows-related skills can be a hinderance, especially if you are earning some income from Windows support. It's a shame that Cisco's CCNA curriculum is also very Windows-centric. Now, there's nothing stopping me from booting up Slackware to complete the lab assignments at home, but when I'm in class, working as part of a group, WinXP VMs are what we use, and so it makes sense to replicate that at home.

For what it's worth, we've been having unimaginable trouble with the Windows network in the college, so I've suggested using linux liveCDs instead of VMs for the labs. It's just a matter of finding a liveCD release with the e100e module built in (or tweaking the .iso myself, if I can make time).

To sum up, I love linux, and I'll tackle anything from recovering a mangled partition table to a kernel rebuild, but I can't ignore the vast multitude of Windows users out there - I am one of them.

Why I switch to Linux?

Cye's picture

I switched to Linux because I got so sick of fighting a useless battle of virus's Malware/Spyware & deadly Scripts & active x pain in the(beep)by using winblows(hehe). I use Dream Linux/Mepis Linux/Puppy Linux/Macpup Foxy/PCLinuxOS 2007 & I will never go back to Windows & I repair winblows systems for a living & I try my best to turn one person after another on to linux because Winblows problems are much to serious to keep on using a problem waiting to happen. I also created my own hackintosh & I know not linux,but dang close,plus I bought several also. I am also about to purchase one of those wonderful linux based netbooks,but I will probably replace the distro with puppy Linux(hehe).Linux is the best! I am trying to convince my parents to switching,but they are so set in there ways of winblows aka(Running silly windows games). So they keep avoiding the issue,but I for one am so tired of fixing there dying winblows machines,God Virus after virus,when does it endddddd!(hehe).

Why I switched to Linux

Shadowgirl's picture

A year ago I had no clue what Linux was. I was too busy bugging my mom to get me a notebook PC for my birthday. Around that time I looked up viruses on Wikipedia then I clicked on OS
's and Linux came up. I tried it on livecd and it was wonderful. A few things were quackish at first but with time I truly fell in love with fedora core until l I tried Ubuntu and that didn't end well. I still use fedora and I plan on setting up a server with it some time in the next few months. Dang I'm a computer nerd at 15. Wow....Also I can do java!!! no HTML though....(wa wa waaaa)LOL

I am new to linux, we have a

Anonymous's picture

I am new to linux, we have a linux server. How do i access it from another computer based on a windows platform.

Why I switched to LINUX

Oteast's picture

First my background, I was into technical computing running on vt100 terminals in VMS in the late 80's, so I was tolerant of (relatively) cryptic interfaces but also spoiled with systems that never crashed, all your data was backed up by the operator and never struggling with OS maintance and all that nonsense. Nonetheless an occasional trip to the PC and Mac labs on campus to play simcity or flight simulator were fun, but again the nastiness of self maintenance was not a problem. Leaving school and for some years afterward I acquired a pretty good (for then) repaired from the trashpile 486 that ran windows3.11 and DOS

By graduate school in the mid 90's the demands of a robust numerical compiler to debug code at home was pressing. A $10,000 UNIX workstation was beyond the budget of a grad student and a search in the Windows wrk revealed no truly ANSI FORTRAN 77 standard compiler. So I tied Slackware LINUX and was completely floored when it compiled code from the lab on this first try...true couldn't run the full sized problems, but it worked great for subprogram development and debugging. Slackware was intriguing, you had to tolerate some C code tweaking to get such things a X running, and a lot of poking around the directory structure, but man it unlocked the power the that 486 in a way windows never even could. I stuck with LINUX through the end of grad schools (around 1997).

The first job forced me back to drinking the Windows coolaid and I used Win98 for many years, then about 3-4 years ago moved to XP. In the interim got married and have teenagers and about 4-5 machines running XP. Not very satisfying as the two teenagers constantly brought their two machines down, and the routine of clean/wipe/reinstall WInXP/reinstall all the applications (including FULL suite of anti-malware software) and RE-EDUCATE them on best practices every six or so months; it became a very tiresome routine.

