Bye bye, Windows. Hello, Linux! I have been a Windows user for 15 years now – unhappy with many of its ways, but not willing to give up what’s familar. The only time my computers saw an OS that was not Windows was during a short-lived Linux Mint installation and a failed Hackintosh attempt. But thanks to the Ubuntu-based Elementary OS Luna, I’ve given up Windows for good.
What prompted me to try Luna? In what ways does it fare better than my previous OS, Windows 7? Why not a different Linux distro? Here are some answers.
I Took The Linux Plunge When…
I recently replaced my six-year-old Lenovo laptop with a lightweight Asus netbook fitted with a Celeron Dual Core processor and 2 GB of RAM. When it was time to swap DOS (pre-installed) with a different OS, I decided to go with Linux, because I was tired of all the work involved in customizing Windows to my satisfaction. I looked for a few Linux distros, and opted for Petra, the latest version of Linux Mint. It had a nice set of features, but I was not eager to make it my primary OS. I’m all for bloat-free software that gets the basics right. For this reason, when I learnt about Puppy Linux, I thought it would be the ideal OS for me. I narrowed down my choices to a couple of Puppy Linux versions, MacPup and LXPup. Feature-wise they were good, but aesthetically speaking, their low-res 90s feel was not to my taste. Since I planned to use my netbook for several hours a day, I did not want to settle for something that I was not 100% happy with.
I was ready to give up and resign myself to Windows again when I stumbled upon Luna. Impressed by its appearance and reviews, I decided to give it a shot. After a couple of days of experimentation, I abandoned Windows. Here’s what convinced me that eOS Luna is a better bet than Windows 7.
Why eOS Luna Over Windows 7?
Windows always demanded constant tweaks, because it never behaved the way I expected or wanted it to. I spent hours browsing for apps and fixes, making visual changes, organizing partitions and folders, finding and setting up antivirus programs, scanning for malware, and doing a host of other similar tasks. In a single shot, Luna reduced the need for most of those tasks.
Many apps that come pre-installed on Windows are either just so-so or tied to Microsoft services. Some useful ones are altogether missing. In any case, you have to take the trouble of finding the right programs. Not so with Luna. It comes bundled with a set of apps that you use on a regular basis: an email client, instant messenger, archive manager, a calendar, document viewer, text editor, screenshot app, and a photo manager. These pre-installed apps are surprisingly good. Of course, you might wish to replace them anyway, but it won’t be for a lack of great defaults.
While installing apps on Windows is not difficult, it is not straightforward either. You have to scout the Web for reviews of a program, find its right version, monitor its download, and get through various dialog boxes before you can use the program. On the other hand, installing apps on Luna is a breeze. In the Software Center, find the apps you need, hit Install for each of them, and sit back as the apps are installed one by one in the background. Do ensure that you have a working Internet connection first. If you’re comfortable using the Terminal, you can also install apps using that.
You don’t really need antivirus software for Luna. As a Linux OS, it is quite secure. But if “quite secure” isn’t secure enough for you, try one of these antivirus programs for Linux.
Fast And Gorgeous…
I’m finding Luna quick and intuitive. The only lag I experience is when I use Firefox, but that was no different when I was using Windows 7, so I guess it’s a Firefox issue rather than a Luna one. My old laptop was plagued by frequent crashes. Running even the most lightweight applications on it was time consuming and frustrating. But a fresh Luna installation has worked its magic on the dying machine. That makes me wonder if I could have done without the upgrade to the netbook. And what can I say about the Pantheon desktop environment that ships with Luna? I’m in love with it. It’s sleek and elegant, with an appealing simplicity. I haven’t changed a thing except for the wallpaper, and even that is from one of the stock options.
I consider the absence of desktop icons a big plus, and in time I have gotten used to it. The Wingpanel – the Linux equivalent of the Windows task bar + system tray – is handy, yet discreet and clutterfree. The Mac-like dock is sufficient to keep your frequently used apps ready for use. I liked the look and feel of Windows 7, and had no major complaints about its interface, but now that I have used Luna, I find Windows lacklustre.
The File Explorer is well planned, and its visual hierarchy makes it easy to find files and folders. I was surprised by the lack of a search function in the file manager, but to me that seemed minor. The file manager is different from its Windows 7 counterpart in some ways. For example, the Close button is on the left and apps open on single clicks. The good news is that you get used to these differences before you know it. I haven’t had to deal with unknown file types as much as I did on Windows. Luna opens every file I throw at it. In the rare case it can’t, it is helpful with error messages.
Unlike Windows, Luna’s interface responds brilliantly without bothering you with irritating popups or anything that feels unnecessary. Working on Luna is seamless and painless overall, which is more than I could ever say about Windows 7, or any other Windows version that I have used.
And It’s Open Source!
Luna is community driven and free to download. There are no terms and conditions to blindly agree to, no restrictions on the number of systems you can use it on, and no legalities to stop you from sharing it with others. What’s not to like? And if you’re happy with what you see, you can always make a donation to support eOS.
Bowled Over, But…
I’m gushing over Luna, but am I saying that it is devoid of flaws? Not at all, though it has been tough to find them. I still have a Windows 7 installation on a shared PC, but I haven’t returned to it for more than a month now, except for a couple of times when the Luna installation was new. I was skeptical when I decided to install Elementary OS, because it sounded too good to be true. I was tempted to stick to the familiarity of Windows 7, or maybe try a Windows 8 upgrade. But I’m glad I made the switch. It has given me a near-perfect computer setup that will not demand a revamp for quite some time. I have enjoyed the Windows experience for more than a decade and I look back on it lovingly, but I don’t see myself going back to it any time in the near future.
Is Luna The Right Introduction To Linux?
If you’re on the verge of switching from Windows to Linux, but are hesitant to take the plunge because of all the things you have heard about its complexity for beginners, try Elementary OS Luna. You can test run Linux from USB till you’re ready to install it. In my experience, Luna will not disappoint. Some of you might be unwilling to give up Windows-specific features like desktop icons, or adjust to Linux-specific features. Also, you might have a Windows program or two that you just cannot give up.
There are workarounds to some of these issues, and you can use them to bring Windows features to Linux. But if you want too many of these fixes to make Linux behave like Windows, it defeats the whole point of making the transition to Linux. In that case, you’re better off continuing with Windows. Do you see yourself switching from Windows to Linux with Elementary OS Luna? Let us know in the comments.