Why I Quit Windows and Switched to Linux 04/17/08

It’s funny how some people react when I tell them I use Linux. Sometimes they express the sentiment that I must be very computer savvy. Other’s get caught up in all the brand loyalty hype and still some have never heard of Linux! I kid you not! ;) The truth of the matter is that I switched partly because Windows no longer offered me any challenges and reliability became an issue.s The most common question I get asked whenever I present a public speaking seminar is “Why did you switch to Linux?”Well… for all those who asked, here’s the long winded answer.s

I first started using Windows when Windows 286 and then later Windows 3.11 were all the rage. (I sold the floppies on eBay about 2 years ago to a collector in Italy). At that time I thought it was hot stuff! All my games were DOS based, but that was okay as Windows at that time required DOS. I went through the Windows 95 and 98 stage and became very interested when Windows NT4 was released.s At that time I thought it was an incredible product because of the ease with which I could create peer-to-peer and domain based networks. It was then when I tried Red Hat and quit because (in my opinion) the network configuration and OS installation of Red Hat was a nightmare. (I think it was RH5 at that time). Maybe I just had a poor Linux instructor, I don’t know.s

I decided to garner my MCSE certifications because I thought there was a strong future in the Windows (and support) industry; I also thought the certifications would be easy to get because of my experience.s I was wrong on both counts. The MCSE (and other certifications) took a lot of hard work, dedication and stress to obtain. I’m happy I was successful and proud of the accomplishment. Microsoft sent me a very cool secret decoder ring and certifications. Not really! :) They did send certifications and a credit card-like ID:s


About a year or so after I obtained my certifications, the IT employment market started to collapse. The employment opportunities for newly certified individuals dried up faster than steam and Microsoft released WinXP, which made my NT4 certifications less relevant. It actually left me with a bad taste. Part of the decision to obtain my MCSE was driven by Microsoft’s hype and the perceived promise in the industry of well paying, in demand jobs.s The hype I found was, in my opinion, somewhat bias in favour of Microsoft. If that is true, I couldn’t really blame them. After all, they do their best to make their products and services look good. The better they appear, the greater the market dominance. Right? In my opinion, that’s not the best approach and they maybe appear to be suffering the effects of that now? Either way, I made the call and it was now time to make lemonade. Remember the old saying, when life hands you lemons?s

My lemonade was to garner technical training positions. I succeeded in working my way into a larger private IT training college. I was good at what I did and spent a few successful years with them. I was involved in student and corporate training, curriculum development, lab development and played a role in the testing centre. The college was almost exclusively Windows based. During this period there was a fair bit of discussion among the technical trainers that more Linux based training should be included. However, I think a couple issues which kept that at bay were costs and demand. Linux was not in as much demand at that time (for our college), simply because none of the sales personnel focused on developing Linux leads (remember we were almost 100% Windows based).s This in turn (I assume) gave the impression that Linux was not a viable training revenue. Another issue that may have contributed to the lack of Linux was that effective and trained Linux personnel commanded a higher salary. In any event, prudence (in my opinion) would advise that it is not wise to place all your eggs in one basket.s

As prudence would have it, the college began closing campus locations as the sales dropped. I left when the campus I was working at closed. The last I knew (from a television commercial), the college was providing security guard training and a few other courses. I was pretty surprised as this had been a college which provided high quality IT training, exclusively! It was about that time when I became very disillusioned with the whole “Windows thing” and returned to Linux by giving Red Hat a try again (I think it was RH8 at that time). I liked it because I found the RH server was more powerful (in my opinion), than the Windows counterparts I worked with. I thought Linux servers rocked and tried just about any Linux server tutorial I could find!s

Fedora came on the scene and I jumped on it to test the desktop environment. Wow! :) That’s what sold me on the viability of Linux as a primary contender for the desktop. Things I immediately noticed were the stability (no Blue Screens of Death), productivity (I could do more with my old hardware), and just plain fun (it provided a new challenge). By that stage I was out of the gaming phases (Quake on NT4 networks over Lunch breaks were the hot social of the day). ;) Therefore the lack of gaming was not an issue. However don’t think that gaming is the pits in Linux, it’s not! But the “FUD trolls” would have us believe it. In terms of proprietary gaming, it’s some of the vendors who don’t support Linux (saying Linux does not support games is a big load of horse pooh). Just read “There is Good Gaming in Ubuntu!” or “Top 12 Best Games for Ubuntu Linux – #1 Tremulous” and you’ll see.s

