In this ComputerWorld article I recently saw, a journalist decides to toss out her Windows PC for a week and try to survive on a Linux Desktop — actually SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10.  She had some successes and some failures… but hey, some of her demands were a little on the extreme side.  Still, I felt it was about as fair an article as one can expect in the trade press, and well worth the read.

She found that SLED 10 would work on underpowered hardware with great success (Pentium III with 800 MB of RAM).  She found that the Novell Edition worked great for the app equivalents she needed — Word, Excel, etc.  She found that Firefox worked fine, with some limitations to the multimedia support and “IE-optimized” websites (that’s another whole complaint altogether). And, in some cases she found reasonable work-arounds for what she was trying to do.

Problems she encountered centered mostly around the specific Windows apps she had been using for many years, and in a week’s time was unable to find an equivalent that was EXACTLY like those Windows apps. It’s definitely true that not all of your Windows apps will work in Linux, but there often equivalents available, and if not there are almost certainly other ways to run them — Codeweavers Crossover Linux and through a terminal server session are two examples.

However, I wanted to point out to our readers that this journalist deployed linux in a non-optimal way — meaning, she just cut over from Windows to Linux cold-turkey.  While that may work for a certain subset of your population (single task users or other kinds of “basic” users), that is less than ideal for a “power-user” (that this journalist is).  In a real world deployment, one would expect the IT folks to identify all the application equivalents and work arounds before deploying to the end user, so a lot of her issues would not be experienced by users in a managed rollout of Linux.  Some of the shortcuts and tweaks that she’s accustomed to (that make her a power user to begin with) are not exactly the same in Linux (but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist).  If she gives herself some more time to get used to Linux, work and communicates with others in the community who might have the same needs, and learns the Linux shortcuts and tweaks, I think she’ll be very happy with where she finds herself — a power user with a much more expanded view of the IT world, and with all of the freedoms that the open source world can provide.

How open minded are you?  Willing to try it for a week and see how you do?  Click here to get started with your own SLED 10 eval.