There’s never been a better time to give Linux a try.
Wait, don’t leave just yet! I’m not one of those rabid “Year of the Linux desktop” types. Windows and OSX work just fine for most, and I am sorry to break it to all of us rabid Linux fans, but there is no proof that Linux usage will ever be more than a blip on the radar of Microsoft or Apple.
That being said, there are some reasons you may want to consider switching to Linux. So to assist you in your decision making, we will cover a bit on how to attempt to use Linux without giving up the comfort of your current Desktop OS.
I am going to start out by making a suggestion here. My suggestion would be install Oracle VirtualBox on your current machine (Mac or Windows). VirtualBox will allow you to become familiar with the general linux install procedures and steps that we will be walking through. You will do this by running a Virtual Machine (VM). This page will not walk you through how to install VirtualBox. There are more than enough tutorials for that floating around. If you really want to know more, we may have a future article for you. For now, I will just present you with the link for VirtualBox. Go download the tool, and install it.
Once you are familiar with the steps, you can graduate to the next level, and grab an old laptop, or computer that is lying around and attempt to follow these steps on the older hardware. This will provide you a few benefits over the standard VM install. It will give you experience in troubleshooting specific device drivers for graphics and network cards, as well as giving you more confidence to move forward with Linux. Once you reach this level, do NOT give up. The challenge here is to find information on the drivers you need (the internet is a wonderful repository of information. Google It!) download those drivers, and figure out how to configure your older Linux system to recognize them.
The final level will be to go back to your VM on your main machine, and see if Linux is really for you. Run it in full-screen mode, and see if you can work out of it on a daily basis. If you find yourself minimizing it, and going back to Windows or Mac often, attempt to determine why you are going back? What makes you slip back into Windows or Mac? See if those use cases can be made available in your Linux VM. Do a little bit of research, and see what alternatives are available for what you are currently doing outside your VM. The more you use Linux, and the applications that are available in Linux, the less you will be leaving your VM.
Remember, there are plenty of ready made Linux distributions that include a full User Interface, and many applications out of the box. If you want to test those out as well, you can do a simple install into your VM, or even boot to a LiveCD. Most likely these distributions will give you more ability, which should keep you in your VM longer. You will be sacrificing storage space, and speed though, as there may be things in there you will never use.
Also remember that Linux is a tinkering tool. You can get everything working the way you need, and looking and feeling the way you want, but it will take a bit of work to get there. If you are like me, and change your mind ALL THE TIME, you may NEVER get there. Linux can be a time sync for people like us, as we are constantly changing and tweaking every setting, but are never truly happy.
I will leave you with a few quotes from some pretty well known movies. I hope these quotes will inspire you to move forward on your journey into the Linux world.
With great power comes great responsibility. Do or do not, there is no try. The way I see it, if you’re gunna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some “style?”
The next step in your Linux Journey will be Getting to the Command Line