I feel a certain kinship with newer Linux converts. Switching to Linux on the desktop is definitely a unique experience that many of us tend to forget. For instance, the need to stop and think about where a tool’s located can be challenging for newbies.
Similarly, anytime I need to use Windows 7, I find myself doing a double-take when trying to launch Linux programs like Synapse! I click the keys, only to remember that I'm on Windows, and not my Ubuntu box. I guess old desktop computing habits diehard.
For people who switch to Linux, they may find themselves missing select features. Not features that experienced Linux users consider groundbreaking, rather options that are considered 'nice to have' by those from the Windows side of the fence.
In this article, I'll look at some of these missing items, and offer comparable alternatives.
Ask some users of newbie-friendly distributions such as Ubuntu about 'system restore', and they might tell you such a feature is available for Windows only. Ask someone who's more familiar with the Linux options, however, and they'll likely mention that rsync is the next best thing.
Unfortunately, though, rsync itself is best suited for system administrator personality types who feel comfortable in a command line environment. Therefore, I recommend meeting in the middle with the following solution: a rsync front-end known as Back in Time. I've found that Back in Time offers the same level for ease of use that's found with Windows' System Restore.
I have used this snapshot tool countless times, and let me say, I think that Back in Time must have software for most Ubuntu users. As a matter of fact, I suspect it works just as well on other Linux distributions as well. After all, it's just a GUI to the mighty rsync snapshot tool.
I haven't been in a position where I've needed to purchase software in years. Fact of the matter is, the software I use on any platform is either freeware or it's open source. On my various Linux PCs, including my main Ubuntu rig, open source software is the only way to go.
However, some newcomers to the Linux space may be frustrated when a needed application doesn't work well within WINE. Worse than that, there may not be an appropriate open source alternative to this Windows-specific software title.
In instances like this, legacy software users are forced to make a choice. Boot into a Windows-based PC or use Windows in a virtual machine.
In either case, they still need a copy of Windows to run the application. Thanks to Windows licensing restrictions, this creates a number of problems for those who may have misplaced their Windows license key, or it simply won't work.
Trying to ween users away from legacy software is, to be honest, extremely difficult. Worse, WINE and virtual machines aren't a very elegant solution. Suffice it to say, there often isn't a fix for this problem.
A Driver Disc
Despite hearing rather dated horror stories about Linux hardware not working out of the box, desktop Linux distributions like Ubuntu offer very solid hardware compatibility. Based on this, one should be able to go to any big box store and purchase whatever peripheral they desire.
The idea, of course, is that it's going to work immediately once it's attached to the Linux-based computer. In nearly every instance, I've found this to be true. This is especially true with printer/scanner combos that normally require the included driver disc that comes with the device. Yet unfortunately some devices, such as select Epson printers or various wireless dongles, might not work as expected.
This is where – once again _ Linux experience will outshine Linux distribution documentation. In the case of a problem with an Epson printer, if it happens to not work, chances are there are drivers available for download. (Note: I only selected Epson as a fictional example. Overall, Epson is well supported in Linux.)
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