It all started with a printer problem...
Now that I've had a few days to work out a few minor problems and issues (issues that ended being related to things other then Linux) I'm finding myself very satisfied with Linux and I find it fulfills about 90% of my computer needs.
This is the list of "needs" Linux is not currently able to fulfill for me:
2)Flash Player 8
3)Compiling code for Windows
The iTunes one is out of Linux's hands. It's up to Apple to release a version of iTunes that works on Linux. I don't buy that much stuff from the iTunes store and I know I can use the "analog hole" to carry my audio over but I have also purchased a few TV shows and I can't port them over without losing most of the quality.
Flash Player 8 is another issue that is out of the Linux coders hands. It's up to Adobe to update the Flash Player for Linux.
The last one... I could probably use Wine but I'd rather not take the chance (at this time) with trusting it to compile properly. That's not a snub of Linux either as I wouldn't compile code meant for Linux on a Windows machine!
One thing that I have found immensely useful about Ubuntu is their website. Between their community support forums, wiki and various HowTo articles I have not encountered a single problem that was not already covered in one of those three areas.
Why, when I initially loaded Ubuntu I was unimpressed with the total lack-luster performance of the included multimedia applications. Then I went to the website, did a search, and found my answers! Now my multimedia applications work just as well (if not better) then they did under Windows on this same machine.
In fact, I find everything works better/faster then it used to when this box had Windows 98 installed on it.
Now, I'm not specifically trying to knock on Windows 98 because, let's face it, Windows 98 Special Edition was one of the best versions of windows to ever get pressed onto a CD! I never liked Windows ME and I only got XP because it came with the computer I purchased.
A long time ago I dropped MS Office in favor of OpenOffice and lived through the "rough" years of it's early development cycle. I'm talking about back in the day when I had to download it over a 14.4 connection! I even used Star Office for a while.
I can honestly say, now that OpenOffice 2.0 is out, that I miss nothing about MS Office. If only I could get people to stop sending me those annoying .doc files... Send it in .rtf if you must use Word!
In the same vein, I dropped Internet Explorer before Firefox changed from FireBird. (You did know Firefox was once FireBird, right?) Every so often I do have to load up IE for the occasional website that refuses to use standards and only renders properly in IE, but those times are far less frequent these days. I also keep a copy of IE on hand for testing the websites I develop. It's always painful to see a properly built site designed with CSS render perfectly on FireFox and Opera only to have it fall apart on IE...
My absolute favorite thing about Ubuntu (and Debian upon which it is based) has to be...
Apt-get has to be the best thing since RPMs and ./configure! If you don't get that joke then you're probably one of those 10 people in the world, you know, the one who doesn't get the joke? All right, enough of my geekiness.
The point is, for those who think Linux is too hard to use or install or whatever, try Ubuntu. You can download an ISO image that you can burn to a CD. Then, you take that CD, put it in your computer and reboot. When it comes back on you will be running Ubuntu from the CD. It will not change anything on your hard drive but will run from a RAMDisk in memory.
I must warn you though. Many printer manufacturers save money by implementing special "windows-only" software to make their printers work. We call them dumb or windows-printers. If you have one of them you may be in for buying a new one if you switch to Linux. This same problem exists with modems, but most of us are on broadband these days!
You can check http://www.linuxprinting.org/ for information about printers.
In fact, about a year ago one of my friends had a hard drive crash on their family computer. Their Windows recovery disks had long since been eaten by the dog. The manufacturer was not willing to send them copies of their recovery disks and even though they had a perfectly legitimate Windows XP key, I had no way to install XP. My copies were all locked to the vendor of my machine and even though I tried, it would not accept their registration key. So, what did we do? We installed Linux.
The only surprise occurred when I brought the machine back to their house to find out they used a small USB wi-fi dongle that was... duh duh duh... Windows only!
Luckily, I was able to go on line and read about ndiswrapper which allowed me to "wrap" the windows driver in such a way as to allow them to use it in Linux.
Everything else worked well enough for their needs. They had Internet, could play DVDs and CDs and that was about all this computer was used for. They were happy!