Here are the honest answers of a linux convert.
How long have you been using Linux as a desktop?
I tried Linux around 2005 with Ubuntu 5.10 and some version of Knoppix that my friend Dave gave me. We would boot up and look around, but we quickly realized it was a work in progress and we couldnΓÇÖt get much real work done yet. It didnΓÇÖt really pick up for me until Ubuntu 8.04 when wireless started to work. Vista came out after that and I got a laptop that happened to be nearly impossible to downgrade to XP. I was able to make it work with Ubuntu and itΓÇÖs been around ever since. IΓÇÖve used Linux for everything but Industrial Design. I use a Mac a lot these days because my job requires it, Adobe CS works and as of 10.5 it is sufficiently Unixy and Posix compliant. I keep all three around. I think it is important to know all of them.
What are the advantages you have found?
When it comes to servers there is no replacement for Linux. It runs on everything. ItΓÇÖs fast. IΓÇÖve used linux to extend the life of older
hardware many times. IΓÇÖve had friends bring me laptops that just
wouldnΓÇÖt run windows anymore, trackpads and keyboards on laptops are a common one. But, I installed Ubuntu and it works. They were able to
get six months or a year out of the machine so they could save some
money for a new computer. Linux is a Unix like system so Malware is in short supply. After the debacles of Raw sockets in XP, and Vista being unusable I am very cautious about any MS stuff I use. For some
applications I donΓÇÖt have a choice.
What are some of the disadvantages you first encountered - what are
some of them now?
At that time I started it (Ubuntu 5.10-7.04) was still very raw and a
lot of important packages had to be built from source. Most basic
Ethernet adapters would work, but you could forget about wireless card support except for a select few. The best thing to do was buy a used kernel supported wifi card off of ebay for 20 bucks. Open up the
machine and put in, and sell the other to get back your money. You
could forget about any type of flash or hd video working on a fresh
install. Ubuntu was constantly breaking sound. It got to the point
were I just turned updates off. I would get my computer working the
way I liked and clone it.
The important 3D Design packages like Solidworks and Creo (formerly
Pro/ENGINEER) donΓÇÖt even run on anything else but windows. Adobe CS
doesnΓÇÖt really run on Linux either. IΓÇÖve installed Photoshop with wine several times and it was kind of a ridiculous process.
The biggest disadvantage now is Unity and Gnome 3. I feel they force
you to use them in a rather narrow way. IΓÇÖve been using Kubuntu since
Ubuntu started shipping with Unity. IΓÇÖm going to try Unity again when
the first dot update for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is released.
What should someone who is about to make the switch consider?
Buy good hardware. I see people on the Ubuntu forums complaining that
their $300 laptop that barely runs windows isnΓÇÖt working right with
Linux. There is an old saying, ΓÇ£only a rich man can afford cheap
toolsΓÇ¥. ItΓÇÖs correct. Your much better off buying a 18 months old off
lease Enterprise grade laptop from ebay that a cheapo consumer model
on clearance at Best Buy. IΓÇÖve wasted more of my life screwing around
trying to make cheap junk work than I care to remember. Time is money, if something doesnΓÇÖt work right new it probably never will. Get rid of it.
Other than that consider your use case. If you really want Adobe to
work right and you earn your dollars with it, Linux is not going to
make you happy. If you really want to pay video games same story. If
you want to learn to program or configure servers then dual boot and
use Linux and the terminal as much as possible and learn Unix by
immersion. Clone your install, break it, fix it and repeat. People who know Unix will always have more employment options.
Why did you pick the flavor of linux that you did?
Ubuntu and CentOS picked me. Use whatever works for you.
-- Jeremy Brown