Give Linux a Try

I ran across an online article where the author encouraged people to try Linux. These types of online articles are common.

In such articles the author notes how well Linux functions for that person’s needs. Fair enough. Linux has worked well for me too and works well for many people who use Linux daily. I am glad Linux works well for all of us who use Linux.

I dislike articles like this because authors rarely address the first point in any migration — evaluating needs and work flows.

People dependent on vertical software and work flows will struggle to migrate — if they can migrate at all. The reality is vertical software tailored only to run on Windows requires Windows.

The WINE developers are to be applauded for their reverse engineering skills, but for complex vertical software WINE seldom succeeds. The WINE database validates that observation. The reality is running complex vertical software on WINE is challenging and filled with anxiety and stress.

Generally, for people working in a mixed environment an optimal solution is running a virtual machine (dual booting is irritating) or using a second computer. For a virtual solution, which operating system should be the host and the guest usually is a personal preference. Many Linux users tend to prefer to run Windows in the virtual environment. That does not always work well in some environments, such as those with specific hardware requirements — and Linux must be run as the guest on a host Windows system.

Running a virtual machine to run dedicated Windows software is a head scratcher to less tech savvy users. Often they — rightfully — ask why they should run Windows that way rather than solely run Windows.

As many people have observed, LibreOffice is a good office suite but anybody dependent on MS Office discovers that round trip compatibility between the two suites is hit and miss. While Calc is sufficient for many people, I have yet to hear an experienced Excel user agree that Calc is a drop-in replacement.

Another element with such reviews is a focus on gaming. Many business users do not care about gaming. They only care about work flows and using computers as tools — as a means to an end.

I enjoy Linux. For my personal use I cannot imagine using Windows. As much as I wish the desktop experience would improve for less tech savvy people, I accept that Linux is developed by geeks for geeks.

I have been using computers for more than 40 years, Linux for more than 21 years, and at home using Linux as my sole driver since 2009. I have no desire to use Windows and no desire to defend Windows, but pretending Linux is a drop in replacement for many people is misleading and possibly dishonest.

A sane approach is not begin Sisyphean journeys. Use Windows. Evaluate and test work flows and tasks in a Linux environment. Decide whether an alternate solution is not just possible but palatable. There are cross platform software solutions, but notably many proprietary products are not cross platform. The result is to use the proprietary product in Windows or find alternate software that satisfies the requirements. Usually though that is an uphill journey with complex vertical software.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

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