Recently my nephew came to visit and brought his computer. It was running WinXP and he said the CD drives were broken, and it needed a new motherboard! Well, since he’s only 12 his diagnosis was understandably quite a bit off. There’s no need to pay a technician huge sums of money to “fix” this broken system, with my trusty case full of live Linux discs I was ready to start.
First, we booted into Windows– It did not recognize the CD drives in the computer, Device Manager reported a problem with the drivers, indicated by yellow exclamation points.
Now, normally a casual Windows user would have to start jumping through hoops trying to figure out how to fix the drivers problem, but in this case he was done with Windows, what with all the spyware and general instability problems, and he was ready to give Linux a try. So, we turned off the PC, let it sit for 10 seconds, then turned it on, inserted the Linux Live disc (Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala), and booted up into Linux.
Some argue that Windows is inherently easier to use than Linux, while that may have been true 15 years ago before the Graphical User Interface became increasingly popular for Linux distros, nowadays there are new advantages to the less-savvy computer to really like about Linux.
For instance, look at this example about problems with drivers for CD-ROM drives. Most Linux distros come complete with CD-ROM drivers, video drivers, USB device drivers (Like my Linksys Wireless-G stick) which has never been the case with Microsoft’s Windows. When you first install Windows on a PC you aren’t done yet–Oh no, it will probably a couple hours for you to track down all the proper drivers for your system. Linux- put your Live CD in the drive, boot up and go!
And, if you want to add more software to your Linux system, you have the convenience of Package Managers. All the biggest Linux distros have thousands of all different types of applications available from games, to business, to development specifically put together for that particular distro. For instance, Ubuntu has over 20,000 different programs known as “packages” that are each uniquely tailored to your particular ditribution. Package managers resolve dependency problems which have historically plagued operating systems like Linux because there were specific versions of individual files required by some programs that weren’t already installed on the system, resulting in problems.
Getting out of the “Windows mindset” gives one the freedom to expand his horizons when it comes to getting the most out of one’s computer system with the least cost.