Twelve years ago on this very day I took a leap of faith into the wonderful world of Linux.
I was still living in South Africa and I was but a poor employee rattling off spreadsheets for mere peanuts. That meant that I was always hard-pressed for cash when it came to my computing hardware and software, especially as those were the days when Microsoft still charged a pretty penny for the right to upgrade to their new and shiny versions of Windows.
So it was around then that I decided to finally try out a little distro by the name of Ubuntu. It had become popular with its focus on being a Linux distro for humans in that it took a somewhat notoriously difficult to use operating system and tried to make it easy to install and use as a replacement for the bloated and expensive Windows OS.
Back then you were asked about partitioning your hard drive and journalling file systems and a lot of other jargon that would scare off anyone new to Linux but Ubuntu tides its best to ease you in and make it fun to use.
I suppose my first impression was that it was gloriously fast to use and had almost any piece of software I could ask for to replace the applications I’d been using in Windows. Design wise it was also pretty good looking with Ubuntu being based in the Gnome 2 desktop environment.
There were snags of course. In my case I had constant issues with my sound system not playing nicely. Most of the time I could sort out these sort of problems by myself but it also took lots of digging through forum posts to try and find other people with similar issues and then trying to see if the solutions they’d used would work for me.
This wealth of information is both a boon and a handicap for Linux. It’s great to be able to find so many tutorials and solutions for almost any problem under the sun. But at the same time for a user new to Linux it can also be very intimidating to search for a simple solution only to be face with thousands of search results and no idea where to start.
Nowadays the most friendly distros such as Linux Mint and Ubuntu MATE do a wonderful job of surfacing the best sources of information for new users so that they can slowly dip their toes into the murky waters of hardware and software issues before diving head first into terminal commands and the like.
One way I tried to make my transition to Linux more bearable was to dual boot with Windows so that I could still game as back then gaming support on Linux was woefully absent. Fast forward to the present day and you can play 99% of anything on Steam or GOG with no issues at all. Tell that to me back then and I would have called you a fool!
Linux has become an operating system more than worthy of staring alongside Windows and MacOS as a viable alternative and in many cases as the better choice. Currently I’m switching between Xubuntu and Linux Mint as my daily drivers but for anyone keen to give Linux a try here are a few of my recommendations: