For Windows Users Who Want to Try Linux
Using computers is not intuitive. We may feel it is intuitive because we have used computers for a long time, or have become familiar with them. However, computers are not intuitive—especially their interfaces. Someone who is used to Windows may find the MacOS GUI frustrating.
Most people are familiar with Windows. The Windows GUI environment has become so familiar to us, that some of us may find it difficult to operate in another environment. Even down to the direction mouse pointer (arrow) is pointing—seeing a right-pointing arrow may make one a little uneasy about having to adjust their “aim” for the pointer to the right side of the pointer instead of the left side.
But there is one point I’d like to make: Windows isn’t intuitive either. I’ve seen people use Windows for the first time, and it’s a little bit awkward. The most noticable thing that people have difficulty with is “double-clicking.” Double-clicking is certainly not intuitive, and makes Windows difficult to use for first-timers. But other than that Windows contains other non-intuitive items as well: menu item names, descriptions of features, locations of files, etc. all contain counter-intuitive elements.
Therefore, if you know Windows, you had to learn Windows. You probably learned it because “it was there” and you wanted to use the computer. So, you should not become afraid of Linux when your first attempts prove frustrating. Linux requires you to learn a different set of rules for operating the computer, and even though Linux has come a long way with its GUI, the operating system and applications may seem so unfamiliar that navigating them and trying to be productive may drive you back to Windows. But there are ways to start to become more familiar with items of Linux and ease yourself into using the new system.
Probably the number one thing Windows users use their computers for are the Internet and word processing. Luckily the free software that runs on Linux for these things is also available for free for Windows. That means you can start to use software which will be familiar to you on both Windows and Linux, while at first retaining a lot of your familiar Windows features. The following software installed on your Windows machine should help you if you find going cold turkey to Linux difficult.
- Mozilla Firefox: a web browser for surfing the ‘net, similar to Internet Explorer
- OpenOffice.org: an office suite containing a word processor, spreadsheet, HTML editor, presentor, etc.
- Mozilla Thunderbird: an email client similar to Outlook (or Outlook Express)
- GIMP: an image editing and manipulation tool
- VideoLAN Player: a great media player that can play many file formats.
- Wine: an emulator that can allow you to run many Windows programs on Linux (helps with games)
- DOSBox: an emulator to allow you to run old DOS programs.
And the best part about the above software is not only is it free, but it’s super easy to install. Most Linux, like Ubuntu, have an easy-to-use interface that will automatically download and install software packages for you. Just search, choose, and apply the changes.