Making Linux a Genuine Windows Replacement

Chris Hoffman 30-01-2013

linux as a windows replacementWith Windows 8 We've Actually Used It - What Does MakeUseOf Think Of Windows 8? If you haven’t installed Windows 8 yet; don’t worry, we’re technology writers - it’s our job to test these things out for you. Quite a few MakeUseOf staff including myself have taken the plunge and... Read More casting a long shadow over the PC industry and Valve committing to create Linux-based gaming PCs 2013 Is Microsoft's Most Important Year Yet - For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion] Microsoft has a lot of work to do to come out of 2013 with a spring in its step. 2012 was not Redmond's year, and demand for Windows 8 can be described as lukewarm, with... Read More , there’s never been a better time to start using Linux. For many users, the Linux desktop is now there — so many applications have moved to the cloud Mac, Linux or Windows: It Really Doesn't Matter Anymore [Opinion] It matters less and less every year what operating system you use, because every year we all spend more time on our computer using nothing but the browser. And browsers are cross-platform. Want to have... Read More , hardware support has improved, and the desktop has been polished. You can even watch Netflix and play a variety of games on Steam — two big holes that have been filled recently.


We’ll be starting with Ubuntu 12.10 for this tutorial. Ubuntu 12.10 is a more complete desktop than Windows out-of-the-box, coming with the LibreOffice office suite, Firefox and Thunderbird for web browsing and email, Transmission for BitTorrent, and applications for everything from watching videos and playing music to instant messaging and tweeting.

Installing Ubuntu

While installing Ubuntu, you’ll be asked whether you want to install some third-party software. This package includes Flash and codecs for listening and watching a variety of common music and video formats. Unless you have an ideological objection to installing closed-source software and patent-encumbered codecs, be sure to install this.

Making Linux a Genuine Windows Replacement install third party software while installing ubuntu

Once you’ve installed Ubuntu and rebooted into your new system, ensure you install the latest updates using the Software Updater application that appears.

linux as a windows replacement


Videos & DVDs

First we’ll look at ways to play videos — either from your hard drive, DVDs, or the cloud.

To install Netflix Desktop, open a terminal and run the following commands:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

You can then open the Netflix Desktop app from your Dash and follow the instructions. Press the F11 key to toggle between full-screen and windowed modes.

linux windows replacement


You may also want to install the excellent XBMC media center 5 Amazing Add-Ons for the XBMC Media Center Make XBMC even better by adding these amazing add-ons. Whether you're into TV, sports or gaming, these plugins will help you get the most out of your television. Last time, I lamented the end of... Read More , which you can grab from the Ubuntu Software Center.

Web Browsers

Ubuntu’s default Firefox browser is okay, but I’ve preferred Chrome for a long time. If you also prefer Chrome, visit Chrome’s download page and download the DEB file for Ubuntu. Double-click it and install it — you can then open Chrome and log into Chrome sync with your Google account details. The Linux version of Chrome supports web apps, extensions, and all the other good stuff the Windows version supports.

If you’re an Opera fan, you’ll be happy to know that Opera also provides an official Linux version.

linux windows replacement


Instant Messaging and Voice Chat

Ubuntu supports a variety of instant messaging and voice chat applications, from Google Talk to Skype.

linux windows replacement

PC Games

Steam for Linux was recently released, and it’s now in open beta — you can head to the Steam website and download the installer package for Ubuntu. Steam for Linux currently offers about 62 supported games. If you’ve purchased , you should have quite a few games that already support Linux — although the Linux versions may not have been added to Steam yet. Even if you’ve never used Steam before, Team Fortress 2 is free to play A Selection Of The Best Free-To-Play Steam Games Content delivery service Steam is a real money-spinner for Valve, prompting publishers like EA to shy away from it in pursuit of their own system. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of free gems... Read More and works on Linux.

Expect to see many more games come as Valve releases their own Linux-based console, porting all their own games over and giving third-party developers a good reason to support Linux.


linux for windows

Cloud Storage

These days, almost everyone has some sort of cloud storage service they use — if only to transfer files between a few computers or other devices. Many cloud storage services offer official Linux clients:

SpiderOak and Wuala also offer official Linux clients.

linux for windows

Office Documents

Ubuntu and most other Linux distributions come with the LibreOffice office suite LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac Read More , which is based on OpenOffice, already installed. It’s a great package of software that will be fine for most people. You can even use it on Windows to save money on Microsoft Office. However, its compatibility with Microsoft Office documents is not perfect. If you don’t like LibreOffice, you have some other options:

  • Office Web Apps: Microsoft provides free Office Web Apps. They run in your browser, so they can be used on Linux. If a Microsoft Office document isn’t loading properly in LibreOffice, you may want to give the Office Web Apps a try.
  • Google Docs: My personal solution of choice. If you don’t care too much about compatibility with Microsoft Office documents, Google Docs works well on Linux, too.
  • Microsoft Office on Linux: If you want the real Microsoft Office, you can use Wine Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) With WINE Read More  to install it. Wine allows you to run Windows programs on Linux — however, it’s also not perfect. If you have a more recent version of Microsoft Office, it won’t work in Wine. All versions of Office will run perfectly in a virtual machine like VirtualBox, so that may be your best, most stable option. (See below for more information about VirtualBox).

