Where can I get a free Linux operating system and what are the dis/advantages of switching from Windows to Linux?

edgar April 12, 2011

If I was to change from Microsoft Windows to Linux, what would be the advantages and disadvantages? And where can I get a free Linux operating system?

  1. Brenda B
    June 12, 2011 at 2:13 am

     BTW, I installed a PC in the lunch room for the employees to use during breaks. It's an old PENTIUM III (3)  with 1GB Ram, WiFi and a good video card running Ubuntu Linux 10.4 (April 2010) and it runs faster on the internet and for several programs than some employees XP and Vista laptops... Everybody uses it with no complaints. Great way to recycle old computers!!!

  2. Rob Schatz
    May 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    How is it possible that Linux is "immune" to viruses? No piece of software is immune to any security vulnerability and can be hacked.

    • Tina
      May 14, 2011 at 10:34 am


      you're right, Linux is not immune, although it may seem so.

      First of all, there are so many different distros and setups in private use, that there is almost no use in developing malware, it won't spread far. Besides, Linux is Open Source and has such an active community that holes are patched extremely fast.

    • Brenda B
      June 12, 2011 at 2:03 am

       The only viruses for Linux I have ever heard of were "for proof of concept" but not in the wild... It seems like the only way to get a virus in Linux is if you install it yourself on purpose...  ;)  Linux is based on UNIX and therefore very secure unlike Windows which was made to be so user friendly that it's less idiot proof and more vulnerable. Because it's more vulnerable you need anti-virus, anti-spyware, and other software to optimize, etc... And all this extra load slows down your system...

      The fact that Linux is "Open-Source" means that there are tens of thousands of programmers out there who will spot a flaw and offer a patch very quickly, unlike a closed system where fewer people have access to the source code. That's why a flaw in Window$ 2000 took 7 years to patch, MS wasn't motivated, they just brought out another product and made more money when everyone upgraded! Do some research on Linux and you'll be surprised! If you were able to learn how to use Window$ you are
      certainly able to use Linux. My 72 year old mom has been using Ubuntu
      Linux exclusively for the last 2 years and I spend much less time on
      phone support with her since her system is more reliable than before! No viruses, no blue screens, popular hardware runs without having to install drivers AND all the software she needs is free...

  3. risman
    May 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    If Windows is even free for you, maybe the things where Linux is better than Windows is that Linux is lighter than Windows, more beautiful, and more user friendly (if you have Internet connection).

    My favorite thing about Linux is that it's immune to Windows viruses. You won't need to install Antivirus and make your computer slower because of Antivirus activity. You won't to scan for viruses every USB flashdisk that is plugged into your computer. No worry

    about virus.

    There are way so many variants of Linux operating systems (called distibutions/distros). You may confuse to choose, so here are Linux distros for beginner I personally recommend:

    For first time Linux user, I recommend you Linuxmint 10. Download it from http://www.linuxmint.com/edition.php?id=69 , burn it into DVD and boot it. It's easier to install than Windows. Just google for how to install Linuxmint if you in doubt.

    Ubuntu 11.04 and Fedora 15 beta are also user-friendly and very, very, beautiful, but they are too different from Windows. The installation steps of every Linux distros are quite similar.

    The downside of Linux distros, in my opinion, is that it quite complicated if you want to install softwares without Internet connection. But if you have Internet connection for your computer, installing softwares in Linuxmint (and other major distros) are only in two clicks or three via the Software Manager.

    Also, if your work is really depends on Adobe Photoshop, Flash Builder, or other certain softwares that are not available on Linux distros yet, just keep your Windows.

  4. Thecheeseaintfree
    April 30, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Try it, it just might change your life forever.

  5. Sonny Bass
    April 16, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Puppy installed to a USB stick is a fun and very useful operating system to have. A small 1-2gig drive is plenty large enough.

  6. Xoandre Moats
    April 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Great feedback from everyone above.

    I would like to add the following, from the perspective of a person who grew up knowing only the WINDOWS experience. I tried out Ubuntu for 6 months and found myself switching back to Windows 7 for ease of use.

    I would like to note that I have grown up in the 7.3 world and embraced the (unlimited).3 world of Windows 98-Win 7...

    Growing up knowing all the file types and extensions in Windows, I found myself lost and confused in the Ubuntu universe. I am certain there are guides or reference items available for Windows users trying to figure out what the file extensions are in Linux operating systems, but I just am too stuck in my ways to bother any more.

    The point here is --- one big disadvantage to switching from a familiar WINDOWS interface and OS is reacquainting yourself with an all-new set of file types and lingo. It's like a 35 year old American English Speaking person visiting the deep rural land of Ireland or Wales. It may be mostly the same language, but the learning curve is very steep.

    Hope this helps.

  7. Paul Gwilliam
    April 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Once you pick a Distro, find its forum as once installed you will have questions to ask. You will find that most of your questions have already been asked/answered. If not (and make sure you have thoroughly searched) then ask your question and wait.

    I agree with the dual boot suggestions. Try wubi first and if you like it then try a full, dual boot, install as wubi is bit slower than a proper install. BEFORE you do a full dual boot install, research the forums to see if you will need to manually edit the grub config file to chain link to Windows. It is quite simple but worth being one step ahead so you can get Windows to boot.

    Wine is a must if you have specific Windows applications you just can not do without.

    The transition is not too hard. A bit like the jump from XP to 7. It takes a while to work out where that option is hidden this time round ;-)

    • Sonny Bass
      April 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm

      It would also be a good idea to research and be sure you understand how to repair your MBR. This is for if or when you decide to uninstall the Linux distro.