When I finally got around to trying Ubuntu Linux, I had my socks knocked off! :) Slick usable, doable, easy, fun and in my opinion, ahead of the current Windows offerings. It appeared that Linux was becoming more of a desktop leader and innovator than it had before. There were (and still are) so many different distributions, that we are able to install systems that more closely match our needs. In my opinion, this is one of the major drawbacks of Windows. To be blunt, there is hardly any variety. When I thought about it more, I realized the changes in the landscape are probably a direct result of variety. If I develop a product and there is a finite number of beta testers (such as with Windows) I could not possibly compete with the quality that the open source community provides. Their beta testing platform is the whole planet! Not a finite number of testers.s

Personally, I was hooked on the sheer volume of innovative free open source products and solutions that had been unavailable to me as a regular Windows user. I didn’t have to worry about spending excessive amounts of money on software, I didn’t have to worry about upgrading hardware, I didn’t even have to worry about cross platform compatibility! I remember sourcing out my top 100 of the best (useful) opensource applications, it took a day or two because there were really 100′s of thousands.s And the support from the open source community for that post was incredible as I was sent suggestions for literally hundreds more. More to the point is the valuable input I’ve received from readers of this blog. I’ve learned quite a bit from many of them and at times have had mistakes corrected. It’s a strong robust, intelligent, and growing community.s

My personal top 10 reasons to stay with Linux are probably the following:s

  1. No blue screens.
  2. Applications are super easy to install.
  3. Better security.
  4. Free software.
  5. Community support.
  6. Speed and functionality.
  7. Better networking.
  8. Greater innovation.
  9. Easier to tweak change or even add OS features.
  10. The full command line and scripts are there when I need them.

So there you have it. The long version of why I migrated to Linux.s
Hopefully it’s of interest to some of you. :)

Update: Linux is easier to install than XP

[tags]linux, ubuntu, mcse, windows, quit, switch, opinion, gaming, training, problem, career, fedora, red hat[/tags]

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47 Responses to this article

brandon April 17, 2008 Reply

Nice blog! Although I’ve only used linux for about two years, I love it. The command line is SO much better than windows’s CMD. I can actually do stuff in it (fix X server, backups, SSH, encryption, compiling, hack, etc.)

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 18, 2008 Reply

@brandon – One thing I especially like is when I need to do something specific, it’s often quicker on the command line (for me at least). Also, if I need to find a command to do something, there’s almost always a solution available from the community. Quite often that solution has all the information to teach us how to customize it. :)

NickF April 18, 2008 Reply

Thanks for sharing your experience. It was interesting to read since you are not simply coming from a Windows world, but you were pretty much a Microsoft professional. Out of curiosity, what’s your job, now?

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 18, 2008 Reply

@NickF – I started my own business. At first it was technical support and PC repair. Now it’s web development. I still take courses and still have everyday life obligations (like everyone else I guess). I find this blog has been a great help to others (and myself), it’s a way of giving back to the community. It’s a bit of a struggle to maintain the costs to run it, but in the long term I think it’ll be worth it. I’d love the opportunity to run and host blogs for others (all they’d have to do in submit their content and not worry about the technical stuff), I’m sure that will develop in time – That would be an added business offering. By the way, starting my own business was an eye opener. Wow! I thought it would be easier. I thought I’d be able to set the hours I want to work and when I want to work. Boy was I wrong, oh sure I do get the hours I want… A LOT more of them! ;) Aaarggghhhh. :)

Daeng Bo April 18, 2008 Reply

Yeah. I agreed with much of what you posted. My NT and 2000 training was immediately nulled by WinXP, but I had actually switch to Linux at home sometime in late 1997.

Those were dark days for trying to get stuff sone on Linux, let me tell you. It was Star Office 5.* and Netscape 4. Ugly stuff.