Tools of the Trade

As a tech blogger, I need a few tools that you might be interested in, too:

linux as a windows replacement

That’s about it for my Linux desktop — between web apps like Rdio Rdio Now Offers Free (Limited) Streaming Music [News] Feeling some heat? That might be coming from the battle of the streaming music providers, which currently includes a number of competent competitors, each trying to find some edge against the others. Now Rdio has... Read More for playing music (there’s a Spotify app for Linux if you’re a Spotify user, however), and the default apps for everything else (Gedit gedit: One Of The Most Feature-Filled Plain Text Editors [Linux & Windows] When you think of plain text editors, the first thing that may pop into your head is Windows' Notepad application. It does exactly what its job description states - plain features for a plain text... Read More can take the place of Notepad++ 3 Handy Built-In Notepad++ Features For Beginners [Windows] This summer, I’ve used Notepad++ for my internship quite a bit, so I can see why almost all developers and programmers I know actually prefer it, not to mention, the thousand of Notepad++ fans that... Read More as a solid text editor), Linux is a better alternative to Windows than it’s ever been. The one dark spot is still games, but there’s Wine for installing Windows games PC Gaming on Linux: 7 Common Questions and Concerns Answered What was true 10 years ago no longer holds: Linux has become a viable gaming platform. Here's everything you need to know about gaming on Linux. Read More  if you want to get your hands dirty. We’ll be seeing many more games with Valve’s Linux-based Steam Box on the horizon, too.

For more great Linux applications you might be interested in installing, check out our list of the best Linux software The Best Linux Software and Apps Whether you're new to Linux or you're a seasoned user, here are the best Linux software and apps you should be using today. Read More . For gamers, check out our page of the best Linux games. If you’re interested in learning more about Ubuntu, download our free beginner’s guide to Ubuntu Ubuntu: A Beginner's Guide Curious about Ubuntu, but not sure where to start? Everything you could possibly need to get started with the latest version of Ubuntu is right here, written in easy-to-understand, plain English. Read More .

Are there any other must-install applications you use on your Linux desktop? Leave a comment and share them!

Related topics: Linux Distro, Ubuntu.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Anonymous
    August 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    If you want to watch netflix on GNU/Linux - just download and install Google Chrome browser:

  2. Angelo
    March 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I almost ditched Windows a long time ago. My first experiments were with Suse Linux 6.0 (I think). Now I am on Ubuntu for desktops/laptops and one server I have at home (no GUI on this system). Only a few applications don't run under Linux, such as Quickbooks (I own a business and unfortunately my CPA is "married" to Quickbooks) which does not run under Wine. This is why I still have a desktop running XP. As soon as I am ready to ditch Quickbooks in favor of GNUCash, Windows will be history. No need to reinstall periodically the system, even a crappy netbook runs Ubuntu with Unity (maybe something lighter would be nice), no OS crashes (however, applications do crash occasionally), updates applied in one shot, rare reboots etc. Being free is not my main concern, but it certainly helps. And boy, no more 5 minutes to boot an XP system.

  3. hotdoge3
    March 19, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Mint 14 (one GB) windows 7 (3.8 GB) download I go with Mint

    Libre Office or Open Office is good and free.

  4. null
    March 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    i really want to use ubuntu, but there is a big problem: no drivers for switchable graphics for linux :( i have a hp dv6 notebook and i don't like the ubuntu with no graphic card :/ the space on the screen is small (with large buttons) and i dont know how to fix this :'( if someone know what i need to do plz HELP ME :'(

  5. Furqana Fathuzzaman
    February 20, 2013 at 1:59 am

    Linux is almost ready to be my replacement for windows..

    Unlike most people, I actually really like Ubuntu's Unity. Well, I'm switching to Linux on 12.04 era, so I don't have "hard to change" feeling from previous gnome 2 looks, and I feel Unity is more newbie friendly.
    The HUD is really useful, and global panel gives me more space (I don't need a bar dedicated only to title like in browser).

    Unfortunately, my notebook was broken, and unfortunately, looking at 12.10, I feel ubuntu becoming more bloated with useless things, like webapp (I prefer browser if I have to connect to internet anyway) and social media integration (I'm not using that much, and I prefer a separate/3rd party software for that).
    True, I can stay with LTS, but until ubuntu can make up those bloatedness with speed, I think it's a time to try other distro..

    And so I'm trying Mint 14 cinnamon now. So far so good. Even though it's not as good as in windows, at least I can use my dual gpu nvidia with bumblebee. And I haven't found any problem yet, although I miss HUD sometimes..

    The only thing I'm still trying to fix is -like many other linux distro- the power management. Linux isn't too battery friendly, at least compared to Windows..

    • dragonmouth
      March 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm

      "until ubuntu can make up those bloatedness with speed, I think it’s a time to try other distro."
      The general tendency is for Operating System and Application software is to grow bigger and bigger. This due to more and more "features" being incorporated into the software. There was time that all Linux distros fit comfortably on a CD. Today most of the popular ones are over 2 GB in size.

      Considering that Canonical and Ubuntu are trying hard to become the Linux equivalents of Microsoft and Windows, I doubt if there is any chance that Ubuntu will become smaller or faster.

      Depending on how proficient you are in Linux, you may want to consider building your own distro. With SUSE Studio you start by choosing the basic system, then adding only the application you want/need. When you're finished, you download the .ISO you just created. It's all done through a GUI.

      If you are more adventurous/proficient, you can start by installing antiX Core or TinyCore and then installing applications. This requires more expertise since most of the work is done using CLI.

      You can also re-master the distro you currently have using the Remastersys program. What you is uninstall the applications you don't need/want and then use Remastersys to create an .ISO file of the resulting distro.

  6. Christopher Ballenger
    February 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

    It is slow on my computer and a lot of useful features are through a terminal. That really bugs me because I could go through my whole life not ever knowing what a terminal is and still use Windows to the best of my advantage.

    • dragonmouth
      February 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      "It is slow on my computer"
      What computer do you use Linux on and which distro are you trying to use? If you are using a 386 to run the latest Ultimate Edition Linux, yes it will be slow. I run Mepis, PCLinuxOS, siduction and antix on PCs ranging from a PI to an I7 with no slowdowns.

      "a lot of useful features are through a terminal"
      Please stop with the misinformation! As has been pointed out several times before in this thread one can go through one's entire life using Linux without the need for terminal. Anything you can do in Windows using GUI you can do in Linux using GUI.
      BTW - what are these "useful features" that are so important to you?

