preacherpen

Linux – Is It For You?

In Computing on July 3, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Do any of you use Linux as your primary operating system? I have been dual-booting Linux and Windows for about five years now, though it’s a rare thing, indeed, for me to use the latter for anything. I know whatever you decide to use is entirely up to you, unless you are stuck using someone else’s computer.

For me, the decision wasn’t very difficult. Let me tell you a story, the very reason I’m using Linux today. Several years ago, I had begun using open source software, such as Firefox, Thunderbird and a few other Windows programs, too. Let me not forget OpenOffice (OOo), which became my main office suite, even though the software was fairly new. Everything I tried just seemed to work very well for all my needs.

I especially liked OpenOffice, because it was easy to set up sermon templates, with the help of some very nice people on the OOo forum. I quickly became comfortable with the software, and even learned how to use it together with MySQL to take care of my database needs. That was, and is, a great combination.

One day I received an e-mail from a friend, and thought nothing of the negative consequences of opening the attachment. I just knew Firefox would open, and I could view to my heart’s content. Well, that didn’t happen at all, and five minutes later, I was infected with some nasty computer viruses, which took me about a week to clean out. That was not a pleasant experience.

Somehow the subject came out while looking through the OOo forum, and I sent a question regarding what I had read. Well, it wasn’t long until I had downloaded a version of Linux, rebooted my computer, and had it dual-booting. To my dismay, I could do everything in this new operating system I could do in Windows, but in a safe, virus-free environment. With more questions in hand, some kind soul on the OOo forum steered me to Simply Mepis Linux, and I’ve been using that distribution ever since. The Mepis Lovers Forum contains a wealth of information about this great distribution. Has everything gone smoothly? Absolutely not, but neither did Windows offer a completely smooth ride.

Don Parris, pastor of Matheteuo Christian Fellowship, Charlotte NC is quite an interesting man. He has written a wonderful book about using open source software in a church environment. “Penguin in the Pew” does a far better job than I could in detailing the importance of Linux and open source software in the church and office. There are two versions of the book, and both are readily available on the net. If you have questions about Linux, this is a great source of information.

Now, why should anyone use Linux? If you search the net for the answer to that question, you will find quite a bit of material. Here’s an interesting site that clearly explains why you should begin using Linux. Now you will be able to see there are many more reasons to switch to Linux, and stop supporting Microsoft, but you’ll have to make that determination yourselves.

Linux software equivalent to Windows software from LinuxQuestions.org is another source of information for you to browse. What often confuses people migrating from Windows to the Linux environment is the lack of knowledge about comparable programs. This table should give you some insight into what is available to Linux users.

Hopefully, this article will stir your interest and cause you to do some research on your own. Personally, I rarely ever boot into Windows, and can’t remember the last time I did. If you ever try Linux, especially Simply Mepis, you might find yourselves hooked just like me.

  1. golly, i didn’t realize linux was popular enough within the religious world, that people were writing books about it.

    yah, go tux!

  2. Linux is very popular, and I believe it’s gaining lots of ground. Most people just use what they’re used to, not willing to explore beyond their comfort zone.

    Personally, Linux offers so many tools to choose from, Windows has no appeal to me. I failed to mention an excellent Linux Bible study tool, BibleTime, that’s loaded on both my desktop and laptop. I use it quite often, and the program improves with each new update.

    Now, if only Linux could do what MediaShout could, that would be sweet.

  3. Linux is certainly a great operating system. I started dual booting with XP late last year; my wife wanted to stay with XP. When I had to get a new computer a couple of months ago, she said to just get rid of Vista and put sidux on there. She has never looked back and she will even tell people it isn’t that hard to learn the differences.

    As you said, Linux can do anything Windows can do and do it safely. The only problem I have had is making payments to Fingerhut. For some reason, their website doesn’t work well in Linux and I have to go to my daughter’s Vista computer to make the payment. Other than that, no problems at all.

  4. Larry, thanks for the comments. I’m using a Firefox plugin called “User Agent Switcher”, which allows your browser to act like a different one. Works great!

    Are you using Firefox 3.0? You might want to try Swiftweasel, which is designed to take advantage of specific processors. It’s like Firefox on steroids. That’s what I’m using, and had no problems with the Fingerhut site. I didn’t go all the way through the buying process, though.

