I am sorry to have to say it, but I cannot recommend converting to Linux from Windows unless you are a programmer with a thorough understanding of Unix, TCP/IP, and C. You also need a thorough understanding of PC and networking hardware, a lot of time, and a lot of money. I base this conclusion on my own experience. For the past 18 months, I have tried desperately to switch my small medical office to Linux from Win 2K, because I hate dealing with all of Windows' issues; and the cost of Windows is outrageous. I ended up spending many, many thousands of dollars on various distributions of Linux (I have everything you could imagine!) and lots of new hardware, since Linux wonīt work with any hardware known to mankind. (This is especially true of hardware guaranteed to work with Linux). So far Iīve managed to get one machine connected to the internet. I havenīt been able to get even a single software package to install under any version of Linux, which was not a part of the distribution disk. Nor will any Linux machine communicate with any other machine over a network. I havenīt been able to get any of about 30 versions of Linux to print to any of 12 different printers, regardless of whether they are connected locally or on the network. Only once did I get a word processor to run (it installed automatically as part of the distribution) but that was worthless, since I couldnt print. So far, my several thousand dollars have bought me one internet browser and e-mailing machine. Thatīs it.
I know, I know. Iīm a dumb neophyte who knows nothing of computers. Thatīs true, but I did work my way through medical school writing programs for local companies and I persoanlly built most of the 9 PCs in my office from parts. I designed our intranet and even pulled the wires through the walls and floors myself. The PCs and Macs in the office all work fine over the same network, and have no problems sharing data. I have not gotten even one Linux PC to share data with any other machine, ever (not even another Linux machine). Iīve now finished 4 books on Linux, but it hasnīt helped.
Linux is not ready for primetime. It is a plaything for programmers, but is not intended for day to day use in an office. I think of it as like an automobile in 1890. It shows extraordinary promise and is kind of fun, but it wonīt be mature enough for workaday use for another 15 to 20 years.