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  1. #1
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    An introduction to Linux for Windows users




    TOP STORY

    An introduction to Linux for Windows users


    By David Robinson

    Linux might not have found a comfortable home on the desktop, but for backend services, it's everywhere. Here's a guide to Linux, showing why intermediate and advanced Windows users might want to take a look at this open-source operating system.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/an-introduction-to-linux-for-windows-users (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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  3. #2
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    I've been DOS/Windows computing for 31 years. This article is the first I've read on Linux. Very clearly written and a gold mine of information.

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    "rather, the most certain way to judge the effectiveness of security features in software is to let a bunch of software engineers poke through the code." But how do I know the software hasn't been poked at by a bunch of hackers from China or Romania??

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    sackbut (2015-02-19)

  7. #4
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    Why, Windows Secrets?

    This is exactly the type of anti-Microsoft article that makes me give the bare minimum to Windows Secrets for a paid subscription. If not for Fred Langa's columns, I would have ditched this ages ago.

    I don't have anything against Linux, but more and more I'm seeing columnists and articles on this site essentially taking pot shots at Microsoft all the time. I don't expect anyone to be a cheerleader for them, but come on...Give me articles that make Windows more usable, not switching to a different operating system. If you have to go there, then you really have no reason to exist as "Windows Secrets".

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    The article is right on. Linux works on older machines and it frequently updates. I am bound to Windows only because Quicken doesn't make a Linux version. I've been toying with Wine, a windows emulator, which should run Quicken just fine. If Microsoft doesn't offer free upgrades to Windows 10 from the awful Windows 8, I'll probably make the switch on my desktop. On the road, I already use a Linux laptop with Libre Office and Skype and, for the cloud (e.g. One Drive, Google Drive), all you need is a browser.

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    georgegrimes (2015-03-06)

  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms800 View Post
    The article is right on. Linux works on older machines and it frequently updates. I am bound to Windows only because Quicken doesn't make a Linux version. I've been toying with Wine, a windows emulator, which should run Quicken just fine. If Microsoft doesn't offer free upgrades to Windows 10 from the awful Windows 8, I'll probably make the switch on my desktop. On the road, I already use a Linux laptop with Libre Office and Skype and, for the cloud (e.g. One Drive, Google Drive), all you need is a browser.
    Why don't you just run Windows in a virtual machine on Linux? Plenty of ways to do that. Here's one way: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/18768...vmware-player/

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  13. #7
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    Thanks for the tip. Looks promising.

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    Sorry, but this is the kind of column that makes me want to let my Windows Secrets subscription lapse every so often. While I understand that there are virtues (and problems) with every OS, I have chosen to use Windows. I have tried Android and Apple but not Linux. Do I want to try Linux? No. Do I can about Linux? Not really. And that's by choice. As a Windows user, I look forward to Windows Secrets to give me info on Windows (like it used to); I don't need Apple info, Android info, or Linux info. If you want to do that, change your name. It is sad because I've enjoyed your newsletter for a long time. I really wish you would keep to Windows and how to use it better.

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    While I understand the Windows defenders wondering why there is a linux article on a Windows Secrets newsletter, I really liked the article. I have used Linux since 2007. My main distro is PCLOS KDE. I still use Windows XP, and 7 but only because of Quickbooks and Excel. I use Gnucash in Linux but I have customers that use Quickbooks so I have to keep up to date on it. Libre Office Calc will probably do everything Excel will do but writing the macros is so much different from Excel. Who can possibly know how to use anything more than a small percentage of Excel or Calc's capabilities. Linux is different from Windows and if you don't have time to delve into it then continue to use Windows. No problem, but you still have to learn to use the new version of Windows every 3 or 4 years. Anyone remember Window 8? I have never been exposed to it but don't every want to either. Linux is free and most of the forums associated with each distro are very friendly and helpful.

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  18. #10
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    Interesting and informative article and thanks for thinking first of the needs of computer users rather than the typical polarization seen at other sites.

    Daily, I use both MS Windows and a distro of Linux that goes by the name of Puppy SlackO.
    MS Windows is my main OS to accomplish work, but Puppy boots from a DVD with out a hard drive mounted and gives me a greater sense of security while online where most malware exists. Malware that might infect a session is less likely to be saved for the next session.
    Thus I use MS Windows less for web surfing and Puppy more so.
    Too bad MS hasn't promoted this 'live CD' concept.

    I've tried out Mint as a virtual OS in VirtualBox on a Win7 platform.
    I like it. BUT....several apps I use regularly in MS Windows will not run on Linux distros. Not under Wine, either.
    So, Linux distros will likely remain a lesser option for me. But still useful.

  19. #11
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    A did (some of) the testing...

    I just got to chime in, sorry.

    First I deliberately ignore Heyitstrick's diatribe (#4), it IMHO is condemning itself.

    Suggestion to WindowSecrets: Create an area for discussion of "other" desktop systems and make desktops (GUIs) a general part of your mission statement.