    Glad you dropped by, and come again. I would like to know if you get the Fingerhut problem fixed.

  5. Actually, I do have Firefox 3.0, but most of the time, I use Opera. I have the same problem with both browsers on Linux. With Fingerhut, I simply can not make a payment on my wife’s account, when using Linux. I need to do some more investigating and see if I can figure out what is going on. Some websites will block Linux, saying it is an unsupported platform.

    I will certainly drop in from time to time. I have you added to my blog roll and I also have added your blog to my feeds I receive in Opera.

  6. i like your blog and linux but what is OO0 ? Hope you get to make more blogs

    Holly🙂 0,0

  7. @holly: OOo is OpenOffice, which happens to be an office suite. There’s a word processor, database, spreadsheet, math functions, and a presentation module. Almost forgot, there’s also a module for creating drawings. IMHO, it is superior to other suites on more levels than this post warrants.

    Thanks for dropping by. BTW, granddaughters are great, aren’t they?

  8. I have two computers. One I use just for testing distros etc. My main system dual boots PCLOS2008 and Kubuntu 8.04. My test machine dual boots Geos and Mepis 8. I haven’t had to use windows in two years. I like Linux a lot.It’s getting better everyday. Have fun out there.

  9. More than 4 years ago I made the switch to Linux. Currently I use Parsix, but have used Mepis, PCLinuxOS, Sidux, DSL, Kanotix, and others. I am not using Linux anymore on a Laptop (Apple), but I did for a long time. As a school teacher I was looking for the stability of my grades, presentations, and other files, which, unfortunately, did not fare well in a windows environment. Further, I got really tired of a system that was protected from the user, but allowed the bad guys in at will. Since the switch haven’t lost the first bit of data, that wasn’t my fault (uggggh, I can be really stupid at times). For a non-profit organization Linux, to me, would be the best fit. Welcome, a little belated, to the growing Linux community.

  10. Andrew, thanks for dropping by. A school teacher? That’s a great profession; how does your administrator feel about using Linux? BTW, I’ve tried many of the distros you mentioned, but Mepis just fits me very well, and is a keeper.

  11. I used to run the audio/visual system for a Church. We would project the service up on a screen (to save the cost of printed bulletins each week). I ran it off a 7 year old IBM laptop running MEPIS Linux and Open Office Impress (PowerPoint look alike). At that Church, Linux was vital! I also did their website with nvu on my Ubuntu powered desktop…

    Personally, my home computer has been a “Microsoft-free zone” for about 4 years now. I only use our family shared XP desktop to load up my Garmin GPS, and my Samsung MP3 player. As soon as Linux figures out the MTP to the Samsung, I’ll be that much closer to punting XP off that machine. I think it is about to go the dual-boot route anyway.

  12. Both my desktop and laptop are of the dual-boot type, even though it is a rare occasion having to boot into Windows. I would love to get my church set up using Linux. It takes time to get people used to the idea.

  13. What a delightful story……..it mirrors my own experience from about 1996 onwards……I started with Red Hat, tried out other distributions, finally settled on SUSE and have stayed with it ever since, purely because I know it so well and it does everything I want. The method of dual booting is marvellous as you first learn the freedom of Linux and then little by little, one finds that booting into Windows becomes less and less……and eventually it stops altogether……That happened to me in about 2004. Slowly all research requirements were translated over to the Linux system, and now there are only a few residual pieces of Windows legacy software that I use – and I can run those in Crossover Office running in a Linux environment………At the current time, I have no computers running any version of any Windows operating system and I would never recommend Microsoft Windows to any person if they want a worry free and enjoyable computing experience…..The enhanced freedom of Linux and the fact that you know you are safe from viruses are compelling reasons for anyone to take a second look at breaking the Windows chains………Keep up the good work and continue to enjoy the Linux experience. I am sure you will.

  14. Tony, thanks for dropping by and sharing your comments with us. That’s a great story. A friend recently told me how terrible her experiences have been with her new computer and Vista. It would be amazing to count the times I’ve encouraged her to drop Windows and just Linux, but that hasn’t happened.

  15. The Table of Equivalents link throws up a warning about an attack site. I didn’t proceed. FYI.

  16. @ponolan: First of all, thanks for dropping by and letting me know about that particular link. I certainly don’t want anybody negatively impacted by a link on my site. I have taken care of the link and replaced it with another table from LinuxQuestions.org. Again, thanks for the heads-up.

