Linux   1 comment

A few weeks ago I updated my computer operating system to the latest version of Linux Mint (Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon), it didn’t cost me anything apart from about twenty minutes of my time and it works at least as well as any version of Windows. I’ve been using Linux in one incarnation or another for the last three years.

Why did I desert Windows for Linux? I had been using Windows XP on my old (2003) laptop, it had worked reasonably for years but I seemed to be getting more and more problems. I had reinstalled XP a number of times, at first it had helped but latterly the reinstalling had just led to other problems, I wanted really to update to Windows 7 but didn’t want to spend the money.

The idea of having a different operating system had been at the back of my mind for a while but I didn’t know anything about them other than the fact* that they were difficult to learn and didn’t run the programs that I wanted. I had seen articles in the online computing press and Ubuntu Linux had caught my eye because it was free and it seemed to be the OS that most non-Windows users installed. Getting something for nothing has always been an attraction for me, what better sales pitch is there?

Then three years ago I bought a new laptop and finally had the chance to try out Ubuntu Linux on my old one. It didn’t work, wouldn’t even load and run from the live CD* I discovered it was a make and model of computer that a lot of people had tried with and failed (Toshiba Satellite a30) so I shelved the idea. Then a friend (John) said that if I really wanted to try Ubuntu I could install it alongside Windows on my new computer and choose which one to use when I booted up. That was how it all began.

John came down to my house and we had a good chat, drank a few beers and I decided to try Ubuntu. I found the website read the instructions and downloaded the image file from which I made a live CD. I’ll admit I was scared of breaking something in my new computer, it had been a major expense for me and buying another computer was not an option, so I called John and he came down again to lead me through the installation. It went exactly as the instructions said it would, I could do a Windows installation in my sleep almost and Ubuntu proved to be just as simple.

Over the next few months I opted for Ubuntu more and more when I started the computer, it was updated, reinstalled, new programs installed sometimes uninstalled, upgraded to a newer edition etc etc. Then one day I read an article extolling the virtues of Linux Mint which tempted me to swap over to it, I couldn’t have made a better choice. I’m not a computer genius, I’m not even much of a geek, I just read the instructions and if I need help I take advice freely given on the Linux forums. It didn’t take long for me to abandon Windows altogether and have an exclusively Linux Mint computer, I haven’t regretted it. Of course there are still times that I get frustrated with my computer but not as many as I had with Windows.

I have come to realise that my knowledge of computers and Windows was learned over a period of about twenty years so changing to a different OS was bound to seem scary. I now wish I had started my Linux experience with Mint because it is so much like what I already knew about Windows.

cinnamon2

The GUI (Graphical User Interface, what you see on the screen) works in a very similar fashion, so similar in fact that two of my friends that I have recently helped to install Linux Mint could use it right away with almost no learning curve.

One of the things I particularly like is that Linux Mint comes with over sixty programs included, from a full featured Office suite (Libre Office, which in most respects is the equal of Microsoft Office) to a powerful picture and photo editing program called Gimp. Getting used to the names of programs is probably the hardest part of the learning process with Linux. It’s also probably the only thing I don’t particularly like because the names seem to be conjured out of thin air or made up by a dyslexic child but once you get used to them it’s okay.

I don’t hate or even dislike Microsoft or their Windows products, they do a good job for a lot of people, it’s just that now I can have an up to date operating system for free with loads of programs that I can get for free. I don’t have to agree to manufacturers licences and there is no piracy issue with the software if I want to install a program I like on another person’s computer.

To anyone having trouble with Windows or who has an older computer and doesn’t want to buy a new one or pay to upgrade their version of Windows I would say “Try Linux Mint”. It’s free, you don’t really need an anti virus program and for most home and small business users it will do everything that your Windows computer will do now and more. If you spend long hours playing games or have specialist programs that you need to use then it might not suit you so check that out before you try it.

If you’re going to try it out then reading the instructions is a must, you can find out all about it by clicking the link below.

Linux Mint Website

I finally got round to writing a little guide to downloading and installing it on a USB Memory Stick on this page.

*Actually Linux is not that difficult to learn, it’s just that because you’ve used Windows for the last umpteen years and probably know a lot more about it than you think, learning something new feels scary.

* A Live CD is just a CD that you can put into the disc drive and run the program from there. You can also have a Live DVD and Live USB Memory Stick.

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Posted December 17, 2013 by cukurbagli in Technology

One response to “Linux

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  1. Cukurbagli, as usual, great stuff, well written and said. Cheers to you. Yesterday I helped a friend “dump” Windows 7 (his choice not mine) and install Linux Mint. He had an old version of Ubuntu installed alongside his Windows 7 and the install went as smooth as you said. He said he immediately liked the “Cinnamon” desktop as it was very “Windows-like” and he also discovered that his computer was blazingly fast compared to his previous dual installation. Perhaps in your retirement, you have found your calling?

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