I remember when I thought that Windows Vista was the worst operating system ever invented. In fact I remember when I thought that Windows ME was the worst operating system ever invented. Windows 8 is by far the worst OS from Microsoft ever. I can’t even begin to explain how little I like it. Their idea of a fresh UI was taken straight from Fisher-Price. It looks childish and totally useless. I remember when Fedora released Gnome 3 and people ran around like wild banshee screaming about how childish it looks. Let me tell you from a person that routinely has 15 – 20 windows open depending on how many projects I’m working on, Gnome 3 and it’s cascading feature is about the most useful thing I’ve ever seen come from Linux. All I could think about as I tested Windows 8 was how happy I was that I have completed my switch to Linux. To me the switch from Windows to Linux comes in phases, I will explain.
Phase 1 – “Curiosity”
In this phase the hacker decides he wants to play with Linux, all of his hacker friends have told him how much more powerful and flexible Linux is but he really has no idea why as he hasn’t come across things he can’t do in Windows. This is the most common phase for the people that dabble, in fact I find that even some of my most knowledgeable friends still to this day are in this phase. A hacker in phase one, may install Linux on their system but always as a dual boot, if not another hard drive completely. Sometimes the hacker will not even install Linux but will run it from a live CD.
Phase 2 – “The Trials”
The trial phase comes when the hacker decides he has to move on to something bigger and better, he still hasn’t found any real reason to use Linux, but all his hacker friends keep telling him how great it is, and for the life of him he can’t find anyone that says Windows is far superior. Figuring that all these people can’t be wrong he decides to see if Linux will work for him. In this phase the hacker will try to run the software he is used to running in Windows on Linux. Speaking from personal experience, the easiest way to tackle this phase is to first make the switch to all open source software that is cross platform on Windows. This will allow you to get familiar with software in Windows, which is a familiar environment before diving into something completely different. A hacker might being by learning OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office. Again, speaking from personal experience this is where I see the most frustration. At the end of the day it’s important to remember, Linux isn’t Windows, if it was no one would use it we would all just stick with Windows.
Phase 3 – “The Switch”
This is the phase in which the hacker decides that he can use Linux for better or for worse, and either removes Windows or has it installed but rarely if ever boots it. At this point the hacker will begin to experiment with software written exclusively for Linux as he at this point has little intention of ever returning to Windows. I often see a great fear in this switch because everyone has that “one program” that “one piece of hardware” that they know won’t run in Linux and they’re not sure how they can manage without it. For me the answer has been KVM, it allows me to install virt-manager and run a virtual copy of Windows XP for doing those kinds of tasks.
Phase 4 – “The Power User”
In this phase the hacker transitions from a Windows user to a real Linux user, he starts learning the power of Linux, begins to use the more advanced features of Linux. His hesitation at this point is gone because now not only has Linux been able to perform the tasks that he was able to do in Windows, but he now has found things he couldn’t do in Windows and the thought of going back is sicking. It is at this point that the Linux Hacker realizes that he is past the point of no return, going back to Windows would be like installing Windows 95 on a brand new computer. He looks back and wonders how he used Windows for all those years and never desired what he has now. I am personally confident that if I could get people to use Linux enough to reach this point, no one would be using Windows or Mac anymore.
Fedora has been the best operating system I have ever used. It continues to amaze me, and the more support that comes out for it the happier I am. I distinctly remember being at every one of these phases, but at this point looking at Windows 8 I just laugh at all the poor suckers who are going to have to pay to use that ridiculous system while I scream away with Fedora Core 17 which will be released shortly.