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You may have heard from a handful of people around the Web (myself included) that you should try to switch to Linux if you can, especially if you’re still lingering on Windows XP The Best Linux Distributions For Windows XP Refugees The Best Linux Distributions For Windows XP Refugees Read More . But deciding whether switching to Linux isn’t so easy, because Linux isn’t perfect and sadly not for everyone — although we’d like to think that.

So for those who aren’t sure how to evaluate the efficacy of Linux for themselves, I have created a simple guide that can walk you through the criteria you need to look at. Since you want an operating system to work for you without any issues, it’s safe to assume that any major issues that you find along the way are enough reason to choose not to use Linux. So for example, if you discover that your webcam does not work under Linux, and you know that you need to use your webcam on a regular basis (such as for online meetings), then Linux is probably not for you (at least for now). There are a few other details to consider for each criterion, but I’ll just talk about that when we get there.

Test Your Hardware

Testing hardware support is key because you won’t use Linux if nothing will work, and you won’t have to worry about everything else if you find this is the case. Testing hardware support is rather easy, however. All you need to do is create a bootable USB drive Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Read More that has a Linux live environment ISO written to it. Once you’ve created one, you can boot into the live environment and play around with Linux as if it’s actually installed when it’s really not. From here, you can try various things to see if they work. Things to check are:

  • WiFi: Most chipsets should work out of the box, but some need a little help. Broadcom chipsets just need the proprietary driver that can be installed in the Additional Software dialog of Ubuntu. Adding these drivers may be different for other distributions.
  • Ethernet: This should work out-of-the-box 99% of the time.
  • Speakers: Work almost always. If you don’t hear anything, make sure that the speakers aren’t set to mute — sometimes you think the speakers don’t work at all when that’s really the only “problem”.
  • Microphone: Works often, but not as often as the speakers. Be sure to check this.
  • Webcam: Works most of the time, although some Apple products have lower rates of success.
  • Function keys on your keyboard such as display brightness, keyboard backlight brightness, media controls, and more: These have a 50% chance of working perfectly. If they don’t work, see which ones specifically don’t work and whether you really need to use them or not.
  • Ports, including USB, HDMI, etc: These should work, but it’s good to check. USB really shouldn’t be an issue, but video ports like HDMI are more important to test.
  • Graphics card: Does it perform well? Try a few games if you can. If you are running a newer AMD or NVIDIA graphics card, you’ll probably want to use the proprietary drivers. You can’t test these in a live environment, because they require that you restart, but when you restart a live environment you lose everything.
  • External devices such as your printer: Printers are important to test. Some work flawlessly (this is more the case for HP printers), but others are complete duds.

Ubuntu even has an application called System Testing which you can also use to test out various hardware in your system.

If you’re testing any of these hardware items and you find that they don’t work and there isn’t an obvious remedy, don’t give up just yet! Head to Google, type in your computer make and model (say Apple MacBook Pro Retina), the keyword “Linux”, and what isn’t working. So an example search (without the quotes) would be “apple macbook pro retina linux webcam”. From these results, you can see whether others had any problems getting it to work and what their fixes were.

Software Requirements

LibreOffice 4.2
Next, you’ll want to look at your use case. Usually, if you have simpler requirements, Linux is much more likely to be a good fit. Think about all of the applications that you use on your current operating system. If you do a lot of things in a web browser, email client, office application, and image editor, then you’ll be good to go. Linux equivalents include Firefox/Google Chrome/Opera, Evolution/Thunderbird, LibreOffice, and GIMP. For your specific application, check out our Best Linux Software page, look at our guide to making Linux a genuine Windows replacement Making Linux a Genuine Windows Replacement Making Linux a Genuine Windows Replacement With Windows 8 casting a long shadow over the PC industry and Valve committing to create Linux-based gaming PCs, there's never been a better time to start using Linux. For many users, the Linux desktop... Read More , or do a quick Google search to see if there’s a Linux version or alternative.

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It’s also worth looking into web apps and browser extensions that may do what you need. For instance, thanks to fast Internet access and the rise of Chromebooks, people using Chrome browsers are able to use a huge selection of web apps and Chrome apps for image editing, word processing, desktop publishing Lucidpress: The Free Online InDesign Alternative For Your Creative Needs Lucidpress: The Free Online InDesign Alternative For Your Creative Needs What is a casual designer to use as an InDesign replacement? Lucidpress is absolutely gorgeous. A lot of graphic design skill has been put into it for helping casual designers make fantastic documents. Read More and more.

If you have more extreme requirements, however, such as macros in your office suite applications, or special functions in Photoshop that GIMP can’t do, or some very specialized software that doesn’t have any other alternatives that work under Linux or on the web, then Linux may not be for you. This problem is getting rarer by the day, but it still exists for some.


The same thing also applies to gaming. There are more and more popular games out for Linux Linux Has More Than Just Indie Games: Top 8 Blockbuster Games Available Linux Has More Than Just Indie Games: Top 8 Blockbuster Games Available While it's true that Windows still has a better selection of games, there are plenty of "AAA" titles (the really big hits) that are already available under Linux. Read More now thanks to Steam, but Windows still has the much larger selection. Take a look at the games that you can play, and see whether those that you simply cannot sacrifice work under Linux (whether natively or through the use of WINE Using Wine to Play Games On Linux? Here's Why You Should Switch To Steam Right Now Using Wine to Play Games On Linux? Here's Why You Should Switch To Steam Right Now In the last couple of months, Steam has been getting a lot of attention. Not necessarily because of the games that it's been carrying, but because of its expanding support of different operating systems. If... Read More ). If not, then Linux may not be for you.

