I'm considering switching from Windows (can't stand the interface on more recent versions and the lack of user control over this and other basic things) to Linux. I've been casually considering it years but getting close to taking the plunge (forced by external factors such as Windows 10 now being the only Windows operating system available on new laptops). I wondered if anyone here uses Linux? If so, I have a few questions for you!
First of all, is it fairly easy to get used to it and easy to do simple things that you might do on Windows (browsing, Youtube, etc)? I am familiar with Libre Open Office Software and used this once when I didn't have Microsoft Office for a short time, so I already know I would be sorted for word processing, powerpoints, spreadsheets etc. Beyond that I guess I mainly use my laptop for: doing stats on SPSS and R, using a few bits of open/free software specific to my field (such as CLAN which is part of the CHILDES project - which I've just checked to see that it has a "Unix" version available to download - I am hoping this means it would be compatible with Linux), Skype, viewing photos, and, importantly, reading lots of PDFs (currently I use Adobe to do this). Would I be able to transition to Linux fairly easily and do these things with the same ease as in Windows?
A second question relates to installation. I will probably buy a new laptop soon with Windows 10 preinstalled. Do I need to look out for any particular specifications, or will I be able to download Linux on pretty much any modern run-of-the-mill laptop?
A final consideration - I'm considering Lenovo, Dell, or HP (and in that order) in case that is relevant to this question.
Thank you for reading this and I welcome any advice.
Hope the following helps...
Hi Tudor Queen,
I used Linux on my laptop, mainly for computational biology and stats. I run it as a virtual machine. When I'm running codes (some can take 30 mins to run depending on data sizes) I browse the web, edit documents, read papers, etc. It quite straight forward and I personally find it grand to use. However, I know some of my friends hate it and will make sure they have other stuff to do when running programs on it. I run my VM on an HP laptop which has 8 GB RAM, 1TB HDD and has intel 1 core i3 processor ( this was bought for my PhD- and has lasted very well).
You should be able to transition easily. However, in saying that, if I was buying a new laptop I would personally stick with Windows, and only used Linux if software needed. In my new job they supplied me with a new laptop, I haven't bother with a virtual machine for Linux on it yet, and will more than likely just keep using my own laptop for that work.
In terms of laptop spec.. any should work.
TQ, I have used Linux (Ubuntu) for quite a while now and would never go back to Windows. It has a firewall built in to it that you can switch on and you don't generally need to worry about having anti-virus packages installed as Linux is considerably safer than Windows.
A word of caution though. Don't assume you can install Linux on any machine. I would check online for the specific make and model because some manufacturers have switches to prevent Linux installation. This may be less of an issue today but I would certainly look into this. Lenovo machines specifically ring a bell. A couple of links below.
The final word of caution. Linux is absolutely brilliant. It's faster and safer than Windows. However when it does go wrong it REALLY goes wrong. You might find yourself needing to open a terminal window and type in some commands. For those with no system administrator experience this can be a nightmare and online forums are full of arrogant and dismissive "read the fucking manual" types. You don't need to be an expert but this generally isn't an operating system that our parents generation will ever embrace as fully as Windows.
Thank you Jamie, Nead, and pm133 - this is exactly the sort of balanced info I was hoping for. It seems when I google, I find articles written by people who either simply love it or hate it, and there isn't enough specific information in such articles for me to begin to make an informed choice.
I am going to think about all of this. I must admit, I come away from reading this feeling a bit more cautious. It would be a bummer for me to install it, have issues, and not be able to get support if something went wrong (I don't have enough of that sort of expertise myself and I don't know anyone nearby who does).
I may return to my first idea - which was buy secondhand Windows 7 laptops as and when I need a new laptop until they eventually disappear... maybe by that time Linux will be more mainstream or Windows will have repented from Windows 10 and moved on to better things... And then there's the idea of getting a Mac... I haven't considered that till now but perhaps I should try one out and see if that's an option for me.
Thanks again everyone - and hope you are having a relaxing weekend.
I used a MAC for my PhD but forgot that this could be a option.
A MAC would be a good way to go as a happy medium. You get all the security and flexibility of Linux with the stability and ease of use of Windows is you want it. Installing on a MAC is generally easier too without the need for sys admin skills. Performance-wise a MAC is exceptional for almost everything.
If I could afford it I would be using MACs with Linux PCs for servers.
I hope it is not too late but I highly recommend NOT to use Linux or Unix. I get fed up once with Windows and Microsoft and installed Linux on my laptop for a while. It is not that user friendly. A lot of things to care about. It is not meant to be a replacement for Windows.
Eng, that's the funniest operating system analogy I've heard, it made me laugh out loud!
Tudor, you're most welcome.
Nead, VMs (virtual machines) are a useful tool, especially when running them to provide compatibility for software or servers (although this is being superseded by the containerisation tools such as Docker and Singularity). They are, however, often quite slow when it comes to graphical user interfaces, also requiring a lot of RAM and CPU resources.
This is my cluster, now in my living room. They each run Ubuntu 16.04-LTS, have 6 cores (12 hyperthreaded cores), and 32GB RAM each. But the badass part is I managed to get it working with Infiniband and I'm getting ~8 Gbit/sec (8x faster bandwidth than Gigabit ethernet)...Computation is done with Openlava (Opensource IBM LSF) and Apache Spark (Hadoop platform).
I usually use it via my MacBook Air, my desk (on the left), or sometimes via my windows laptop.
So, to sum up. I absolutely love Linux (it's necessary for my research and computation work), but I hate it for Microsoft Office (it can be run using Wine) or LibreOffice. It's OK for Latex editing in Texmaker, but prefer Mac or Windows for that. It's alright for viewing PDFs, but again my mac/windows laptops are just nicer for this.
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