Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Break Time: My Switch to Fedora

As many of you know, I have switched my computer over from Windows XP Professional to Windows 7 RC. But wait! The Release Candidate of W7 was set to expire on March 1, 2010. Never fear Linux is here. In February, I switched my computer over to the Linux distribution of Fedora 12, 64 bit. Why would I want to do this? OK, if you must know, my business of 11 years is no more. And, because I no longer had the business capitol to upgrade to a newer Windows operating system, I switched to Fedora 12.

In Fedora 12, I set the system up to run RAID 5. I can browse the internet, check e-mail, do complex multitasking, digital animation, and much more. Actually, right now, I am using a program called "Blogilo" which is a blogging client. I just discovered this as being already installed on my system. It's cool in that I can type blog drafts and save them locally where I know they are safe. I can click on them later, edit, and then submit them to my blog. "Blogilo" also works with Wordpress. I can even sync with my existing blog entries, click on them, edit, and then resubmit.

Another neat thing that has been made available to Fedora and other Linux distributions is Skype. I installed this just a few days ago for free. I can now video chat with friends anywhere. I can also make Skype phone calls for a fragment of the cost of a regular land line. Makes me just want to get rid of my land line. Yes, I know. You can also get Skype for Windows. That's not the point. The point is, making a switch to Linux is much easier because there are a ton of applications being designed to run with Linux that Windows users cannot get.

In Fedora, I have flash video and am able to watch DVD video. I can also make my own DVD videos using a number of different applications specifically designed to be use with Linux.
But can Fedora play games? Well, yes and no. I'm really not a gamer. You know all the free games that come with Windows? Well, Fedora comes with similar games and then multiplies the free games by about 100 times. Then if you want to play things like WoW, Sims, and others, you can install and play them with an application called Wine. Linux was never originally designed to be a gaming platform, but that is quickly changing, however, most all game studios are focusing on the Windows based machines and lately have also been porting certain games to Mac. There's not a lot of Linux Platform games.

So, what kind of programs do I use all the time? Well, I use Firefox for web browsing and watching Flash video on sites like YouTube and Hulu. I use a program called Digikam to sync with my digital camera. Digikam has a plugin that I use to upload my pics to directly to Facebook. And yes, if I want to, I can use Facebook to search files for pictures. The Facebook method is faster. I use Kontact which is simlar to MS Office Outlook, but even better. With Kontact, I can get e-mail from multiple servers, run a calendar and a schedule, get RSS feeds, review my sticky notes, manage an intricate contact list, it has a journel and a time tracker.

For my multimedia stuff, Fedora offers a number of things. I use Amarok which a fancy digital music player that also has the ability to play internet radio stations that broadcast from all over the world. I use K3b which for burning CDs and DVDs. Fedora has ripper software as well as several media platforms to choose from for DVD playback. For video production, there is several to choose from. I have been using a product that is called Open Shot. It is very similar to the Windows Movie Editor but more powerful. I use Blender for digital animation. This is just what I have on my computer. There are a lot more programs available for multimedia design and editing and all are usually free.

For my office production I'm mainly using the KOffice Suite which has a word processor, spread sheet, a slide presentation program and more. I can also install Open Office but I haven't because Koffice is fine for what I do. I installed a set of MS fonts so I feel a little more at home. I already mentioned Blogilo.

The bottom line is I have not really missed Microsoft Windows. There's so much I can do with Fedora that I don't really have time to miss it. And, to top it all off, if I have problems, I am just a mouse click away from a network of people who can answer my questions and get me up and running pretty fast.

So, if you cannot afford to upgrade to the new operating system, try Linux. You will be happy with the results. All the software I have mentioned is free.
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