Is Linux For You?

If you were able to look through this entire checklist and discover that Linux takes care of all your needs, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make the switch! It’s easy to learn, very fast, and much safer. If, however, along the way you found that something you value was severely lacking, then it might be best to wait until Linux has improved enough for your needs. While I’d love for Linux to work for everyone, that isn’t quite the case (yet).

What made you decide whether to switch to Linux or not? Where does Linux need to improve the most so that more people can make the switch? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: woman sleeping at her desk Via Shutterstock, Forrestal_PL

  1. Ron Ablang
    October 23, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    I can't get Linux software to play any commercial movie DVDs so I call that a big mark against Linux if that's what you are trying to do. I was trying to have a living room PC just to play movies.

    • Dimitris Anogiatis
      January 7, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      You usually need to installl a package like libdvdcss2 which includes all the basic functions for reading and playing a DVD movie. Also check if your DVD Movies are encoded for the right Region. CSS protection on DVDs is one of the reasons why GNU/Linux distributions do not install libdvdcss2 by default. Thank the lawmakers for copyrights :)

  2. David
    October 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I installed Zorin, I thought along side my Dell XP laptop but notice it that not there when booting into Zorin which has given me many issues. I could swear I created a partisan while watching the YouTube on how to do it. Now I don't see the XP at all a dual boot I thought. Is this XP still on my system or not? Is there another way of viewing these two operating systems together in the BIOS?

  3. jafd
    July 25, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Have been using ClipMate, the clipboard manager/extender from ThornSoft ( for details) since '96. Hard to imagine working without it.

    Have tried Linux, but no equivalent program seems to be available for it. Any suggestions ?

    Thanks very much!

  4. Zohaib Jahan
    July 20, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I want to try Linux, Tell me minimum hardware specs required?
    I have: Delln4050; Dual Core: 1.8 Ghz, RAM 4 GB, 320GB hard

    • dragonmouth
      July 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      Any Linux distro will run on your hardware.

      Most Linux distros are dropping their 32 bit versions and releasing only 64 bit. There will still be some 32 bit distros for older PCs but they will few and far between.

  5. Didier
    July 12, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Forget about Linux. I tried and it crashed very often after some simple updates because it cannot handle dependencies properly. Windows is much better since Windows 7 / Windows 8

    • dragonmouth
      July 16, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      Which Linux distro gave you the problems? Did you, by any chance try to do a manual update using the command line? Or did you use the Package Manager that came with the distro?

      With the exception of Linux From Scratch, Gentoo and maybe Arch, where all updates have to be handled manually, all distros released in the past 5 years automatically resolve dependencies.

  6. dog
    July 12, 2014 at 7:54 am

    used linux for several years but needed to have use of CS6 so opted for macbook pro

  7. kat
    July 7, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I am a long time Mac user. That's all I have ever owned, till now. I am now on a mission to wipe as many PC-Windows machines and install Ubuntu. Most of the old machines running XP have accepted the Ubuntu install with minimal problems. (and there is a code to fix whatever didnt work)

    Make note that Downloading the right version for your machine is important. AMD and Intel chip versions vary slightly. Start with an older version and upgrade if you have to. the Bootable USB is key for older machines that do not have DVD players. I have now wiped and installed Ubuntu on 11 different brands/models/aged PCs and all are working well for the clients, and myself. Printers install almost instantly. Learning it takes 10 minutes or less. it just works.

    I personally recommend to get away from anything Microsoft and use this OS. it is wonderful for older folks, as it is simple interface (not all the song & dance of windows 8). I am running Ubuntu 14 on an older Sony laptop, and have one system problem, but it has not caused the machine to crash or not get online/get email/use apps. Skype, Mozilla Firefox & Thunderbird are available, as well as a thousand other apps.

    I give UBUNTU a double thumbs up. if you have a working PC machine, there is an UBUNTU install version that will make your old Wuinbdows machine act like new-without spending any money.

    • hello-you
      March 3, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      "I have now wiped and installed Ubuntu on 11 different brands/models/aged PCs and all are working well for the clients, and myself. " #proudofyou
      I'm working on a cousin and my mother... :)

  8. Christopher Burke
    July 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Y'see, the above comments absolutely prove my point. You get a few apps chucked in with Linux, because the designers know there's so little out there for it that if they didn't chuck in freebies, nobody would use the darned thing at all. And Greg mentions THREE versions of Linux he has to use on different machines for different things, when you could be just using ONE version of Windows. And 'happy using Ubuntu?' Sure, if all you do is E_mail, look at websites (if you can actually get the Linux browsers WORKING for the website) and maybe a bit of wordprocessing/spreadsheeting. It's OK for that.

    As far as not being able to run Windows software from CD Windows, with Linux you can only run the built-in apps - if you're lucky and know enough about CLI to help out. I'll freely admit I don't, I've tried to learn, discovered it's another thing that changes with every version of Linux out there and given up!

    Bottom line is, if you're someone who doesn't mind carefully tweaking an O.S. to work with each application you want to use on it, go for Linux. If you just want to install something and USE it straight away, I'm afraid it's still Windows. Having SAID that, I CAN see an 'out' for Linux.