      "I could go through my whole life not ever knowing what a terminal is and still use Windows to the best of my advantage"
      I doubt that very much. You may be able to use Windows but NOT to the best of your advantage.

      • Christopher
        February 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

        I don't really understand what you said in the first part of your comment to start off with. Second of all, I like Windows and I have used a command prompt, bit with Linux, programs say they have to start with a terminal. Then I have to look up on the Internet, how to run this program on Linux. Some of the software on Windows isn't on Linux. I know I can use WINE and all that. Can you explain to me again in English how I can get Linux to not run slow?

      • Christopher
        February 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm

        I used Lubuntu, but it didn't have the apps on Chromium and was very, disfuctional and boring in my opinion. Now I use Ubuntu. It is functional, but I really don't like the whole starting apps through a terminal thing and again, it is slow.

        • dragonmouth
          February 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

          "Now I use Ubuntu. It is functional, but I really don’t like the whole starting apps through a terminal thing and again, it is slow."

          What apps do you have to start through terminal? Please, I would like to know a name of at least one. Ubuntu is supposed to be the most user-friendly distro around. All apps are started from a menu, just like in Windows.

          Which version of Ubuntu are you using? Is it 12.04 or 12.10? Those versions use Unity desktop which has been reported to be slow down some computers.

          Ubuntu and its derivatives are not the only Linux distros around. There are many others which may be better suited to your PC and are just as easy to use. I am NOT trying to get you to switch to Linux. If you feel more comfortable with Windows, then stick with Windows. I am just trying to correct some of the misinformation you have.

        • Christopher
          February 13, 2013 at 11:59 am

          I use Ubuntu 12 10 (sorry, for the period not being there, my phone's browser does not really like this site
          ). The apps I have to start through a terminal are Carbon and Teamviewer. I don't know why, but when I had an earlier version of Ubuntu, Teamviewer did not need to start through a terminal. Also on an older version of Ubuntu my computer was still slow. I want to switch to Ubuntu because the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is EVIL. Can you please tell me how to get the fastest experience on Ubuntu?

        • dragonmouth
          February 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

          What are the specs of your PC? It may not be powerful enough to run Ubuntu, although I doubt it.

          I do not use Ubuntu or any other distro based on it so I cannot help you with specifics but, just like in Windows, you should be able to start all apps from the Applications menu. Maybe the posters that do use Ubuntu can help you. Having said that, I can offer some general advice. Just like in Windows, make sure that you are automatically starting only the programs and processes that you absolutely need.

  7. Samyak Puri
    February 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Many application alternatives for the windows programs work better than the one for windows. Also linux gives a person more control over his system. Linux has come a long way from the cli to gui, with a large no. of option for the user to select from. Linux is all about choice and best of all almost all applications for linux are free.

  8. Mats
    February 5, 2013 at 7:55 am

    I have been checking out the various distros including my own favorite, Mint, for a looong time now, but the deal breaker for me was always the virtually non existing support for my Canon MX850 MFD. I never got it to play well with and Linux version in the past. Hopefully the newest version have included Canon drivers. Same goes for MagicJack...could I possibly run MagicJack and the printer on a virtual machine?

    • Nicko Porras
      February 8, 2013 at 2:32 am

      if it is a Usb, yes you can

  9. Ron Lister
    February 5, 2013 at 1:23 am

    I've yet to try linux is it worth the switch, I should probably try it out on a spare computer to see what it has to offer, and if I want to learn it all.

  10. Elan Chezhiyan
    February 4, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    i installed linux recently and i is awsome. i was using windows 8 and this impressed me inspite of that. it is fast and reading and writing speed of my pen drive is much faster in ubuntu 12.10

  11. rshewmaker
    February 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I enjoy Ubuntu, but Samba is a nightmare when trying to stream to Windows 7 or 8. And, having to learn Terminal code (to dismantle the power screensaver, etc) is a headache.

  12. Amassine Omar
    February 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    i like yhis Ubuntu and use it for along time

  13. Christopher Ballenger
    February 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I am actually moving away from Linux. Especially on my personal computer (No Pun Intended).

    • dragonmouth
      February 4, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      "I am actually moving away from Linux. Especially on my personal computer"

      Why? Could you please elaborate.

  14. Kylee Kanavas
    February 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    How hard is it to use wine?

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:38 am

      Depends. Something like PlayOnLinux makes it really easy. For some software, you may have to do more manual stuff, but the Wine AppDB often helps walk you through that stuff.

  15. Atuyota Uchefe
    February 2, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I have ubuntu precise pangolin installed unfortunately couldn't update the apps can anyone advice me on an offline method greatly appreciate

    • Nicko Porras
      February 8, 2013 at 2:30 am

      you can get the deb package from the site or its Launchpad..

  16. Aqueel Rafique
    February 2, 2013 at 12:49 am

    I moved a lot of my desktops and laptops from the long loved Windows XP to Ubuntu, simply because of how fast Ubuntu is and the hardware and software support for it. Installing Ubuntu is fast and easy. Best of all it's all free. All of my Computers runs Ubuntu or at least dual booted. In a nut shell, I love Ubuntu :)

  17. Rob Pilgrim
    February 2, 2013 at 12:15 am

    Look; I'd love to use Linux instead of Windows. I really like the Unity interface, it works they way I think.
    I have four PCs which I use regularly, none of them have Linux because every one of those PCs needs to do something that Linux can't do, or can't do well. To start with, with Linux, none of them can talk to my scanner/printer or to my WD Live book back up system.

    Jukebox - There is acceptable media software - but nothing as good as MediaMonkey - like Unity it works in the way that I think - and it won't run under WINE etc.

    Media Monster - Used for scanning negatives of Museum documents and working on my museum database - database will not work on Linux, no acceptable alternative.

