Why We Use Linux

On my blog I recently wrote about my “rise to Linux”. Within this article I explained where my love of all things technical came from and why I eventually stuck with Linux, well Ubuntu to be more precise. Whilst writing that article it made me think about why we use Linux variants over other operating systems. Here’s why I think we do…

Freedom

I think this is arguably the most important reason why many people decide to move to Linux. Many of us spend a great deal of money on the technology we use everyday, and because of this we want to have total control over our device. Linux undoubtedly provides this control for us.

A perfect example of this is the recent release of Windows 8. Many Windows users who want the latest and greatest hardware are now stuck with the awful interface formerly known as Metro.

Now that’s fine if you like the new interface, but the vast majority of users don’t like it. So what if you are one of this majority who don’t like Windows 8? Can you have the latest operating system from Microsoft yet use a different interface? After all, it would still be the same Windows system underneath all the glitz and glam right? In short, no you can’t. That is one of the biggest limitations of proprietary software. Most of the time you get what you’re given and that’s it.

But the computer I’m using is owned by me, I paid for it with my own money so I want the ability to do with it what I wish. That’s where Linux steps in. You see, what I mean by ‘Free’ in this section isn’t free as in the monetary value of something (although the vast majority of Linux distributions do cost nothing – which is a bonus), I mean free as in freedom. So if I want to change something on my machine, I am free to access the source code (if I need to) and change anything I want. You simply can’t do that on proprietary systems like Windows & OSX.

Customisation

The ability to freely change whatever we want brings me onto the next section in this article – customisation. As we know, the customisation options in Windows are pretty much limited to moving the taskbar, changing the wallpaper and changing the aero colours. In Linux, the customisation options are pretty much endless.

Wallpapers, themes, icons, pointer, desktop environments, logon screens and even boot up screens can all be very easily customised in Linux. Take a look at the screenshots below, both are Ubuntu 12.04 but they have a very different look and feel to them:

FS Ubuntu Icons

 

Default Look Of PinguyOS 12.04

The top image is my own desktop, which is Ubuntu 12.04 running the Unity interface with a custom wallpaper and a custom icon theme. The bottom image is Pinguy OS which is an Ubuntu variant that has a polished feel not unlike that of a Mac.

Again, this all ties in with the fact that the hardware is my own, so I want to have the freedom to do whatever I want with it, and once again Linux fills this void for many of it’s users including myself.

Security

Security is a big issue for many people who use computers. Afterall we keep a hell of a lot of personal information on our machines, so virus’, spyware and other nasty infections are a big problem….except on Linux of course!

Linux is ‘wired’ differently that other operating systems like Windows. It is designed from the ground up to be more secure and because of this works in a completely different way.

Because of these differences Linux is pretty much impervious to infection. That’s not to say that it impossible to get infected on a Linux machine as anything is possible in the IT world, but they certainly aren’t affected by any Windows infections. I spend a lot of time online, I don’t run any antivirus software on my machine and I am yet to get any kind of infection from the internet. I’ve also never heard of anyone getting infected by a virus whilst running Linux.

It’s not just virus’ though, we’re also talking about software security and patching here as well. Linux is community based, which means it has literally millions of contributors worldwide that support, improve and help the platform to grow. This means that software holes and bugs are plugged extremely quickly.

Let’s use an example; in Windows, a bug is reported and it’s then on Microsoft’s development team to fix the problem, test it and then push it to users machines by way of Windows Updates. This can take weeks or even months to accomplish as Windows is maintained by a relatively small number of people.

Look at this same scenario in the Linux world and it’s totally different. If a bug is found, then it’s submitted in much the same way as in Windows. But the big difference is that us users have access to the source code of the operating system if we want to. This means that we can fix the bug ourselves, test it and let the Linux foundation know what we have done. They only need to confirm the patch ok and it can be pushed out via a software update.

With the Linux community having millions of these people worldwide, bugs are constantly being found and patched. This means that a process that can take weeks or even months in a Windows environment can be resolved in a matter of hours under Linux.

