- Category: linux
- Published on Saturday, 28 April 2012 02:04
- Written by Reuben
- Hits: 210
Just a few years ago, I was a typical Windows user (who did lots of data processing using MS Excel)... and had a love-hate relationship with it. I was good at it but I had tonnes of data that Excel simply couldn't handle even with the new multi-threading option.
Furthermore, my laptop was crawling just to start up despite its powerful specs (I use an i7 8GB RAM ASUS monster) and I had tonnes of software, some conflicting with each other, some with spy/adwares, yada yada...
Then one day at work, I was forced to use Linux cos a software I need could only be found on Linux. Within one week, I started realising how much better Ubuntu suited my needs and how much faster it was and I hopped over immediately. And in the transition, I saw how misconceptions gave rise to the limited usage of Linux among end users.
Myth #1: Linux is purely command-line based and requires you to key in commands to do anything. Command lines are ALWAYS complicated.
Truth: Linux distributions meant for desktops have interactive desktop GUIs like any other OS. In fact, the GUI is even more customizable than Windows. When was the last time you could control how thick your taskbar was down to the number of pixels?
Furthermore, the option of bringing up the terminal for command line operations (Ctrl + Alt + T) is a plus point more than anything.
My point is, you can just use a explorer to click into folders or you can use the command line, its your choice. Sometimes if its just one click, the GUI is fast. But sometimes when things are hidden deep down, its much faster to type a single line of command to get there. Windows has DOS but I assure you its much harder to use and less versatile as compared to UNIX or LINUX shells. For example, you can write PERL commands without the need to install anything and the syntax is also far more ENGLISH-like.
Some examples of simple shell commands that may take more time with GUI:
locate manual.pdf - tells you where the file manual.pdf can be found. cat text.txt | wc - reads the text.txt file and does a word, character and line count lunar 1984 10 07 - converts your birthday to lunar calendar date and tells you your BaZi! rm *.doc - remove/delete all files ending with .doc find . -name "*.mp3" | while read file; do rm $file; done - delete all the mp3s you can find anywhere in your comp.
In other words, you can use Linux like how you use your Windows OS - using your mouse to control everything - but knowing that Linux can give you more leverage when you need it.
Myth #2: Linux doesn't have as much software choices as compared to Windows or Mac and its very difficult to find them. Like I don't see them sold at shops?
Truth: It is true that Linux doesn't have as many software available as Windows. But the reason is simple, it DOES NOT NEED them. It is well-known that Windows/MS have positioned themselves commercially such that even doing certain simple processes require paid software. Need to do something unusual? Google for a software to download and pray its free and has no adware.
How do you convert 100 jpg images into a 100-page pdf?
Windows: Erm... download a software that costs money? Then learn how to use that software... and then... OR paste all the images into MS word and print to pdf... OR...
Linux command line: convert *.jpg new.pdf
Ok granted that convert requires ImageMagick which may or may not come installed. Installing the software is just a simple apt-get install imagemagick. The useful software you need are all kept in repositories that are easy to access. Even things like GIS software can be found.
Oh by the way, you don't see them at shops because they are ALL FREE. At least I have never needed to pay for any of my software, and I can still do mapping, batch image processing, data processing, pdf conversion, poster design, statistical analysis and plots, etc... There will be paid linux software, but for end users, it is unlikely you need them.
Myth #3: Nobody uses Linux except comp scientists and programmers.
Truth: Linux is very widely-used, it is just not always known. Like certain laptops nowadays have an option to boot up to a minimalist OS in 10 secs. That is a bare-bone Linux. Many gadgets also run on Linux, for example, Android is a tweaked version of the Linux kernel. Linux is also very widely-used for system administration in companies. Myth #4: Linux is old-fashioned and dull-looking Truth: Maybe certain distributions are more... classic. New ones like Linux Mint actually seem almost Mac-like.
Of course its not gonna be ALL GOOD. Like games are not as compatible although you can still play DOTA and many windows games using an emulator. You can even install Microsoft Office if you really really want, but that defeats the purpose of FREE and FAST doesnt it? You may also face problems with things like VPN and certain very specialised software.
However, If you find yourself often processing lots of data or files on the fly, its almost silly not to use Linux. I've seen many experience programmers spending lots of time writing compiled codes to run very simple processing tasks just because windows command line isn't as versatile.