I love Linux. I don’t use it anymore as a desktop OS but all the servers I use at work and for personal projects are Linux and I use it daily. I did have it as a desktop OS for quite some time a few years ago and of course it worked and I knew how to use it well both at work and at home.
But that doesn’t mean Linux is the solution to all problems and it certainly has quite a few differences from Windows which let’s say most people use.
So I get a request some days ago sounding like:
Someone: I’ve got a colleague at work who wants to switch to Linux on his work computer, but he needs helps with some kind of programs, could you help?
Me: Sure. But first…why does he want to switch to Linux? Has he ever used it before?
Someone: No, never used it. He had problems with viruses and such on Windows and knows that there aren’t any for Linux and it’s much more secure.
Me: F*CKING IDIOT! He should keep his Windows and install an anti-virus and get some common sense.
Fact: Linux can be more secure and maybe even better at some tasks.
Fiction: Linux is the solution to all problems and it’s easy to switch to Linux for your actual work computer.
You can be perfectly secure using Windows, having even a free anti-virus installed and just using some small amount of common-sense when downloading and running certain software. It’s really not rocket-surgery. Just a dash of common-sense with a few sprinkles of paranoia to be really safe.
People who say “Linux has no viruses” obviously don’t know how many (successful) attacks there are on badly configured servers. And if you run Linux and have no idea what you’re doing you can install a lot of services which open you up to exploitation without even knowing it.
But skipping these arguments there the real argument is:
At work you need to do your job!
If you’ve never used Linux before and don’t even know if the applications you use now daily have a Linux version or if there is some other Linux application which meets your needs then you’re going to be in trouble.
You might not find the right software. You might have weird issues with Printing for example (I did at various points).
Any new OS and/or piece of Software requires some time to learn and understand. And when you have a job to do you might not have that time. A colleague will come over asking you to print an invoice and expect you to have it done in 10 minutes because that’s how long it usually takes you. But suddenly after 2 hours you’re still working on it because your switched to Linux. That’s not acceptable for you or the company. And it’s really silly too.
I really like standing out but if most of the people in the company use a certain OS there already is a lot of experience, knowledge and people who can help you resolve any issues. If you want to stand out by being different…that’s ok…but you’re on your own most of the times.
Start Small, Switch Gradually
Linux is free, Linux is cool, it’s easy (well..much easier than before) to try out. So just go ahead and install it at home or another computer/laptop. Start gradually by using it for browsing the web and listening to music. Use the software available and see how it compares to Windows software you use every day. Keep trying out and comparing your software needs until you know enough to make an informed decision.
Keep getting to know it better and after you have some experience if you still think it’s a good idea start using it at work. This also means you’ll be able to advise other co-workers who might be interested in Linux if it really is a good fit for them. You won’t be the odd-one-out but rather the guy who knows and can advise on Linux issues for various things.
Words of wisdom from our sysadmin at work during a conversation with a colleague (software developer):
Colleague: I want to switch to Linux, can you install it on my work computer for me?
SysAdmin: Sure! But don’t come to me with any problems you have with any software. And if it slows down your work it’s your fault.
* Footnote: The same reasoning applies even if you’re switch from Linux to Windows. Or Windows to Mac, or Mac to Linux…or whatever…you get the point.