Alternatives to MS Windows (desktop)

I have worked with and supported just about every version of MS desktop operating systems. That is life in the corporate environment. No matter your opinion of Microsoft OS, it gets the job done for the business user. However, there are many less than desirable “features”, such as licensing costs, hardware requirements, resources used by the OS, and the list goes on…

Some of my early experience was as a sys admin for a SCO UNIX network. I was impressed with the stability and reliability of the system. If I remember correctly the server had 128MB RAM to support 100-plus users. The serial network certainly had no bells and whistles, but it was easy to maintain. Server uptimes were measured in months instead of days for a typical Windows server. Adding a NIC and TCP/IP made the server very versatile and improved performance. As is common in the corporate environment, after a few years, new software required Windows servers and the UNIX box was retired. I pretty much lost touch with *nix in general.

Fast forward five years…

At some point I began loading various Linux distros on older laptops to check it out. Red Hat, Fedora, SUSE and all the other usual suspects were checked out. CentOS seemed to be one of the more popular distros supported. Along the way I met some more-serious Linux users and began loading Ubuntu starting with the 8 series releases. By now I had converted a personal laptop and the main home computer to Ubuntu. Stayed involved and moved along with updates until 10.04 LTS. Was very pleased with how it all worked. The variety of supported hardware is excellent (except maybe audio) and the stability was always very good.

Fast forward to Thursday June 16…

My Lenovo laptop with an XP install was finally experiencing some OS corruption and general performance degradation. Time for a reload with Linux. Off to Ubuntu.com to download 11.04 ISO. I loaded it up and the process was the same simple install I had come to expect with Ubuntu. Rebooted and logged in. I immediately noted the new UI. Complete crap was my first thought. I poked around for the rest of the day and my opinion got worse. It was not intuitive at all. Played around a couple more hours and tossed it in the bag for the night.

Fast forward to the next day…

Thoroughly disappointed with Ubuntu 11.04 I looked up Debian and did a little research. Seemed pretty solid and why use a derivative when you can get the original? A couple answers later (thank you himuraken!) I was installing Debian 6. (look for a future post on using ISO files and a USB drive)
Knowing that Ubuntu is based on Debian, I expected it to be familiar and it was. Two days later and I am very happy with the decision to replace Ubuntu 11.04. I look forward to using it daily.

I strongly encourage anyone interested in Linux to check out Debian. You will not be disappointed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debian_GNU/Linux

– habanero_joe

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