    Daily Grind - I did have Ubuntu 12.04 installed as a dual boot, used 12.04 for emails (although nothing as good as the Mailwasher/Everdesk combination exists, I could use Thunderbird and leave them on the server for Everdesk to deal with when I booted into Windows) and surfing - although I found that sites often looked clunky when fonts didn't work properly. Anyway, I liked it enough to install 12.10 when it came out - or at least to try to install it. All I can say is that it was a dismal failure, wouldn't install and wiped my windows partition - thank God for backups (oh and where is the Linux backup program that mirrors the original, rather than compressing it into a format where you can't find that one single file that you've accidentally deleted)

    - Laptop - well, Linux can't get my usb modem to work so no good for emails/surfing; and can't get the monitor resolution right so no good for photo editing - which I do on the train using this laptop.

    So, IMHO, Linux is still a toy - a beautifully designed toy with gorgeous style on occasion, but for serious work? Sorry, it doesn't cut it - and believe me I have tried to make it work for me.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:37 am

      Depends on the person. I can't quite switch to Linux yet, either.

      For many people, Linux is more than a toy. If you're a programmer using certain tools, Linux may be much easier than hacking them together in Windows, which may seem like a toy.

      Certainly it's not there for you yet, and that's okay. It's not quite there yet for me either, sadly. Mostly because of games, though! Maybe the problem with Linux is that it isn't enough of a toy.

  18. Anonymous
    February 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    thanks, but i think also new linux comers needs a well writen tips for ubuntu installing process too, as most of them after facing some problems on it (even they loose their data), they don't try again installing it

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:35 am

      The installation process is very intuitive these days, but that's a good suggestion!

  19. Gary Speer
    February 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I've always wanted to give Linux a serious try as a Windows replacement, and that's especially true now that Windows has jumped the shark with Windows 8. (My personal opinion only, of course, but it seems HORRID. I'm still on Windows 7.)

    I even have a small Lenovo netbook I would be willing to try Linux on. My two big hangups when I've looked at Linux in the past: 1) Incredibly hard for me to figure out how to get Linux to connect to my wireless HP Photosmart C4795 printer, and, 2) I have never been able to get a Windows 7 home network to find and access a Linux computer.

    Given the horrible idea of someday being required to use Windows 8 or switch to Linux (no way I can afford to go to any Mac), I'd really prefer Linux. But, alas, I need to do serious writing and an occasional printout -- plus I need to be able to communicate with three other Windows 7 machines on my home network.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:34 am

      Some things can still be tedious like that. Your printer may have weird drivers that won't work properly, and Windows home networking has always been a huge headache -- well, up until Windows 7 and the homegroup.

    • Nicko Porras
      February 8, 2013 at 2:27 am

      you can use the Open Source HP Toolbox, on Ubuntu Software Center you can just install it.

    • Brian
      April 10, 2013 at 8:55 am

      having found linux about 2 years ago ,I've settled with Ubuntu 12.04 in office and Linuxmint at home .None of the boxes are over 2gb Ram and are Pentium4 (all cost under $100 used) excepting the Acer aspire one D257 (running 2gb ram) I'm writing this on. Most Hp printer drivers are opensourced (Don't use driver disks)but the printer must be wired to the computer (wifi on) to "introduce" it (Follow instructions in Ubuntu website "documentation"). Disconnect cable and test again. This Acer, using Mint Cinnamon 13 LTS ran our real estate office for a week we were on the road .Added from the repository were Scribus and PDF editor-Parsers+HTML5 addons in Firefox & repository. These distros do amazing things with very little power. Your little netbook will surprise you...Happy trails.

  20. Kshitij Verma
    February 1, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    You can also use programs like wine and crossover(not free) to run .exe files. I'm currently running office 2007 professional, Adobe photoshop and dreamweaver cs6 and GTA Vice city(Used to crash often, before I installed my Nvidia driver) on wine and VB6 on Crossover 9.
    Works like a charm. Saved costs as well :D
    Wonder why it is not listed in the article..

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:34 am

      Wine was mentioned! I didn't want to dwell on it too much. No sense installing Linux and only using windows programs via Wine.

      • Kshitij Verma
        February 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm

        Whoops!! Sorry, I think I missed it because i just skimmed through the article and read only what was necessary.
        Great list by the way. Keep up the good work!

  21. Richard Wesley Eby
    February 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    What about software like Adobe Suite? Any alternative software for linux?

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:33 am

      GIMP is probably the most mature alternative, but if you're a big Photoshop user, I hear nothing can substitute. Photoshop works in Wine, though -- or so I hear.

  22. Keith Swartz
    February 1, 2013 at 5:20 am

    In the morning, I say, I'm a gonna' start downloading that Linux called Ubuntu, so help me. Great article.

    • themainliner
      February 1, 2013 at 9:32 am

      If you find (like many before you) that the Unity interface is unintuitive, confusing and provides more hurdles than productivity boosts please don't be discouraged. openSUSE 12.2 is very good as is the KDE4 interfaceit sports, alternatively you can give the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint 14 'Nadia' MATE a whirl. It's interface is the one Ubuntu used pre-Unity.

  23. Rubis Song
    January 31, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I really like Linux. I only wish we could use it without the hassle of running command prompt for installing new programs.

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Again? Really? This has not been neccessary for years! In WIndows: fine applications website; download application; find downloaded application; double click executable; fine shortcut in start menu...

      In Linux Mint: open Software Manager from menu; search for application name or type, alternatively browse the entire category and evaluate various application that fulfil the same function; click Install; find application shortcut in menu.

      It's easier that Windows. No CLI required.

      • Chris Hoffman
        February 3, 2013 at 12:32 am

        Yup, not necessary. The difference with Windows is that you have the option.

        If I could type "application install firefox" into the Windows Command Prompt to install Firefox, I'd do that too. It would be such a convenient option -- just what the command line is on Linux.

