Well, in a moment of possible lunacy this weekend, I blew away the remaining vestiges of Windows XP on my two PCs and went over to the Ubuntu side. I’d already been running Ubuntu exclusively on my notebook and using that as my day-to-day system for a couple of weeks now. But I had still hung on to my Windows XP desktop system (nothing special–a 1.5GHz AMD Athlon with about 750 MB of RAM and a 40GB HD), in case I needed to go back.
But it wasn’t long before I was able to convince myself that I’d be able to do everything in Ubuntu that I used to do in Windows. I can surf the web, do email, play music and videos, rip and burn CDs, and even sync with my Palm T|X. OpenOffice was a suitable replacement for MS Office, and GnuCash took the place of Quicken. I still had a few odds & ends to sort out, but I even found replacements for my ham radio log software, and I discovered that there was even linux software for generating log submissions for the ARRL’s Logbook of the World. Cool. Pretty-much all of this software was either installed along with Ubuntu or easily installed after the fact (without the need for downloading and compiling sources).
Not only can I surf the web, but my Ubuntu PCs can see and be seen by the other Windows computers on my home network, and files and printers can be shared easily. I’m still learning about some things in linux (like trying to figure out the logic behind the organization of the $#%$^ file system), but that’s part of the fun. And I haven’t yet found replacements for everything I used to do under Windows, like programming microcontrollers and producing topo maps for hiking, but I’m sure I’ll be able to take care of those issues, as well.
For you hams out there, linux supports plenty of ham applications like logging, contesting, and digital modes. I was able to get my Rigblaster Plug & Play working with a PSK31 program called fldigi without too much trouble, and I made a PSK31 contact within a few hours of installing Ubuntu.
If you’re getting fed up with Microsoft like I was, and you’re not looking forward to shelling out a couple hundred bucks for Vista at some point, you really oughta check out Ubuntu linux. You can download the LiveCD version of it and try running it from CD without ever installing it on your PC, if you’d like (although the performance in this mode is kinda sluggish). There’s a ton of information on the web on getting linux things to work, so you won’t be left out in the cold.