    Y'see, I've been told on good authority (uber-geek who's my boss at work!) that the Apple O.S. is Linux-based. Jobs taking a piece of open-source software and finding a way to brand and charge people for it doesn't surprise me, he milks his customers like cows anyway. Thing is, you can install any piece of Applemac software on an Applemac straight away and use it (just about, I've come across cases where fairly respectful amounts of tweaking take place by my boss, but anyway.) If these multi-distro Linux guys learned from that and unified their platforms, THEN Linux might actually have a chance of being useful.

    I'm trying to actually envisage that happening, whilst watching the pigs soaring past the sun.

    Yours respectfully


    • dragonmouth
      July 4, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      "Y’see, I’ve been told on good authority (uber-geek who’s my boss at work!) that the Apple O.S. is Linux-based."
      Now I see your problem. You are about 15 years behind the times. Your comments about Linux MAY HAVE been true back in the 1990's. If your boss is the uber-geek you claim he is, he would know that OS/X is based on BSD, not Linux. The enire world has known that since 2002 when the first version of OS/X was released to the general public.

    • hello-you
      March 3, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      Does anyone have the time to point out all the flaws in your arguements?
      ... wish I did.

    • Dimitris Anogiatis
      January 7, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      WIth all due respect and I get it this is an old post, but Linux can run Windows software throught WINE. However not all Windows Software will run. So one who is trying Linux and running Windows Software throught WINE must indeed spend some time to figure things out.

      As for MacOS being linux based... that's a no. Mac OSX is bsed on FreeBSD which is basically a UNIX version. Linux is Unix-Like. One needs to make the distinction clear. The kernels are different, the file systems are different, the environments are different.

      As far as apps for Linux go, designers don't throw things in Linux the same way they do in Windows. Linux distributions carefully select what software gets included and what is available for the user to install after they get the distribution installed.

      I would suggest you give Linux one more try without the expert advice of your uber-geek boss but with an open mind (more open than just making comparisons between Windows and Linux - not that you will avoid them... but Windows is not the end all and be all in computers).

  9. Warren
    July 3, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I decided to try Linux Ubuntu about 6 months ago when my Windows 7 machine rejected all Windows updates and things began slowing down. Once you get things properly installed and working, you'll love it. But meanwhile you'll do a lot of cussing as you learn about distributions and terminals and super users.
    If you have problems, there are lots of places you can turn for help. The problem is that most of these people are reallly Linux savvy, so while they think their answer is clear as a bell, it may leave you scratching your head. At least it did me. And I'm pretty knowledgable about computers. I'm one of those geeks who stayed with command line systems as long as I could before finally giving in to Windows.
    I still get thrown a curve every now and then, but it's becoming less frequent. Meanwhile, when I read about the problems people are having with Windows 8, and hear what Windows has planned for the future (at a price, of course), I just feel sorry for those people who are locked into that system.
    After I got it figured out, I even installed it on my wife's XP computer. Now granted, I'm the one who has to get involved with the technical glitches if there are issues. All she does is run the programs she's always run, but she's very happy using Ubuntu.

  10. Greg
    July 3, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Knoppix is rather good ,finds everything and works . Also Pinguy OS ,an offshoot of Ubuntu which looks good and works well even on an older Pentium II machine. And for Home Theatre try OpenELEC,all Linux distributions definitely worth a try.

  11. Mary Beth Elderton
    July 3, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    We use Linux. All our machines use dual boot, so we still have Windows available. The truth is, though, that I almost never use the Windows at all.

  12. Christopher Burke
    July 3, 2014 at 6:02 am

    What you have to remember is most software is Windows-based and will not run on Linux. So all those lovely, legal pieces of freeware are now no longer available to you, no more Open Office, Star Office.... AND there's more. There's a TON of differently 'skinned' Linuxes out there. And you have to have the RIGHT ONE for the right piece of software! Don't think that just because something says it'll run on Linux it'll run on YOUR Linux - chances are you'll have to go to repositories, get the hang of Command Line Interfaces, learn about different desktops, painfully find all the extra bits you need to make ONE PROGRAM WORK!! And then you've gotta do it all again for the next program, and the next...

    If they EVER - which I doubt - get their act together and UNIFY Linux so you can just install stuff onto it, it'll be worth using. Right now there isn't one Linux, there's a fragmented schizoid mass of bits that will only talk to eachother under extreme duress. If you're a geek who loves giving the simplest tasks the greatest degree of difficulty just to show how technologically brilliant you are, welcome to Linux. If you're someone who wants to actually get stuff DONE, stick with Windows. And there's one other reason that kicks Linux outta the ballpark.

    One of Linux' selling points is you can run it off a CD. Newsflash. You can run Windows off a CD. There's Mini Windows 7 and Mini Windows XP out there (and I THINK there's a Mini Windows 8 too, not sure.) They will run, perfectly happily, off a CD without being installed. As they're Windows, they will run all Windows software. And because they're on a CD, if you have hard drive probs. you can use the CD like a hard drive to reformat your real hard drive (or virus scan, or whatever) using real Windows antivirus/formatting software. Bliss.

    Linux is, and prob. always will be, for the same sort of geeks as those who spend big bucks making toy robots from Raspberry Pi. If it ever gets its act together and gets unified, it could be worth looking at. Otherwise, why bother? Stick with Windows for hard drives, mini-Windows to run off CDs, full functionality, no hassle. Sheesh.
    Chris Burke.

    • dragonmouth
      July 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Chris Burke:
      Too bad you do not what you are talking about. Either that or you are trying to spread FUD. Obviously all you know about Linux is how to spell it.

