Windows or Linux?
If you were to ask me, the answer would have to be Windows, I am running Windows. Not really per choice, mind you. Of course no one is forcing me, it's more simply that, back in the days, I started using a Microsoft operating system, and since then I have kept doing so, only updating it from time to time but never leaving it.
Of course I have been tempted to switch and enter the joyful world of open source, but it's just not something you can do like that. Not when you're used to a system, know your way around it, and have a set of tools that fits your work flow and is the result of years and years of testing & careful selection.
But I have finally decided to switch to Linux, and for that I gave myself one year. One year to find/pick the software I'll need/use, get familiarized with this new environment and its eco-system, one year to get ready, and probably adapt my work flow here and there. One year until I take Linux out of the VM and get rid of Windows.
I say a year, but the truth is I started working on this about a couple of months ago already. And early on I thought about making a little blog like what this one will hopefully be, as a way both to provide me with a log of what I went through, and what I did/learned along the way (including things I'll probably be looking for in about 10 months or so, when I'll have forgotten already and time will come to re-install Linux, but "for real" this time).
Of course, laziness being such a good friend of mine, it didn't happen - until now. But I'll try to keep doing this all along the way, and who knows, maybe some of you out there might find a thing or two worthy of interest out of it as well, hopefully.
First things first: Linux, yes, but which one?
Deciding to move to Linux is nice and all, but the nature of it is such that there isn't such a thing as one Linux, but a variety of distributions. So I had to make a choice. Originally, I went with Fedora.
It seemed a good choice, a solid distro, one I had heard of before, and so I grabbed a few ISOs (to give a try to different Desktop Environments) and started some testing. I also tried a couple other distros, but I was focusing on Fedora really. Then one day, I asked myself why. And I couldn't really answer.
So I turned to the interwebz, trying to see what other distros but the few I knew/had heard of were out there, trying to find out the pros & cons of each one and see if Fedora was really a good choice, those sort of things.
Honestly, I wasn't even so much looking into which distro to use, as to what differences there are between distros, or how my choice would impact my future life with Linux.
And somehow, I stumbled upon something, a distribution that I actually seemed to like. Or, since I hadn't tried it yet, I liked what I read about it, what people said about it, what it said on its official website, and then I felt like I had found what I was looking for: my choice.
Often times, you'll hear that Arch is targeted at advanced GNU/Linux users, that it is good for people who are already familiar with Linux and know their way around a Linux system. So, in other words, not me. I could have stopped there, but I kept reading about it, and the Arch Way...
Arch Linux defines simplicity as without unnecessary additions, modifications, or complications, and provides a lightweight UNIX-like base structure that allows an individual user to shape the system according to their own needs. In short: an elegant, minimalist approach.
Really, Arch seemed perfect for me, both in that it would provide me a base to build my system, something with all the things I need/want, but none of the crap I don't - or you know, just none of the stuff useless to me (but that might come pre-installed with a lot of distro out there). It would also provide a great way to learn, learn about Arch of course, but also Linux in general.
Arch isn't Ubuntu, or Windows, and doesn't try - or want - to be. It's not meant for one to launch the install and look at pretty pictures before entering a brand new desktop, ready for use. No, you'll need to work to get to your desktop (assuming you want one, of course). You'll need to find out how things work, before you can install & configure them.
So no, it's not for everybody, and you need not to be afraid of the console, of having to search and work to get things done, but I was attracted to this, it seemed to be exactly what I needed. And so - at 19:01 on September 14, 2011 according to my pacman.log - I installed Arch Linux inside a VM, and the adventure began...
Don't run away just yet
If you're new to Linux, or looking to get into it, don't let that(/me) scare you away though. When I say it needs work, it doesn't mean you need to become a Linux expert, simply that you will have to have some understanding of how things work. Knowledge that is always good to have, that will surely come in handy should something break, or when you'll want to do something "special" that best fits you, and knowledge that is easily reachable through all the wonders offered by the Arch community.
Of course there is a whole lot more than what I quickly mentioned to Arch, but they have, among other things, this fantastic wiki. If you want to know more about it, the Arch way, the rolling release principle, pacman, or pretty much anything Linux related, this is the place to go.