About 2 years ago I gave an ultimatum: either take the box back to your room and live with it as is, pay for a service to fix it out of your own allowances, or I get to install whatever I want in an attempt to meet your needs. They chose option 3 and I pulled out an Ubuntu LINUX CD a coworker had given me thinking this might last a couple weeks before the "DRY" and "technical" environement of LINUX would drive them back to WinXP. I gathered my big stack on LINUX books anticipating a long series of nights tweaking and getting it to work. Needless to say I was floored again at how much LINUX has matured; install was easier than Windows, no search for drivers that WinXP forces on you, everything in the hardware (mind you this is 2-3 old cobbled machines) works from the LiveCD, all of the Web2 stuff works (with a little tweaking), the hardware screams of all rocksolid stable. The machines are now 2+ years running on the Ubuntu and have yet to come back for any problems (other than one hardware-based problem).

Life so was good I switched over myself about 18 months ago and now only one machine in the house runs XP in a 2nd boot option for 3-4 legacy apps that I am waiting for to be ported over or WINE to develop far enough. Mind you, this second switch was motivated entirely by ease of use (for my old granny Ubuntu/PCLinuxOS/Freespire would be the ONLY way to go) and not technical need. LINUX's readiness for the mass market has almost come in my opinion.

Why did I not go for Macs? 1) price, and 2) they seem to possess the same closed-source attitude that is making Windows into bloatware, loaded with copy protection schemes/applets/and feature crap that slowes your machine down offers little or no value added, 3) lack the self documentation and great and swift defacto tech support that the LINUX community grants, and 4) also force you onto their upgrade treadmill instead of meeting the customer's needs, not to mention the inferior security to open source code (kind of paradoxial, isn't it?). If I start a small business, I know I would buy a commercial LINUX distro complete with remote support (Redhat, Ubuntu, Novell SUSE, etc.) without wasting a second's thought and the Mac and Windows wouldn't even be in contention....

two reasons

Kennon's picture

The main two or three reasons I switched are security and training. In the late 90's I was working in an IT dept on a medium sized college campus where there were no firewalls or nat translation, and very little or no anti-virus on any machine. Every device on campus had an internet facing class B public address. It was like a giant IP playground with no rules. I wanted an OS that couldn't be owned out of the box or ping of deathed within 20 mins of being plugged into the network. I also got tired of rebuilding machines every 6 months because they would just start running slowly or blue screening. My options were Mac or Linux...Mac's were great if you had budget but I did not so I ended up on Linux. The training part was that most of the university's systems were running on Solaris at the time and having the ability to have a C-Shell prompt on my desktop helped me learn a lot about administering my work environment. I was also a CSci major at the time and all of our homework in C++ was stuff I could do on my machine at work and at home if I was running Linux whereas on windows it required $$ for compilers and stuff.


Primate's picture

My operating system history has run through PDP-11, CP/M, ZCPR3, MS-DOS in various versions, and Windows in various versions up to (but not including) Vista. I put Linux on my home server and on my laptop just a couple of years ago, and did so relatively recently only because a) I have managed to switch my employer's application databases from MS-Access to PostgreSQL, and b) the increasing interoperability of Linux applications such as Open Office and Evolution (OWA/Exchange functionality in particular). In my view, further improvements in support for Exchange and MS-Access are critical for wider use of Linux on business desktops. And next after that would come effective desktop alternatives to ArcMap and AutoCAD.

Microsoft, Vista, and increasing poverty

zaine_ridling's picture

I had a leg up because I had been dual-booting a variety of Linux distros for three years. And after using Microsoft OSes for 20 years, I had earned the right to try something else. Then came the horrid Vista EULA, then I got a glimpse of Vista's horrid performance and that was it. I could no longer afford to keep sending cash to Redmond. Nor could I afford to keep my documents in proprietary formats of any kind -- not even older Microsoft software could read my documents from the mid-90s!!