      • Nicko Porras
        February 8, 2013 at 1:47 am

        Im using both the GUI and CLI in installing applications in Ubuntu. mostly the CLI faster and you can automate installing other applications you want to. leave it like that and do other things you want to do.

  24. Indronil Mondal
    January 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    its free rather than that i find no other strong points why one should switch to ubuntu -_-

    moreover lack of support for pc suits for phones
    still now no switchable graphics support
    and many other problems those dont have solutions just because the community hasn't faced it

    if some one wants to play around with the pc its fine but still not fit for real day to day use

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      Sorry, could you clarify a couple of things for me? What do you mean by "lack of support for pc suits for phones" and also "still now no switchable graphics support" is also opaque.

      I disagree with you final assessment. I use Linux as only OS all day everyday. Linux Mint 14 desktop, SalixOS netbook, android phone. I can do everything I can do on a Windows PC, not after playing around for hours but out-of-the-box, without having to install network drivers, office suites and my browser of choice (Firefox). The only thing I cannot/struggle to do is play games with cutting edge graphics. That said I have no issues play World of Warcraft using Wine.

      What's more my partner who is not at all interested in operating systems, the politics of open source and simply wishes to word process, compile spreadsheets and create presentations, surf the web, access email and play WoW had fewer problem than I anticipated when I migrated her to Linux. In fact the only thing she's ever asked for help with is installing a printer. Linux is not difficult, CLI only. If you doubt me install a recent distro.

      • Indronil Mondal
        January 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        i am a regular linux user and first entered the linux world with fedora
        then heard ubuntu is much user friendly so i used it and from 10.10 i have been using it had no problem then but now in recent versions i have several problems i would like to share
        -First i used to upgrade when new versions came out but after 11.04 when i upgraded my computer didn't boot up properly after restarting it was a mess i had to download the fresh iso and installed again wiping out everything (i ddnt had back ups then ) well the new version appeared slower ..then i realised my graphics card was not supported and the new version needed 3d capibilities .well fine i removed the graphics ..things went fine for few days suddenly one day i was unable to log in my computer it showed invalid password(though no password was changed) got help from the community and solved the problem ..
        and now when i installed the latest version (from iso) things goes fine until i update my system from the default update manager and find firefox not working,empathy crashing and error is often shown,the media player crashes while playing media sometimes freezes ,and vlc often lags while playing videos..sometimes an eror pops up showing internal error,,
        ok that was some problems that could be ignored but
        what about these ?>i bought a new phone nokia c7 messed with it :p and i had to reinstall the firmware
        (nokia pc suit and phoenix neither navifirm was supported in linux),
        i have a amd sweachable graphics in my work laptop unfrotunately it dont works ,touchpad dont works,and it is getting hot when i boot from linux.
        And there are many problems but somehow windows overcomes them all
        Am not telling windows is flawless but somehow it works for me without a problem

        • themainliner
          February 1, 2013 at 9:28 am

          Hmmm...I feel your pain I used Ubuntu very happily right up to 11:04. Mint is an Ubuntu based OS so many of Ubuntu's regressions have effected Mint too.

          I also ran Ubuntu as my server for 48 hours...I hadn't suspected that the OS had degenerated so much. The RAID array handling was simply appalling, it was rebuilding the array after every reboot (taking over 6 hours each time). I have to revert to Fedora which is now streets ahead as a server OS.

          AMD graphics are not perfect in Linux (neither are nVidia) however this is an issue with those companies and their proprietary driver. I understand that as an end user you just want to get on and in your situation I may have reverted to Windows too.

        • Chris Hoffman
          February 3, 2013 at 12:31 am

          NVIDIA Optimus is still a huge pain point, although it's possible it can be made to work, it involves a lot of manual tweaking and hacking around.

      • Indronil Mondal
        January 31, 2013 at 4:59 pm

        and yes many are telling there are huge number of destros to try out
        but except the major destros others like puppy and dsl just failed to boot when i tried them there was a kernel panic
        and few other destros didnt boot only..
        and my network card which works fine with ubuntu ddnt work in opensuse :/

        • Indronil Mondal
          January 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm

          i like linux its great for playing around with but in a place like ours where internet connection in not that fast where download speeds are an average of 25 kbps
          its a headache to download 700+ mb iso then install the fav apps after that install the updates
          and find things arent working
          reinstall the os and do the above things again..

  25. Alexander
    January 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I have Linux installed on a virtual pc, and do enjoy messing around with it from time to time. But i have grown to used to Windows for me to make a switch.

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 11:49 am

      This is a valid argument. However, I'll offer two in response.

      1) If you replace your PC you'll have the expense and inconvenience of buying a new Windows licence to make your expensive hardware anything other than a paperweight. It does not come free with your PC, the price is built in and hidden from the consumer.

      2) Linux is free. Not only is it zero cost to download and use, it's free of legal restrictions that for other software prevent you copying and distributing to anyone you know. Plus if you are so inclined you access the source code (a prerequiste for software licenced under the GPL, General Public Licence) and modify the code and distribute your modifcation (also GPL licenced).

      This is why the Open Source Community is a *community* all our work and development is free and open. Due to the terms of the GPL all derivative works must be released under the GPL or a compatible licence. People work collaboratively and cooperatively to improve how we can use our computers - for free.

      Using Linux is about choice and maybe cost cutting, as it's free of charge, but it's also, for many, a political decision to apply a scientific, rather than commercial, method to software development for everyones benefit.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:30 am

      With Windows evolving in bizarre directions (Windows 8 and especially Windows RT), it's good that we have a competitive alternative.

  26. Nevzat Akkaya
    January 31, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Once you start trying Linux, you can't stop yourself from distro hopping :) it's the freedom and choice. Linux is great for portability, you can even install it on your USB drive and use it portably. That's the power!

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:29 am

      I used to distro-hop all the time, but Ubuntu put an end to that. Well, I also have less time to tinker than when I was a kid, so there's that, too...

