The big decision

Well, it's been a long time coming, but I've finally made the official decision to switch from Windows to Linux. I've dabbled here and there with Linux in the past, but I've always found a reason to hold back - whether it be printer drivers, Windows-only software, fear of the unknown, etc.

The issue, though, came to a head this week when my semi-annual yearning to reformat my hard drive started up again and I decided to switch operating systems from my tired XP Professional 32-bit to a 64-bit OS. I originally bought one of the first AMD 64-bit dual-core processors even though it was ahead of its time (e.g. lack of 3rd party hardware drivers and 64-bit optimized applications) knowing that one day the planets would align and the time would be right to make the plunge. Also, it was about this time that, after many embarrassing schedule delays and Apple's amusing anti-Windows advertising campaign, Vista was getting ready for launch. Microsoft spared no expense to try to rebuild enthusiasm and momentum and for a brief few days gave out a large number of Vista and Office 2007 keys for free and I managed to snatch a copy of my own (thanks, slickdeals). After digging around for it, I was disappointed to realize the version they sent me was 32-bit. I had a 64-bit Windows XP disc, but I wasn't particularly excited to stay behind the times with technology. Windows 7 seemed to be getting good reviews and I thought about leapfrogging Vista ...until I did the math on upgrade pricing.

One of the biggest advantages to upgrading was security. I had heard that Vista and Windows 7 implemented a number of security improvements and I was getting tired of the wild wild west of malware, with my anti-virus and firewall working overtime to keep my identity and bank account safe. A quick Google search, however, informed me that Windows Vista and 7 are still just as susceptible to rootkits and lesser nasties. As you can imagine, I wasn't especially thrilled with the thought of shelling out hard-earned cash to upgrade to an operating system whose security guarantee was "when" not "if". So what's a relatively tech-savvy guy to do? Enter: Linux

Geeks are loyal to Linux distros (e.g. versions or flavors) like some people are to cars. This post isn't going to get into a Ford vs Chevy fighting match - I leave it to interested readers to choose the one that's best for them. For me, it was Linux Mint. Linux Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu, a popular version of Linux. It uses a desktop and menu environment that's familiar to Windows users and therefore should help with the transition to Linux. It works with Ubuntu software repositories so a wealth of Linux-ready software is at your fingertips. Since Linux Mint releases follow about a month after Ubuntu releases, I'll be upgrading my box to Linux Mint 8 when it's released in late November. Update: for those who can't wait, Linux Mint 8 RC (release candidate) was just released.

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