Many happy with computer

Time for the next post on why attorneys and law firms should switch from Windows or Mac OS to a Linux-based operating system. 

My last article explained Linux to lawyers and how they can save money by switching to Linux.

I explained that law firms that need new computers could buy systems with Linux pre-loaded through System 76 and other alternatives. In my previous articles, I had discussed the many, many (many) benefits to those who make the switch. 

I’m going to use this article to address what’s probably the most obvious question: Will law firms run into issues with compatibility or not being able to run certain software with Linux?

If you’re going to switch operating systems, then, for obvious reasons, you want to do it with as little disruption to your practice as possible. Disruption leads to lower profits. Fortunately, attorneys should be able to make the switch to a Linux OS without much hassle. 

Today, we’ll look at three things:

  • Setting up Linux with your current infrastructure, 
  • Standard software currently available for Linux, 
  • And alternatives to software packages that may not currently be available 

Then, we’ll close with why, in my humble opinion, Linux gives you the most useful functionality out of the OS options.

You Can Still Utilize (Most of) Your Current Software and Infrastructure with Linux

My primary computer is a Dell Inspiron laptop that I typically run with a flavor of Linux provided by Ubuntu

My machine is currently a “dual boot,” which means I can choose between Linux or Windows when I start it up. 

If you want to find where you can buy Linux-based machines? Check out my guide here.

One thing I very much notice is how much faster things are up, running, and usable when I boot into Ubuntu. 

We’ve all used Windows machines where you feel like you have time to get lunch while you’re waiting for things to be fully running. On my machine, I can attest that Ubuntu is noticeably faster than Microsoft’s operating system.

Our office is a shared suite. As with many law firms, everyone in the building shares a conference room, mail area, etc. Our building also has a shared large scale printer/copier, similar to what is used in many law offices. My Linux PC connected to it and was able to print right away without any issues. 

There were fewer steps involved in connecting my Linux box to the printer than there were with Windows. The scanner doesn’t have an option for scanning straight to a particular computer, as some do. Instead, it sends a scan to our email. 

In short, the printer works the same on a Linux machine as it does on Windows. 

As far as home goes, I have an HP Office Jet all-in-one. Without installing any software, my Linux box connected to it, and it was both printing and scanning with no problems.

Most Law Firm Software is Already Compatible With Linux

Much of the software that law firms already use are available on Linux too. 

These include the Chrome and Firefox browsers as well as the sync client for Dropbox, which many law firms use to share files between computers. 

If you store your files in Google Drive instead, as we do, then an application called Insync shares files between computers, just as if you were using the Drive client from Google. 

In other words, you won’t have to switch browsers or file storage systems when you switch to Linux. If you’re still using Microsoft Office, then 1) you’re out of date, and 2) Linux runs perfectly with LibreOffice.

We have no compatibility problems when opening Word documents in LibreOffice. 

Also, LibreOffice allows you to save any documents in Word format by default. In other words, this free of charge open-source software is a great replacement for Microsoft’s overpriced option. 

It also works well with Word formatted legal pleadings. Finally, Linux has plenty of options for attorneys who are still married to Microsoft’s Outlook software. (Although, if you’re still using Outlook, then I’m assuming that you haven’t quite gotten with the times).

Much of the software used in today’s law firms is actually OS-agnostic (or works with any OS) because it runs in the cloud. 

By the way, if you haven’t already, check out my post on why attorneys should be using G Suite to power their email, calendaring, word processing, etc. 

That software runs one-hundred percent in the browser and is not impacted by your choice of operating systems. This is also true for many popular “case management” and billing options, such as Mycase

Furthermore, when you consider web-based options such as Quickbooks Online and others, you quickly realize that most of your computing can be done in the browser anyway. 

Again, this means that using Linux will allow you to use the same applications you should be using on Windows.

Linux For Law Firms: Plenty of Benefits, Minimal Drawbacks

Let’s face it: The “cloud” is not new at this point. 

Most computing tasks have been completed in the browser for the better part of a decade, and, in terms of apps that law firms use, the operating system isn’t going to be the limiting factor.

If you’re set up in a way that’s not software agnostic, then you’re likely operating an inefficient practice that’s bleeding money due to technological inefficiencies. 

Switching from Windows or a Mac to a Linux-based operating system shouldn’t be a problem for most law firms in terms of functionality.

Switching to Linux will provide lawyers with a ton of benefits. These benefits include (but aren’t limited to) much better security, lower software costs (such as those associated with Microsoft Office), and much lower lifetime costs associated with said computer.

These benefits lead to higher profits. I’ll go more in-depth on how Linux provides these benefits in my coming articles.

Have you considered using Linux in your law firm? Please chime in through the comment form below!

And if you haven’t started our series on increasing your firm’s profit through SEO, check that out here!