    Second: Thank you Heyitstyrick for the suggestion in post #6, I will follow up and try it.
    Maybe that is a way around for products of stubborn companies that do not make Linux versions of VERY popular programs like TaxAct, Quicken, Quick Books a.s.o..

    Third and last:
    Recently I installed and compared eight different Linux versions because I am looking for an alternative for the minimal requirements of 80% of my customers.
    Test bed was an older HP machine with run-of-the-mill AMD 2.0Ghz cpu, only 2GB of RAM and a networked Brother printer. The tests were not done in a scientific manner, I simply noted my individual experience with the distros. All were run and then installed from a live CD.

    Here is my subjective rating in descending order of usefulness.

    Linux Lite Lets me choose install partition & size; GOOD!
    I LOVE the Whisker menu; entries require no higher Unix education.
    Thunderbird, Firefox and Libre Office in default install.
    System update in character oriented Terminal window; a clear NO NO for casual users but then, how often do they have to do it?
    Printer install worked after some acceptable fiddling.

    LXLE Simple but okay graphical interface for updating system.
    No email client but easily installed.
    Printer installation easy enough & printer is working.

    Zorin 9.1 Good & polished but seems sluggish.
    For high power computers?
    And all those geeky Unix program names, GRRR!
    Junked. Hey Zorin lovers, this is my personal judgement for a special purpose.

    PeachOSI Browser home page locked! What are they thinking?
    Garish colors (personal taste)!
    Seems 'sluggish'.
    Junked.

    Netrunner Bare bones Unix look & feel, all the cryptic Unix program names.
    Not usable for “typical” Windows users.
    Junked.

    EvolveOS Beta and yet another UI.
    Junked.

    Q4OS PRIMITIVE Installer; reminds me of Windows 3.1.
    Trinity UI; boooo.
    NO office.
    KDE – Martian looks.
    Junked.

    PCLinuxOS Destroyed working GRUB boot loader.
    Does not boot!
    JUNKED!

    Let the flame wars begin. Soo much Linux in WindowsSecrets.
    Last edited by eikelein; 2015-02-19 at 09:38.
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  20. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmoerman View Post
    "rather, the most certain way to judge the effectiveness of security features in software is to let a bunch of software engineers poke through the code."
    I would have thought that after the Heartbleed fiasco in open source software that people would stop peddling this argument.

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  22. #13
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    Thank you for your article, it is quite informative for Windows users who may be curious about Linux. I have been using Linux for some years together with Windows. In general my recommendation is to install Linux side-by-side with Windows, in dual boot mode. Linux is quicker to start and shutdown than Windows. The various desktop options are less sofisticated than Windows (more raw), no real Aero preview mode, which is quite useful in Windows. Drivers is another area where Linux is poorer than Windows, because many hardware suppliers don't develop driver software for Linux, forcing Linux users to rely on generic open-source drivers, some of them are less than optimal, especially regarding graphical cards. Some devices like printers, webcams, etc., may not even work in Linux due to the lack of any driver software, proprietary or open-source.
    I work with both systems on a daily basis, ten to twelve hours a day. If a user has basic requirements, like browsing the internet, reading and sending emails, write a document or a spreadsheet, than Linux is more than adequate, probably safer than Windows, faster, as long as the user certifies that the computer hardware is fully compatible with Linux (it can be tested with a live dvd Linux distro).
    If a user has a high-end computer with a powerful graphical card, it is probably better to have both systems installed and running. In this scenario, I suggest to leave the Linux system to a more conservative and secure use, like accessing homebanking.

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  24. #14
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    A tip of the hat to the author for this article on Linux. I for one like to see a little diversity and being open minded.

    I have been a Slackware user since the early 90s and am currently using it on a combination web server (apache), file server (Samba), mail server (sendmail), list server (mailman) and time server (chronyd) -- and there is still plenty of processing time left over for Seti@home. I manage it all from the command line and really like it.

    Unfortunately I still run Windows on my desktop for two reasons. First there is always a piece of hardware or a program that is not supported in Linux. It still has not reached the required number of users needed for software and hardware vendors to support Linux to the same level as Windows. Second, it is still a Windows world for the most part in the office and I have to be familiar with its menus, quirks and features to support it. Sad, but there it is. Perhaps that will change one day.

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    There is one, and only one, reason that Linux is not the most installed operating system in the world. That reason is the command line. The command line is required to install any software and if you get one space or comma or forward slash wrong in the long long series of characters required you must start all over.

    In this manner Linux is still in the DOS 4 stage of development. Microsoft early on figured out that they needed an automatic method of installing software. Hence you hit the install button and the Windows software does the installing.

    I'm sure that Linux people are smart enough to come up with such. I've long suspected that they have a "I'm smarter than you are, you can't do this." I sure wish they would get over it. I've played around with Linux for years, but always run into this command line blockage. I would have Ubuntu on all my computers if they would get past this. I would even pay a reasonable price for it.

    drc

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