Five Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in Linux
Anyone considering the switch from one operating system to another needs to spend some time thinking about what functionality they might gain or lose. With a switch from Windows to Linux, you might, for instance, feel that you don’t want to make the change because while you know you can use one of the open source office suites , you won’t be able to play your favorite game.
Meanwhile, Mac to Linux switchers may be reluctant to leave image processing and video editing behind.
In truth, however, none of these activities must come to an end. Linux is a vast and versatile operating system, capable of supporting these tasks and more.
Play Games with Linux
Can’t play games on Linux? Think again. While the early days of Linux gaming was limited to independent titles and open source ports of well-known Windows games (like FreeCol, a Colonization clone and OpenTTD , which owes an awful lot to Transport Tycoon) times have changed considerably.
For low end machines, the open source options remain, as do various Linux-only titles and browser games . But if you’re rocking some high end hardware, you would do well to install Steam on Linux and start enjoying some of the games you originally played on Windows.
The impending arrival of the Linux-based Steam machines – essentially games consoles and HTPCs in one slick-looking case – means that more and more mainstream titles are being retooled to run in Linux, thanks to the support of Valve’s Steam platform. Such titles include Civilization V and Beyond Earth, the Football Manager series, and various FPS, MMO and RPG games.
Quite simply, Linux is growing into a gaming platform, and now is the time to get involved.
Image Editing & Processing
You probably know that a Mac is the device of choice for digital artists and graphic designers around the world, although you’ll probably be surprised to find that a big chunk use Windows. What unifies these talented creators of art and design is their reliance on Adobe’s Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator applications, which are sadly unavailable on Linux (unless you plan to run them in Wine ).
Fortunately, Linux users who are aspiring and working artists don’t have to end their ambitions there. Our recent look at Photoshop alternatives for Linux will give you a good idea of what you can do with open source alternatives, most of which run on Linux. In a nutshell, it’s virtually everything that you can do on a Mac or PC!
You Can Even Edit Video on Linux
Windows users with digital video cameras will know how tricky it is to find good quality video editing software. While Windows Movie Maker was once a good choice, the world has moved on. But do you really want to migrate to Linux and find that there is no alternative to something like Adobe Premiere?
No, of course not. But fortunately, there are alternatives. If you haven’t already heard of Lightworks , this is just one of a handful of good quality applications. We reckon that PiTiVi is another good option for Linux users, offering basic editing tools, effects, but Kdenlive remains the best video editing software on Linux.
Record and Edit Audio
Whether you’re editing a podcast or recording your band’s next great record, audio editing support is a massive advantage (unless you prefer recording live). But does Linux offer this support?
If you’re editing audio on Windows, there is a very good chance that you’re using the versatile open source Audacity suite , and this is available on Linux. While it doesn’t offer the full suite of tools you might expect from pro applications, Audacity is good enough for most tasks.
For those Linux-based audio editing projects that can’t be completed with Audacity, meanwhile, take a look at apps such as Linux Multimedia Studio (LMMS) which we’ve summarized previously.
Need to Run Windows? Go Ahead and Do it in Linux!
In the event that you have migrated – or are planning to – from Windows and suddenly need to switch back to your original operating system, using a dual boot setup is a good idea (although sharing data between platforms can be frustrating).
But if you’re using a suitable machine (and this is pretty much anything with an Intel Core i5 CPU or higher) then virtualization technology will allow you to run Windows within Linux. To do this you’ll need to install a virtual machine application such as Oracle VM VirtualBox , although there are alternatives in the shape of VMWare and QEMU, which is used by the Gnome Boxes tool .
These tools provide a software environment that mimics hardware, enabling you to install Windows within Linux. This can prove extremely useful if you have to use Windows for a particular task but don’t want to stop what you’re doing in Linux to switch devices or reboot – it’s there on your desktop as an option for you to launch as and when. A virtual machine can also keep your Linux environment and your PC safe from Windows-based threats.
Do All of This and More in Linux!
Did you know that without Linux there would be no Android? Or that the vast majority of web servers currently in use are Linux based? The open source operating system is versatile and user friendly, and as you can see is capable of doing anything Windows and Mac OS X can do – if not more!
Perhaps we missed something, however. Could Linux hold even more surprises for Windows users? Give us your suggestions in the comments.