Should I Switch to Linux OS?
Tell Me More About It!
Linux is a widely distributed, free, and open source operating system that was initially created by Linus Torvalds but has since become a very diverse base for many different distributions of Linux including Ubuntu, Mint, ArchLinux, Fedora, Kali, and Ubuntu. Compared to other modern operating systems, it serves many of the same purposes but does so with a different philosophy in mind.
- Linux is generally considered tough to learn than other popular operating systems, namely Windows and MacOS.
- Linux is free and open-source so you need only download and install any distribution you want
- As mentioned, it comes in many different distributions. Literally anyone can take the base Linux kernel and start building up their own version of Linux off of it. The people working to develop these distributions are completely unpaid fans who just want to make contributions to the Linux community in many cases. It's very much a passion for many.
Advantages of Linux
When you're talking about operating systems, there are some distinct differences between how each system likes to have you do things. Linux grants you some advantages depending on what kind of user you are.
- Cleaner Terminal - The average windows user stays clear of Command Prompt and the average Linux user jumps in the Terminal to run a few efficient commands on a daily basis. The Linux Terminal is just more useful in day to day operations.
- Software Repositories and Apt-get/Pacman/Yaourt - With Linux, you can easily install most software packages just by running a simple terminal command like Pacman -S skype (In Arch Linux). You can also have your system fully check for system and software updates just as easily and upgrade on demand.
- Less Annoying Hand Holding - Although you can turn items like User Account Control off in Windows, there's just enough automation and telling you how to run your system in Windows that it gets annoying for an experienced user. If you like full control from the start, then Linux gives you the power to make your own mistakes.
- A Powerful Community - Many people who use Linux have a healthy appreciation for how computers work and also helping out others who may be struggling. If you need a sign of that then just look at how much effort people put into developing the operating system and the software without pay.
- Free Software - In most cases, not only the operating system but also the good programs inside of Linux are totally free. Of course, the developers may take donations and appreciate contributions but at least you're not required to fork over hundreds of dollars to get what you need.
- Catching up in the Gaming World - One of the things keeping many people from shifting to Linux is the lack of gaming developer support for the operating system. However, the Linux version of Steam has been out for some time and many good games been ported to Linux or at least available in Wine which lets you play Windows Games in Linux.
- Highly Customizable - Not only can you choose between dozens or hundreds of distributions as your base Linux version but you can install tons of widgets, monitors, and other software that help you customize the look and feel of Linux. There are many different desktop enviornments like Xfce and Openbox that provide very different core interfaces.
- Very hardware efficient - Most versions of Linux are very hardware efficient by default. They don't come with a lot of clutter or startup programs so Linux boots very fast and can run on minimal system specs. There's a reason why you may hear so many people talk about how they installed a distribution like Fedora on a 10 year old computer.
Downsides of Linux
While Linux is, in my opinion, an incredibly cool operating system and useful for many tasks such as Web Server Hosting, it's also got some significant downsides which will keep many people away and most from using it full time.
- Steeper Learning Curve - Linux Developers have been doing a great job to make most distributions of Linux highly accessible like Windows and Mac but the reality is that it still takes a while longer to learn Linux effectively.
- Distributed Community - While it's awesome that so many options are out there for Linux distributions, having such a distributed community means that support, answers, and progress is fairly separated. Sometimes it takes a little (or even a lot) of digging to find answers with the less popular distributions but people are still very willing to help out overall.
- Less Big Name Software Companies Develop for Linux - Unfortunately, developing Linux software isn't where the money is at in most cases. Big name companies like Adobe don't offer much if any software options when it comes to Linux. This hits hardest in the gaming sector where many people are forced to work around Wine to get games to run in Linux (Often with success though)
- Linux errors can often be challenging or cryptic - You've got to be fairly used to using computers to have a good time within Linux. When you start seeing error messages with big words inside of the command prompt, it's often time to do a google search. If you're not willing to find out how to resolve bad system configurations and get your hands a little dirty, then Windows may be a better option for you.
- Some functionality may not be initially included - Part of the reason that Linux runs with so little memory or processing power by default is that a lot of the default features can be relatively bare bones. After a fresh Linux install, it may take several more hours to get everything perfect then it would in Windows. However, this may be worth it due to the high level of customization.
How Good Do You Think That Linux Is?
Linux vs Windows
Off Amazon ~$70 for Win 7 or $100 for Windows 8
Free Programs for Almost All Needs
Many Free Programs, Better Corporate / Gaming Support
Steeper but Still Accessible Curve.
Easy to Pick Up and Use
Tons of Desktop Enviornments and Distributions. Make it look and feel however you want
There are 3rd party programs but Windows likes you using Windows Look and Feel
Powerful, Extensible, and a Boon to Using Linux
Tends to be a bit irritating, almost no one who's not in IT uses it
Quickly install almost any program and run updates when you want. Simple command.
No command prompt one really built in. Windows 8 has a Free/Paid app store I guess.
Who is it for
Tech Geeks or anyone passionate about computers and making things work for them
People who just want to get on a web browser or Microsoft Word. Serious PC Gamers.
What's your current experience level with Linux?
When it comes to Linux, I believe myself to be a competent user but by no means a master script kiddie or the code gods who write distributions to begin with. Everyone's experience is going to be a little different so how about yours? Does Linux terrify you to the bone or have you sworn off of Windows and Mac all together?
Remember, there's nothing to stop you from running more than one operating system between your computers or by having a dual boot for two operating systems.