  27. Junil Maharjan
    January 31, 2013 at 6:15 am

    I have been a user of Ubuntu for quite some time now but haven't used it lately. It is one of the best windows replacement i've ever used.

  28. umair
    January 31, 2013 at 4:04 am

    As long as there is no office like MSOFFICE in any Linux. Linux cannot become a true working place. But I have to do workaround by installing windows on virtual box and keep it in 'seamless' mode

    • Brandon Collins
      January 31, 2013 at 6:14 am

      Microsoft office 2010 runs great in Ubuntu (and many other distributions) under Wine 1.5.

      • umair
        January 31, 2013 at 7:41 am

        Im using Linux Mint Nadia 14. I tried to run MSOffice setup 2010 but it gave error. Kindly check it out it. May be you know how to solve this issue.

        • themainliner
          January 31, 2013 at 11:39 am

          As the responses show you're trying to install Office on a Windows (NTFS) filesystem. Install office to your native Linux filesystem. People have already advised you of this. Office runs fine with Wine development versions.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:28 am

      Depends on the person. Personally, I just use Google Docs these days. I used to use LibreOffice. Google Docs is making big inroads, and lots of people are realizing -- while using iPads -- that Office isn't as crucial as it seems.

      Certainly some businesses still need it, but not everyone.

  29. Harshit Jain
    January 31, 2013 at 3:24 am

    Anyway to get a windows like taskbar and big close buttons?

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Not in Unity. Or Gnome 3...

      You can install other Desktop Environments on Ubuntu, I can recommend MATE, KDE and xfce or better still install a distro that features these DEs out-of-the-box: Linux Mint MATE, openSUSE or Sabayon, Linux Manjaro.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:28 am

      Yup, there's lots of desktop environment choice. You can get almost anything you want!

  30. Abhi
    January 31, 2013 at 3:07 am

    Two things keep me away from Linux:

    Fiddling with command prompt for installing new programs.

    No ribbon-based office suite for Linux.

    • Brandon Collins
      January 31, 2013 at 6:14 am

      Hi, Abhi.
      It seems you've been misinformed somewhere down the road, and I'd like to point out some things to help you get your Linux knowledge back on track.

      1. The only time you'd have to use the command prompt to install applications in any modern Linux distribution is if you had some special application that isn't in the repositories and wasn't packaged for the Gui installer.

      2. Microsoft office 2010 runs great in Ubuntu (and many other distributions) under Wine 1.5.

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 11:33 am

      Ah the CLI...which no Linux user normally needs to use. In Mint, for example, there is the Software Manager which makes installing application easier than in Windows (no really).

      Personally (and I'm a Windows e-migrant) I've developed a preference for:
      sudo apt-get install *application-name*
      on Debian based systems...

      Ribbon...? Really. OK.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:27 am

      You can generally avoid the command line entirely these days. I still use it because it's more efficient. Want to install Firefox on Ubuntu? sudo apt-get install firefox. Done. Of course, you could also click through a graphical interface, but that's slower -- and it takes longer to explain in an article rather than telling someone to copy-and-paste a command. The command line in Linux is a strength. People shouldn't have to use it, but it's great that it's way more powerful than the command line in Windows.

      As far as the ribbon, well.. There's no accounting for taste, I suppose. I've never really liked the ribbon. (But maybe I'm just stuck in my ways.)

  31. Gianna Marie Lanete
    January 31, 2013 at 3:06 am

    yeah, ubuntu kinda cool too. I tried but its a little bit boring sometimes.

  32. Sas
    January 31, 2013 at 3:04 am

    This is such a coincidence for me - a day before this article came out I installed Ubuntu. I recommend you install ubuntu along side your current operating system using virtualbox

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 11:28 am

      That's not along's 'inside'.

      I recommend installing Linux (along side) after any Microsoft product and allowing the Linux bootloader to manage booting (and using) both for you.

      • Chris Hoffman
        February 3, 2013 at 12:25 am

        Yeah, your computer probably has a lot of hard disk space -- so dual-booting is the smart move.

  33. UUUnicorn
    January 31, 2013 at 2:36 am

    I have an Asus Eee PC 1201N-PU17-SL netbook, which has Nvidia Ion graphics card. Even when I installed the restricted Nvidia Ion graphics card driver recommended in the distro, the computer would slow down to a slug-like crawl in performance.

    Are there any post-installation things to do to get it working well? I wound up having to reinstall Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit. Windows FLIES on my HP Pavilion A6230n desktop, but is very slow on this netbook.

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Ubuntu is useless to any netbook need a real lightweight distro. Try Manjaro, SalixOS or lighter still AntiX.

      • UUUnicorn
        January 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm

        I'm considering either Xubuntu 12.04.1 LTS ("Precise Pangolin") or Linux Mint 13 Xfce ("Maya") LTS.

        The performance issue here isn't nearly so much the distro--it's the Nvidia Ion graphics card driver.

        • themainliner
          February 1, 2013 at 9:18 am

          It's a purely subject thing but I prefer Linux Mint and Maya was a great release. I used Xubuntu on netbook and desktop and found it...bland.

        • Chris Hoffman
          February 3, 2013 at 12:25 am

          I'm not sure about the graphics driver for that card itself. You'll have to Google up a solution from other Linux users that have figured out the hardware issues

    • Ben Klaas
      February 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      I have an Asus 1210PN netbook, which is similar and also has the Nvidia Ion architecture. It was miserably slow with Ubuntu+Unity, but it turned out to be the Unity component that was grinding it to a halt. I wiped it and installed the LXDE edition of Linux Mint, making sure to install and enable the Nvidia proprietary driver, and now the machine works quite well. The Nvidia Ion is a slow CPU+fast GPU architecture, so you shouldn't expect e.g. good gaming performance, but it can browse the web, run a terminal, and occasionally play 1080p video via XBMC or VLC without a stutter.

