Nothing ever seems to be perfect. By moving to Linux you gain a great deal, but I would be doing a disservice if I did not mention the disadvantages.
Hardware and Peripheral Support
The hardware support for Linux is, quite honestly, among the best there is. In fact, when you consider all the platforms that run Linux, its hardware and peripheral support is better than that of the Windows system you are leaving behind. Unfortunately, there are some consumer devices designed with Windows specifically in mind. Consequently, certain printers or scanners may have limited support under Linux because the manufacturer is slow in providing drivers. That said, the vast majority of standard devices work very well under Linux, and you aren't likely to run into too many problems.
On the upside, you'll find that where you always had to load drivers to make something run in your old operating system (OS), Linux automatically recognizes and supports an amazing number of peripherals without your having to do anything extra or hunt down a driver disk. Furthermore, the Linux community is vibrant in a way that few businesses can ever hope to be. If you have your eye on a hot new piece of hardware, you can almost bet that some Linux developer somewhere has an eye on exactly the same thing.
We'll talk about devices and device drivers later in the book.
A huge amount of software is available for the Linux operating system. Amazingly, most of it is noncommercial and free for the download. There are thousands of games, tools, and Internet and office applications available to run on your system. You don't have to go far either. Most modern distributions come with several hundred packages on their distribution CDs, more than enough to get you going, working, and playing without having to look elsewhere. Once again, much of the software out there will cost you nothing more than the time it takes to download it.
On the other hand, commercial, shrink-wrapped software, including those hot new 3D games at your local computer store, are still hard to come by. As Linux grows in popularity, particularly on the desktop, this is starting to change.
There are ways around this issue however, and I'll talk more about that in Chapter 3. Since I mentioned running Windows games, I will tell you that you can pick up a package called Cedaga that lets you do just that.
A Step into the Unknown
Let's face it: For some, moving to Linux is a step into the unknown. Things won't be exactly as they were with your old operating system, and for the most part this is a good thing. You will have to do a little relearning and get used to a different way of doing things.
Even so, if you are used to working in your Windows graphical environment and you are comfortable with basic mousing skills, writing the occasional e-mail, surfing the Web, or composing a memo in your word processor, moving to Linux won't be a big deal. Your Linux desktop is a modern graphical environment, and much of what you have learned in your old operating system can be taken with you into this new world.