  8. Sonny Bass
    April 16, 2011 at 2:49 am

    I wanted to mention another way to try out different systems is to install VirtualBox and use virtual machines. You don't have to worry about driver issues or the headaches of multiple boot systems.You can have several running at one time.

  9. Sonny Bass
    April 16, 2011 at 2:16 am

    distrowatch.com is probably the best place to see how many choices are available.There are links to download all wish to try.

  10. Roy
    April 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I definitely agree with fidelis about the wubi installer method.

    One other suggestion I have is to do a bit of homework about the available Desktop Environments for Linux distros. If you're new to Linux, you'll probably be using one of the 2 most popular options, Gnome and KDE. The standard version of Ubuntu uses Gnome, and there's a KDE variation known as Kubuntu. You can use either one with the wubi installer.

    KDE is sometimes more alluring to Windows users, because the layout feels more familiar and appears to have an easier learning curve. But as a Windows user, I tried both and actually liked Gnome much better. It's "taster's choice" really. But I would definitely suggest you look at some screenshots and features before picking a distro.

    If you go with Gnome, I agree that Ubuntu or Mint would be the easiest to get start with. If you find that you like KDE, either Kubuntu or Mandriva would be great options. All of the above have a pretty good user base, which usually means finding drivers is easier.

    April 13, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Actually, the best option for you to decide which one suits you better, is to run the wubi installer and install ubuntu within windows. Doing it this way, you can access ubuntu from within windows. If you think that linux suits you better then you can either, install it as a dual boot or install linux by itself. Here is the download page:


    Also, here is a link with a lot of linux distros for you to check out:


    If you are new to linux, I would say two of the easiest distros to get familiar with Linux are
    Ubuntu- http://www.ubuntu.com/
    Mint -- http://www.linuxmint.com/

  12. timmyjohnboy
    April 13, 2011 at 2:13 am

    ha14 had some good advice. I've been using Ubuntu for quite some time now but my laptop is still set up to dual boot Windows and Ubuntu but I almost never boot Windows anymore.

    Some of the benefits of Linux are that it's typically free, it's a lot faster and I have never had any kind of virus threat. In fact some people choose to do all of their Internet browsing on the Linux system because it's so safe. The other benefit is that you can find a lot of free programs to replace your Windows programs.

    Like was already meantioned, drivers can be an issue. If you have a printer, web cam, or other periferals, check into Linux compatability. I have to borrow my wife's PC to print anything (I don't print often so it's not a big deal to me).

    It would be best to burn an installation CD and run Ubuntu from it before going much further. The advice to set up dual boot is also a good suggestion.

  13. Anonymous
    April 12, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Well you just missed Ubuntu ShipIt free

    But still you can download from there for free.

    Mandriva Linux PowerPack

    Well if you start with linux as a newbie then best to read some journals and guides to be more familiar. Follow some technical sessions if its possible.
    Be sure that Linux supports your drivers.

    Also most windows soft will not run on Linux so if you are heavily dependant on them then this can be a problem. Some will work with WINE on Linux.

    Comparison of Windows and Linux

    if you really want the best of the best and the most secure systems possible, Linux is clearly the better choice. Windows like the dinosaurs is much slower than the quick and clever Linux mammals.

    Best OF ALL YOU can have LINUX FOR FREE. NEver heard of free windows.

    You dont have to switch directly to LInux since
    1)You can boot on Linux Image and just do some trials
    2)Dual Boot Windows/Linux:
    GRUB is part of most linux distros. Install Windows, make a partition for Linux, and then install Linux on the empty partition. GRUB will install itself.

    • Asif Mumtaz Khokhar
      April 21, 2011 at 1:49 am

      Oh, I've a FREE windows

      • Tushar Singh
        May 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

        Windows isn't free! How can you have a FREE windows?

      • Bharalinipon
        May 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm

        of course pirated :)

      • Brenda B
        June 12, 2011 at 1:34 am

        I've been free of Window$ for 5 years now. Windows is NOT free... If it came on your computer you paid for it hidden in the price... Or you pirated (stole) a copy which most honest people would not do... Most people think that the only way to run a computer is with Window$ because they never heard of Linux. Since Linux is free, who is willing to pay for advertising Linux??? It's kinda like tap water it's accessible to everyone, but you only see the bottled water$$$ being advertised. If you were able to learn how to use Window$ you are certainly able to use Linux. My 72 year old mom has been using Ubuntu Linux exclusively for the last 2 years and I spend much less time on phone support with her since her system is more reliable than before! No viruses, popular hardware runs without having to install drivers AND all the software she needs is free...

    • Dougalkerr
      May 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      The advantages of Linux are;
      1. It's totally free as are 99% of the applications.
      2. It locates and sets up most hardware easier than Windows (there are exceptions but, not so many these days as to put anyone off). Wireless detection is usually a dream and merely needs you to select your provider and enter your password.
      3. In all the years I have been using it there has never been a mention of any virus (can't say the same for Windows). If you don't have a specific printer driver it can often work with a similar driver from the same manufacturer.
      4. Providing your graphics card plays ball it is a much nicer environment to work in than Windows ever has been. With wobbly windows and the Desktop Cube that you can spin to get easily to another desktop to have free space for another app.
      5. It has everything you need to work, rest and play.
      6. You can build your own version of the operating system if you ever feel like doing so and call it whatever you want and distribute it for the masses to use if you want - no licence fees, it is your own system!

      The disadvantages are;
      1. You have to learn to use an operating system again.

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