Should I convert to Linux?

I give up. Between Windows 8 and Windows 10 and Microsoft’s privacy debacle, I’m done.

What do you think if I convert to Linux, or am I wasting my time? What applications and utilities are compatible, i.e. browsers, anti spyware, virus protection etc. How would you go about setting the computer up. I have moderate experience, utilizing forums and sites like yours when encountering major problems.

Linux is a great way to extend the life of older computers, simply because the resource requirements of many Linux distributions are so much less than those of Windows.

And, of late, I’m hearing from people who, like you, are frustrated with Microsoft and Windows and are hoping for alternatives.

Linux isn’t for everyone, but it can be a solid alternative.

However, we need to set some expectations, and of course, there are also a few “gotchas” along the way.

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How Do I Get Printer Drivers for Linux?

If you’re running Linux as your operating system and you get a printer without a driver CD how do you get drivers for Linux? What I mostly see on printer makers’ sites are drivers for Windows.

What you’re experiencing is sort of the dirty little secret of Linux: lack of hardware support.

Along with getting used to the different user interface, and perhaps not finding a specific needed application, I would wager that driver (hardware) issues are high on the list of things that prevent people from actually switching to Linux.

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Can a flash drive that has a Linux install on it become infected?

Leo, I’ve got a USB flash drive with a full persistent bootable installation of Linux on it. Can this flash drive become infected if I plug into a Windows machine with a virus on it? Say at an internet café or a public library?

The answer is yes, no, and maybe. It’s complex, but it’s a good question to ask because the devil is in the details.

Let me explain how this works.

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How Do I Switch to Linux?

In a recent answer, you pointed out that once Microsoft really stops support for Windows XP, there will be an increased risk of vulnerabilities being exposed over time. For older laptops that may not be able to migrate to Windows 8 or later, you mentioned using Linux. However, you don’t mention the process of how to migrate a Windows platform with all of those Windows applications to some Linux platform. Could you discuss what to actually do?

In that article, I mentioned that if you could not migrate to Windows 7 or 8, you might want to install Linux. That’s not a migration – it’s a replacement of the Windows operating system with a Linux operating system and starting over.

While it’s typically not terribly difficult, switching to Linux isn’t always a simple or unfortunately even a consistent process, and it may not be for everyone. Let’s discuss the details.

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How Do I Recover My Data from a Crashed Computer?

My screen displays a blue screen error message and won’t allow Windows to start. How do I retrieve my files and save them before I reinstall Windows?

Reinstalling Windows is going to overwrite everything that’s already on that hard drive and you would lose it all. There are some alternatives.

Before I begin, I first have to wag my finger at you. Regular readers of Ask Leo! probably already know what I’m going to say.

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I Can’t Upgrade to the Latest Windows. Should I Switch to Linux?

My computer, 1.8 Ghz with 440 gig megabytes of RAM is not powerful enough to install the Windows 8 upgrade. I cannot afford to buy a new computer. I’m 85-years young. Would you recommend switching to Linux?  If so, do you know which is their best distribution?

Your question actually has a much more complicated answer than you might imagine. Switching to Linux is often a very reasonable approach to lengthening the life of your machine; there are many distributions of Linux and some are specifically tailored to make fewer operating demands on your computer.

That being said, I want to ask one thing first: why are you considering switching at all?

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How risky it is to run Ubuntu from a flash drive?

I just installed Ubuntu on my 16 GB flash drive. I occasionally use it to edit documents or use the terminal to SSH to my server online, edit server files, and download online files to put on my server. Is my Ubuntu installation something that would cause my drive to wear out fast? There’s hardly any write activity during boot and shutdown. How long should I expect my drive to last?

Unfortunately, there’s no really clear answer to that question. To be honest, I don’t how much Ubuntu is writing to the installed drive, though my guess is probably not a lot. As long as you’re not memory constrained on the machine that you’re using it on, there’s a good chance that it’s mostly reading. When you become memory constrained, Ubuntu may fire up a paging file, which could cause a lot of write activity. But my guess is that Ubuntu itself isn’t doing a whole lot of writing.

I am a bit concerned about the flash drive, but it actually makes sense. Let me explain.

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How can I automate an SFTP transfer between two servers?


I’m trying to set up an automated sftp transfer from one Linux box to another. I understand that you have to create a key with ssh-keygen, then put the key file on the other machine. But sftp still prompts me for the password. I read that the users on both machines must be the same… is that correct?

No, not correct.

As it turns out, this is something I do regularly with ssh, as well as both sftp and rsync, as part of my backup and load balancing approaches for Ask Leo! Let me walk you through what I’ve done.

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