Why Linux

Here I’m talking about using Linux as your desktop Operating System. From what I understand, using Linux as a server for many applications is almost a given. The desktop has lagged behind a bit in previous years but I think it is now ready for the mainstream.

A few years ago, I was searching for a program for my Win 98 machine. I downloaded a file with the extension .tar.gz. I couldn’t open it and was curious about what it could be. Googling it, I found that it was a compressed file format used by something called Linux. What?? I was curious, and after a lot of reading up on the web, I got hold of a copy of Red Hat (7 I think) and installed it. I managed ok for a total newb but getting the modem to work nearly killed me I was totally clueless. After a while I was not so clueless and I tried other Distros like Debian. I really liked Debian because of the package management system and the fact that it seemed more independent than Red Hat as it is not owned by a commercial company. When Ubuntu first came out, I tried that as it was based on Debian but seemed to be a bit more user friendly. I have stuck with Ubuntu ever since but I think that I might use Debian for some projects I have in mind as Debian seems a bit more “configureable”.

Anyway I better answer the title of this post. Why Linux? Here are the reasons I use Linux and why I recommend Linux to you.

1. If you are technically inclined or enjoy making things or tinkering, Linux is a must. You can change anything you wish, the more knowledge you have, the more you can do. Windows is closed source, so you can’t change key parts of the Operating System. Because of this , Linux attracts other tinkerers, who make their tinkerings (is that a word?) available and you can do even more. If you write software, Linux is almost compulsary as there are so many useful developer tools. If you are a student studying Computer Science, Engineering, the Sciences, Maths, Linux is definitely the OS for you. If you want MATLAB at home but can’t afford it, give OCTAVE a go. It’s basically a clone of MATLAB, not as fully featured but still very powerful.

2. If you are sick of viruses, adware, spyware, bloatware…… come to Linux and leave all that behind. You no longer need to waste internet time downloading the latest virus updates with Linux. You will also find that although Ubuntu can prompt you for software upgrades, it is nowhere near as intrusive as Windows, which is doing all sorts of things that probably violate your privacy and waste your bandwidth.

3. Linux is free. You don’t have to pay a cent for it

4. You want to customise your setup e.g run only minimal, fast programs to speed up your computer. I tried Puppy Linux on my laptop and man does that go fast. Click on a program like the web browser and, bang, its opened immedietaly.

5.You value your privacy and wonder how much Microsoft or the rest of the world can spy on you through your computer.

Why would you not want to use Linux?

1. You like to play lots of games, especially 3d games. I don’t know much about games but I do know that a game written for Windows generally won’t run on Linux. Apparently the Half Life based games such as Counterstrike can run under Wine but thats up to you to Google.

2. You have some application that only runs under Windows. Unfortunately there are lots of apps that are only written for windows. Look around and see if you can find a Linux alternative e.g Gimp instead of Adobe Photoshop.

3. You enjoy donating money to the richest man in the world, Bill Gates.

4. You are totally clueless and have trouble distinguishing the left and right mouse button. You deserve Windows and Windows deserves you.

Common Objections raised to Linux on the desktop

  • “Its hard to install” . I can honestly say it’s no harder than Windows. Just you don’t usually have to install Windows yourself.
  • “Poor hardware support” Not on any of the dozen machines I have installed it on.
  • “The time you waste learning it more than eats up any money you save buying Windows” Maybe. In my case, True. But if all you want to do is setup a machine for word processing and email then I’d say you were wrong. I actually like “tinkering” with the OS and have learned a lot through configuring it myself. Ubuntu now works pretty much out of the box so if you don’t want to, you don’t have to tinker.
  • It’s harder to use than Windows. NO. Its just what you’re used to. Sure some things (very few, not everyday tasks) can only be done through the command line but the amount of help available on the net means that if you search, you only have to cut and paste someone else’s solution.

Useful information:

If you are ever stuck trying to do something in Ubuntu, this is a great guide: http://ubuntuguide.org/wiki/Ubuntu:Feisty

If you want to learn more about linux, see  www.linuxtutorial.info/

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2 Responses to “Why Linux”

  1. neath Says:

    I ve been told that Linux is a more for geeks OS. I would love to try it but like the simplicity of Win XP and also am paranoid that if I screw up installing, say, Ubuntu, I would probably screw myself all together.

  2. boomfa Says:

    In the past I would have said you were right. When I first started using Linux, it was a real effort to install and use. That was part of the fun for me. However I truly believe that Linux has reached the level of usability that opens it up to the mainstream. Believe me, Ubuntu is every bit as user friendly as XP and without many of the drawbacks – no viruses in Linux, more configurable, free updates etc. If you want to try it without “screwing” your system, get hold of the Ubuntu “Live” CD, which allows you to boot the OS off the CD without installing it or modifying anything on your computer. Then if you like it you could install it, perhaps with help of local Linux users or information from the Net.

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