The Experiment

The Linux Experiment

Is free software ready for the mainstream? Has Linux progressed far enough in its evolution to be a practical desktop environment for those who don’t have degrees in computer science? Can a user really just switch off Windows or Mac and be as productive on a completely open source operating system?

The Linux Experiment is relatively simple in its goals. Seven friends, all with varying degrees of experience with Linux in general (even some with zero experience and others who have experience with multiple distributions), will install some distribution or another of Linux on their home computers for four months.

Over the course of these four months, the users will administrate, tinker with, and use Linux as their primary home operating system, utilizing the power of open-source operating systems and applications to see just how productive they can be. Updates will be made on this very site along the way, providing an in-depth look into how each user is adapting to their new environment. The trials, tribulations, triumphs, and other nouns beginning with ‘t’ will all be laid out here, bare for everyone to see.

By the end of the four month cycle, each user has imposed their own goals as to where they want to be with Linux; running a server environment? Comfortable to tinker with bash commands?  Time will tell.

For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy – this isn’t your normal experiment. We are the guinea pigs.

Update: the above text was for the original Linux Experiment (i.e. version 1!). Subsequent experiments have had a different number of people involved with different goals. For more see the different experiments here.


  1. Yes, I am certain that Ubuntu 10.04 and a couple of other Ubuntu’s ran so hot they destroyed the battery on my 2 year old Toshiba notebook with 4GB RAM, 2.4 GHz 64 bit Intel processor etc, but I dislike Windows 7 even more. I even used a desk fan pointed directly at my machine to keep it from exploding. Ha!

    After spending >100 hours trying several flavors of Linux, I landed on Linux Mint 10, now my main OS; abandoning Mint 11 due to buggy-ness, with high hopes for Mint 12. Anyone who says it’s easy just likes spending countless hours at the screen.

    These will remain marginalized, hobbist OS’s until a whole lot more crow can be eaten by developers. More pay for them would be good too. My sister is a PhD, but she will ~never~ use the linux terminal, and there is ~no~ way to escape the need for the terminal for years to come in any flavor of linux.

  2. I find it quite close minded to think that average users will eventually need to get to a terminal to do something in linux.

    The same goes for windows too; it has a terminal also.

    Linux and windows both have many graphical front ends so you don’t have to use a terminal. If you see me using a terminal, it’s because i prefer too. But, like your argument for linux, is shared with windows, users will eventually need to use a terminal to do something. Bollocks, average users aren’t the kind of people who will be using a terminal for anything. Average users won’t be typing in “apt-get install” in linux, they’ll use software manager. Average users won’t be typing in “ipconfig” in windows, they’ll right click the network icon.

    There’s more and more graphical front ends for more of everything in linux than there was years ago. So, i disagree greatly. The terminal is there to use if you want to use it, and the few times for the need.

  3. What a great idea ! I’ve been playing with linux since redhat 7.2 and loved it. I was recently surprised by how much the open source systems have got improved gui’s, desktops and tools, better monitor support, wider range of peripherals, etc. However I mostly stuck with MS windows as I was very comfortable with Outlook.

    Well in November last year I had a memory failure and by the time I got the remaining 1Gb to work, my XP install was beyond repair. Even a re-install with CD’s I had insisted on blue screening. I had real work to do (an important criterion for an OS to fulfill), so out came the Mint (Helena) CD and we’re off. Well after a few days of googling I had several replacements for all my windows apps – video convertors, graphics, media players and of course Mozila’s suite that knocks the socks of Outlook.

    The main problem being the variety and choice – it takes so long to try everything and choose. Well I think I ended up installing too many goodies, because next thing I had a package dependancy loop and NO SOUND ): I couldn’t go forward and I couldn’t go back. After reading 100’s of blogs for the last 4 days on pulseaudio, jack, alsa, etc and removing and adding more packages, I was ready to give up. I stumbled across this site and love it. I just found my solution at – what a relief. Of course I had do a lot of research into kernel versions, debian, ubuntu and mint versions (and what’s built on what). Believe me, if you pick de/installation problems with MS windows, it’s easier to re-install unless you feel like diving into the registery.

    No looking back. I’m using Linix to work (and play) from now on.

  4. I’d like to subscribe to the youtube channel of the Linux experiment, but google wants my phone number. That’s too much information and violates my privacy comfort zone

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