Is Linux right for you?

Is your computer ready for Linux? Until now, a notoriously frustrating installation process has stopped most people from loading Linux on their desktops and notebooks. Corel has remedied this problem by introducing a simple four-step setup. Corel Linux also includes a copy of WordPerfect 8 for Linux that can read and save documents in Microsoft Word and other common formats.

Hardware compatibility, especially for printers, has posed another obstacle to using Linux on your PC. Hardware vendors have been slow to offer driver support, but in response to the massive growth of the Linux user base, peripheral makers have begun to come up with the necessary drivers. "Now that we have the public support of the major PC vendors," says RedHat's Bob Young, "they are putting pressure on their suppliers to ensure that the components they use support Linux."

ATI, 3dfx, S3 and a number of other major video graphics card producers now accommodate Linux and cooperate with the open-source community to make drivers available. The upcoming Linux kernel release 2.4 will bring USB and IEEE 1394 (FireWire) support to Linux, and Corel has been spearheading an effort to standardise Linux's printer support.

The final roadblock facing Linux has been the lack of popular software that will run on it. The absence of Linux versions of big-time business and personal applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and Intuit Quicken still hampers the OS, but PC users no longer have to choose between running Linux and using their favourite apps. Third-party solutions - notably VMware and GraphOn's Bridges - let Linux PCs run Windows 9x and NT software.

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Matthew Newton

PC World
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