LindaP April 18, 2008 Reply

An interesting way to migrate to Linux. Similar happened to me. I just got my certification and Microsoft trashed it by releasing the next OS. That was a sad day. A few months later I switched to Linux based systems, got certifications in those and have been very happy. Never looked back! Did you stay in the IT industry? By the way, I like the blog, it is really good!

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 18, 2008 Reply

@LindaP – I did stay in IT, I went to the web development side (as a small business owner). It’s still a real struggle, but I get by, but that’s okay for now. Which Linux certification(s) did you get?

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 18, 2008 Reply

@Daeng Bo – Oh gosh!!! I remember, you’re right. At that time it was “Ugly” Hee hee hee… For me getting the networking to go was rocket science. :) Thanks for commenting on that Linux Plug ‘N Play Zone post by the way, that was nice and productive. You’ll notice it prompted me to do a follow up “Revisited” post a day or two ago (to clarify for everyone). So… It was a good thing of you to say something. Cheers! :)

Shannon VanWagner April 18, 2008 Reply

Linux is awesome!!

I use Ubuntu, PCLOS, Fedora, and Edubuntu at home and Red hat, SLED, and Fedora at work.

I’ve been working very hard to spread the word about Linux so it can get the recognition it deserves.

I am all about emailing companies that actively try to block Linux from accessing their online content and applications.

Go Linux!!

David Bruce April 18, 2008 Reply

That’s a great article. I enjoy Linux for many of the same reasons you do, especially for the granular control over my desktop.

I worked for over 10 years supporting Microsoft-based client/server database applications, when an old employer called me to work for his company. I’m a self-taught Linux admin, now an IT Director, and I’ve never been happier.

All our servers, save the Exchange 2003, use Linux. Exchange is using a Postfix/Spamassassin front-end.

Apparently we’ve made the right choices, as Microsoft has really shot themselves in the foot with Vista. Now the monopoly is facing a user revolt, and they’ll probably end up extending XP.

Jamez April 18, 2008 Reply

I started off trying RedHat 8, but I gave up. I was still so hooked to Windows. Recently Canonical sent me a KUbuntu 7.x CD-ROM and I was blown away!! The interface is a breeze, configuration is easy, SMB works “magically” and installation is way tooooo easy.

I have a very unreliable Internet connection and that is why I ordered a CD. The only problem is that the CD-ROM only has so much software. With my unreliable Internet connection (I am in third-world country), using apt-get does not sound very inviting.

I still have KUbuntu installed but… I have to figure out how to get the apps I need.

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 18, 2008 Reply

@Jamez – That’s how I started Ubuntu! With the LiveCD. I was not too sure and did not want to destroy my existing OS. After using the CD, I formated and reinstalled within a week (if I remember). I’m pretty sure there’s a way the application files could be put onto a CD. I remember playing with APTonCD: http://ubuntulinuxhelp.com/top-10-must-have-applications-for-ubuntu-in-no-particular-order/ and I’m sure I did something with jigdo http://www.debian.org/CD/jigdo-cd/ to get all the repositories on a CD. If you want, I can look into it some more for you? For other people, I did find the repositories for Ubuntu Linux 7.04 here: ftp://tuma.ui.edu/pub/ubuntu-repository/7.04/

Conrad April 18, 2008 Reply

An interesting perspective. I liked how you were able to gain experience in Windows both on a professional and personal level. I always find it amuzing how people can allow themselves to be captured by marketing loyalty, and be unwilling to see other options. Personally, I find I can do much more with Linux. Given the current disaster of Vista, I wonder how long the marketing engine can keep the hype going? Also, good job with the blog!

Alan April 18, 2008 Reply

Great blog post! I was also “microsoft professional” who switched to Linux. I got into IT with an A+, Net+ and MCP in windows 2000, was working hard on an MCSE when my MS loyalties got derailed by trying out Linux. I have been fascinated with it ever since, and running all Linux on my home and work pc’s since about 2004.

Isn’t it funny how telling people you’re a linux user instantly makes them assume you know nothing about Windows, and only prefer Linux out of ignorance? About 60% of my job is keeping winxp clients working, I know more about XP than the other techs who are Windows-only kids. I always tell them: I’m the guy who knows both OS’s, and I choose linux. What does that tell you?

