My husband recently gave our computers a much needed upgrade. For the most part I let him do whatever he wants as long as he is buying the parts at a good price and doing the work himself. However, one decision I was involved with was which operating system we would be using. Windows is pretty much the standard, but it is pretty expensive. Also with Windows Vista, Microsoft gave themselves the ability to "spy" on your computer. This can be a very useful feature; however, that does not jive very well with our self-sufficient mentality! After much discussion, it was decided that I would switch completely over to Linux.
Linux is what is called "Open Software." In other words, computer, math, and science geeks from around the world program software, and then make it available to everyone for free!! It looks very similar to Windows, and there are thousands of programs you can download for free to use on a Linux computer!! I have the basics: internet, calculator, word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, as well as a bunch of games! We just finished downloading a lot of educational games for children! The only down side is that since these games were all created by computer, math, and science geeks, there are lots of math and science games and very few English and foreign language games! I do have a few computer programs that are for use in Windows that I am hoping to use in Linux with a program called Wine. Supposedly, Wine translates programs created for Windows so that you can use them in Linux. We have not experimented with this yet so we are not sure how well it will work. However, I only have a couple programs that do not have a Linux equivalent so most of the time this is not a problem.
There is some troubleshooting involved, and there is no hotline to call for help. However, there are plenty of computer, science, and math geeks online posting information about how they fixed whatever problem they had. Linux appears to be a great option for us thus far. It is not for everyone, but definitely something worth looking into!