Monday, January 30, 2012

Making the transistion from Windows to Linux

For those of you reading this blog who have not yet made the transition from the world of Windows (or Mac OS) to Linux yet, I thought It was time I got down to some practical articles about making the move, and particularly what software I use in Linux that replaces common Windows/Mac applications.

Lets be realistic, these days the most common use for a PC in most households is surfing the internet and social media. Have no fear on this score, Linux has versions of all the main Web browsers, Firefox, Opera and Chrome, it is even possible to get Internet Explorer working in Linux through WINE, but that is for another day.

The screen shot shows Firefox running in my install of Mint 11. In all the new user friendly distributions of Linux, Surfing the internet, watching 'U Tube' video, and accessing your web mail, and social media sites is a simple as it is in Windows. In some distributions you may need to add the flash plug-in the first time you try and run a video but this only takes a few minutes and your up and running. With Mint you will not even have to do that.

OK so we can access the internet, lets look at the next most common use for a home PC, opening documents such as those produced in Microsoft Office. Letters Spreadsheets and Power Point presentations. Bring on LibreOffice.

This is a fully functional (and powerful) Office application suit. It includes applications for producing, Word, Spreadsheet and presentation documents, it can also open and save to the Microsoft Office equivalent formats including the later versions such as .docx, .xlsx and .pptx. It also can open documents from other more obscure office applications such as those created in Microsoft Works as I recently found out when I was sent a document created with this package. As well as word documents the other common format that is often sent or downloaded is those in Portable Document Format (pdf) fear not Linux has several tools that can view these documents, and LibreOffice can even create pdf documents for you to send to others without the worry they will change it in any way.   

So we have software in Linux that can do some common tasks that you may already be doing in Windows. The difference is that LibreOffice will not cost you the £100+ that MS Office will cost you. If you want to give it a go there is a Windows version, you can download it here:

In the next Blog I'll look at Music and Video play back in Linux.

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