I have spent some time studying an IT related degree and I am surprised about the lack of adoption or conversation about the GNU Linux operating system. Even friends from the Bachelor of IT or software engineering degrees are reluctant to experiment with Open Source applications.
As university degrees attempt to become more workforce oriented and practical there is an enourmous bias towards the Windows operating system and all of its applications.
At our faculty there were around 4 windows computer labs to 1 linux lab. I did have some Linux interaction in a operating systems unit but the tasks were centered around process scheduling, forks and threads.
In another unit I was lucky to make a presentation about Linux as a desktop system . Most of the class listened with amazement as if I were introducing mircrowaves for the first time. My teacher knew more than the rest about Linux however, I got the impression that his knowledge had come more from magazines than first hand experience.
I once convinced a Software Engineering student to install a version of Ubuntu Linux on his PC. After a slow install and a mix-up with the partitioning decisions, he quickly uninstalled everything and went back to his more comfortable and fully modified Windows XP setup.
What is causing all of this? Is Microsoft Windows such a solid operating system that it eliminates the need to try an alternative? Is the international workforce so dependant on Windows, that other options are a waste of time? Or are we, the young university students, just too lazy and too scared to try the unknown?
Whatever the cause, you wont lose an arm or a fortune by trying Linux as a desktop. There are multiple avenues you can take to avoid the migration risk.
- You can install a version of Linux onto your Windows system as if it were a program and see how it goes. This is called Wubi Linux.
- You can reboot your computer with a live linux cd, this will allow you to run linux without installing or changing anything.
- If you are more daring, you can install Linux as a dual-boot having the option of starting your computer with either Linux or Windows each time.
I can understand that the office workers and general community would be hesitant to try a new operating system, especially if you can’t buy it in stores out of a box and if it isn’t free but if you are an IT student… what is wrong with you guys? You should be trying out new stuff, testing the alternatives and make a real comparison. If you have enough experience with Linux the chances are you will make a big difference at your future workplace if you can push some elements of the office to use open-source applications.
It might be sad but I think the only way users will take Linux seriously is when Google release its version of Linux aimed at netbooks next year. http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,691901/Chrome-OS-First-pictures-of-the-Alpha/News/
To the skeptics who view Linux as a useless fad, two things. Try Linux first, compare it to what you currently have. Secondly, do you really enjoy waiting 3 minutes for your computer to boot despite the fact you have 3GB of RAM and an Intel Duo Core processor?
Here is an article detailing Microsoft’s admission that Linux and the Open Source movement are threats to their business.
Below are two articles I have already published on this blog for people who are willing to dual boot Linux with Windows.