Fedora worked well, so I found myself using it 60, then 70, then 90% of the time. So I found alternatives for the last two Windows programs I couldn't live without and I don't "do" Windows anymore. THANK YOU, LINUS! THANK YOU, RICHARD STALLMAN. THANK YOU TO ALL THE THOUSANDS OF PROGRAMMERS WHO HAVE HELPED CODE LINUX AND WORK TO SUSTAIN THE BEST DISTROS OUT THERE!

My first OS was Windows 98,

jthias's picture

My first OS was Windows 98, then came XP, but I switched to linux when I discovered back in my MIRC days that experienced IRC channel ops regarded eggdrop bots as the most advanced. Well, when I went to search the net for this eggdrop bot that I wanted to use for myself, I discovered that they were only available in tar.gz format which I didn't even know at the time what that meant, so to make a long story short, the fact the best regarded IRC bots weren't even available Windows XP piqued my interest sufficiently to get the unix/linux ball rolling for me :) Of course, unix was out of the question since it's proprietary. My first distribution was redhat, then I moved on to slackware, but ultimately settled on Fedora as my consistent distribution of choice for desktop use and much more. I introduced my girlfriend and her son to ubuntu (which they love), and my old computers (500MHz or less speed) that are still lying around have been upgraded with puppy linux and damn small linux; even my most recent purchase, an acer aspire one notebook, runs a linux distribution. I'm a linux user for life :)

Why I Switched to Linux?

Jake's picture

Well, I was sick of M$ crashing. Went to Linux and got sick of Linux hanging. So I went back to M$ and Linux together. I have XP boxes for running programs that I can't run on Linux. I have Linux boxes to run programs I can't run on M$. I have full bought versions of Office Suite 2000 and XP - and use Wordpad and Notepad instead. I have Openoffice and Koffice Suites and use Kedit and Gedit instead...and Vim. I have bought M$SQL 2000 and use MySQL on my M$ boxes instead and I have MySQL for Linux and use MySQL with Kexi on my Linux boxes. Since Adobe doesn't make CS for Linux - I use Adobe CS Photoshop on my M$ boxes as well as GIMP for M$ and I also use GIMP on my Linux boxes. I would buy Adobe CS for Linux - but, they don't want my money. I use DigiKam for my Cameras on my Linux boxes and use ArpSoft stuff for movies and cameras on my M$ boxes. I use Samba 3 and NFS on my Linux boxes and NFS on my M$ boxes. I use M$ 2003 Servers and XP and they never crash. I use openSuSE 10.3 on my Linux servers and Mandriva 2008 Powerpack on my Linux desktops. I love Active Directory on my M$ boxes and wish Linux has some sort of LDAP system as good as M$ has for its network systems. Pure openLDAP sucks. Active Directory on M$ 2008 Server is the best I have ever used - even better than M$ AD 2000 far. I think there is nothing that even comes close to controlling security and pure network control as well as I am experiencing with M$ 2008 Server. I love it...and it takes control of my Linux boxes and makes them obey...which is good. Linux and Open Source have nothing to compare to the new M$ 2008 Servers and or M$ Exchange I use them instead of Postfix and stuff like that. I switch back and forth as my needs dictate. That's why I switched to I could enjoy the best that the computer world has to offer in both arenas...proprietary and opensource. God bless Capitalism and Free Market Economy concepts.

Vista made me look for something else!

