This article started out as a reply for the article, “Disadvantages of Using Linux.” from DarDuck; By Lisa Hann. The full story is here.
* No Standard Edition – MS Windows has basic, home, premium, ultimate. While Linux has more varieties of names and approaches, it is all the same. The differences with, for example, Opensuse, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian are minor. The package management, the default set up and programs/tools. And of course the Desktop Environments or Window Managers. It is all the same though. It is like owning/buying a vehicle. Some come with Cd players, others with mp3 players. Some cars come fully loaded while others are just the basics. Some are four wheel drives, some rear wheel, some front wheel drive. When buying that vehicle you would want to either research it or ask a professional. Same goes for Linux. Research it or ask a professional.
* Learning Curve – While there is a learning curve with Linux, Linux is NOT harder to learn then Windows, (Which if you think Linux is hard, then you are going to love Windows 8 when it comes out. Talk about a learning curve.) There are different approaches distro’s use that make it VERY easy for the average user and new people trying Linux. Linux Mint is by far the best and easiest. Mint is more or less tied with Ubuntu in that area. I recommend Linux Mint for anyone new. But it is basically the same as Ubuntu, with a slightly different approach. Linux Mint website and Ubuntu website.
* Non-Compatible Software – While this is true in some ways. You make it sound like a horrible idea to even try and use a Linux software alternative. I am guessing you never really tried Linux? Sounds like you are just parroting what you hear others saying. Virtualbox, VMware Player and CrossOver or Wine can run a lot of these programs if people really need the MS Windows version. Virtualbox and VMware can run legally owned copies of MS Windows, then the programs that are needed can be installed that way. The Major names in Linux all are as easy as pointing and clicking these days, unless you choose to go further with it. If pointing and clicking is hard for a person, then they may want to stay away from computers and pull out the crayons and coloring books.
* Unsupported Hardware – Hardware manufacturers make drivers for MS Windows. The open source community are the ones who get the hardware to work with Linux, in most cases. Though a growing number of hardware manufacturers are starting to pay attention to Linux. While in part you are correct, your words are very misleading and leave things out. Even on MS Windows some hardware isn’t supported on certain versions of MS Windows. And with that, since it is all closed sources, you are just out of luck. With Linux, there is a good chance someone is or has been working on a driver that will make it work. Linux is great for old AND new computers/hardware.
* Tech Support – If someone wants to pay for support, as they would with MS Windows, then they have that option in Linux as well. I recommend checking out the payment plans, if that Linux Distro has any, as well as how long the subscription coverage lasts. MS Windows likes to charge per incident, while Ubuntu, (for example,) charges a flat fee, check it out for more information. Of course there are more to those plans and it varies from company to company. But over all it is much cheaper. If you choose not to pay for tech support with MS Windows, which can really start to cost the average person, then you are stuck with searching the internet, asking at MS Windows forums or if you are lucky and know a family member or friend who can help.
And security wasn’t even mentioned. I hear from others that it is not an issue with MS Windows anymore. However if that was the case then virus’s, Trojans, spyware would not infect MS Windows. These are issue you don’t have with Linux in general. Not to mention the security risks that pop up in MS Windows. Sometimes that can take months for them to patch or even acknowledge. MS Windows is closed source, that is to be expected. With Linux, which is open source, you have many people around the world who jump at security risks and they get patched/fixed fast.
Installing and using Linux is really easy these days. For anyone interested I suggest you use Linux Mint for laptops and desktop PC’s. If you have a netbook or mobile device, use Ubuntu. Also both Linux Mint and Ubuntu have free forums you can go to with newbie help sections. There is also a forum called Linuxquestions.org that has newbie help and specific sections for varies problems and Distro’s. Linuxquestions.org is also a great place to tell people what you want and what they recommend for a Linux Distro. There is also Distrowatch which can give you a list of the most downloaded Linux Distro’s, I recommend focusing only on the top ten to start. Distrowatch is a great place for some information and research. And keep in mind, like Ubuntu, there are some paid options for those who are not tech minded or don’t have the time.
One other thing I should really point out. The one weakness Linux has is gaming. While Linux has some great games, currently it lags behind MS Windows. Only because software manufacturers where not making games for Linux, (this is slowly changing and we are starting to see more great games for Linux.) There are games, many games, that run on Linux natively or games you can get to work with wine. Here a few examples of some free and paid for games. Savage 2, Regnum, Planet Shift, Vendetta, World of Warcraft (runs on wine,) World of Goo and many more. For more information on games for Linux check out Wine Head Quarters Data Base of MS Windows based games that work or don’t work with Wine on Linux, If working with wine does not appeal to you then check out Codeweavers CrossOver Games. Also check out these three links for Linux games, the Linux game tome – Penguspy and Linux Games.