  17. For the average user, no. For someone with a moderate amount of computer knowledge, yes. Linux still remains to be a hobbyist OS despite the support it has and how big it has become. Linux is really just one big gigantic mess that needs to be cleaned up. And when I mean cleaned up, I mean make Linux more simple. There is too much configuration just to install software (even tried installing firefox manually?) and it’s too dependent on the command line. And these are improvements that can easily be fixed. I wish I was a programmer so I could do something about, but I’m not. I plan on being a programmer soon though and I do have ideas what needs to be fixed on Linux.

  18. Good afternoon, Montana, and thanks for dropping in to leave a comment. I certainly agree with some of your assessment, but there is a point or two I would like to address.

    On Mepis, it’s pretty much open Synaptic, click which package you want to install, and let Debian simplicity do its job. Occasionally, there is no appropriate package in the repositories, and I go looking for a debian package to install. The excellent help on Mepis Lovers forum has come to the rescue time and time again.

    To use Firefox, just unpack into your /home directory (that’s where mine is; I rarely ever depend on the one that comes with the Mepis distribution), navigate to that directory and click on the Firefox executable. Easy as pie!

    It is a rare thing, indeed, when I have to invoke the command line to do anything. It does happen occasionally, though. For instance, this week I had troubles with my ISP and had to call tech support. The technician worked from home and could walk me through the steps to fix the problem because he was also running Linux. Well, the problem was upstream somewhere, so he had me boot into Windows. Guess what? I had to invoke the exact same command line commands in Windows as I had just done in Linux. Hmmm.

    I just don’t agree with the assumption Linux is only for those who are at least moderately computer literate. I can’t speak for other distros, but Mepis is very easy to use.

  19. I played around with Linux from the late 90’s and finally switched to Mandrake (now Mandriva) Linux in 2000. Its been Linux ever since.

  20. Blasphemy I tells ya! *GASP* Dual Booting… I’ve been using Linux as my only OS for a long time. Granted my wife’s computer does have Winders on it. I wonder if converting to Linux is like a religious thing…

    I’m a true believer! I think it would be the Lord’s choice of OS too…🙂

  21. @JackAcid: Hehehehe! That was pretty funny. My wife’s computer is completely undignified with only Windows slowing it down. She doesn’t use the internet and all she does can easily be taken care of using that other OS.

    There’s only two programs I would like to see in Linux: PrintArtist and the Dake Reference Library, which uses the WORDsearch engine. I’m quite sure there’s a lot of Linux users who would jump all over those two.

    Thanks for dropping by, and come back again.

  22. I’m sure you have it or have heard of it, but theres a cool program I’m using called BibleTime. You can have like tons of bibles loaded into it and other bible related texts. Check it out if you don’t have it already. I have 40 bibles, 20 commentaries, and a few other things installed for it. bibletime.info is the site.

    You ever try opensuse?

  23. Welcome back, JackAcid. Thanks for the tip, but I’ve already got it installed and have written about it a few times: here, here, and here. It’s a great program; I just wish there was a way to copy the Strong’s notes into OOo, but that function has eluded me to this point. Do you know how to do that?

    No, I have never tried OpenSuse, although I’ve heard some good things about it. Really, I haven’t done much distro hopping in a very long time. Both of my Linux boxes are running quite smoothly now with Simply Mepis on board.

  24. I am also running Mepis (8 beta) and extremely pleased after several years of distro-hopping. Eventually I’ll be forced to upgrade to KDE 4, but for now I’ll stick with 3.5. Bibletime is great. I’ve been using it since 2004, I think. Thanks for your post.

  25. Les, I’m so close to replacing SM7 with the new beta; it’s that stable. I’ve not seen much of KDE 4, and am quite pleased with the version that come with Warren’s great distro. I like BibleTime, too, but there’s a lot of features I would like to see to make it competitive with some of the Windows versions of Bible software. Just a thought.

  26. […] Linux – Is It For You? – This post is about the concept of the Linux operating system. Is it suitable for your needs? In all likelihood, the answer is a resounding “yes”, but there are some who just don’t even want to try. Sad, but true. […]

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