      Windows software will not run on Linux and Linux software will not run Windows. Big, fat, hairy deal! They are not supposed to. They are O/S specific.

      When a user installs a Linux distro, ALL the applications an averge user might use, is installed by default and it works right away. When a user installs Windows, that is all he gets, just an O/S. Then he has to go out and purchase, and then install any applications he might want or need.

      "Newsflash. You can run Windows off a CD."
      And that is ALL you get to run, the O/S. If you want to run any apps, you are SOL. Windows apps cannot be run from a CD. They have to be installed to an HD, SSD or a Flash Drive.

      When you run a Linux distro from a CD/DVD, ALL the apps are there on the CD and available for immediate use. No other drives are necessary.

      Windows is so full of secuuirty holes that it has spawned and supports an entire anti-malware industry. If that industry had to rely on fixing Linux security problems, they would have gone out of business long time ago because Linux needs no anti-malware.

      Next time, Chris, educate yourself before spouting off. Engage brain before putting mouth in gear!

  13. Kevin M
    July 3, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Linux is getting very close to the stage where almost everyone can switch if that actually want to. Most hardware will run out of the box, and other problems can be sorted out quite quickly. I just finished an experiment with Mint, firing it up on a virtualbox machine and found that all but one of the critical tasks I have could not only be achieved, but also with freely available, open source, software. With virtualbox for linux I can run the remaining task on an old Windows licence without messing with dual boot. I don't foresee spending any more money on Windows in the future.

  14. Tom Henry
    July 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    I switched to Linux 9 years ago and never looked back. I was tired of all the issues Windoze created. When I switched, Linux Ubuntu hadn't come out so I ran Suse 10.1. It wasn't always easy. Eventually I switched to Ubuntu, then Mint. We have a saying in the Linux community. "Bill Gates gave us Windoze. Linux gave us the whole house.

  15. Richard Palmer
    July 2, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Another article debating whether to switch to Linux, saying "because Linux isn’t perfect and sadly not for everyone — although we’d like to think that." and then beneath my email alert comes the amusing article entitled "Easily Fix These Common Windows 8.1 Frustrations" So Windows isn't perfect either.

    Come on tech reporters, give us something useful.

    A Linux user, who has so much more fun since dropping Windows 5 years back, plus more money, plus more time to do my work, rather than coping with the inadequacies of the work trotted out by the MS team.

  16. Jill Davis
    July 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I am a 68 year old woman, I have used Linux both Ubuntu and Mint (which I am currently using)for a few years now, had all windows since the beginning and finally gave up on it when Windows 8 came in , only use Linux now and have no problems using it, downloaded Wine to use windows programs and will never go back.

  17. Philip
    July 2, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    "Hand your 65 year old aunt a raw distro and tell her just to put the CD in the computer and follow the instructions".
    Well I'm not an aunt but I am 67 and I did just that with Ubuntu 14.04 two months ago on an 18 month old Lenovo laptop, and it did just work, everything - wifi, bluetooth, power management, printer, the whole shebang. And it didn't take all that long either.
    Most people don't go near a Windows installation because the pc comes with it installed, a much rarer occurrence with linux.
    I once had to an XP install and it was very tedious, but perhaps that's changed with the newer versions. Of course, the Linux install gave me a full suite of application software, not just the OS as in Windows.
    I think a lot of the reasons for not going for change reflect the amount of time and thought put into getting the best out of your existing setup and an understanadable feeling you don't want to have to repeat that if it can be avoided.
    I know I'd hate to have to go back to Windows now as I really like the Linux environment and general approach.
    Very useful post, though, and a good checklist for change.
    May the force (of your choice) go with you!

    • Captain Obvious
      July 2, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      I'm older than your aunt, and installed Zorin no problem...dual boot with Windoze 7. The most agonizing part was finding the best wallpaper image.

  18. bben
    July 2, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Linux is getting better - but it is still not ready for prime time. I still have to go into terminal to get things to work properly on every machine I try to use it on. Now, I want you anti Windows Linux heads to think about handing a raw distro - completely unconfigured to your 65 year old aunt Minie and telling her to just put the CD in the computer and follow the instructions. You CAN do that with Windows - and she will have a working OS. And her printer WILL work, her Wifi WILL work, and ALL of her peripherals WILL work. With no computer knowledge and no fiddling with arcane console commands.

    I worked with Unix in the mid 80s, and have worked with various Linux Distros off and on for years - and have always ( so far) gone back to Windows every time. Usually because of some niggling little thing - like the latest refused to work with a printer I use. And after several wasted days of visiting various Linux boards and trying various "Well, maybe this will work" type fixes - finally decided that printer just isn't going to work on Linux. And reinstalled Windows so I could get some work done.

    Maybe next release will actually work. I will keep trying.

    • dragonmouth
      July 2, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      "she will have a working OS."
      Maybe it will work, maybe it will not. If it does work, that is all she will have, an O/S. No applications, unless she is willing to empty out her bank account.

      " her printer WILL work, her Wifi WILL work, and ALL of her peripherals WILL work."
      Again MAYBE. The only time I had problems with an O/S not recognizing peripherals was when I used Windows.

      "I worked with Unix in the mid 80s, and have worked with various Linux Distros off and on for years"
      If you are that experienced with *nix, then you shouldn't have to "waste your time visiting various Linux boards."

      My entire family is using Linux and hasn't had anywhere the problems you claim to have with it. And, no, they are not techies with years of *nix experience.

