But with changing scenerio and time Linux has emerged as not only one of the most powerful operating system but also more user friendly than one can ever imagine. Think about it, an OS which costs you nothing, provides a mind blowing GUI, with tons of options for customising the desktop and its own behaviour. Yes, this is today's modern Linux. Its user friendliness beats that of windows in some aspects (actually in most of the aspects, if you ask me). Its repositories are huge and contains so many application programmes than your computer can possibly support (unless you are running a supercomputer in a top research facility ;] ). No more learning those nitty-gritty commands is required. A double click of standard usb or ps2 mouse is more then enough. Just install a Linux and have fun. You can access your files just by clicking them. Linux comes preloaded with most of the drivers, so you need not to install them separately. Like the touchpad scroll and other media keys of my laptop do not work with windows unless I install all the drivers individually from diffeent cds but this is not an issue with Linux, Everything works fine without installing any more drivers.
Let us compare some usual windows applications wih Linux applications and see the result:-
Multimedia applications : While Windows is bundled with Windows Media Player, Linux comes loaded with Movie Player and Rythm Box (GNOME desltop environment) or Dragon Player and Amarock (K desktop environment or kde). While both the desktop envirnment players are bundled with many more codecs than Windows Media Player, KDE players are more powerful than GNOME's although GNOME provide a more simple user interface. People using players other than Windows Media Player will be glad to know that players like vlc and real player are also available for Linux and that too free of cost. Although vlc player is loaded with most of the codec you will use in your entire lifetime but still if something is missing then Codina will come to rescue. Codina auto detect the missing codec, search it (both free and proprietry) and will install it on your wish (by wish I mean to say a mouse click).
Office Suite : Most of the Linux distros are bundled with Sun's OpenOffice. It's a complete office suite providing a lot more than MS-Office. MS Word is replaced by OpenOffice Writer. Powerpoint is replaced by Impress. Excel is substituted by Calc and Access by Base. You can do a lot more than usual MS-Office work with these applications. There is no need to install a pdf converter sepearately, it is integrated with these applications, you just need to click a button. The default file extention is not the same as that of MS-Office but it completely supports MS-office formats (upto office 2003, 2007 is on the way). Yes!! you can save your document in the format you want. Save it as .doc or .odt (the default OpenOffice format) or as .pdf or as any other given choices. Now try that with MS-Office!!!
Internet Applications : Most of the Linux uses Mozilla Firefox as its default web browser although other browsers like Konqurer (KDE) and Epiphany (GNOME) are also available. Most of the users find firefox good enough so there is no need to install another web browser. Infact many of the Windows user use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Now lets talk about chat clients. Well there is an extensive list of such clients which are powerful and yet so simple that its a child's play to configure them. I am currently using Pidgin for gtalk. It supports gtalk, yahoo messenger, aim, msn, myspace, irc and a lot more than I can remember. So there is no need to install different clients for gtalk and yahoo messenger one single client will suffice. And yes, it looks coolt. Alternatively you can use Kopete (KDE default) which also support a lot of protocols. IRC clients like Xchat are already well known to most of the users hanging on irc. Evolution is also present as a subsitute to Outlook. Also one can always install Mozilla Seamonkey suite which is a complete internet applicaion suite.
File System Browser : Just like Windows have Explorer Linux also has file system browser like Dolphin (KDE) and File Browser (GNOME). It is needless to say thet they are powerful, more than Explorer. Ofcourse it is loaded with all the usual features but one feature which I like most is that that you can open more than one location within same window in tabs or even partition the the window and see two or more locations simultaneously. Isn't that way ahead than Windows Explorer!!
Other Utilities : Linux comes loaded with lots of softwares like cd/dvd burning tool, a basic text editor, a tool for taking screen shots, encryption utilities and a lot of other “this and thats”. Lets talk a bit more about these application tools. Linux comes with K3B (KDE) or Brasero (GNOME) bundled with the distros so you need not to install any burning software explicitly. Linux editors are the substitutes for notepad but way useful. They are a lot helpful for programmers than notepad because of features like highlighting and color coding the programming language keywords and is also helpful in customising the indents for sensitive languages like python. Unlike Windows, Linux provides a screnn shot tool which can be used to click entire screen or a window or you can simply specifiy the area you want to be clicked. Ofcourse Linux' security is something well known. Just let me tell you this, its really difficult to hack a Linux and Linux also has so less number of viruses that there is practically no need of an anti virus.
To conclude this article I will just say that being open source doesn't mean that software is weak in any sense. So what are you waiting for?? Try a linux distro now. Its completely free of cost and trust me you will love it.