Anonymous's picture

Jan 07 I installed Windows Vista Ultimate so I could get the full experience of M$ new operating system. I ran it for two week in pain the whole time. I was upset that the GUI for Windows was just a copy of OS X Leopard. Then there was the price when release the Ultimate edition was about $499-crazy. That have the cost of a server. I could go on and on about the problems and pain but I won't today. My solution came out of anger at M$, I search the web for about 5min and found out about Linux and it's greatness. Next thing you know I had downloaded a Live CD iso of Fedora 7.
After a few months of using Fedora and Ubuntu I decided to work on earning the Linux+ Certification. After studying and hands on then two testing attempts I earned it. Windows is something to run and VM period.
Distro's I like are Ubuntu, Fedora and OpenSUSE. There is also Unix-Solaris or OpenSolaris.
OpenOffice is the way to go for documents M$ is over rated and overpriced. OpenGL destroys directx.
Been using Linux for over a year now and it's outstanding.

What drove me to Linux (oops, double posted) n/t

bpsull's picture


What drove me to Linux

bpsull's picture

I had started using computers with my father's CP/M AT&T system in the 80's, by the time I had my first computer to call my own I was in high school and had a rather unreliable HP Pavilion desktop with what I believe may have been the most unstable version of Windows (98/2000 was the version it displayed at boot) I have ever personally used. Every 3-6 months I would have to perform a system recovery because Windows had become corrupted. I began looking at alternatives, Linux came to my attention (I can't recall exactly how) as a more stable and reliable alternative. This happened around the time that the term Open Source began appearing in a lot of news papers. After a lot of research about what was the best distro for beginners I laid out the money for a copy of SuSE 8.1. I've stuck with it and haven't regretted it.


Guinesss's picture

Firsly I love using computers...I also love playing sport and making music.

Linux offers a certain freedom. Freedom from vendor lock-in, Freedom to choose. (If you use windows and you think you're not a victom of vendor lock in, think again.)

Once I realized that a simple yet effective thing to do before buying any new hardware, is to check whether it is fully supported under Linux already, I have never looked back. No more searching for drivers, just bliss.

I'm not mentioning any specifics here, but I switched because I prefer Linux, end of story.

Why am I a Linux User?

waparmley's picture

Well, I've been fascinated by computers for a long time. I was a physics major in college and our department had a very underutilized IBM 1130, so I taught myself Fortran, which I continued to use through grad school. When PCs came along I took a while to get involved, but once I did I tried to learn all the ins and outs of DOS and started programming with Quickbasic. When Windows came along it seemed that PCs were becoming much more an appliance and much less a hobby device. I tried to study C and Visual Basic, but just couldn't get interested.

I retired recently and have lots of high-tech hobbies as well as house and farm projects to keep me busy, but still love computers and wanted something else to do that would keep me interested, challenged, and mentally active. I started hearing about Linux and did a bit of reading on the subject, and it looked to me to be just the thing I was looking for -- something to experiment with and learn about that would also have day-to-day utility. Besides, I've always enjoyed playing the role of the ubergeek, and since I hang around with a lot of other folks who are also very much into technology, being able to "one-up" them by talking about my Linux experience was just an added bonus!

I started with Breeze Badger booting from an external USB drive and now have Gutsy Gibbon on one laptop and Hardy Heron on another, plus an N800 and an Aspire One. I'm afraid that Linux might be taking over my life!!! ;-)

Microsuck & HP made me switch

Toad's picture

I decided to buy a new laptop, and after looking around, I chose the HP DV9627CL. I knew it came with Vista, but I checked HPs website which listed Win2000 drivers, so I purchased.

When I got it, I found it was very hard to get Vista off the system. I also found adware preloaded on the system. I called HP, but they said only Vista was supported (which would have been fine) but they wouldn't point me at the correct drivers even if I agreed to abandon their support.

NO ONE is telling me what I have to do with a machine once I've paid my cash. NO ONE is going to force me to accept their ads. I've switched to Ubuntu.

why i switch to linux

genesiskiith's picture

I started to try out linux back in my high school years. The first one I think was OpenSuSE 10

Back then linux was still not as user friendly (or maybe I was still a newb), hardwares were breaking every where..

I had a chance to go on an exchange to UC Davis (I'm from New Zealand) for 6 months, and it was surprising to see that all the engineering labs were running red hat, with the exception of LabView computers. That basically tempted me into using Linux again, ssh-ing into the lab computer #24 into the basement of Kemper hall was such as a tempting thing to do xD.