  19. Grcoeeg
    July 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    I went with Zorin, started with the 6.4 core a year or so ago on just one laptop as a duel boot with Windows 7. Now I have Zorin 8 core on my oldest and newest laptops plus my wife's laptop. Everything seems to work on all four units, I had to purchase a webcam with the Linux kernel for the older two laptops on Amazon, but so far everything else is good. I actually think I might be able to leave the Windows universe because of Zorin. The shift to Zorin was very easy for this senior citizen, its design to make it look like xp/vista/7 is fantastic and being able to use Chrome or Firefox was the deal maker . It boots up so quickly, I'm on the internet in 40 seconds after touching the power button. Once installed alongside of Windows 7 or whatever, you will not be thinking about uninstalling it for any reason.

  20. ChiJoan
    July 2, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Would the new RobotLinux be the answer, since it can turn your WinXP or Win7 into a VirtualOS?
    I still prefer swapping hard drives and using a Distro like Puppy to copy files from the other hard drive or flash drive via USB.
    I think I saw PcLinuxOS has a removal of itself built in, but I was glad my Puppy Linux Live CD repaired PcLinuxOS like Ubuntu 10.04 after a power outage. It can help with Windows, too.
    ChiJoan, PCJoan in Reno

  21. PaulB
    July 2, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I've used Linux Mint extensively on a netbook, and like it in many ways, but it can be fiddly to configure (even relatively simple things like upgrading to the latest version of LibreOffice are much harder than in Windows, which is ironic indeed), and I'm afraid there are still quite a few apps/programs that drive me back to Windows. Most glaring of all is the lack of a decent email client - Neither Thunderbird nor Evolution cut it, and Geary is a long way from being feature complete. Claws might be the best of them but again trying to configure the extensions you need is just too fiddly. I need a good cross platform notes app for Android and the desktop - but if you want to use Evernote you're stuck with the browser version (or the unreliable and hideous Nevernote). Want a powerful wysiwyg website builder? No such luck. Mindmapping? Again, the options are just too far behind the Win or Mac world. I've sometimes thought about dual booting, but the hard truth is that I can do everything I want in Windows (and I've never had a problem with viruses in 20 years). I'm ideologically drawn to Linux, but rationally stuck with Windows.

    • Ed
      July 2, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      "ideologically drawn to Linux, but rationally stuck with Windows"

      Could not have said it better myself.

    • dragonmouth
      July 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      "even relatively simple things like upgrading to the latest version of LibreOffice are much harder than in Windows"
      Are you using command line to do the update or are you using mintUpdate, or Synaptic Package Manager?
      In mintUpdate you click on LibreOffice and then on Apply and mintUpdate does the rest.

      In Synaptic click on Reload to update your package database. In the left hand panel click on STATUS button. That will display the status of all the packages (Installed, Installed(upgradable), Not Installed,etc.) Click on "Installed(upgradable)" entry which will show you all packages to be upgraded in the righ panel. If there are any LibreOffice entries check of their boxes. The click on APPLY and watch LibreOffice get updated to the current version. It takes longer to write up how to do it than it actually takes to do it.

  22. JC
    July 2, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I started to use linux on my job, then, since my parents where having multiple viruses problems I installed on them linux, they had some learning curve and from time to time switch back to windoes (my mother was not able to play songpop :) ) then I tuned that up moved from mint to ubunu. and I been working on making all their needs met to only use linux. I just bought a computer for my 8 yo and installed right away ubuntu, at the moment he is happy and unaware of the windos existence.

    I believe it is working good, they only problems I have are usability and I managed to work work arround them so at the moment having non tech guys (my parents and my 8yo) doing fine... so I guess I am the only one that has to move now :)

    my only draw back are the games.. but lately I'm not playing that much only watching movies therefor i guess I will be moving my laptop soon

  23. John W
    July 2, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Took me ten days to get all the FN buttons and audio working properly on a Dell vostro for Win 7 with a new SSD.

    I had to use a couple of Linux distros to download the Dell drivers.
    Ironically everything worked in Ubuntu and the also one that tries to look like Win 7, but I needed Win 7 for a specific purpose.

  24. Mohit
    July 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I spent about 6 months with different linux distros like ubuntu,mint,fedora,arch etc...and had great time with them.And had great fun using terminal.
    but as an engineering student i have to leave tux for some specific softwares....
    i have to migrate to windows forcefully....missing linux :(

  25. Nick
    July 2, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I really love Linux and Mac after all these years using it alongside Windows and Mac. Windows is other hand as damn unstable whatsoever. Like Linus Torvalds said Microsoft really makes crap OS. I think the biggest reason for small percentage of people using Linux is proprietary applications unavailability. I think Linux community especially Ubuntu should work to bring these proprietary software companies to port their software on Linux as well.

    • dragonmouth
      July 2, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      "I think the biggest reason for small percentage of people using Linux is proprietary applications unavailability."
      What do proprietary applications do for you except make you spend money? The beauty and attraction of Linux is that 99% of all applications are available for free. All applications that an average Linux user will need are installed by default during the O/S installation. I will grant you that there are some proprietary applications, such as tax apps, that exist only on Windows.

      "I think Linux community especially Ubuntu should work to bring these proprietary software companies to port their software on Linux as well."
      If you wish to pay for your apps, then by all means stay with Windows. The philosophy of Linux is that all software should be free. And, yes, there are profession-specific proprietary apps in Linux that you have to pay for. However, there are few and far between.

