Ok, so I said I would most likely post a few questions about Linux and I finally am getting around to it.
I recently was watching the Windows 7 threads where 3vi1 and a few other users were cool enough to point out some nice features of Linux. So my questions are as follows:
How has your experience been with Linux?
I am getting the general feeling that a lot of programs aren't supported for the Linux OS as they are for MS OS's, true or false?
If a program is supported for Linux OS, does it matter which version of Linux i'm running? (ex. Ubuntu or Kubuntu)
If you're running Kubuntu, what are some of the issues you've run into (if you've ran into any)?
I guess what i'm saying is that i've already heard quite a few positives about Kubuntu, and i already read the wiki on Ubuntu and Kubuntu.
Now I'm ready to hear the cons.
>> am getting the general feeling that a lot of programs aren't supported for the Linux OS as they are for MS OS's, true or false?
The first thing to understand is that you're likely talking about Windows Applications. Linux and Windows are entirely different operating systems, with different APIs, so you can't *normally* run programs written for one on the other*. This is exactly the same as the case with other OS's. For instance, you can't run a Windows program under OSX and vice-versa.
* Exceptions: Java apps and CLR/.Net apps that use only framework available in Mono.
To run a Linux app under Windows, you would have to take the source code (which is freely available since almost everything for LInux is open-source) - and recompile it on Windows using Cygwin or some other POSIX compatibility layer.
You can't do that in the opposite direction though, because the majority of commonly used Windows apps are closed-source. So, Wine was invented.
Wine is a complete re-implementation of the Windows kernel and common DLLs written to run under *nix kernels. It's written from scratch, without reverse-engineering any of Microsoft's code. This means, it may match what Microsoft's documentation says the Windows APIs should do... but MS's docs "ocassionaly" differ from the actual behavior. Therefore it is (and probably always will be) still evolving and improving as far as compatibility goes.
To see if the particular applications will work under Wine, check out the AppDB (link at top of www.winehq.org). Some apps need more tweaking than others.
CrossOver sells customized versions of Wine with higher compatibility and user support: See CrossOver Games (http://www.codeweavers.com/products/cxgames/) and CrossOver Linux (http://www.codeweavers.com/products/cxlinux/). CrossOver contributes code back into the main Wine tree, so it's good to support them if you can.
There is another offshoot of Wine, called Cedega, available from Transgaming. There is a subscription fee, but they tend to support some games better than Wine. I'm not posting a link here though, because I've found their "support" for some of the "supported" games to be below my expectations.
Other than a few games, I don't run any Windows programs. There are free equivalents for Linux that are almost as good, just as good, or better than anything you would buy for Windows.
There are two other options too, but they require you have a Windows license/CD:
1. Use a virtual workstation inside of Linux to run apps that won't work under Wine. Sun's VirtualBox (free) works great for most non-game apps (and they recently added OpenGL accelleration, so some 3D games should work), VMware is another option, and it has Direct3D accelleration. VMware would even play CounterStrike Source at full speed on my machine with all graphic options at max (I uninstalled it when my free workstation trial ran out, though).
2. Install Linux as dual-boot mode with an old XP license. If you absolutely can't get the software to run with Wine, VMware, or find a native Linux replacement - reboot to Windows for that program.
>> If a program is supported for Linux OS, does it matter which version of Linux i'm running?
No. The different Linux distros only differ in their installers and default toolsets for the most part. They all have repositories that make it easy to install any common App. Wine doesn't seem to "dislike" any particular distro, though the default sound system of a distro can add extra work.
>> Now I'm ready to hear the cons.
1. Big learning curve. Linux is no harder to learn than DOS and Windows, but everything's not always going to be in the same place or done in the same way as Windows may have conditioned you to expect. You won't know every equivalent app off-hand either: K3b instead of Nero, GiMP instead of Photoshop, etc. etc.
2. Not many native games. There are some cool games for Linux, but the numbers are miniscule compared to what comes out for Windows every month. Wine is still growing and can be painful at times - specifically when on-line games push updates that break things.
I highly recommend trying a LiveCD first. Then, if you're interested consider setting up a dual-boot setup - which will give you something to fall back on if you need to do something immediately and don't know the best equivalent "Linux way".
In addition to Ubuntu, I've always found Mandriva to be an excellent distro for people new to Linux.
What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
Thats a lot of information, thank you, very much appreciated.
I'll do just that then, just try the LiveCD and check it out.
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