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  1. #1

    Why Should I switch to Linux?

    I have searched around the Web for an appropriate answer/place to submit this question, haven't found it yet. If this is not the spot, kindly redirect me.

    I use my computer for 3 major things (at home): games (3D type), wordproc/business stuff, syncing with palm pilot.

    I have two hard drives, and was considering partitioning one of them to have Mandrake Linux (or other type, not sure what type or if at all) as a boot option. Currently, my slave HDD has Windows ME on it, because it has tons of information I didn't want to lose, and I didn't want to spend oodles of dollars buying MS Word/Outlook/etc on top of Windows XP for my main HDD. Most of this information is on my Palm pilot (Palm 515) configured to hotsync with Outlook. Of course, I do NOT have outlook on XP. Again, it was the shock producing prices that kept me from re-buying Outlook etc when I upgraded my computer.

    I am going to upgrade again shortly (new CPU/Mobo/RAM), and was planning on re-formatting the hard drive anyway. Got to thinking about Linux. Here are my questions (sorry for rambling):

    1. Will linux allow me to sync my palm pilot and include calendars/contacts/data on the HDD for backup? I also use some programs that auto-update on the Web.

    I am assuming I would need either a new PDA (~~$400 for comparable maybe) and a lot of transfer of data by hand. But if there is a solution I am keenly interested. This would be my biggest reason to switch or not switch, as the data on my palm pilot makes my life less complicated.

    2. If I use Mandrake or other forms of Linux stuff, how compatible are the documents with MS-Office? Would they also be compatible with docs created by MS-office?

    3. I assume Linux does not currently support some of the aggressive 3D graphics sound etc, but what does the future look like?

    Thanks for any insight in advance.

    System specs for reference (atm):

    P4 2.533 [bumping up to 2.6 ghz 800 FSB soon]
    512 MB RAM
    WD 7200 HDD (master 80 GB, slave is 40GB)
    Radeon 9700 Pro
    Audigy 2 with THX 5.1 Speakers


  2. #2
    I like playing around with linux and like to keep up with it in case MS decides to implement anything that is way to much for to handle, but Win XP is much better faster, easier to use and more practical than any linux distro.
    Unless you have real problems with MS, or you need something specific from linux I would stick with MS as your main desktop.

  3. #3
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Täby, Sweden
    First of all, check out this old thread which had a similar subject and contains a lot of good information:

    Anyway, no Winbloze is faster than Linux. Possibly if you have an incorrectly configured Linux installation, it might very well be slower, but correctly configured, Linux beats Windows any day. (Note: this does _not_ apply to Nautilus, which is the official file browser for GNOME. It's probably the slowest program ever made for any operating system. Unfortunately, if you use GNOME, it's one of the first programs that you see.)

    To answer your questions:
    1. I don't have a Palm, so I can't answer this from my own experience, but there are lot a programs coming with Linux for this purpose, so I'd be very surprised if it doesn't work. To have a program to sync the information with, I guess that you will need Evolution by Ximian, which usually with most Linux distros. It's probably the best collaboration program for Linux.

    2. OpenOffice can read all MS Office document formats, but it can't write certain MS Word format versions. I think it is Word 95 and 97, but I'm not sure. In those versions, M$ had implemented their worst file format ever, where Word essentially dumped its memory contents to disk, which also led to that Word documents saved with Word on Intel couldn't be opened by Word on DEC Alpha, since the word byte order is different. It would also lead to that Word became unstable if the file was corrupted, as pointers would point to invalid memory. I'm amazed that even MS themselves have retained backwards compatibility with that format. But enough on that. You can read and save the latest file format versions at least.

    3. nVidia provides excellent Linux drivers for their cards; games ported natively to Linux even run faster than on Windows if you have an nVidia card. Unfortunately, Radeon support isn't at all as good. There are Radeon drivers, that (usually) works for 2D, but getting 3D to work properly can be really tricky, and they still aren't as fast as the Windows drivers.

    I'm not sure about that Audigy card. I know that there were issues with Audigy before, but I believe that it has been fixed by now. I don't have an Audigy card, though, so I can't tell for sure.

    Then of course, you have all the technical reasons: Linux is a lot faster, more secure and more reliable than any version of Winbloze. I can admit that the GNOME can be slow at times, but it's not that bad anyway, and there is always KDE as an alternative. Linux is slower at starting up and shutting down than Windows is, but that's really because you're supposed not to shut it down at all. I usually leave my workstation on for several weeks, before I decide to check something out in Gentoo and have to restart for that reason.
    If you're good at programming, then Linux is your choice. It's really as simple as that; if you know your way around programming, then there are no boundaries in Linux. You can make the system do just about anything you would ever want to.

