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This article will help you in deciding whether you can use Linux or not

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Linux is not for everyone, just the way not everyone likes roses; some like lilies.

Since an operating system is not a flower it’s less about preferences and more about what gets your job done in the best possible manner. An operating system is a very powerful tool which assists us in getting things done.

There are three popular operating systems – Windows, Mac OSX and GNU/Linux-based. Each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages (which we will talk about in some other article). GNU/Linux based operating systems (also known as distros) have many advantages over both Mac and Windows which make it an obvious choice. However, as I said, there are advantages and disadvantages of each operating system and what works for me may not work for you so it’s very important to know whether Linux is suitable for you or not.

It all boils down to usage. Whether you will be comfortable with GNULinux or not depends on what type of things you do with a PC. In this article I am going to talk about those factors which will decide if you can use Linux or not.

What do you do with your computer?

Look at your usage. List the applications that you use on your current system. Once listed, see how many of these apps and their replacements are available under GNU/Linux based systems. If all the apps that you need (or their replacements) are available under Linux, you are ready to make the switch (if you have any questions about whether there are replacements for the apps you use, you can post your query in the comments below).

Gaming: If you use Windows or Mac for gaming then the good news is that leading gaming player Valve, the company behind Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, has announced their own Linux based operating system called Steam OS and are also shipping a game console based on this OS. So high-end gaming is coming to Linux.

Image Editing: It depends on how advanced image editing you do. If you do the average image editing where you want to refine or edits the photos you shoot or if you do other editing work then there are many tool under Linux which can take care of your image editing task. Some of these tools are – GIMP, Krita, DigiKam, Darktable, etc.

However if you are looking for really refined editing and use tools like LightRoom or Nik Software then Linux doesn’t have decent replacements yet.

Video Editing: There are many basic video editing applications available under Linux which are on par with Windows Movie Maker. These applications are good enough to help you with basic video editing where you can create home videos.

However there are no professional grade film editing software available for Linux, yet. So if you are using FCP, Sony Vegas pro or Adobe Premiere then there is nothing on Linux to offer same level of functionality. There is one extremely powerful software, called Blender, which is reputed for 3D animation and can be used for film editing as well. But in most cases, I don’t think Linux has much to offer when it comes to high-end film editing.

Multimedia playback: Watching video and listening to music is charm under Linux. In fact the world’s most popular video playing app is an open source app and is available for Linux – it’s called VLC and it can play virtually any video formats in the world.

Same applies to music. There are many apps such as Amarok, Clementine, Rhythmbox, Banshee, etc which offer advanced as well as basic music playing capabilities. There app can be, in some cases, much better than Windows Media Player and iTunes. So Linux is very well equipped with multi-media playback.

Steaming service: I can watch Hulu, Amazon Prime videos and almost every other steaming service on Linux – including YouTube and Vimeo. Netflix is the only service which doesn’t play very well under Linux due to the use of Microsoft Silverlight which is not available under Linux (though some user have managed to get Netflix to work under Linux). The good news is that Netflix is moving to HTML5, which is an open standard so soon its content will be available under Linux as well.

Communication: Both Skype and Google hangout are available for Linux users so if you use Linux, you won’t be deprived of these.

Cloud: All major cloud providers, including Dropbox and Copy, are available for Linux users. Unfortunately, Google has not made it’s own Google Drive available for Linux for some mysterious reasons.

Office suites: Google Docs will take care of most of your needs. There is LibreOffice which is one of the most popular open source office suite available for all three platforms as is already very popular and powerful. So you will never need Microsoft Office or Pages once you start using LibreOffice.

Conclusion

These are just few use cases that I could think of and I have tried to be as honest as possible to show how well Linux can take care of your usage. Linux has come a long way and now it’s ready for the prime time. The only reason it has not picked up as Windows or Mac is because there is no big company investing money and resources in marketing Linux.

Things change when a company like Google enters the market. Google has made Linux powered Android the leading mobile operating system. Google is now also investing heavily in Linux powered Chromebooks. The device is the #1 best selling device on Amazon.com. Just look at the popularity of Google’s Chromebook, which runs only a browser on top of Linux. There are thousands of users using Chromebooks. Chromebook runs Google’s Chrome browser on a Linux based operating system. So if those users are happy with Linux running just a browser, you should be fine with it too. And if you pick a generic GNU/Linux-based operating system for your PC you will be able to run not only that browser, but also many other popular applications.

We are looking for aspiring bloggers and journalists for The Mukt. If you are interested, apply now!

So which one is the best GNU/Linux-based operating system for you? In my next article I will suggest top 5 GNU/Linux-based operating systems that you should consider.