Once I installed my OpenSuSE 10.3 though, I basically decided it was the OS I would use.. This is when I truely saw the power of linux and open source, there are many many things you can do with the shell thats just unthinkable in Windows, and most of the programs on Linux are much more intuitive.

why i switch

mario's picture

i was a windows user from the time of win3.1, in that times the only machines that can do what i need were macs, and they were too expensive for me, so after some time of trying to do my stuff with windows (3.1,95) i just give up and start to look for another solution, this was linux, sure the learning curve was way bigger than on windows, but, i was satisfied with the results, so i take the penguin from then

How Shannon VanWagner became a GNU/Linux convert

Shannon VanWagner's picture

After being an IT professional for several years(starting on Windows), I've seen first hand how painful it is to live under the restrictions of the closed source Operating System.

I've seen how the closed source OS attempts to be the "one and only" software solution for the entire corporate IS infrastructure, and I don't like it one bit. The cost of vendor lock-in that is experienced by using a closed source OS is utterly terrible because it limits us all as users.

That's when I realized the GNU/Linux operating system.

GNU/Linux represents everything that is exciting in our computerized world. Instead of restricting it's users, GNU/Linux bestows ultimate power upon the user. This power can then be harnessed towards making our world a better place.

Also, using GNU/Linux is liberating. The feeling of explaining to my children and to people I meet that they can freely redistribute GNU/Linux and the software it provides, and build upon it to make it even better, is a great freedom indeed. It's very exciting to be a GNU/Linux user!

When you switch to GNU/Linux, you've opened your mind to a world that is enabled by computerized technology, only then are you are free to make the world a better place using computers.

Shannon VanWagner

Why I made the switch to Linux

lorpi's picture

When I was aged 19, I was still using Windows. The funny part: I did not know much about other operating systems. Later I realized that Windows actually is no operating system if I compare it to Linux. (o: In university I got to know Sun Solaris and wondered about the cool things in the shell. I asked people for having this at home. Answers were different:

- Download Putty to connect to our Solaris Cluster or
- Did you heared about Linux? Download it and I will help you to burn a CD from it.

I've choosen the second option. Until then the Bash was my friend. I knew that there was no suitable option to get a shell like this on Windows. After one year I deleted Windows from my harddrive. My next computer was one I purchased without Windows. (o:

At work I still using Windows; I cannot influence that. Now I am using Linux for many reasons, not only for the Bash. I use ist, because its Open Source. Actually I write this post with Firefox 3 on a Windows platform. (not an operatin system) ^^

Thanks to Linux. (o:

why did i switch

Digi's picture

I would have to say I saw a Ubuntu vid on youtube and was hooked. I dualbooted ubuntu with windows and after a week trashed the windows all together and have not looked back and never will !!!! LINUX RULEZ


UNG's picture

I was into heavy computing with large arrays and big machines, so after proprietary operating systems, the next ones used were unix and unix-like. So when for small home and office machines, linux became available, I moved to it, just for the sake of comfort.

Why I switched

John Crout's picture

The documentation is free, the source code is free, know-how to write code for Linux is easily acquired and most questions -- an overwhelming majority -- are freely answered one way or another.

If I were to make the jump to Linux (after supporting MS products fpr 20 years) I knew there was no better place than Fort Collins because of the many -ix programmers in the area. Since I'd never lost the foothold I found in VMS and Unix, as an undergrad, I switched but had help doing so. Since 2002 or so, I've built, repaired, and managing Linux networks, mixed networks and I've provided email support since 2004. (FWIW, my business savvy seems to be less than what Shawn admits to!)

I wouldn't feel good about writing this without thanking the Big Three (my mentors) to whom I owe much. They are John B., Hugh M., and Brian G.).