Community Spirit

I quickly touched on this above; the fact that Linux is a community based endeavour is the biggest sell for me. I love being part of the community and I am very proud to say that I am part of it. If I hadn’t have been part of this amazing community then I wouldn’t be here, writing this article right now as I know both Dietrich and Katherine through the Linux community.

When using Linux you’re never left alone. Whether it be forums, IRC, Google+, Twitter or even the dreaded Facebook. It’s always easy to find some fantastic soul who is willing to give you a little bit of their time and knowledge in order to help you out. This to me is the single biggest advantage of being a Linux user that you simply can’t get in any other technology niche.

Conclusion

Getting my favourite OS for nothing is a bonus, but I do give back in terms of my time, my knowledge and my money to a few projects that I follow closely. But I would gladly pay the same amount that many Windows users pay for their OS for a copy of Ubuntu – as would many Linux users I imagine.

Linux isn’t just a piece of software that we have on our machines. It’s a way of life, using Linux doesn’t mean that you’re some kind of nerd who has nothing better to do with their time. Using Linux means that you support the freedom of software and choose to be an active member of a truly worldwide community of which I am extremely proud to call myself a member of.

If you’re not a Linux user, or if you are but don’t actively take part in the community then I strongly urge you too, it’s an awesome place to be. I moved away from Windows on my personal machines three years ago and I haven’t regretted it for a second. If you’re not a Linux user but you are thinking of giving it a try then I really think your should. Head on over to the Ubuntu site, download their image and try it out on a USB stick, you really won’t regret it. If you do, then no doubt we’ll see eachother soon within the community. Good luck!

Have I missed something? Is there another reason that you use Linux? Why not tell us your thoughts in the comments below…

Why We Use Linux
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  • shadowguy14

    I forget how I found out about Linux, but I use it so I feel unique compared to others who use typical Windows xp/7. Of course their are so many members of the community that’s not logical, but oh well. BTW does Chrome OS count? I use that to :D

  • abilash v

    Power of Linux that is simply Unique..!
    Great article by the way..!

  • http://stevenrosenberg.net/blog Steven Rosenberg

    I have a couple of observations:

    1) I very recently had a great Linux/free software experience:

    The 3.9.x kernels were panicking on my new HP laptop under EFI but not in “legacy” BIOS mode. I opened a bug on this in Fedora (the distro I’m using now), though the problem was affecting this hardware in the daily builds of Ubuntu 13.10 as well. It was an upstream problem with the 3.9.x series of kernels, to be sure.

    But the Fedora developers, who seem to have a whole lot to do with kernel development as well, actually fixed the problem, and now I’m running 3.9.x kernels with no trouble under EFI in Fedora 18 (they fixed for F19 first, then rolled in fixes for F17 and F18).

    I’ve opened quite a few bugs over the years, but having this “critical” bug get immediate attention was very heartening and encouraging in terms of using free (as in beer and freedom) software.

    2) I’m not sure of the chicken-egg relationship between the various “new” desktop environments — GNOME Shell, Unity and Windows 8 Metro/Desktop — but I consider GNOME Shell and Unity only slightly more evolved than Windows 8. There isn’t the Win8 fracture between Metro and Desktop (i.e. there’s more unity in Unity and GNOME Shell than there is in Windows 8). But if you don’t like some of the key features of Windows 8, I don’t think GNOME Shell or Unity are going to win you over to this new desktop paradigm.

    However, the new GNOME Classic mode, Xfce, KDE, Cinnamon or MATE just might make you a believer — and a user — of Linux on the desktop.

    I spent a whole lot of time in Windows 8 recently while getting my Linux system together on this HP Pavilion g6 laptop, and while there are a lot of nice things in Windows 8 (including very good hardware recognition, since this is an OEM install), there were more than a few hassles that drove me back to Linux very, very quickly.

    For a person who has spent considerable time running Linux on the desktop, great distros like Fedora (due to 3D graphics issues I’m running Xfce right now), Debian, Mint, even Ubuntu/Xubuntu and many more are worth much more than their proverbial weight in gold.

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