      A very good reason why proprietary apps will NOT be ported to Linux is that Microsoft has their developers tied up in all kinds of exclusive agreements. If they port their apps to an O/S other than Windows, M$ will cut off their access to the Windows platform. Most companies do not have the cojones or the clout to tell M$ to go scratch.

  26. Nick
    July 2, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I really love Linux and Mac after all these years using it alongside Windows and Mac. Windows is other hand as damn unstable whatsoever. Like Linus Torvalds said Microsoft really makes crap OS. I think the biggest reason for small percentage of people using Linux is proprietary applications unavailability. I think Linux community especially Ubuntu should work to bring these proprietary software companies to port their software on Linux as well.

  27. Vaibhav G
    July 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I want to switch, but there are things, I can't do in Linux, which binds me to. the Windows

  28. Dan
    July 1, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I love Ubuntu. I've been tinkering with it since Dapper Drake. Unfortunately it's still not ready for primetime. Too many hardware issues to fix in my laptop. Too many configuration files to edit. Too many fixes require terminal use. Some hardware fixes require recompiling from source. (If I wanted to compile, I'd get Gentoo instead.) Unity is crap. Gnome 3 has lost its way. KDE is not for me. LXDE/Enlightenment/Fluxbox looks promising but get ready for even more configuration editing. In 2006 that is disappointing, in 2014 it's inexcusable.

    Linuxmint is a little better. More usable out of the box, but still a lot of fiddling to get the OS to play nice with my laptop. MATE is great and Cinnamon has potential. Maybe in 2020 when Win7 finally loses extended support, I will use Linuxmint as my primary OS. Who knows, maybe by then Linux will no longer require users to read dense manfiles and frequent trips to M$-bashing Linux forums. We can always dream...

    • George
      July 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm


      I could not have said it better than you. I've tried several versions of Linux and I run into tons of issues as you described. The smugness of the Linux community and the inability to work with a Win 7 network will keep this a hobbyist-geek OS until those two things change. Microsoft has little to worry about at this point.

    • dragonmouth
      July 2, 2014 at 11:45 pm

      Little old ladies who never used a computer before do not have the problems with Linux you guys are having. Millions of people install and use Ubuntu and other distros with no problems. Unless you are using some esoteric, limited edition hardware, whichever Linux distro you install should recognize the hardware during the install process.

      Linux community is smug because for most of us it just works, unlike Windows.
      If you configure Samba properly, it will work with Win7 network or any other network. Unless, of course, it is your Windows network that does recognize the Linux one, but that is a Win problem, not Linux.

  29. PCPC
    July 1, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Eduard L, you should speak to your hardware supplier about that. I have an old HP latop and I don't have the problems you describe. I find fan usage on Windows 7 equally high as my Ubuntu partition.

    I find your statement " Ubuntu doesn’t have that good drivers for anything (mostly for the graphics card, which gets hot fast), so the various components will get hotter much faster than on Windoze" very hard to believe, and without foundation.

    I however, have a few more reasons why I am happy with my switch from Windows. For example, I don't have an antivirus, I don't have any pirated/illegal software, and my multiple windows environment make me much more productive - it's like working on 4 different machines at the same time.

    Nice article, overall. Thanks

    • hello-you
      March 3, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Right on. Way to breath fire... :)

    • hello-you
      March 3, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Whoops. Replied to wrong post...

  30. cnavigator
    July 1, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I've been trying all kinds of distros, from Ubuntu to Linux Mint to OpenSUSE to Manjaro, various DE's (Unity, XFCE, KDE) on my recent laptop, 6 month-old. While everything pretty much works out-of-the-box, including NVIDIA GeForce 740M graphics card, there is some weird bug, the fans just won't shut up, every ten seconds or so they start spinning and make noise, then stop, then again and stop, and again and again, it becomes quite annoying and it happens even when there is no CPU/GPU load at all. This never happens on Windows 8.1, any ideas?? It's the only thing keeping from keeping an installation of GNU/Linux in this PC.

    • Eduard L
      July 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      Happened to me too on my old laptop. It's probably something to do with the fact that Ubuntu (that's what I've been using) is much more sensitive to heat fluctuations, thus driving the fan crazy (if it goes up a notch, it gets cold enough to turn off the fans, but if it does that, then it gets too hot and they start again).

      Plus, a very important note to everyone considering Ubuntu: it can lessen the capacity of your laptop battery. Ubuntu doesn't have that good drivers for anything (mostly for the graphics card, which gets hot fast), so the various components will get hotter much faster than on Windoze. I've read somewhere that for some reason hotter = more battery consumption and ultimately = a faster degradation of your max battery life.

      And the above happened to me too. When my laptop was new, the battery would last 4 hrs in Windows. After about 1 year of mostly Ubuntu usage, it would only last *maximum* 2 hrs under Windows (please note that both measurements were taken in Windows). So I guess, unless you need linux for work, I wouldn't go there.

    • Marc D
      July 2, 2014 at 7:59 am

      Open a termianl and type in: aptitude install thinkfan cpufrequtils
      It is needed to manage the CPU clock and the speed of the fan, maybe it isn't there by default.

    • Ed
      July 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      Try installing TLP for both temperature control and battery usage.

      Helped me. I have a fanless build that would hit over 80c when viewing HD video. After setting up Radeon DPM for the ATI graphics and installing TLP, my temps never go above 72c on a fanless build with limited airflow. So, in my case, it cut 10c from the temps.

