Will Linux Mint change my life?

Anybody here who made the switch from Windows to Linux, and can either reassure or warn me?

Right now I’m playing with Linux Mint, loaded from a USB stick, onto my old Gateway netbook. The computer is several years old, not very powerful, and was gasping along with Windows 7 Starter, with which it was originally loaded.

So far, Linux seems to be okay, but running from a flash drive isn’t really a fair comparison. Plus, when I try to surf the net with the included Firefox browser, everything freezes after a few minutes, and I have to turn the computer off and restart it. But maybe that’s just the browser – I use Chrome when in Windows.

Given that it took me multiple tires and various visits to Linux forums just to get the thing to boot up successfully the first time, I don’t want to do anything involving my hard drive until I’m reasonably sure it will be trouble free, and having my computer freeze when I’m surfing the net doesn’t fall into that category. Or maybe that’s just one of the features-not-glitches of trying to run a computer off a USB flash drive.

Any suggestions?

What sort of software do you use? (graphics? music/audio? games?)

Mint is based on Debian, which has very good software package management - it’s really easy to install programs - have a go at the Software Manager and see what you can do…

My expectations are very low for this machine. Use it when I’m traveling. Internet, email, some very basic word processing – basically a tablet with a much better keyboard. If YouTube videos will run fullscreen, I’ll be happy.

It should be fine for that - if you’re looking for a lightweight wordprocessor for Linux, you might want to try AbiWord. Of course, Libreoffice is available, but that might be overkill.

As long as it’s open source, there’s no such thing as overkill.

You might consider spending $44 on a new 500GB laptop drive.

It’s Cheap insurance. Your windows drive is safe and secure in a drawer. If Linux doesn’t work out swap out the drive.

I started doing this many years ago. Drives got cheap.

I find it likely that you will have freezing problems in this particular case. Having Firefox crash isn’t really a surprise, but having to restart the computer to recover isn’t normal at all. Maybe the built-in network card doesn’t work well with the stock driver. And it’s no fun using the Internet to fix a networking problem that causes system freezes – unless you have a second computer to do it on.

I agree that you should use a different hard disk, or partition your existing disk so that Windows remains available.

I’ve run Ubuntu on my main desktop for 7 years now (as I’m cheap and hate having to massively upgrade/replace my computer every three years) and there are a couple of pitfalls to be aware of. The idea of a bigger drive is a great one and not too spendy. I would highly recommend going this route. The next logical step is to set up your machine to dual boot so you have the option to go to windows or linux at startup. If you find you just don’t want to jump full force into the linux world, delete the partition and you still have windows to fall back on. Or vice-versa.
There are some applications that simply don’t like linux (like the Foscam HD ip camera I just bought :frowning: ) but in your case this likely won’t be an issue.

You will be tinkering with command line at some point to get some things to work so you might as well get comfortable with the idea. There are great forums available for every distro and Mint and Ubuntu in particular. Browse them, especially the newbs guides as they’re a great source of info.

Keep in mind that linux is not windows even if the GUI looks the same-ish. UNIX / Linux Tutorial for Beginners has a bunch of tutorials so you have a rough idea of what’s going on under the hood.

I’ve had some frustration but I’ve learned a fair bit and I’m glad I made the switch.

I use Ubuntu on my laptop, but solely to use something different. on my laptop I don’t need the same breadth of software I do on my primary desktop.

I could never switch on my desktop, there are too many programs I use which either don’t exist for Linux, or if they do they’re feature incomplete, unmaintained, or just plain half-assed.

For several years I’ve been running cygwin under Windows. This gives me access to 98% of what I use Unix for, but frees me from concern about Linux drivers, etc.

I’m curious: What are Linux users enjoying that I’m missing out on?

This morning I went to install Mint on the netbook, telling the installation program to divide the disk so I could keep Windows. The program answered with something to the effect of “this will take a long time so be patient.” A few minutes later the screen went blank and I can’t click it back.

How long should I wait to see if the machine comes back to live, or try to reboot, or something else?