If you’ve been working with Windows for a long time, and you’re comfortable with it, there are plenty of good reasons to stay with it. The comfort factor is certainly one of them. The idea of changing to a new platform when the old one works just fine can feel intimidating, and if you already know what you’re doing, the notion of learning something entirely new isn’t always a welcome one.
Yet, even if Windows is still working for you, you may be ready to expand your skills or just want to try something new. In the past, developers have avoided Linux servers due to the perceived limitations of the operating system, but recent changes have made them attractive to a growing number of people.
What Makes Linux Attractive
Despite all of the great things about Windows, Linux has become a viable option for several reasons.
Total Cost of Ownership. In most cases, the software and applications for a Linux system are free. If you choose to purchase an enterprise version of the software, the cost is often minimal, making it a good choice for small businesses or start-ups on a shoestring.
Stability and Performance. Linux servers tend to perform well under high-stress conditions, and also don’t generally need to be rebooted or upgraded. Again, for a small business with a limited budget, these features limit the need for a large IT staff or significant maintenance investments.
Improved Security. Certain features of the Linux operating system, such as the fact that it was initially designed for multiple users, make it inherently more secure than others. Linux servers are only accessible to one root user (administrator), and rarely can applications or other users access the kernel. This also means that most viruses, simply due to their design, cannot attack Linux systems.
Enhanced Customization. The open-source nature of Linux allows users to customize almost everything about their setup, creating exactly the system they need.
Of course, for all of the benefits of moving to a Unix-based server, there are some drawbacks, primarily within the realm of scalability. As your website grows and changes, you may discover that Linux servers aren’t always fully compatible with the technology you’ve used to build your site, and that remaining with a Windows-based server is the better option. And again, familiarity — not to mention professional technical support — are always important considerations.
Making the Switch
If you are switching from Windows to Linux, there are some things you can do to make the transition easier.
1. Get Training
Before you even begin making the transition, invest some time in Linux training to ensure you understand the basics. Online IT training video courses, user forums, and Linux guides can all help you get a grasp on the new technology.
2. Join a Linux Community
There are dozens of Linux communities online, where you can read how-tos, ask questions, and get advice. Check out these communities to get help when you need it the most.
3. Install Linux on a “Practice” Computer
While some programmers suggest a dual install, with running both Windows and Linux on the same machine, the potential for disaster with that approach is significant. It’s generally better to install Linux on a different machine, where you can practice and get familiar with the technology in a safe environment. Continue using your previous OS as normal on your original machine, and only make the final switch when you are fully comfortable with Linux. Keep in mind that you will have the best luck with computers that have Intel processors and video cards rather than AMD. AMD will work, but because Linux and Intel have worked closely together, the technology tends to be more compatible.
4. Try Different Applications
While you can do most of the same things on a Linux machine as you can on a Windows machine, you shouldn’t expect things to work exactly the same way. Don’t expect to find direct equivalents of your Windows applications; even those that are cross-platform will have some differences. Be willing to experiment to find the applications that will best meet your needs.
Start learning Linux with ITProTV’s Linux for Beginners introductory course.
5. Expect a Learning Curve
Even if you consider yourself a Windows power user, and know that technology inside and out, there is bound to be a learning curve on Linux. You didn’t become an expert in Windows overnight, so don’t expect to do that with Linux. Take your time, be open to learning and experimenting, and know that you may experience some frustration as you get familiar with the new platform.
Whether you are switching to Linux for business reasons, or you just want to learn a new operating system for fun or to expand your skills, it’s not a difficult transition. Just be patient, and if you need help, start learning all about running and managing Linux systems with online IT training from ITProTV.