      For the record, it's not really necessary to fully reinstall Linux to get a new desktop manager. You can run Ubuntu and dump Unity for a less resource-instensive default desktop manager (LXDE, XFCE, etc.). Give it a google.

      • UUUnicorn
        February 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm

        Please, Ben--how did you enable it? I've been trying to find out online if there are any post-installation configuration/things to do after installing, but I can't find any information on this.

        I did find this sometime ago on

        sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates
        sudo apt-get update
        sudo apt-get upgrade
        sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
        sudo apt-get install nvidia-settings

        but this is only if an end-user is trying to install the latest Nvidia Ion graphics card driver rather than the driver version recommended by the Linux distro release. I don't know what to do afterwards (if there is anything else to be done afterwards).

        Thank you very much, Ben.

        • Ben Klaas
          February 6, 2013 at 9:46 pm

          nvidia-settings should install a gui settings program for configuring the nvidia driver on your machine. I access it through the settings menu in the LXDE "start" menu (but it's probably launchable from the command-line with something like `nvidia-settings`).

          Ubuntu also has an "additional drivers" application for enabling proprietary drivers somewhere, and it's possible the nvidia driver is off by default there and needs enabling.

          Hope that helps.

  34. Richard Steven Hack
    January 31, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Anyone having problems with Ubuntu and its "experiments" in desktops should try openSUSE which is one of the most complete Linux distros out there and which still runs conventional KDE which is a desktop that is closer to the Windows experience than GNOME (also obsessed with desktop "experiments".) KDE itself had a rocky desktop upgrade experience when the 4.x version came out, but it's pretty decent now.

    Also I've found openSUSE tends to have better QA than some of the other Linux distros - fewer serious bugs. Although part of that is probably because I usually wait a few months after each release before upgrading, so the immediate bugs are fixed - a good idea for any operating system.

    Because openSUSE is the "playground" for the commercial SUSE distro, and because it's supported by commercial entities, rather than distros maintained by small groups of volunteers, it tends to be more complete and polished than some other distros. It's also not quite as "dumbed down" as Ubuntu and some others, but it's also not a pure "techie" distro like some others. Fedora for example is generally considered for experienced Linux users while Ubuntu is generally considered for newbies. openSUSE fits nicely in the middle.

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 11:25 am

      Personally I've always loved openSUSE but Ubuntu has undoubtedly bubbled to the top as the most widely used distro and the most well know (outside of the Linux community) hence articles like this. For that reason I now point new Linux adopters not to Ubuntu (with the Untiy abortion) but to Linux Mint MATE.

      Mint is built on Ubuntu so (almost) anything you can do with Ubuntu you can do with Mint. That includes accessing the huge software repositories and PPAs that make the Ubuntu experience smooth and user friendly. Plus installing the MATE variant gives you the (old) Gnome 2.x Desktop Environment we all love on Ubuntu pre-Unity.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:24 am

      Good points. I wanted to avoid the distro wars here and focus on the most popular distribution.

      I actually haven't tried KDE since version 4 rolled out (it was terrible!). I'll have to give it a second chance one o these days, I used KDE 3.x on SuSE back in the day and it was great.

  35. André Kamara
    January 31, 2013 at 12:29 am

    I'm not a huge fan of Ubuntu (even though Ubuntu One may be useful), but I must say that this article shows good softwares. For music listening/managing I'd recommend Clementine which is cross-plateform and much better than the default softwares like Banshee.
    For emails I recommend Thunderbird which is also cross-plateform.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:22 am

      I've heard great things about Clementine and Thunderbird is solid, but like many people I do my music and email in a browser these days. Certainly makes it easier to switch operating systems!

      • Anonymous
        February 3, 2013 at 2:37 am

        For security reasons it's advised to read emails with a client because when you read on a browser, the connection is kept active so it may be hacked. Fortunately most email providers use the Https protocole.

        • Chris Hoffman
          February 16, 2013 at 5:50 am

          This isn't really true. As long as you're using HTTPS to access your email account (Gmail does this by default) you shouldn't have to worry about eavesdropping.

  36. Chase Hainey
    January 30, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    I don't think any flavor of Linux will totally replace Windows in the workplace. There are always some obscure proprietary software that only runs in DOS or similar.

    Sadly, the same thing with MacOSX. Both Linux and MacOSX have the ability to invade new companies and startups, but ones that have been around for ten years or longer will not be able to. It is always more expensive to rewrite private applications for a new system, and seldom are older enterprise apps in a language that are easily translatable. COBOL being one, sadly. I still see countless job postings wanting people to know COBOL. Get with the 2000s!

    • Ben Klaas
      January 30, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      No disagreement, but I don't think this article has anything to do with the workplace. That's a separate topic.

      Linux for personal desktop use is what the article is focused on, which thankfully lacks the need for the "business will never accept Linux" discussion.

      What the author points out, that I completely agree with, is that Linux is a mature modern OS that works fantastically well as a replacement to Windows for desktop use. Office politics and business cases aside, that goes for work or home.

      • Chase Hainey
        January 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm

        You're right. I have moved away from Windows personally. But, not towards Linux. I do use Linux, but not primarily. I love programming in a Linux environment. I am not quite sure why.

        I have a problem of going a bit off topic and running with it. I apologize.

      • michel
        January 31, 2013 at 1:49 pm

        re: "I don’t think this article has anything to do with the workplace. That’s a separate topic."

        I don't think the article says that, though. Certainly the headline doesn't.

        • Chris Hoffman
          February 3, 2013 at 12:19 am

          Well, we're sort of average-user focused here. This article isn't directed at business people looking to replace all the desktops in their office with Linux. It's directed at the average person at home.

          (Although Chrome OS is making some inroads in business...)

    • themainliner
      January 31, 2013 at 11:19 am

      If you've seen any of the useability studies of Windows 8 you might think again. If Microsoft persist in forcing business and home users away from 7 and forward with 8's metro UI then you maight begin to see business hastily changing tack at least on desktops.