Today, we also have mature publications like Linux Journal and publishers like O'Reilly, and even more programmers. If you want to learn Linux doing so is even easier, today.

(My homepage isn't built yet, but the address provided is where I hope it will stay, once built.)

No more Windows...

eegor's picture

I started fooling around with Linux with Redhat 6.1 (didn't like it).

I bought a boxed version of SuSe 7.3 (loved it... duel booted with lilo... win98se)

I added SuSe 9.1 personal to my then-new XP machine and lived a duel life.

When the motherboard of my XP machine crashed, I couldn't get XP to work well with the machine I built (new case, motherboard, processor, memory... with the rest of the parts... hard drive, cd/dvd burner, video card and floppy salvaged from the previous setup). It just wouldn't "stabilize". I did a fresh install of Ubuntu "Dapper Drake" and haven't looked back. I'm running Ubuntu "Hardy Heron" now... the best ever. After about a week and some tweaking, I didn't (and still don't) miss Windows. I haven't tried Vista, but I have yet to meet anyone that likes it better than XP. Ubuntu is better than XP in all areas except software variety, but I have everything I want with Ubuntu, so I'll probably never pay for Windows again. I like to build my own and upgrade my hardware and software as I go. Linux works all the time with any setup without the crashes and constant badgering of software validation, spyware/malware and antivirus updates.

Why I switched to Linux.

emkamau's picture

It was back in 1998 and I had a fairly new Compaq Presario 7170 (I still have it)Pentium 90Mhz CPU with 16MB RAM. THe machine had come with Windows 95 preloaded and a Windows 98 upgrade disk in the box. I promptly upgraded the computer to Win98. But almost immediately I begun experiencing random shutdowns and multiple boot failures. THe computer would often suddenly shutdown and then take upwards of half an hour and multiple attempts before it would boot up again. I was a graduate student at the time and teaching part time at a local college. Needless to say it was a huge aggravation to have a computer that basically worked when it felt like it!

I managed to beg and borrow another computer, some old no name 486sx 33mhz with 4mb RAM. This machine worked ok with win98 and after a couple of months I decided to network the headstrong Presario with the meek and humble 486. This proved to be a bad idea! It turned out to be impossible to network the two computers despite having an MCSE friend of mine do the actual work. Various tweaks and fiddles in the bowels of both computers left them both essentially non functional. I now had two computers that were completely unreliable. I was told that the solution was to reinstall Windows on both computers.

At this point I found myself on the horns of the classic Microsoft Monopoly Power Dilemma:
1. I had a Win98 upgrade disk from the Presario, but it was not possible to reinstall Win98 from an upgrade disk on either of my computers.
2. I had the Win95 install disks from the Presario, but it was not possible to reinstall Win95 on either computer as they both already had Win98. Microsoft did not allow reversions from Win98 to Win95.

So my only option was to either buy the full Win98 install for each computer or to pirate the software from somewhere. Neither choice seemed very appealing to me.
However, I was aware from some internet work that I had been doing on a Unix server that there existed free web browsers, text editors and other such software. I reasoned that if there were free applications there must be free operating systems as well and I was now desperate enough to try anything.

So one day when the Presario was in a good mood and booted up, I got on the internet and typed the words "free operating system" into I believe the Lycos search engine. In those days Linux did not really figure much in the OS universe and so the first page of links that came up was all FreeBSD. So I read up a bit on FreeBSD and then decided to install it. I downloaded about 9 floppies of FreeBSD (I think I may still have them somewhere in box) and tried to install it. It proved to be a bear! No matter what I tried how much I read etc I could not get FreeBSD to install on any of my computers. Finally after a couple of weeks of trying I gave up and sought help. At that time a good friend of mine was head of IT at the college where I taught and while in his office one day I got to talking about my problems with FreeBSD with one of the techies on staff there. This guy, Bill as I recall, not only offered to help me with my computer troubles but went ahead and burnt a CD of something called Redhat 5.0 for me and gave me a printed manual to help with the install.