    What few outsiders know of, there are also the philosophical reasons. Almost everyone who has heard of Linux know that it's free, but I think that almost everyone thinks of free as in no money. What Linux zealots mean, though, is free as in freedom. Linux software isn't owned by anyone, and therefore anyone is free to do virtually anything with them. It's limited by the GNU General Public License (the famous GPL), and what it limits isn't really what you can do with the software, but it really just limits you in the way that you can't take the same freedom away from others. For more info, see the GNU project's homepage. Some people don't really care about these issues, but I think that it is really important.

    One good idea: Download Knoppix. It's a so called LiveCD, which means that it is a Linux dstribution that is contained on the CD that it comes on, and never touches your hard drive. Just insert the CD and boot. Of course, you can't save anything with it (since it doesn't touch your hard drive), but it's really good for checking so that your hardware is supported properly, and you get to check it out just a little. I don't really like Knoppix, since it uses KDE instead of GNOME, and they've added a lot a silly effects here and there, especially in the boot sequence. That's really just a matter of taste, though.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Very nice response. Hit all the points I wanted to get at.

    I used to use Unix before there was the WWW, a ways back in college. I really enjoyed the way it worked, and how powerful it was. Haven't messed with it since (that was circa 1990). Not sure if I would want to mess around too much with programming at this point, although I still tinker here and there.

    After reviewing your post and the helpful places you pointed out, I am going to give Linux a 'definite maybe' over the next 6 months or so. I feel increasingly silly keeping a whole hard drive with Windows ME on it just so my palm pilot will work, and so I have MS Word etc. But it will cost me approx $150 to get what I want with Linux anyway.

    Again, thank you for your response. The fact that there are helpful people for Linux issues weighs strongly in favor of switching. And not a small part of me would mind seeing Microsoft take a hit from it.

  6. #5
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Täby, Sweden
    That is very good. There's just one thing that I wonder about - you said that it would cost you $150 to get what you want with Linux. I don't quite understand that, since whatever could you have to pay for?

  7. #6
    Redhat Linux 9 Pro has all the stuff I would want, listed on their web page as $150.

    Mandrake 9.1 powerpack is ~ $40, and the business package I would want to add is another ~50-60 bucks, can't remember exactly.

    I know I can dowload the basic package for 'free', but the other programs are what I mostly need, not just the OS

  8. #7
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Täby, Sweden
    I don't think that you get any more programs if you buy it. As far as I know, the only thing you get from buying it is the box, CDs with a nice RedHat logo on them, printed manuals and support. The manuals are released under the GNU Free Documentation License anyway and are available online on RedHat's site, and as for support, you can always get it here =). (Or in the worst case if noone here would be able to answer something, which happens very seldomly, you can always buy support seperately later)

    If you would like to sponsor RedHat by buying their products, I certainly won't stop you, but $150 is pretty much after all, and I don't want you to unnecessarily buy anything that you don't really need.

  9. #8 some homework to do....gimme a week

  10. #9
    Okay, went ahead and installed SuSE Pro 8.2 on my other hard drive.

    Of course, it put its boot mount or whatever on my main hard drive's MBR, which I am not happy about but it works, so what can I say?

    The main issue I have now is getting my cable modem to work so I can update stuff etc. I obviously need help with this. I can only get it to work RIGHT AFTER a fresh install, then it quits working. (ie can't communicate with cable modem, acts like I don't have a connection).

    My setup is such: onboard Ethernet card (disabled in XP, nothing is connected to it). Cablemodem works through a USB NIC. Linux detects both with proper brand names etc, names one eth0 and the other eth USB. Right after installing and signed on as either my username or as ROOT, I can access my cablemodem. However, when I reboot, it's not working. I can still see it has both cards configured. Going to options and fiddling with network settings (like deleting the eth0 ethernet card) so that it updates the Network doesn't seem to help. I haven't tried a console, but is there any advice you can give me assuming even a console doesn't work?

    Thanks in advance. I can repost this if you like under a different heading.

  11. #10


    Now it's working. No idea what I did right.

    Last thing I did was remove eth 0, then let it re-detect just now, so that it updated network info.

    I am scared to power down now. Any ideas? Other than problems on the other end (network down at exactly the right time?)

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