That’s something I’ve been wanting to happen for a while. Until recently, we were 2/3 the way there – with the laptops and mobile devices that my daughter and I use all running Linux or Android. But I finally got my wish of living in a completely Linux household a few weeks ago, all thanks to my wife’s laptop.
It all started one Saturday morning when my wife wanted to scan some documents. Her laptop went into rather scary boot-shutdown loop, and the hard drive started clicking. This had happened a few months ago, and as it turned out the particular model of hard drive used in her laptop (which the manufacturer replaced) is one that’s prone to failure.
So, our choices were either to send the laptop back to manufacturer and get another dud drive (and hope that we got the computer back before we moved overseas), or get a new drive and install it ourselves. We went to latter route – I had to hold my nose and purchase the drive from a retailer that I don’t particularly like. But it took under 10 minutes to remove the old drive and install the new one.
But the question of operating systems reared its head. My wife’s laptop ran Windows 7, and there are a few pieces of software that she uses for which there are no Linux or free/Open Source equivalents. On the other hand, we didn’t have any Windows 7 installation CDs (or are they DVDs now?).
After some deliberation, my wife said To hell with it, install Linux. I duly downloaded an ISO for Linux Mint 13, created a bootable flash drive, and installed it. Overall, things went well. It took my wife a little while to adapt, but making the switch wasn’t as trying as she expected. We did, however, run into two problems.
My wife is a graduate student in East Asian Studies and as part of the research for her thesis she needs to download and read PDFs in Chinese. Evince, the default document viewer on Mint, wasn’t rendering characters. At all. I tried a few workarounds, but eventually had to install Acrobat Reader and its Asian language pack. That solved that problem.
The second problem had to do with software that my wife uses called Wenlin. Supposedly, a Linux version is in the works but there is no ETA. So, my wife installed WINE and used that to run the Windows version of Wenlin. That works, although she can’t play the sound files that go with the application. That’s not a huge deal, though.
This experiment shows that a long-time Windows user can move over to Linux. The transition might not be seamless, but with a little preparation, a little thought, and some adjustment of expectations it can be done. Once the initial teething pains are gone, you’ll find that using Linux becomes just as easy as whatever other operating system you used.
Photo credit: barunpatro
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