Bill told me try get Redhat Linux installed and that if it did not work he or a friend of his would come out to my house to help me out. So I went home that day and popped in my Redhat CD into the computer, rebooted and commenced the install. To my astonishement the install went flawlessly. In a couple of hours I had a functioning Redhat Linux desktop, with I believe Enlightenment as the window manager. I even had sound and the modem working and I was surfing the Redhat website before I went to bed that night.

Needless to say I was hooked on Linux from then on. I now had a computer I could actually use and use reliably. Gone were the random shutdowns the interminable boot attempts and the frustration from not knowing if the computer would cooperate when I had an important paper due the next day.

I used Redhat through version 9 in 2002 and then switched to Debian and used that untill about 2006 when I switched to Ubuntu and I'm now writing this on Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. I kept my old Presario as a file server running Debian until late 2007 when I finally retired it. It still works great, but I needed a computer that could take 500GB SATA drives (Kudos to Compaq of yester year, the monitor that came with the Presario is still in my service. I have gone through a couple of brand new monitors from other manufacturers in more recent years).

In many ways I'm thankful that FreeBSD was such a darned hard install back in 1998, otherwise I would probably have become a FreeBSD user. Not that that would be a bad thing, but I can't imagine that I would have had as much fun with FreeBSD as I have had with Linux over the years. Many thanks also go to Bill who introduced me to Linux in a very calm, helpful and low pressure way. I still remember my own astonishment, when I attempted to return the Redhat CDs and book that Bill had given me and he refused to take them, telling me that they were mine now and I should pass them on to somebody who needed them. Thats the way things were done in the Linux community.


Switch to Linux not because I'm a Windows hater

Phong Ng.'s picture

I've found that many people hate Windows so much but I think it's not that bad except its cost. I've not encountered much problems using Microsoft's stuffs so far.

Linux is stable, secure. I agree for now. But when the penetration rate of Linux user is 50% for instance, I don't think it will be anymore. I mean more people will exploit the bad side of technical skills messing around as they always do on Windows.

Anyway, Open Source badge will ensure Linux to be cured faster by the willing communities. That's the bright side :)

For myself, I switched to Linux since I've found it's interesting to explore and it's free ;) I've tried Red Hat, SuSe and Ubuntu. They're all cool. I still have dual boot with 70% time spending for Linux but I think single Linux boot will be not so far :)

And finally, don't badly criticize Windows. It's done quite a lot for the world so far :)

Why I switched

Trevor Lyons's picture

I started using Caldera back in 1999, and for the next 8 years I just used GNU/Linux mostly as a toy rather than a true OS. I then decided to be a beta tester for Windows Vista 64 bit with a 64 bit machine. After seeing 'Windows ME Version 2.0', I quickly changed to Ubuntu and that is what I'm using now (8.04). It was a learning curve to use GNU/Linux everyday; but after getting some advise from 'the very polite community of Ubuntu', I have stayed Microsoft free for the last two years. Almost sounds like a recovery program doesn't it? ;-)

It still feels odd not purchasing software when entering Future Shop or any other dept store; but then again the freedom is truly wonderful! (and it helps the pocket book as well).

Vista - So Bad It's Criminal

Captain Slog's picture

My new Laptop (Lenovo dual core 1.73GHz 2GB Ram) ran like a wounded elephant on Vista. Not the biggest Laptop going around but I knew that XP would scream like a raped ape. So I knew Microsoft is no longer the answer.

I had been trying various distros in the past, Knoppix in the late 90's was fun to play with, and I was suitably impressed by how rock solid Simply Mepis is. Now I'm a very happy Ubuntu user. Ubuntu FLIES on the same hardware Vista barely chugged along with. Now I use Ubuntu as a dual boot configuration, but I know this is a temporary arrangement.

Soon, Windows will be gone for good, gone for ever. I have already jumped for Open Office over the bloated Microsoft Office suite of applications.