Linux has become much easier to install and use, compared to just a few years ago. But be prepared to still sweat a bit if you're totally new to UNIX-like operating systems.
It will take you several hours longer to get linux installed and configured on your system than it would take you to install windows.
But what is a one time extra couple of hours, compared to the peace of mind and almost crash-proof operation that Linux gives you. What is more, you won't believe what programs you can get for free that run on Linux.
Take for instance Photoshop, which costs anything from $500 to thousands, has a free Linux look-alike called GIMP. Don't let the name fool you either. This puppy is a powerful graphics editor, with full support for plug-ins and extensions. Read the manual for guide and tutorials. a href="http://www.linuxapps.com/?page=redir&cid=3507&url=http://www.xmms.org/plugins_input.html#122" target="_blank">AVI-XMMS plugin (DivX,MPEG4 player), Quake 3 v1.11, LinuxCAD 3D release 2.0 (compatible with AutoCAD), Corel WordPerfect 8, gnapster 1.4.1a (yes, napster for linux), SimpleCDR 1.64, gFTP 2.0.8, Video Server 0.5.2 (video streaming), Apache-Frontpage 1.3.20-4fp (did I hear free Microsoft Frontpage?), Pan 0.10.0.91 (newsreader, loosely based on Agent and Gravity), Star Office (Microsoft Office clone), Xmms (linux winamp), Home Electrical Device Control. b>Applications
A very long list of equivalents to your favorite Windows programs. a href="http://ffa.oasisoflove.com/redhat-applications.html" target="_blank">Redhat Applications. See programs that are already bundled with the latest redhat linux.
This page lists Bioscience applications in Linux.
Install the xpdf package if you need a viewer for PDF files.
gv also does the same thing. Start it like this
# gv filename.pdf
Of course Linux is not for everyone. If you work with sophisticated statiscal packages, or need specialized scientific applications, etc, then Linux may not be the way to go. However, more programs keep coming out almost weekly, so look around before you write Linux off.
http://freshmeat.net features new linux software.
http://www.redhat.com/support/hardware/index.html This document lists most of the hardware supported by Linux and helps you locate any necessary drivers.
Find out about your system under Windows: start/settings/control panel/system/device manager. Know the vendor and model number of each card in your machine; collect the IRQs and DMA channel numbers. You probably won't need this information -- but if it turns out you do, you'll need it very badly.