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The Distros

So why switch to Linux in the first place? First there are the security benefits, including built-in firewalls, root privileges, and the fact that Linux isn't susceptible to malicious Windows executables, including spyware and viruses. Being required to enter a root password ensures that you won't accidentally install or uninstall software or otherwise foul up your operating system. Another benefit is cost. While you might end up paying as much as $129 for a Linux business distribution, it includes everything you need to begin working productively, from office software to e-mail, web browsing, and even specialized applications that run Windows programs on the Linux desktop. Of course, many distributions are free, and that's a hard price to beat. Finally, many people are looking for a change and want to escape the constant dangers of viruses and spyware, expensive software and upgrades and sometimes even the dreaded "Blue Screen of Death," the all-out system crashes that can occur when running Windows.

Different distros have different uses, including Internet servers, workstations, and even powering portable devices. What we're after is a Linux distribution that can replace Windows and not leave you wanting to go back. Some distributions are better than others when it comes to gaming, multimedia, and general entertainment. The distributions included here can all hold their own when it comes to leisurely pursuits, but we want to get some work done, so keep that in mind as we examine each one. If you want to play Windows-native games under Linux, consider subscribing to Cedega for $5 per month (for more details, see http://www.transgaming.com/).

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