Yes, this is how I spend my weekday nights: loading new operating systems, just to see what they look like.
I know, I know. You envy me. You wish you were me. Everyone does.
Anyway, for quite a while now I’ve considered abandoning Windows (especially after the fugliness that is version 8), and one of the alternatives I’ve been considering is some flavor of the Linux operating system. There is a lot to like about linux and it’s derivatives. For one thing, it’s free. It’s also stable, powerful, rarely targeted by viruses, and is supported by software that does most everything one could do on Windows, except most Linux applications are also free.
Free is good.
Anyway, a couple of years ago, my friend Richard sold me a his Linux laptop when he decided to dedicate his soul to the Cult of Mac. Since then, and quite a bit recently, I’ve been teaching myself Linux using Ubuntu, one of the many Linux derivatives. I’ve been quite impressed with what one can do (the Linux command line is like crack to someone like me, raised on DOS), but I wasn’t thrilled with the Unity desktop. It just didn’t work the way I wanted to (or was used to?). So, I decided to switch the laptop to Ubuntu’s close cousin, Kubuntu and its KDE Plasma desktop and give those a go. Installation was a breeze, and, though I’ve only used it for a few hours, I so far like Plasma quite a bit more than Unity.
(From what I’ve gathered, desktop preferences can generate flame wars in the Linux community, much like Mac vs. Windows fights. So, no offense intended — it’s just personal taste.)
The next steps will be to install the software on Kubuntu that I used on Ubuntu: Apache Open Office, Chrome (Unless the already-installed Chromium, from which Chrome is derived, lets me log into my Google account?), and a few other things. I did a clean wipe-and-install, so all this will have the benefit of forcing me to learn my way around Linux. After a few weeks of this, I might give a try to other Linux flavors, such as Xubuntu and Mint.
In case you’re wondering, the only reason I have not switched all my PCs yet is that there are still some applications I use in Windows, such as Final Draft and Roboform, for which I haven’t found adequate substitutes in Linux-land. I may have to eventually set up a means to boot Windows 7 or Linux on the same machine, as needed, so I can have access to those programs. From what I’ve read, that’s not too hairy a project.
At least it will give me something to do on a weekday night. 🙂
PS: If you were confused by the vague references to various operating systems and desktops, you’re not alone. There is an incredible family tree for Linux (being an open-source movement, it seems everyone has to make their own) and a dizzying proliferation of desktops. And, of course, they’re interchangeable. Plasma comes with Kubuntu, but I could have installed it with Ubuntu and just switched between it and Unity. Or I could (I think) install Xubuntu’s Xfce desktop over Kubuntu. Or…. You get the idea. For me, this kind of customizability is a benefit, not a problem.