    • hello-you
      March 3, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      Eduard L,
      I know you said this a year ago...

      Battery life naturally detiorates with time.

  31. ReadandShare
    July 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    @ sedrosken

    Thanks for clarifying. Is there a way to save a copy of the present bootloader -- and use it again in lieu of GRUB if I should change my mind later and want to go back to pure Windows?

    Hope Danny isn't too bothered by my continuous questions. It is HIS article that's inspiring me to try Linux -- if there's a way to return safely to Square One.

    • dragonmouth
      July 1, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      The GRUB default timer is either 5 or 10 seconds, depending on the distro. You can change the GRUB default boot delay time to any number of seconds you want and the default O/S to boot to Win 7. During the boot delay time you can hilight the Linux entry and press ENTER. If you let the boot delay time expire, GRUB will autimatically boot your default O/S which in your case will be Win 7.

      GRUB2 is the current version which is being used by more and more distros. You can find a GRUB2 tutorial here:

  32. sedrosken
    July 1, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Yes, the installation of Linux does modify your bootloader -- well, it doesn't modify your existing one so much as it removes it and installs its own (usually GRUB for maximum compatibility). Even if you do remove Linux, GRUB will still be there, and still point to your old Linux install by default, however if you do dual-boot GRUB will have a timer (usually thirty seconds) that, when it runs out, will make GRUB select the default if no other choice has been selected. That is plenty of time to press your down arrow key a couple of times to select Windows 7 from the list, right?

    Great article by the way. Very comprehensive and includes many things I didn't even think of (such as gaming, I've always considered gaming to be Windows's forte). I run a heavily customized version of Ubuntu Server myself.

  33. ReadandShare
    July 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    I use Win 7 and would like to try Linux -- as dual boot. But my concern is that I read somewhere that once installed in dual boot mode -- Linux changes the boot records such that if I remove Linux, my computer won't boot straight into Win 7. Is this true?

    I do not have Win 7 installation discs or factory rollback capability. If someone can tell me that if I ever decide to uninstall Linux, I can get back to "the way it was" -- booting straight into Win 7 -- then I'll feel better about trying Linux out. Thanks.

    • ReadandShare
      July 1, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      OOPS - sorry for the double post. The first one didn't show up for the longest time and I thought I didn't post correctly...

    • Ed
      July 1, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      True. GRUB loves to stick around even if you get rid of the Linux partition.

      Don't know the exact steps, but I would think you could make Windows be the default OS after the timer runs out during boot. So you could set the GRUB timer to 3 seconds maybe, giving you enough time to select an OS to boot to. If you get rid of Linux, all you really do then is add 3 seconds to your boot time.

      If you wipe the hard drive and install Windows fresh (if you get rid of Linux), I've seen GRUB still be there and prevent a Windows install CD from booting - ouch! I would have to open a live CD Linux session, go into Gparted, and wipe the drive and boot sectors that way in order to get a Windows install CD to boot, install and wipe Grub during the Windows install.

    • Howard B
      July 1, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      Another thing you can try is making a recovery image of your current Windows 7 setup, with a backup utility like EaseUS Todo Backup or another utility that can back up the entire hard disk, including boot information. That way you can restore your entire computer if you don't want the Linux partition.

    • Chris C
      July 1, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      It is no problem to make your computer automatically boot into Windows instead of Linux, or vice versa. The most common Linux bootloader (the first piece of software that runs when you start your computer) is known as GRUB. It has configuration files you can edit to change which OS will boot without the user doing anything.

    • Adam
      November 27, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Yes thats right Linux is messed up like that.. You will destroy your boot manager.. dont do it if you cant reinstall windows.. Cause you will want windows back..

  34. ReadandShare
    July 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I'm interested in trying!!! But please tell me if mine is a valid concern:

    I want to install so I can dual boot into either Linux or Win 7. But I've read that once done, you cannot remove Linux and just have your computer boot straight to Windows because Linux overrides boot commands (or something to that effect). This is a concern for me. I DO NOT have a Win 7 installation disk.

    • Savethelost007
      July 1, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      You should definitely check into EasyBCD then, ReadandShare. It's a great program that you install onto Windows and it can backup your original boot settings, so if you do decide to uninstall Linux, you can still get back your original bootloader. You can find it here:

    • Howard B
      July 1, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      If you don't have a Windows 7 installation disk, check for a partition on your hard drive and a utility that will create a "system recovery" disk that will restore your PC to its "new, just-out-of-the-box" state. This will help you recover your computer if the hard drive fails or your Windows 7 installation is corrupted.
      If you bought your computer second-hand, the recovery disks (if they shipped with the PC; most don't any more) should have come with it (yell at the person you got it from!), or they should have provided the disks they burned when they got the computer (which usually removes the recovery partition). What manufacturers won't do to save a few dollars pressing DVDs!

      Installing Linux "next to" Windows 7 will likely install GRUB, Linux's bootloader; if you can make a System Recovery Disk (not the Restore disk) in Windows 7, booting from that disk can repair a lot of things - including a missing Windows 7 bootloader, like after removing Linux...

    • DC Infected
      July 1, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      you can remove linux but first install windows loader to mbr before removing your linux partition you can use easyBCD to do that :D. and also easybcd can help you to boot straight to Windows by install windows loader to mbr but dont forget to add the linux to loader. you can find the tutorial on

      PS: Sorry for my bad english :D I'm From Indonesia :D

    • Roger
      July 2, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      If you were considering Ubuntu as your distro - you could check out Wubi

    • Bruce Barnes
      July 2, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      I've done it before. First, install Windows before Linux. If Windows is already on your computer and you have 15-20GB of free space or more on your hard drive then you're ready to install Linux.

