As 2015 comes to a close, I have come to realize a great truth: the best thing I ever did was to dump Windows and switch completely to Linux. I speak from my own experience but I also speak for many of my EzeeLinux clients who feel the same way. Of course, your mileage may very. This article is not intended to sell you on Linux. Chances are good that if you’re reading this you already know about Linux and you may be using it every day. This article is for those who can’t seem to let go of Windows or Mac and are hanging on to those proprietary OS’s out of habit or because you’re not quite comfortable putting your entire computing life into the Linux space.
That being said, I can totally understand this because I was a Windows power user with some solid MS IT training under my belt. I knew the system and I was very confident in my ability to recover from a major Windows meltdown and get things going again, but I wasn’t so sure about Linux. I felt like I wasn’t quite ready to reformat my hard drives and go completely Linux because I was just a tad bit unsure of what I would do if something went wrong. Afraid to jump out of what I thought was my comfort zone, I made excuses every time I entertained the thought of making the break from Windows entirely. This state of mind stayed with me for years, so I kept my desktop machine loaded with Windows 7 and considered it my main PC while I ran Ubuntu on my laptop. I figured if the laptop died it would be no big deal, right? The funny thing was that the laptop ran damn near perfect for all of those years while I constantly chased Windows crashes, viruses and performance issues. The laptop just chugged along, doing its thing and hardly every complained. Still, I hung on to Windows, not quite ready to jump to Linux full time; not quite able to make the jump because I couldn’t get over all the what-ifs.
So, what was it that broke me out of this rut? It was a combination of things, really. First off, Ubuntu 14.04 came along and for the first time, I saw everything working right after I upgraded from 12.04, no tinkering required. The second thing that happened was that I bought a book about Linux Mint 16 called “Linux Mint Essentials” By Jay LaCroix. I eagerly awaited its arrival thinking I would gain tremendous insight into the inner workings of Linux Mint. While I did learn a lot of new stuff, I was kinda surprised at how much I already knew after finishing with it. The book really only whetted my appetite for more knowledge and so I decided that it was time to get serious about this Linux stuff and seek some training.
I didn’t have to look too far because I quickly came across The Linux Foundation’s “Introduction To Linux” course available through edX. I’m not bragging, but I found the edX class to be somewhat like the book in that I found I knew a lot more than I thought I did. It seems that the previous ten years worth of reading about Linux, watching YouTube videos about Linux and fooling around with Linux myself had taught me a great deal. I felt my confidence rising more and more the further along I got in the course. And when it was done I knew for sure that I was ready to deal with just about any problem a Linux box might throw at me. The course is designed to be the first step toward becoming a certified Linux SysAdmin and there’s much in it that the average home user wouldn’t need on a daily basis but knowing a bit about networking, scripting and the command line certainly helps when you’re trying to figure out how to do something with your computer that goes beyond point and click. The main thing I took from the experience was the feeling that I had the knowledge required to make the system do my bidding and meet my computing needs. Microsoft’s days were numbered on my computer and I wouldn’t have to wait long before I had no choice but to take the leap.
The last straw turned out to be a dying hard drive. My Windows installation started freezing and a quick check of the disk’s stats revealed rising operating temperatures and a growing bad cluster count. I popped some new SSDs into my old Dell and loaded them with Linux and I haven’t looked back since. All of the pitfalls I was so worried about have turned out to be non-issues. I have found software to do everything I need and in most cases it does a better job than what I was running on Windows. Reloading Linux is no big deal and I spent a few months doing some distro hopping, but now I have settled down into a groove that works great. The laptops run the latest and greatest Ubuntu and my desktops are happy with Linux Mint.
Notice that we have switched from singular to plural here. I now have a whole network of computers and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have ever bothered with as many machines as I have now if they were running anything other than Linux. The main reasons I say this are because of the expense of buying a copy of Windows for each one and also because I would probably go crazy chasing down malware, viruses, updates and drivers for all of those Windows machines. One machine has five separate user accounts for family members and all I have to do is keep it updated when I log in with my admin account. Other than that, It just keeps on going.
Another thing that happened because of the jump to Linux was that I felt confident enough to convert my word-of-mouth freelance IT consulting side business into an outreach program to help other people get off of the Microsoft Money-go-round and get into Linux. All of that has led me here, writing this article for you and looking forward to what wonderful Linux-related things will come along in 2016.
One more thing I have found out is that I didn’t know Windows nearly as well as I thought I did. Looking back, I remember all of those times I stared at the screen asking myself, “What the &%$! is this thing doing?” It’s not like that with Linux. I usually can figure out what’s going on when my Linux machines have a hiccup or I at least know where to start looking. Never before in the 30 years that I’ve been working with computers have I ever felt so in control. Linux has made computing fun again and pretty much worry free.
If you’re sitting on the fence with Linux, take a look at the Linux Foundation “Introduction To Linux” course. You can audit it for free. What have you got to lose? Make it your New Year’s Resolution. Happy Holidays to you and yours where ever you are and whatever Holiday it is you celebrate. 2016 is going to be a wonderful year for Linux. I’m glad you’re here.