Written by Shawn Ingram
As Christmas approaches and Hanukkah comes along to the later days, there’s a chance you might be expecting a new computer, or perhaps even a netbook.
Now, what to the do with the old computer, or even with the netbook? Why not give your old computer a new life by running Linux on it? It may seem like a scary thought, but chances are you have a few misconceptions about Linux and that’s keeping you from making the jump.
Here is a list of five of the biggest Linux myths out there and how you can make Linux your friend.
5. It won’t connect to an iPod or MP3 player.
This might not apply to everyone, but to some people who only have one computer it could be a big deal. Most people now have some sort of MP3 player, and need a computer to put music on it, with special software on top of that, especially with the iPod.
Now, of course, you can’t use the App Store without iTunes (which has some problems installing with WINE), but you can easily buy songs from Amazon MP3 store, or rip them from CDs. Most music players for Linux support MP3 players, and even iPods, some like Songbird even look like iTunes if you’re almost too comfortable with the program.
4. Linux is not compatible with Mac/Windows files.
This seems to be a general misconception about computers in general. A lot of people seem to think that files from one operating system won’t work on any other one. This is true about applications, but not for the files they use or create.
If you’re working with a word processor, chance are it can export files to .doc files, which just about any program can use. Music is usually stored in MP3, AAC or FLAC files, all of which are easily usable on any platform. Having compatible files is easily avoided if you use cross-platform applications such as OpenOffice, that way you dont have to worry about exporting to other file types
3. Linux can’t play games.
This might not be important to everyone, but to some people games are the main reason why they stick with Windows. Even if all they play is World of Warcraft, they don’t want to give up their games just because thy switch to another OS.
There’s actually a lot of games that are native to Linux, though most aren’t as pretty as the newest games. There are ways to play those new games on Linux, however. There’s Codeweaver’s Crossover and Crossover Games, Cedega, and WINE (Crossover is essentially a more stable, paid version of WINE). Between these three, most popular games are easily played. I run WarCraft III on Ubuntu Eee using WINE, and it can easily handle WoW or even games liek Team Fortress 2, assuming your computer can handle it, of course.
2. Apps are hard to find.
Most Linux distros come with a lot of useful software, but sometimes you might want to replace them with something else or find something else you might want ot need. Unlike Windows, and to a lesser extent Mac, there aren’t many retail box copies of Linux software. However, with a quick Google search for “Linux apps” I was able to find Linux Online’s application page. Or, if you’re running Ubuntu, there’s Get Deb, which not only lists Ubuntu software, but also makes it really simple to install them.
1. You have to learn command line/terminal
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people that I’m running Linux, and they immediately cringe at the idea of the terminal. Somewhere along the line, Linux got the reputation that it’s only usable by coders, or those who know a decent bit of code.
The same people that cringe are the same people that are surprised when I show them Ubuntu Eee. It’s possibly even more simple than Windows with the netbook remix UI, but Linux is easy even without that.
Some distributions such as openSUSE have a Windows-like start menu, some, like Ubuntu, have an applications drop menu that lists all your applications, making for an environment that should be easy for anyone. Most also use GNOME or KDE file browsers which are just as easy to navigate as Windows Explorer.
If you can possibly get past these scary ideas, I would recommend Ubuntu, or Ubuntu Eee for your Eee PC (soon to be Easy Peasy, with more netbooks supported). Also look for my article on useful applications for Linux that can replace your Windows or Mac Apps.