      Install EasyBCD in Windows (it's free) and you can remove Linux with that.
      Removing Ubuntu Linux From A Dual Boot Windows PC…:

    • Robert B
      July 2, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      Hello ReadandShare,
      I have been using Linux and Windows since around 2000, my first distro was Suse 6.1. I do not know who you have been talking with or reading but if you install Linux and later want to revert back to Windows only, you most certainty can completely remove Linux as well as get rid of Grub. With that said, if you have never tried out Linux before the best thing to do is to NOT do a normal install until you know you like Linux and want to continue using it. Why install it if you are not sure you will use it for a long time, the best way is to create a bootable USB pen drive (Mint Linux is a good one to start with). Most desktops and laptops today allow you to boot from a USB drive. When doing so you can select the alternate boot menu as your computer is booting up, you will have to read your manual to find out what key to hit, I think mine is F12 and select the option to boot from the USB port. You can do this a couple of times but if you find that you like Linux you can go into the BIOS settings and change the boot order, most OEM's have booting from the CD/DVD drive as well as the USB ports disabled. The order you want to is to set your optical drive as the first, then your USB drive and then the internal hard drive. If you find you like Linux enough to consider doing a regular install you might consider installing it to an external hard drive. Most distros if installed to an external drive will usually ask during the install where you want the boot loader normally Grub installed, one of the options will be the same disk that Linux was installed on so choose that one. That way the Windows 7 loader is never altered, when you want to use Linux just plug the drive in and reboot your system and it will boot from the USB drive right into Linux and you will still have access to you internal drive. Another option you have is you try out Ubuntu (not my first choice for a lot of reasons) they give you the option of installing Ubuntu in Windows. They do this by installing a Virtual machine that runs in Windows and then it installs Ubuntu inside the VM. If you decide to get rid of Ubuntu you simply uninstall it because the VM is nothing more than another piece of windows software, the boot loader is not affected because to use this set up you have to be running Windows. If it were me I would run Linux from a pen drive until such time as you are ready to use it long enough to do a regular install then I would decide if I wanted to install it to the internal drive, most systems even desktops only have one hard drive, I just installed Sabayon Linux to an external USB drive.

      If you have installed it as a dual boot setup and later want to get rid of it you can fairly easily restore the boot loader for Windows 7 back to its original state. However this requires you to have the installation disk for the version of Windows you are using. Do not fret if you have an OEM system from someone like Dell, HP etc and they were rude and did not provide you with any disks. If you have a system like this you have a valid product key s/n etc so you can legally down load a Windows 7 ISO file and burn it to a disk for use in this situation where you need to fix Windows. You can find the ISO's at this URL
      make sure you select the correct version from the list of Windows 7 ISO's available oh and you can't use the disk burning utility that comes with Windows Explorer you need a program that can burn an ISO. Here are a couple and
      Once you have your Windows 7 disk all ready to go to this URL and follow the instructions step by step You should print it out for reference when you are doing the restoration). Once you have done this and can boot into Windows then you can use the disk utilities, well I have Ultimate, not sure if Microsoft provides them on say Window 7 Home, they might on Professional, if you do not have the disk utilities that Microsoft provides on Ultimate you will have to use a 3rd party tool like the open source Parted Magic. You will need to delete the partition that has Linux installed and then once you have done this you will have a chunk of unallocated space the size will be how much was set aside for the Linux install. You can either format the partition as NTFS and use the partition as a data drive but most will want to eliminate the partition and stretch the current windows partition to take over the whole drive, like it was when you purchased your computer.

      One thing to consider if you are currently using Windows XP and there is software on it that you cannot live without. Say it will not run on Windows 7 or 8 or you want to use Linux where it will definitely will not run, well this is not entirely true sort of. Have you ever heard of a Virtual Machine? I mentioned how Ubuntu uses one to install Ubuntu Linux on top of Windows, well you can do the same thing with any OS. Say you want to use Linux go to and download the installer for Linux, it may even be in the official distros software repositories. Or if you want to run a newer Windows get the Windows installer. Once you have VirtualBox installed then you can install Windows XP inside of it and then install your XP software. This works well as long as the software does not require the full power of your 3D video card because all of your systems hardware is virtualized and you will not have the full power of your video card. Oh if you are running an older version of Windows say XP that is no longer supported do not enable the network cards in the VM that way there is no way that anything bad could happen from hackers. If you want to access the internet do so from Linux or your newer Windows 7 or 8 install.

      I apologize for this being so long but I did not know how to say it any shorter and have it to still be understood. Good luck
      The only reason I still run Windows is because I am an avid gamer and I still like using Photoshop.

    • Kelalole
      July 3, 2014 at 12:10 am

      It's actually pretty easy to restore the original master boot record (MBR) for Windows. It requires opening a command prompt, but the command is fairly simple. I forgot what it is, but I found it easily with Google a couple years back when I needed it. It doesn't require an installation disc.

    • K.I. Matthews
      July 6, 2014 at 1:07 am

      You should consider making a Linux bootable USB drive. I've done that several times for several versions of Linux with good success. Then you don't have to worry about your Windows install while playing with Linux. ( I've also done this with other versions of xNIX with good results also! )

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