First a bit about this topic. The purpose of this thread It is not meant in any way to bash windows, nor am I a linux fanboy. For some background I have been working in the computer industry for the past 23 years and I am just taking some observations of my own past experiences and trying to look to the future. I am not pitting one OS against the other, each has its positives and negatives. I would just like to point out some of the positives for Linux (Ubuntu in particular, it is what I am most familiar with). While I may be pointing out some very obvious features to some, please hang in there. Also I hope that others will post and share their experiences, positive or negative. While everyone has differing levels of technical qualifications, I would like to keep this info as basic as possible to begin with and move up from there.
Is Linux for me?
Yes, it very well could be. If you are comfortable with installing windows from a CD and understand basic computer functions, you should be able to install Linux without too much trouble.
What does Linux offer?
Freedom and flexibility. With windows XP only on sale till June of next year, Microsoft is forcing users to adapt to *their* system, not the other way around. Considering the price of Vista is anywhere from $200.00 - $400.00 (that is a big chunk of money for just an OS, especially if itâ€™s only going to be used as a dedicated folder). Ubuntu Linux is free. Free to use, free to give your CD to a buddy and have him install it and he can give it his buddy and so on.
OK, so what can I do with Linux?
That answer is easy. FOLD. You can install Folding@home and help to one day cure some of todayâ€™s most threatening illnesses.
The Linux client appears to be the most stable and offers the highest amount of science completed (and points) per CPU cycle.
If that wasn't enough Ubuntu gives you tons of applications to use, all for free. The following applications are all installed when you install the OS.
Firefox Internet Browser.
Gimp: An Image editor similar to Photoshop
F Spot: A photo manager for tagging and sharing photos
Open Office: An awesome open source program suite that rivals Microsoft Office. Open it and you will instantly recognize many similarities (word processor, spreadsheets, database, slideshow presentations they are all there). Basically the same suite of programs Microsoft charges $400.00+ for. And the documents created in OpenOffice are compatible with their counterparts in the Microsoft Office Suite.
CD Extractor for ripping CD with *no* DRM crap attached to your files.
Rythmbox Music Player for playing all the files ripped with the CD Extractor.
Did I mention you could fold.
I had dabbled with Linux about 7 years ago when Red Hat was first introducing their Enterprise System and I found it very daunting especially with very untechfriendly forums. If you did not word a question in the correct manor you would get ripped for being a newb, told to get a clue and go back to windows. I wonder at times how it ever caught on. Ubuntu provides a whole different aspect for their support. Any question you have can be easily searched, asked and answered by a helpful and prompt support person. Today with the Gnome point and click GUI desktop environment you will see many similarities to windows.
The big downfall to Linux; no gaming. At first I was thinking there was no way I was going to load this on my main machine if I couldn't game whenever I wanted. Big issue for me, I love to game almost every evening. It is how I relax. Then I found this is no problem. When you install Linux it will create its own partition on the drive and install a bootloader (Grub) which will load prior to any OS and let you choose to run either Linux or Windows. It takes just a second to load, and off you can go in either direction. If I am in linux and want to game, a quick reboot and I am gaming, reboot when done gaming and I am back folding again.
At first anytime I was working on the computer I would be in windows and just switch over to Linux to fold. As time went by
though I started using all the programs mentioned above and I found myself liking them over the windows programs that I had paid money for. Linux recognized my camera, mp3 player, cd burner, flash drive; all without any intervention by me. I now do all my work in Linux and only use windows for gaming. One of the mistakes I made during my install was not to give enough disk space to Linux. I had a 300Gb hard drive and my thought was that I was only going to use linux to fold so I will give it 10Gb partition. While this was plenty to do the install, once I started doing everyday activities as loading all my photos and ripping CDs I started to fill that partition very quickly. While you are able to resize the partition (which I did) I recommend giving yourself enough room in the beginning.
Ok, you convinced me. How do I get started?
There are a couple of ways to begin. The Ubuntu download is about 700Mb so if you want you can order the CD. I believe the CD is free, you just have to pay shipping.
If you want to download it you just to to http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu
Download the ISO and burn it to a CD (using an ISO-burning capable program).
If you boot from the CD you can actually run it without installing. I did this first just to check it out to see if it was something that I actually wanted to install.
If you decide that you want to install it, I not just recommend; but insisting that you back up any important files on your windows partition beforehand. It is just good practice to back up important documents before you attempt to install a second OS. No matter what you install you never know what hardware could fail or just something plain bad happening. BACK UP YOUR DATA before installing!!
There are many users here with Linux experience who are very willing to help out as much as possible. While no OS is perfect for everybody, nor every situation, I believe that Linux is the future of the folding community and with the ability to run programs faster and more securely, it is a two thumbs up option that I wholly recommend for anyone interested in getting the most out of their computing experience.
Now letâ€™s get out there and fold some proteins!!
P.S. If anyone has a better idea for a subject let me know and I will edit this one, but I am tired of typing right now