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Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

26 Comments

  1. Kdenlive is as good a Adobe Premier Pro for video editing, without the annoying request for more payment everytime you need to use a different codec

    • @c342fc3f80dc5b1525d82e10ccecb4ce:disqus Thanks. But if you are looking at professional video editing work, which I do once in a while. Kdenlive is not there yet. I don’t know what you mean by Adobe Premier asking for codec? If you are dealing with 5-10 track editing to make over 10 minutes of file Kdenlive can’t do the job.

  2. Lightworks is a professional grade video and editing software and it’s available on Linux as a beta. Otherwise, a very informative article.

  3. 1. Kdenlive is much superior to Crapmaker.
    2. Don’t forget about Lightworks.

  4. The big question is: Can you use Trisquel GNU/Linux-libre? Spoiler: Chances are that you most probably can’t.

  5. You didn’t mention hardware and peripherals. I currently run a Sid flavor of a Debian-based distribution and currently the legacy AMD video driver required for my AMD GPU chip doesn’t work under Sid. Also, I haven’t found a way to get my Canon CanoScan 8600F to work under Linux.

    • Right. But hardware comes second. First stage is to see whether the software you use will work under GNU/Linux or not. I will cover supported hardware in the next article. Thanks for pointing that.

  6. Steaming Service? Like my suits?

  7. “However if you are looking for really refined editing and use tools like
    LightRoom or Nik Software then Linux doesn’t have decent replacements
    yet.”

    Corel AfterShot Pro. It’s cross platform (with native versions available for Linux, OS X and Windows). Product info here:

    http://www.corel.com/corel/product/index.jsp?pid=prod4670071

    Here’s a webinar showing many of it’s features:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i633ZBya9Fc

    • LightZone and Darktable darkroom softwar

      • I’m a fan of DarkTable, LightZone, Raw Therapee, RawStudio, digiKam and other products that are also available for LInux.

        I’d also argue that most of those are more than the vast majority of users would ever need. IOW, I strongly disagree with the author of this article in that area.

        But, if you want the “cream of the crop” for image management/raw conversion/basic editing tasks when compared to something like Adobe’s LIghtroom, just use Corel AfterShot Pro.

        It’s better than Adobe’s Lightroom in a number of areas. For example, it works without the need to import your images into a catalog first (as Lightroom requires), but it still gives you that ability for far better integration, search features using metadata, merging of multiple catalogs into a single view, etc.

        IOW, it allows you to choose whether or not you need to import your images to catalogs first (whereas Lightroom does not).

        I think you’ll find that AfterShot Pro is much faster on multi-core processors compared to newer Adobe LIghtroom releases, too (IOW. LR 5.x can be a real “dog” even on fast computers, and AfterShot Pro tends to “run circles around it”).

        AfterShot Pro also supports GPU Acceleration via OpenCL. So, if you have a fast video card, you can increase performance even more for many tasks. With Lightroom, sorry, Adobe has not added any GPU Accelerated features yet (even though they do with newer versions of Photoshop now, they haven’t added that ability to LIghtroom yet).

        AfterShot Pro also allows you to use layers and regions for editing, and there is a growing number of plugins available from third parties now.

        I have AfterShot Pro installed in both Windows (64 Bit Win 7) and Linux on my computers (as I use multiple Operating Systems in a multi-boot config), and I strongly prefer Corel AfterShot Pro over Adobe Lightroom for a variety of reasons. BTW, I work for a Digital Camera Review site (and have for the past 10 years). So, I just might know something about processing images. I won’t plug them here (because that would be Spam). But, I’d suggest you try both products for yourself and see how they compare.

        IOW, even if I only used Windows, I’d still prefer AfterShot Pro over Lightroom.

        Given that a Linux version is also available makes it even better. Sure, it’s not free. But, at the current pricing, AfterShot Pro is a real bargain. Basically, Corel purchased the assets from Bibble Labs a while back, and took the latest Bibble 5 Pro code, enhanced it, and rebranded it as AfterShot Pro; and they’ve added some neat new features since then (as in GPU Acceleration via OpenCL).

        Given that Bibble Pro was selling for $199, with Corel reducing the price of AfterShot Pro to only $99.99 (full retail) after acquiring Bibble Labs, it’s a steal (especially given the current $49.99 sale price).

        So, hopefully the author of this article will research some of those types of alternatives before declaring that there are no applications comparable to Lightroom that are available for Linux. :-)

  8. Very nice Article. Whats up with kdenlive for Videoediting? Not good enough? And Blender is a better Video Editer than kdenlive? (I love Blender)

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