I’ve been using the Linux operating system on my desktop pcs and laptops since about 2002. I used to administer Linux systems and a network as well as building computers and teaching computing using the Linux operating system. Now I’m more of an ‘end user’. There are many flavours of Linux operating system. I’m currently using the Debian Linux distribution but will soon be changing to Linux Mint. There are several benefits to using Linux on your computers but the main ones I like are that it is Free and Open Source Software, people don’t tend to write viruses or spyware for it, and it works well on older hardware. I don’t have to keep updating my hardware to work with the latest operating system version which means less E-waste going into landfill.
I haven’t heard much about genealogists using Linux lately so I did some searching this morning to see what people are saying about it and how popular it is these days. At first what I found was mostly outdated but with a few changes of search terms I got better results. The bulk of what I found was about genealogy software programs and no real discussion on the benefits of using Linux or Free and Open Source software in genealogy.
I found this article from May this year Six of the Best Free Linux Family History Software Programs which provides a good review of the genealogy software programs available.
I’ve tried using the GRAMPS program recommended in the article above and I find it difficult and non-intuitive to use for data entry. I do like some of the reports and search functionality in it so I do use it sometimes. I use ancestry.com to create my family tree and collaborate with my sister and I upload the GEDCOM to PHPGedView on my own website so that more people can find it. Naturally there is a lot of focus on genealogy software for Linux, Windows and Mac and other software programs aren’t discussed as much. I wrote this blog post in 2012 Software I Use For Genealogy and the only things which have changed since then are that I rarely use Picasa now and I use the Chrome for Linux web browser.
Would you consider changing your computer operating system? Are you dependant on one particular operating system to run your gadgets and computing peripherals? What do you think of the almost monopoly that Microsoft has in the computer operating system department? I am interested to hear people’s responses and start some conversation on using a different computer operating system.