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 19, 2008 Reply

@Alan – You’ve raised a good point. From a professional perspective, I think it does make one more valuable when experience or knowledge in more than one OS is demonstrated. ;)

Wade April 18, 2008 Reply

What private IT college did you go to?

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 19, 2008 Reply

@Wade – I don’t want to embarrass them as (in my opinion) going from exclusive and high quality training partner, to the state they now appear to be in, could be construed somewhat as a fall from grace? As far as I am aware, they were only in Canada.

Karl O. Pinc April 18, 2008 Reply

One of Linux’s best features is that it just keeps working, even as you continually stay up to date with the latest software. The distros work hard to make this happen. If you get in the way be careful not to get run over; install only the software provided by your Linux distro. The Linux distro does all the system integration for you, making
sure every installed program works with every other installed program no matter what’s installed. Violate this rule if you’re an expert, but otherwise you’ll eventually experience Microsoft-like version incompatibilities and breakages, especially at upgrade time.

Runs on old hardware, but you can upgrade both hardware and software at will and always have the latest features. Get all your software from a single source, painlessly. Just what’s needed when it comes to getting work done.

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 19, 2008 Reply

@Karl O. Pinc – Good advice. But I’ll bet “savvy” users will continue to convert and use other packages via command line and continue to compile from source. ;) :)

stan mcintosh April 18, 2008 Reply

Funny about peoples’ perceptions that you must be tech savvy to switch to Linux. I switched 4 years ago after realizing that I didn’t have the technical chops to have WinXP act semi-reliably. Linux has simply been easier to manage and keep going for my home PC, which has freed up a lot of my time… which still hasn’t gone into learning the technical parts that I probably ought to learn. I just needed a reliable PC that was easy to use. Linux passed, Win-XP failed.

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 19, 2008 Reply

@stan mcintosh – I’d agree with you there. One thing I noticed of late, is that I’ve not had to worry about drivers as much as I do with Windows. It seems Linux has made great efforts towards hardware support. Or rather, in my opinion, it’s really been a result of the hard work of the open source community having taken over the brunt of ensuring hardware support – Wow, nice job! :)

James Frost April 18, 2008 Reply

Very interesting, coming from someone with a professional expertise in MS Windows. I didn’t get any certifications, but I was an admin for both Windows and unix shop for over 10 years.

I got so sick of spending extra hours fixing windows (very mundane and frustrating) compared to unix (very fulfilling) that I now have strong advserse reaction whenever I see Windows interface. My mental health hasn’t been good ever since, so I now work in places where they give you Linux or any other unix variants.

It seems there are more jobs available with Linux experience.

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 19, 2008 Reply

@James Frost – Funny you would say that. Sometimes I have to force myself to fix stupid things for Windows friends. Mostly I hate the “I have a virus, can you help me?” issue. Don’t get me wrong, I gladly help them, but always wonder why they can’t just switch to Linux. ;) It’s not hard, really. :)

Tony Landis April 19, 2008 Reply

Great article – I am using Ubuntu and loving it!

markus April 19, 2008 Reply

If you like Ubuntu, try out Gobolinux. It has the better design (but Ubuntu hates it) :>

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 20, 2008 Reply

@markus – This appears to operate just like Mac? :) From my limited view of Mac, I perceived that the applications were right in (part of) the file system as well?
Very interesting!!

Alan April 20, 2008 Reply

Good article. Try Linux/unix because it was designed for internet.

MS was built as PC. Modified to connect to internet. So bulky kernel for backward compatibilities. Can’t be good.

Bradfor April 20, 2008 Reply

Some of these comments sound like some sort of Windows Anonymous Support Group: “I used to use Windows…had to upgrade every new version…wasted years of my life facing blue screens and crashes. Now I’m FREE from WinCrack thanks to Linux.”

As for me, tried RedHat 6.0 but abandoned the frustrating endeavor so I stayed with Windows. Messed with Mandrake 8.1 which I found to be unstable so I again went back to the WinMother.

I wanted an alternative to Windows because of all the stinky bloated hidden files, tracking cookies, and junk I could not easily control.

Because of some games I’m still forced to suckle from the Windows sow but I’m slowly weaning myself off. OpenBSD runs my webserver, Mint Daryna is my Linux flavor du jour.

