Two nights ago, I became very frustrated with Windows XP on my Dell 700m laptop. Among the inferior UI (compared to OS X), innumerable security updates, and other problems associated with Windows being installed too long. So rather than formatting my hard drive and starting off again with a clean copy of Windows XP (a process that I would have to devote an entire day to), I decided to install Ubuntu, a distribution (or version) of Linux.

Switching to Linux as a student is not for everyone. In fact, it might not even be for me yet. A few types of students it may be good for:

  • The casual user without any proprietary hardware (iPods and such). You’ve got nothing to lose except an hour or two installing. There are open-source alternatives to word processing, presentation, music-playing, and video watching programs for Linux. They shouldn’t be too tough to find.

  • The computer science student. Most (good) CS students don’t have time to do “play video games” or “socialize.” And besides, maintaining your own OS (more so than checking the box for a “necessary” Windows security update) builds character. Just like shoveling snow and paying your own tuition.

  • The slightly-technical, bored student. Everyone needs a hobby, why not make yours working on your knowledge of different Linux distributions? Who knows, you might meet your soulmate on a listserv. (Note: chances of finding spouse on a listserv are none. Not slim to none, just none.)

That’s it for now, I’ll write a few follow-up posts detailing how to install certain distributions of Linux, which programs you’ll need, and also how my own serious venture into the world of Linux is going.