Dutch hams: “Goodbye XP, Hello Linux”

I never wanted to be a Linux evangelist, and never pretended to be one either. Times change. Microsoft’s end-of life announcement left many hams using Windows XP worried. What to do? Do what more and more ham operators are doing here: switch to Linux. It’s fast, beautiful, safe and (here comes the magic word) FREE.

Best of both worlds
Dumping XP completely in favor of Linux might not be a good option for everyone. Some ham related software can’t do without Windows. What you can do then is install Linux next to Windows, a so-called dual-boot system. Boot Linux for safety, speed and the wealth of more than 62.000 applications, and boot XP when you really have to.

What Linux version?
Linux addicts like to live on the bleeding edge and switch from version to version. Most popular versions (called distributions, for a list see Distrowatch.com) have a life cycle of 6 months or so, after which you’re supposed to update to the new version. I agree that this is fun, but for the average user this is not very practical. A smarter option is to pick an LTS (Long Time Support) version, which is supported for a period of 5 years. Ubuntu and Mint (which is based on Ubuntu) both offer such LTS versions.

Not too long ago Ubuntu had everything going for it, but that changed from the moment the developers tried to force-feed Unity, a new graphical user interface, to their users. I’ve worked wit Unity – at least I tried to – but found it to be mediocre at best. Linux Mint on the other hand lets you pick the desktop environment of choice. As a result the popularity of Ubuntu dropped like a stone, while Mint’s user base exploded.

The most popular desktops are MATE and Cinnamon. Both are slick, fast and ideal for Windows users who love a start button of sorts and navigate through applications the way they used to. Below screenshots of MATE and Cinnamon.

The current LTS version of Linux Mint is version 13 (Maya) (download here) which will be supported until mid 2017. Make sure you pick a version suitable for your system — you need to know if your processor is 32-bits or 64-bits. A new LTS version of Mint will be available around June 2014.

If you give Linux Mint a try, please report back to me. I’d love to hear your comments and will do my best to answer any questions you might have.

13 comments on “Dutch hams: “Goodbye XP, Hello Linux”

    • VirtualBox is not something you want to confront a new Linux user with. Later in time, sure, but a simple dual-boot will preserve their current system configuration.

      • I ditched Windows many years ago, although I did dual-boot with XP until I felt comfortable to make the break. Never regretted it. Having a wife and daughter with fairly new laptops with Windows7, I am regularly called upon to try and sort out silly problems. No so with Linux (Mint) which does everything I need and rarely if ever lets me down. As for ham radio, there are several really useful programs inc fldigi for digital modes.

  1. i have been running Mint on my laptop for about two years now. I currently have Mint 15 loaded and have nothing but praise for it. It’s fast and just worked. Now iI must add that I have 25+ in IT so i do have a bit of a background but even a new user will have no problems. Linux is a viable option for any ham


  2. When I first switched to Linux two years ago, I progressed through Ubuntu (hated it) , then Mint (very comfortable OS) and have settled on PCLinuxOS. I would take PCLinuxOS over Mint any day but Mint would probably be the better option for those switching from XP or any other Windows platform and unfamiliar with Linux.

  3. Actually Hans, I tasted Mint 10 a while ago on a old desktop. It tasted good but the computer died and I didn’t look any further. My main logging/blogging computer is a Acer tablet computer with Windows XP tablet edition. It will be a real challenge to make the thing work with Linux, especially the touch screen I think. I can give it a try one of these days. 73, Bas

  4. I’ve been stoked with lubuntu, its light, fast and simple. I still have windows 7 loaded on this system, and its painfully slow to use in comparison. A light distro of linux is a wonderful way to wake up older hardware.

    • Lubuntu is a very good option for older HW. I have it installed on my in-laws desktop, themed it to look like XP and they never really noticed the difference.

  5. Just a note, with most any distro, certainly with Ubuntu, what ships as default is very easily changed. I’m not sure if people aren’t aware of this or not.

    If you install Ubuntu but want another window manager, it’s simply a “sudo apt-get install ” away to change it. Installing kubuntu-desktop or xubuntu-desktop as examples will allow you to check out KDE/Kubuntu or Xubuntu/XFCE4 feels at a whim. Simply do the install, then log out of the desktop session and choose the other session options that will appear in the login dialogue.

    Not only just the desktops but what many people describe as “bloat”, the default installed apps, can be swapped in, added, or removed at will with most any distro be it Debian, Ubuntu, Redhat, CentOS, SuSE etc etc, they all have package managers to enable the user to make the install whatever they want it to be.

    • Chris,

      Folks migrating from Windows would find your terminology incomprehensible. For example, here are terms that would totally confuse most PC folks: Distro, Ubuntu, sudo, KDE, Redhat, Package Managers, etc., etc. Not to fault you for your observations, which are accurate, but this is completely out of the realm of most PC denizens. They would want (and expect) a simple installation and interface, similar to Windows.

  6. Since I was dropped off in 2009 by Mr. Gates, not supported as VISTA user, I became a LINUX user. First I tried ubuntu 2009, then they changed the page design in 2010 and I moved to linuxmint. No regret, currently using 13, until 2017. I stongly advise this, linuxmint-13-maya, very similar with windows, easy to use and no need to update.

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