Living free with Linux: 2 weeks without Windows

Can a dedicated Windows user make it for two weeks using only Linux? Preston Gralla tried it and lived to tell this tale.

This use of confusing and unfamiliar terminology seemed to be the rule rather than the exception when it comes to updates and installs. I found another example when I decided to update my software. Ubuntu has an Update Manager, similar to Windows Update, which is supposed to keep you informed about available updates for applications and utilities, and will then download and install them for you. It's accessed via a starburst icon at with a down arrow inside it that's located at the top of my Ubuntu screen. Hovering my mouse over the icon, I found out that 129 updates were available. This sounded like a serious problem, so I clicked on the Update Manager.

I was rewarded with a long list of recommended updates -- and what they were, or were used for, is anyone's guess. For example, the first four were:

alacarte: easy GNOME menu editing tool

anacron: cron-like program that doesn't go by time

app-install-data-commercial: Application installer (data files for commercial applications)

bind9-host: Version of "host" bundled with BIND 9.X

The Ubuntu Update Manager had me longing for Windows Update. In Ubuntu's defense, though, I did find a few updates that made sense, such as updates and plug-ins to the Evolution e-mail application. On the other hand, the Update Manager was missing some vital updates; for example, I was using Version 2.4 of OpenOffice.org and was never told that Version 3 was available. Worse yet, I was using Version 8.04 of Ubuntu, and Ubuntu 8.10 came out when I was researching this piece. Yet the Update Manager didn't tell me that either. Eventually, I found out that 8.04 is what's called a Long Term Support release, but 8.10 isn't, and by default, the Ubuntu Update Manager won't tell you about releases that are not LTS. And you thought Windows Update was confusing?

All in all, I didn't find the Update Manager to be much help. I was better off checking for software updates on my own, or allowing the applications themselves to warn me about updates. But as my experience with installing OpenOffice.org 3.0 showed me, that doesn't always help.

Work productivity

Getting up to speed is one thing. Actually being productive is definitely another. How well, I wondered, would Linux fulfill my various computing needs?

I'm a writer, and what I spend most of my time doing is, of course, writing. Ubuntu comes with Version 2.4 of OpenOffice.org, which includes OpenOffice.org Writer, which (I already knew from the Windows version) is a top-notch free application.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Linux

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Preston Gralla

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?