Bengt April 22, 2008 Reply

I would say that almost everything mention above, applies also to me.

I got so fed up with MS stupid restrictions “You can’t do this or that, because of some policy…” that computing wasn’t funny anymore. I want to be master of my own machine, not the opposite way around. It’s MY computor (not a MS lease-deal).

Since 2 years ago, it’s funny again, using Ubuntu mostly.

When friends want me to repair, tune up or remove viruses from their Win-Machines, I insist that they install Linux as well, if they has to small HDD it’s god enough with a 8GB USB-Stick.

9 of 10 friends/colleagues now preferes Linux for their daily use. =o)

Jamez April 22, 2008 Reply

Sorry, I’ve been away for while. I’d appreciate all the help I can get to get the apps on a CD or even better, a DVD. Thanks.

UbuntuLinuxHelp April 22, 2008 Reply

@Jamez – Okay… let me see what I can find out or get during the week. :)

nate April 23, 2008 Reply

Windows had me so mad I even tried OS/2 at one point! I finally bought a machine with Ubuntu preinstalled just to get into Linux. GIMP is the main reason I’m not going back!

Rob April 23, 2008 Reply

I never had serious stability problems with WinXP, but found Windows had become boring! I tried Mandrake 9.1 (some yrs ago) and liked it and set up dual boot, but still was mainly Windows. Now I use Mandriva Linux 95% of the time and WinXP only when i need to do work on MS Access apps. I can even use MS Word & Excel under Linux if I use Crossover Office and VBA macros work there too.

One thing I’d like to add is about ease of installing software. This is certainly true if all apps you want are available in your package scheme (RPM/DEB) or as standalone binaries, but I have lots of problems when I need to compile some app to get it too work on my system. I frequently get configure/install errors referring to missing or not found libraries which *are* on the machine :(


Bond April 24, 2008 Reply

Interesting article, all what you mentioned applied to me also. I have been an MouseClickCertifiedEngineering since 1998, but I gained my CNE (Certified Novell Engineer) 1999 which helped me a lot in my career…What I want to say is that MicroZeft is moving now to command line based servers!! it is pushing all its operators to the new trend “power shell!!!”

If any one wants to know the cons, flows, and all the bad sides of MicroZeft products contact microsoft itself when it is talking about its new products. “36 reasons why you should move to windows 2000″ && ” 16 reasone why you should consider 2003″ Now ” 11 reasons why you should be 2008 operator!!!”

Moss Bliss May 16, 2008 Reply

I’m loving Ubuntu as well, but could not get it installed in the old dual-boot way due to some weird security programs, apparently HP-specific. So I used Wubi to install it to a Windows folder. Everything is great but… I still have yet to find a word processing program that works as well as Word. For some weird reason, using OpenOffice.org or even AbiWord messes up my .doc documents, changing fonts and paragraph formatting at random. So, for now, I’ll keep my Ubuntu as a Wubi-based installation and boot back to Windows (XP Home) to work on my documents. I have tried to expand my Ubuntu space (30 Gb seems to be the max under Wubi), as yet to no avail.

I have tried many times over the years to find a Linux distro that was easy to install, easy to use, and could replace Windows in every way. Hardy Heron is better than Windows, no doubt — but I still need the one piece of software to work better. Run Word under Wine? Haven’t tried it yet.

UbuntuLinuxHelp May 22, 2008 Reply

@Moss Bliss – Have you tried totally uninstalling open office and then reinstalling it? I’ve never had any issues sharing .doc files between Linux, Mac or Windows. Does it show a specific issue? If so, maybe there would be a fix? :)

BillinDetroit May 27, 2008 Reply

I finally figured out how to respond to the constant requests for tech support from Windows users.

I say the magic word “no”.

Tinker June 11, 2008 Reply

I switched yesterday. My new laptop – with Vista preinstalled – has crashed 4 times in less than a month. enough already. I’m beginning to feel real comfortable with Ubuntu and looking forward to NOT losing my mind over crashes anymore. Thanks to all of you who write code for those of us who don’t.

JGriff July 21, 2008 Reply

Interesting story, my son had pretty much the same issue. It’s too bad when these things happen.
He switched the whole family to Linux. It was a bit bumpy at the start until we got used to the names of applications and using the PC. But I must say, I’ve never looked back. Thanks for a great blog.

