Why I Love Linux: Part 2
OK, I’d like to finish my little rant about the virtues of Linux from the last post and then we’ll move on to something else.
The neat thing about it is the source code is free and open, unlike Microsoft Windows and Apple’s operating system. Anyone with the proper skills can download it and modify it. So the really cool thing about Linux distros is that anyone can change it, improve on it and add things to it. The most popular distros today have thousands of people all over the world working on them; some backed by large corporations and some with just a few programmers. It’s much easier and quicker to fix bugs and add features. And anyone can create their own Linux distro and share it. The whole FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) movement is based on a world-wide community to share knowledge and innovation.
For instance: Linux Mint, the distro I’m using now, is based on Ubuntu Linux which is based on Debian Linux. The original creators of Mint liked Ubuntu, but thought they could improve on it in different areas, and though Mint was an offshoot of Ubuntu just four years ago, it’s evolved into it’s own unique operating system that’s still compatible with Ubuntu/Debian and is now the third most popular Linux distro.
But let’s move on…
Some of the things I like most about Linux are:
You can try it out without changing anything on your Hard Drive. Most distros come as a Live CD image that you can download, burn to a CD and then pop it in your computer and reboot to run the Linux operating system directly from the CD, provided your Bios is set to boot from CD first, and then your HD second. If not, it’s simple to set it to check the CD drive first when booting up. This is something that I find incredibly fun! (But maybe I’m a little weird!) For the previous 11 or 12 years I’d only used Windows and Mac OS. With Linux you can ‘test drive’ hundreds of unique operating systems. I’ve tried out at least twenty on our desktop computer and my Dell laptop to see which I liked best. A Live CD runs slower than it would from your hard drive, so if it works well when testing it’ll run much faster after it’s installed to your HD.
Linux runs better on older machines than Windows or OSX. Linux uses less system resources. On older computers with slower processors and less RAM a current Linux distro generally runs much better. You can give new life to that 7 year old computer in your basement. And there are many varieties of Linux made specifically to run on even older hardware.
Incredibly customizable! With Linux you have a choice of several different Desktop Managers and Desktop Environments, like Gnome, KDE, Xfce, Lxde, Fluxbox, Openbox, Blackbox, Enlightenment (the latter few being especially resource efficient for low-end hardware). You have complete control over the placement of menus, panels, launchers, widgets, screenlets, icons, you name it! You can make a Linux desktop look and behave like Mac OSX or Windows 7 or like nothing you’ve ever seen before. One of the best things about the Linux desktop is that it’s only limited by your imagination. You can make your desktop look and feel exactly the way you want it. Below is my current Mint desktop.
Find answers to any question, free. Each Linux distro has a dedicated community and on-line user forums. Any problems I’ve had, and initially I had a few when learning a new operating system, I always found answers in a very short time. The Ubuntu and Mint forums are exceptional. Their moderators and users are very knowledgeable and patient.
Which brings me to another aspect of Linux in general that I enjoy: people who are attracted to it want to understand a bit more about how their operating system works under the hood. Now those of you who know me know I’m really not much of geek. Initially I just want an operating system that works without a lot of fuss, but every computer OS has it’s problems. I’ve found that putting a little extra effort into learning how a computer works is pretty handy in the long run. And it gives you more confidence when minor things do go wrong. Linux has helped me a lot in that respect.
Software for anything you could imagine. It’s very easy to install new applications from the Ubuntu/Mint on-line repositories by search and click. Or you can use the command line (Terminal) to install or do lots of things easier and quicker than using the graphical user interface.
Security. My computers have never had a virus, Trojan, worm, whatever. That’s why Internet servers run Linux.
Versatility. Linux runs on game consoles, smartphones, netbooks, GPS devices and all kinds of other things.
Also- You can install Linux alongside Windows on a separate HD partition and duel-boot into either. Many people do this to try it out for a while. Or there is free software that lets you run another operating system (Linux or Windows or OSX) on a ‘virtual machine’ inside your present OS, but that may get a little too geeky for average users, though it’s not very difficult. And many distros can be run from a USB drive you just plug in and take with you. With Linux there are tons of options!
If there are things I’ve forgotten, which there probably are, I’ll fill them in later. You get the gist of it.
That’s all for this post. It’s really cold out and late and I’m going to bed!