Well this is a long time overdue. Since I switched completely to Linux in 2002 (meaning no more Windows partition), I have found programs in Linux that serve as replacements for Windows programs. In many cases, you can find programs for Linux that simply aren’t ported or don’t exist in Windows. This list will be far from complete, but feel free to add to the list if you think of others. I’d like this to be a good resource for those that are not sure if they can make a complete switch. When I mention Linux in this article, I can pretty safely say all major distributions are covered by the following statements. I have used Slackware, Debian, Mandrake/Mandriva, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Knoppix, SuSE, and a few others.
Please keep in mind that the point of this article isn’t to say “switch now because it’s cheaper!”. My point would be that if you’re hesitant about switching because X application isn’t available under Linux, there may be a free, and possibly, a better solution already in place. It’s kind of like when you first entered the Windows world – did you *know* that Microsoft Office or Quicken was there? No, you found out about it by either reasearching it at a store that sells software or finding out after playing with Windows that it was already installed.
First off, I’d like to say many games work just fine under Linux. Yes, I know, Halo will never work under Linux because it is owned by Microsoft, but in all fairness, it’s a popular game that needs to be mentioned. It’s not really the fault of Linux or it’s developers, but rather Microsoft – why would they want their game playable on a competing OS? Anyways, here’s a list of games that I play under Linux:
Unreal Tournament 2003
Unreal Tournament 2004
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Yes, it’s a small list, but I don’t game a whole lot either. I know there are many more that work, but those are just the games that I own and play under Linux. Also, I have to give Linux some credit for the games that come with most distributions. I have 18 games that were installed from the CD itself and those 18 were not the only games available on the CD either. Many more than what come with Windows I must say.
So now we get into the good stuff – what do we use at home? I’m going to compare Debian 3.1 with Windows XP for the sake of argument since Windows XP Home is what most home users tend to be using these days. Most of this will be based off of applications that I have used and/or paid for in the past. I try to write about what I know rather than make generalizations…it keeps things a little more “fair”.
Windows XP: You can buy the chopped down Microsoft Office 2003 suite for about $150.00 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint).
Debian 3.1: OpenOffice is a free download and a free application. If you feel like grabbing the beta version, it now comes with Base which is fairly comparable to Access.
To be fair though, OpenOffice has been ported to Windows, so you could always download and install OpenOffice instead. Thank you Sun Microsystems and the open source community!
Windows XP: mIRC is a chat program used for IRC. The cost after the 30 day trial period is $20.00.
Debian 3.1: XChat, BitchX, ircii, kvirc, there’s quite a few. All free.
To be fair – XChat and BitchX are available in Windows for free. Thanks again to the open source community! At the time of the writing of this article, XChat.org was down – I had heard a rumor that XChat for Windows was going to cost as they started charging a fee because it took time for porting the app to Windows, but I can’t confirm the rumor at this time.
Windows XP: IM Clients – Yahoo!, AIM, ICQ, etc
Debian 3.1: Same – they’ve all been ported to Linux, but Linux has a few more available only to the Linux OS such as Jabber.
I’m not big on instant messenging, but I see some companies use it internally including the company I work for. Unlike the other instant messengers out there, Jabber also has server software available for free for people using Linux. This would be more secure than using a 3rd party as a server for internal instant messaging for obvious reasons.
Windows XP: Microsoft Outlook for email. This generally comes with Microsoft Windows and would be some very nice software if it wasn’t the target of most virii and worms. Lotus Notes is a good alternative, but costs money for the server (the client is free). It is available in both Windows and Linux.
Debian 3.1: Evolution is very comparable as it has a calender, meeting, address book, and other things you find with Outlook – it can even plug into an Exchange server, though I have never done this.
Windows XP: You can purchase Quicken for Windows and it’s a very popular program to manage one’s finances. I have never used it, but I know people who do.
Debian 3.1: You can use Quicken in Linux, but you would need to use Crossover Office, which costs about $40.00. Crossover Office allows you to use many other Windows programs as well, so it’s not $40.00 to use just one program.
Windows XP: Most hardware is supported by default, but XP’s plug and play isn’t always the most accurate or best way to install the software. It can flat out be a pain if it installs bad drivers on its own. Almost all vendors make Windows drivers for their hardware.
Debian 3.1: I was honestly suprised at how well my hardware was picked up and just worked without having to tweak anything. Everything was automagically installed and ran fine. This wasn’t always the case with Linux, but with more support from hardware manufacturers as well as a larger number of people using Linux now than before, they’ve come a long way.
Hardware drivers are no longer a reason not to switch like it used to be. What gets my goat is when Windows 2000 and then when Windows XP first came out, hardware vendors were in a scramble to come out with drivers because 2k and XP didn’t support all hardware. Personally, I think both operating systems have fairly equal hardware support any more. I haven’t run into a problem with a piece of hardware since around 2000 with a sound card that was produced by a manufacturer that was no longer in business. It wasn’t any easier trying to find Windows drivers for the card either (even using driverguide.com!).
More to come later, but please feel free to add to this list!