I have been using Linux off and on since the mid 1990’s. In the early days it was very much a command line system with graphics being limited and hard to set up. Graphic front ends have come a long way as has the overall user experience.
In my early experience with Linux I tended to use it as server. Using SAMBA to provide file sharing on Windows clients and also providing an environment to provide a local web server and development environment.
With Windows XP no longer supported by Microsoft and a less than positive experience with Windows 8 I took the decision to try Linux as my main operating system.
In the last six months I have moved to using Linux for all personal computing with the sole exception of game playing which is still predominately a Windows 7 activity for me.
I have been using Ubuntu 12.04, the Long Term Support version of the Operating system so not the bleeding edge of development but a more stable overall system.
The default desktop system for Ubuntu 12.04 is Unity and I can’t claim to be a fan. Within a few weeks I’d moves to Xfce which I found easier to configure and manage.
The LibreOffice suite provides good compatibility with Microsoft Office. Chrome remains my main browser.
Wine is an emulator which allows you to run Windows based applications in an emulator, the programs I’ve tried seem to work pretty well.
During the transition I came across some difficulties.
The first was trying to install a Dell wireless printer which took many hours of web searching and tweaking to get working but it finally di
Windows based games have proved problematic and while I’ve read of people having success I have not had the time or inclination to pursue this.
Earlier this month the latest Long Term Support version of Ubuntu, 14.04, has been released and I have upgraded to this. The Unity desktop has moved on and I am sticking with it at the moment, but can move back to xfce if it’s doesn’t live up to the initial impression.
Overall I would say that Linux is very much a real alternative to windows for the home user. There may be a few areas that you have to spend a little time on but there is a wealth of information available on line to help you get to a solution. Once you have set things up patching and updating is automated as in Microsoft Windows.
If you have an old PC with Windows XP, no longer supported by Microsoft, it might be worth taking the time to install Linux on it. If you decide to give this a try there are a couple of articles that will get you up and running very quickly.
Both these articles will get you well on the road to a useful installation.