The Hidden Costs of Linux Ownership: Page 2

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Even support takes time as you have to post your request on a forum and wait for someone to come along and offer you a helping hand. The help is usually quite good and offered by knowledgeable people, usually giving their time away freely, but that still doesn’t help you if you’re working to the clock and you’ve promised someone that Linux is so much better than Windows. If you get a really obscure error message or particularly weird problem, you could be waiting for help for a long time.

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Another element that consumes time is deciding which Linux distro to use. Many in the Linux community still refuse to accept that the number of Linux distros available acts as a barrier to adoption. Sure, choice is a good thing, and sure, it seems that Ubuntu is making good progress when it comes to becoming the mainstream “People’s Linux” distro, and gOS has enjoyed success at the very-low-cost end of the PC market. But for users who have heard the term Linux, narrowing down which distro is right for them might take time, especially if they happen to get caught up in a religious war between two distro factions.

The blanket term “Linux” and that cute little penguin Tux cleverly hide levels of complexity that would baffle M. C. Escher. When Apple’s ad campaigns focused on the single Leopard version being easier for consumers than the myriad Vista choices, the company was onto something there. Too much choice is a major turn-off.

(In case you’re wondering, my advice to any Linux virgin would be to try Ubuntu, but then again by picking that distro over PCLinuxOS, openSUSE, Fedora or any of the other distros on offer, I’m probably being part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. With that in mind, just go out and download as many LiveCDs as you can and try each distro until you find one that suits you.)

These issues shouldn’t mean that people should abandon Linux, but these issues certainly are worth bearing in mind when deciding whether to give a Linux distro a go. It’s easy to allow that word “free” to overwhelm the senses, but it’s important to note that there’s more to attaining computing enlightenment than just downloading a free OS.

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