It's six weeks since I pulled the plug on Windows Vista, erased my laptop's hard disk and moved to Linux. I think I'm done with the tinkering and got a system that looks and works how I want it, so I thought I'd share my thoughts and first impressions.
(1) it's bloody fast. With Vista, I'd turn it on, go away, make a cup of tea, flick through the newspaper, come back, and wait just a few more minutes until I had a desktop ready to use. Shutdowns were just as slow (could never understand how it can take so long to stop programs and switch things off), as were many things in between. In the final few months of Windows I was wondering if it was just my hardware getting old, and maybe a new laptop was the way to go. However, with Linux, I haven't timed it, but I reckon it's less than a minute including putting my password in. I'm still amazed by how fast my old laptop has become.
(2) It's lightweight. Another reason for thinking I should upgrade my hardware was that the hard disk was getting seriously full (about 50GB free of my 250GB disk) and I was pondering what could be deleted or moved off to my external HDD. With Linux I've now got about 150GB free. With some re-organising of partitions, I could get a fair bit more.
(3) It's infinitely more customisable. With Windows you get what you're given, and bar changing the theme, you're stuck with it (bar the once-per-decade interface changes... Win3.1 >> Windows 95 ~~~ Vista >> Win 8 ). Linux, I'm spolit for choice. Started with KDE, changed to Cinnamon, to MATE, back to Cinnamon, then MATE with Cairo, now settled on the Cairo desktop.
(4) It's infinitely too customisable.... six weeks later I'm only just at a stage where I'm actually *using* my laptop again
(5) All the workings are so much more logical and secure. From the file system layout, to owners and groups and permissions, to software repositories. It seems ridiculous to do it the "old" way now - mixing user files and programs in with the Windows system files, allowing any program access to any part of the file system, having file systems wholly separated just because they're on different partitions, allowing a program from anywhere on the internet to install and run. Even from the command line now, it's child's play to find and install an app as compared to finding a website where I can download it and keep my fingers crossed it's not infected with some malware.
(6) It's buggy, a work in progress, easy to break, needs more configuring and tweaking to get working at times, doesn't always work "straight out of the box". One of my first experiences with the whole thing was the infamous Cinnamon freeze-up in Libre Office. Later on it took a lot of head-scratching to get Apache/Xampp to access files in my home folder. I've broken my system a fair few times and re-installed the whole lot a few times. I've been very frustrated with it, at times thought "shall I just go back to Windows" but then I've never found a problem I can't get out of, with the help of the......
(7) ....marvellous community support. If something's turned out buggy, or I've broken something, or wanted to know how to make something work, 9 out of 10 times I've found the answer here (from a previous thread or an answer to my question). Again, no need to go trawling on google to find someone who knows, or to download some other program which claims to do what I want.