Yeah yeah, I know Linux is probably of marginal interest at best to most readers, but I have been intrigued by free and open-source software (FOSS) for so long that I finally couldn’t resist trying the free, open-source operating system. After all, Linux is good enough for Mac to use as a basis for OS X. It can’t be that bad.
It isn’t. At all. In fact, I’d go so far to say that for anyone with the slightest skill at using a computer (i.e. – can you click a mouse), and a willingness to use the web, forums, and (occasionally) IRC for tech support rather than Microsoft, it has a lot of advantages over Windows. If you are at all adventurous and looking for something different, definitely give Linux a try.
I looked around a bit for the right Linux “flavor” to try. (That’s “distro” in Linux-speak.) It didn’t take long. I had heard of Ubuntu a while back. It is the OS used on the <$100 computer project, and is geared towards Linux novices. And with good reason. Installing Ubuntu is a piece of cake. It takes about a half hour, or roughly half the time it takes to install Windows even if you know what you are doing. And not only do you install Ubuntu in that time, but you get Firefox, OpenOffice.org, and the excellent Evolution PIM. In other words, everything you need to get up and running. If you have never used a Mac, it will take you a while to familiarize yourself with the different locations of things in a Linux system, but not too long. If you have used a Mac, it isn't much different. Installing most programs is a simple matter of clicking "Add/Remove Programs" and selecting the Ubuntu-supported applications you want. They are all listed, and there are hundreds. One of them is KArm, one of the best task timers I have ever seen. One cool feature of Linux is the multiple desktops--up to four. And with KArm, you can automatically time the time you spend on each desktop. Say you keep open what you need for working on four different files. As you flip from desktop to desktop, KArm tracks your time. It isn't perfect yet, but it is a sight better than anything I have yet used in Windows. Incidentally, you can dual boot Windows, as I am doing, and it is easy to do. You can also run Windows in a "virtual machine," like you can on a Mac with Parallels. You can also run Crossover and just skip Windows entirely and run your Windows programs in Linux. I haven't tried these options yet, but I am getting to it. So I'm still early in my experience, but I highly recommend giving it a try if you are at all curious. I still need to find accounting software, but it looks like there are a couple of good options out there, at the least.