These days I find myself playing less and less games on my computer. This is mainly because I use my computer as a workstation, and playing games would interfere with that.

My workstation, like most runs Microsoft Windows – Why? – Because I always have done.

With the release of Windows Vista ever dawning, and the new Windows Genuine Advantage checks, there has never been a better time to find an alternative solution.

Over the past few years I have had more and more dealings with Linux, and I find myself asking the same question… “What is stopping me from migrating from Windows to Linux?”, I then find myself creating all kinds of excuses why I cannot.

I spent many months attempting to eliminate these excuses, by offering the solutions to your problems.

My reason for sharing this with you is to make it more of a realistic possibility for everyone, not just IT gurus or geeks, but anyone.

Why would I want to migrate?

There are many reasons why you would want to migrate, I’m sure that the reasons to migrate out weigh the petty reasons of why you are forced to stay on windows.

  • Affordable – Not only is it that Windows costs a lot of money, but the additional software you require, such as Microsoft Office costs money too! Using Linux and Open Source software eliminates these costs, as they are freely available for download.
  • Reliable – This is the reason why a large percentage of the worlds websites run on Linux based servers, and not windows.
  • Secure – It’s not that it doesn’t have its fair share of issues, its that its not targetted in the same way as windows, meaning that there are a fraction of the problems.
  • Compatible – Anything runs on Linux. Almost.
  • Support – Linux has been very well received over the years, therefore there is much support behind any Linux related project.
  • Future – Is it really a realistic idea that people will pay for an operating system when they can get one for free that can do exactly the same things. Certainly not, therefore this is the future.
  • Choice – One of the best thing about Linux is that there is a vast choice of distributions that all offer their individual advantages. No longer are you forced to purchase an operating system from one distributor, you can simply download it free from your choice of distributors.
  • Anti-monopolisation – Microsoft have had it too easy for too long, holding a large percentage of the workstation market, give them a reason to really get competitive.
  • Privacy – By running windows and connecting to the internet, you are seriously compremising your privacy, Microsoft now checks your OS Version, System Manufacturer, System Model, Windows Product Key, the date, and most likely your IP address will be logged, as this is standard protocol when you access a server.
  • Open Source – No more closed source non-sense like the software from Microsoft.

There are the reasons to migrate, and i’m sure you’ll agree, they are good enough reasons.

Usually at this point you will find excuses of why you can’t migrate, usually along the lines of “My [essential software] will not run on linux”.

I intend to look at each piece of “essential software” people use on Windows and offer either a way to run it on Linux or a compatible alternative.

We all have them, software we use on a day-to-day basis that we’d seriously miss if they no longer existed.

My essential software is as follows:

  • Microsoft Outlook (NOT Outlook Express) – This offers Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes and Journal, I mainly use Mail, Calendar and Contacts.
  • mIRC – An internet relay chat client that is second to none, not because of its interface, but because of its flexable scripting ability, its very useful to create an automated function to achieve a certain repetitive task. It also obviously allows me to chat to certain people and and within communities.
  • Winamp – There’s nothing better than streaming di.fm or playing mp3s from my vast collection of music.
  • Mozilla Firefox – Possibily the best browser around at the moment.
  • Outlook Express – A very simple mail client and newsgroup reader, I personally don’t use outlook express, as I use Outlook, but I imagine the usenet part is essential to some people.
  • Mozilla Thunderbiard – A reasonable alternative to Outlook Express.
  • FileZilla FTP Client – A rather good open source ftp client, an absolute must for uploading and downloading to/from an FTP server.
  • EditPlus – A really useful text editor, so much better than Notepad.
  • MSN/Live Messenger – I need to beable to communicate with my mates.
  • RealVNC – Important peice of software to allow me to access my PC from anywhere, mainly for access to mIRC and Outlook, but mainly because i’m very often out and about.
  • Photoshop – I like to have a dabble sometimes…
  • Azureus – Bit Torrents are big thing these days, you’re gonna need a good bit torrent client.
  • Microsoft Word – Everyone needs a good word processor, after all, this is why computers were made.
  • Microsoft Excel – Spreadsheets are very useful for displaying tabular data, and creating graphs.
  • Microsoft Access – I know that often people use access for their database systems, although I don’t use it myself, I know its very important to some people.
  • Nero – A great peice of software for making backups, burning images and duplication.
  • PowerDVD – Its nice to beable to play DVD’s on your PC, especially when your PC monitor is bigger than your TV
  • Audiograbber – So when I do actually buy a Music CD I like to convert it into mp3s so I can listen to it without the CD in my drive.
  • Dreamweaver – Its not that important, but its useful sometimes to have a WYSIWYG HTML editor or web authoring software.
  • Putty – The ability to connect to a server via SSH is vital as a server administrator.
  • X-Lite – A peice of SIP Voice Over IP software, very useful in this day and age, especially when people are calling you.
  • Calculator – I don’t physically have a working one, a software one is very useful.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader – An important peice of software for reading PDF files.
  • Norton Antivirus – I left Mcafee many years ago for Norton, we all need a way to stop those little critters!
  • Kerio Personal Firewall – Godda block those unwanted connections.
  • Winzip and Winrar – Having some kind of compression and more importantly decompression utility is important.
  • Apache – I actually run a local copy of Apache with PHP, usually as part of XAMPP for local development purposes and remote file access.
  • File and Printer Sharing – Although its actually part of windows, i’d seriously miss the ability to access files across my network.

I got this far, my next step was to look at Linux alternatives to this software, however this is where my migration plan breaks down, as I lack research on a solution to Microsoft Outlook in Linux.