      • Chris Hoffman
        February 3, 2013 at 12:20 am

        Chrome OS is picking up an increasing amount of support, and Linux-based Steam consoles are coming out. Plus, there's Android -- which is its own sort of Linux. Linux is definitely going places.

    • dragonmouth
      January 31, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      "I don’t think any flavor of Linux will totally replace Windows in the workplace."
      Sorry to contradict you but Red Hat Linux is widely used in the workplace environment across the world. SUSE Enterprise Linux is used in Germany and other parts of Europe. In Germany, Legislatures of cities like Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt mandated that Windows be replaced by Linux in use by government employees. At least two provincial governments in Spain not only use Linux but have developed their own versions. These versions have been released for anybody to use. The government of Turkey subsidized the development of Pardus Linux, although recently that subsidy was ended.

      "There are always some obscure proprietary software that only runs in DOS or similar."
      There also is obscure software that runs only on Linux.

      "It is always more expensive to rewrite private applications for a new system"
      When a company does not have to pay licensing fees to Microsoft it is much cheaper to rewrite applications. Besides, in spite of what you may think, there are many software companies writing corporate applications that run on Linux.
      BTW - I was involved in a changeover from Windows to Linux in a corporate environment. We replaced Windows with Linux for a user because Windows did not have the applications that the user needed. But there was a software system running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux which fitted the user's needs to a tee.

      "I still see countless job postings wanting people to know COBOL. Get with the 2000s!"
      How familiar are you with computers and computer languages? Have you ever written even a "Hello World" program? Computer languages have specific areas of application and should not be used outside of them. COBOL stands for COmmon Business Oriented Language. It was created to manipulate huge numbers of records used and stored by businesses. None of the modern computer languages whose names you are familiar with can process business data with anything approaching the efficiency of COBOL. Another "archaic" language still in use today is FORTRAN. It stands for FORmula TRANslation and it is used for processing of scientific data. Again, AFAIK, there is no modern computer language that can manipulate scientific data as well as FORTRAN.

      Of course, neither COBOL or FORTRAN can be used to create web pages because they were not designed to do so.. But then, neither were HTML, Java, Visual Basic, Ruby, etc. designed to process business or scientific data.

      • Chris Hoffman
        February 3, 2013 at 12:21 am

        Great comment. It definitely depends on the workplace. For example, Google has a lot of programmers that use Linux on the desktop/laptop. I don't think we can generalize here.

  37. Adam Smith
    January 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Too bad Ubuntu has now started violating the privacy of users like Google and Facebook do. I'm switching to Debian permanently when Debian 7 comes out in a couple of months.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:18 am

      I really don't like that either. Luckily, it can be disabled or uninstalled with a single command.

      Still, I think it was a mistake. Of course, I sympathize with them trying to pull in money.. it's a tough situation.

    • non-none-noon-nun
      February 3, 2013 at 2:12 am

      Sorry to bother, what are you referring to? That's horrible to find out! I was truly considering switching to Linux permanently just because of the privacy it always granted due to its open code but hey... it turns out it isn't a good idea? I don't want a OS tracking my every move like 8.

      • VUCO
        February 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm

        It's just Ubuntu 12.10. Canonical receives data that you type in the dash (the search bar that comes up when you press the ubuntu button, google does it as well for their targeted ads; I'm not sure how familiar with ubuntu you are), but you can disable it or you can use Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.
        Anyway, I prefer Linux Mint.

        • non-none-noon-nun
          February 4, 2013 at 10:39 pm

          Thanks for chipping in,
          Is disabling that feature very hard? Can you disable both the dash web search and tracking itself?
          I gave up linux since they came up with their new interface (two years ago maybe?), mostly because of lack of the time to search for a better distro which meant retrieving and testing each, so I'm pretty out of date. There are loads of distros out there, how would you figure out what's the right one for you but trying out each of them? Suggestions?
          Mint is good, I recall, especially because I could very easily block/unblock specific domains directly from the main menu. The bottom-up gui didn't excite me though.. I bet there's a way to change it. My favourite distro was SuperOS but any had their magic.

  38. Ben Klaas
    January 30, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    One of the more contentious things about Ubuntu is the Unity desktop interface. It's not for everyone, and doesn't run well on slow systems, e.g. netbook/nettops. I would point out that unlike Windows, where there is basically one choice, there are many many choices of desktop and window managers, and it is not difficult to take an existing Ubuntu system and install e.g. LXDE or Gnome 3 or Cinammon or KDE. There are also distributions like Lubuntu that provide LXDE as a default, but if you already installed Ubuntu/Unity it's not necessary to wipe/reinstall to change desktop environments. Linux is not a one-size-fits-all desktop experience, so experiment and find what works best for you. That's what it's all about anyway, right? A tool to help you do things.

    For my own desktop use, a mix of web browsing, email, IM, programming/scripting, media center, and music, Linux not only delivers 100% of that, but delivers it miles more successfully than Windows. Office and Games are the two things that are brought up with the most frequency by those that are stuck in Windows land. I don't care about either of those pieces, but that gap is narrowing quickly with Libre Office and Steam.

    If you're considering making the Windows->Linux leap, there has never been a better time.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:17 am

      I actually prefer XFCE and Cinnamon myself, but it may be because I'm a crotchety old Linux user who doesn't like change.

      Gaming is definitely the thing that keeps me on Windows. Netflix was another big pain-point for people, but it's been resolved recently! Lots of progress is being made.

  39. Wouter Ruelens
    January 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    For installing MS Office I would recommend installing via Playonlinux. It worked fine for me, but that was MS Office 2007, I don't now wether they kept it up to date.

    • Chris Hoffman
      February 3, 2013 at 12:16 am

      Office 2007 should definitely work. I'm not sure about Office 2010, but Office 2013 probably has a lot of kinks. Wine AppDB is the best place to look: