My desktop machine at work runs Linux as its operating system¹. It has for years.
I’ve always used the excuse we run some applications on it that can’t be easily run on Windows. That’s true. It’s also my toy.
As part of my bargain with the technogods at work, I scrounge around the IT department, looking for PCs pulled from service. Over the past few years, my desktop has always been a generation or two behind state of the art.
Recently, the station was ‘retiring’ a server. It no longer had a hard drive or any RAM. It was a dual core Pentium machine with an integrated Intel video system on the motherboard. It became mine.
I tried loading Linux on this machine a few months ago with limited results. In fact, I ended up going back to my Pentium III 800 mHz machine with 128 mb of RAM.
Now, with Ubuntu Linux v7.10 out, I tried again.
Wow! Linux is here.
The distribution installed easily and this computer sings. And, since it doesn’t run Windows programs, it won’t ‘run’ viruses and spyware aimed at a Windows audience.
Unless you really need Windows for a specific application, I’m pretty sure Linux will easily fill the bill.
Today, there are Linux office suites, graphics programs, multimedia players and pretty much everything else you’d find on a store bought PC. They, and Linux itself, are free.
Companies like Asus are selling off-the-shelf Linux loaded laptops and Wal*Mart is stocking Linux equipped desktop machines. The prices are hundreds of dollars less than comparable Windows boxes.
If I was Microsoft, I’d start worrying. There has been a loud cry of unhappiness from their users.
Their most recent operating system iteration, Vista, seems designed more to satisfy the RIAA and MPAA than its actual customers! Some features that existed on earlier operating systems have been removed or neutered on Vista. Meanwhile, Wal*Mart and Asus are legitimizing their free competitor.
Propeller heads like me aren’t what’s going to give Linux critical mass. It’s going to take exposure in retail outlets. And that’s what’s happening.
If you’re at all curious about computing… if you’ve got an older PC you want to play with… I recommend Ubuntu Linux. I’m very happy with it and I suspect you will be too.
¹ – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
An operating system (OS) is the software that manages the sharing of the resources of a computer and provides programmers with an interface used to access those resources. An operating system processes system data and user input, and responds by allocating and managing tasks and internal system resources as a service to users and programs of the system. At the foundation of all system software, an operating system performs basic tasks such as controlling and allocating memory, prioritizing system requests, controlling input and output devices, facilitating networking and managing file systems. Most operating systems come with an application that provides a user interface for managing the operating system, such as a command line interpreter or graphical user interface. The operating system forms a platform for other system software and for application software.
The most commonly-used contemporary desktop and laptop (notebook) OS is Microsoft Windows. More powerful servers often employ Linux, FreeBSD, and other Unix-like systems. However, these operating systems, especially Mac OS X, are also used on personal computers.