Conrad Theart March 15, 2009 Reply

Great one man! Diffidently linking back to this site!

Jady L. April 10, 2009 Reply

Again… This is a great story. I like that we get to see where you are coming from. That adds a human touch to your blog. Almost the same thing happened to my son too!

Richard May 28, 2009 Reply

Likewise here, started using when Ubuntu 7.04 came out and have been here since. The new machine bought in the last week has Ubuntu 9.04 64 bit and what a joy it is to use. The kids computers are dual booted Jaunty/XP but XP hasn’t been booted for I don’t know how long. The only reason XP survives is they have some kids apps that are Windows based. Then my wifes machine is dual boot Jaunty/Vista laptop. Vista should think itself lucky its still there !

Like so many have said, computers under Windows had become a tool not a source of joy. It is not since the days of the Amiga that I have enjoyed computers as much as I do now under linux. I love using linux and for the foreseeable future I am here to stay !!!

UbuntuLinuxHelp May 28, 2009 Reply

@Richard – Thanks for the input! :) I experienced the same thing you did… As I became more familiar with the Linux environment, I began to enjoy it more. One of my favourite things is using the “aptitude install xxxxxxxx” command to get more goodies! :)

One thing I do with Windows is keep it in a virtual machine, that way I don’t have to reboot if I want a Windows based application. When I’m done, I simply close the virtual machine.

niclas ericsson March 21, 2010 Reply

This is one of the best blogs I have ever come across. If anyone ever ask me a question about linux again I will send them over here faster then zzzzzzzzzp…….

I don’t know if the order of your reasons for switching to linux are of any relevance, but I would most definitely hold number 5 above all others. The community support isn’t just great. It really blows ones mind out over and over and over…. There is not a problem I have come across that hasn’t already been solved, and posted.

If only microsoft was that user-friendly :o P

realist May 26, 2010 Reply

1. No blue screens.
I have very rarely ever gotten blue screens in Windows
2. Applications are super easy to install.
Same in Windows
3. Better security.
Perhaps, but only morons need to use AV software
4. Free software.
Same for Windows, in fact, there’s /more/ free software. (open source projects usually are compiled for windows and there’s plenty of win-only freeware)
5. Community support.
Too bad you need it
6. Speed and functionality.
It depends
7. Better networking.
Nothing’s better or worse
8. Greater innovation.
9. Easier to tweak change or even add OS features.
10. The full command line and scripts are there when I need them.
Windows has a “full command line” and scripting capability

R4Z3R November 20, 2011 Reply


You, my good sir, are blinded by the microsoft cloak xD

1)No Blue Screens
You are correct, after running windows for 12 years ive never had any blue screens and few crashes
2)Apps are easy to install
Your right again xD
3)Better Security
Linux wins no question. Over 100,000 different viruses, malware ect for windows, and under 1000 for linux. No matter that anti-virus you have, i like the 1000 + antivures odds vs the 100,000 + Antivures odds.
4)Free Software
Up For Debate
5)I Would rather have community support when i have a problem then have to call microsoft and get them to fix it for me.
6)Faster Speed
Linux hands down. take a computer with 256mb ram, and a pentium 1 cpu. Install Windows Vista in that, then take the same computer and install Ubuntu 11.04 and see what os runs better.
Up For Debate
8)Greater Innovation
You fail.. Anyone anywhere in the world can create their own linux distro that is tailored to support their own needs or to support any need you may have. Windows is controlled by bill gates. Small amount of innovation.
9)Easier to tweak OS Features
Linux :)
10) Command Line Scripts
Windows has a mediocre full command line that is botched and incredably restrictive. Linuz Terminal has the ability to do anything you need. from Get new apps to create new folders. Lets see you download apps with cmd xD

and, the ultimare reason to get linux,,
Free updates. You can pay 200$ to upgrade from Vista to 7 if you want, but id rather upgrade from Ubuntu 11.04 to Ubuntu 11.10 for free.

(I know im posting on a year old script) :P

jo13 April 24, 2012 Reply

i switch to linux because, it’s FREE!!!! i can create my own distro, i can modify my system and share that without limitations. this is my opinion.

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