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Why Would Anyone Want to Use Linux?

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Jason Jones

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Posted: 8 Nov 2004
 

Why would anyone want to use Linux?

Although it may be a bit hard to believe, I have not always been a Linux user. In fact, I have used Windows a lot longer than I've used Linux. Yes, I know; it's a shock to most people, but it's true. So why am I such an adamant Linux evangelist now? Well... It's because I've been on both sides of the fence and at least for now, and for me, I know which field is greener.

Rewind a few years back to when I was in college -- 1999. I used windows like all the other students and enjoyed it. I was quite naive to any other operating systems. I used windows to do word processing, play games, do finances, browse the web, download email, listen to music, and I even used it to compose my own music and edit personal digital videos I had made. I was pretty computer savvy. I guess you could say I was one of those guys who was burning CDs before most people knew what a CD burner was.

Throughout the time I was using windows, quite a few things just didn't seem right about the choices I was given with that operating system. For starters,

  1. Because I was a poor college student, I looked for as many ways to save money as I could, but there weren't many options. I wanted to keep the law and understood that copying software illegally was nothing more than stealing. There had to be another way to get the software I needed without forking out the dough for it.


  2. Because I was pretty good with computers, I knew how to set up a network sniffer so I could see the traffic coming in and going out of my computer. I had a broadband connection and I got worried when on an average of every 10 minutes, someone or something was trying to hack into my computer. My only option was to spend more money on a firewall. Not good.


  3. I was sick of worrying about the constant threat of new viruses and worms going around. I used my computer for storage of things that meant a lot to me, like my personal journal, original music, and various videos I had made. If my computer got a virus that affected these things, I was not going to be a happy camper.

About this time, I got my hands on a nice IBM Intellistation server and I decided to put Red Hat Linux on it. I put it on, and spent a couple of weeks getting used the way Linux worked, and eventually had a Linux firewall and a router set up on that box. Amazingly enough, the software didn't cost me a thing. Wow! I had found a solution to the Internet intrusion problem without spending any money at all! Sure, it took a little bit of elbow grease to set it up, but when it was up, it ran solid.

Well... The longer I used my server, the more interested I became in using Linux on my desktops. I thought, ?If my server can stay up for months at a time without any problems, I wonder what it could do if I used it on my workstation Desktop?? I was about to find out.

I did some searching and found there were more distributions of Linux than just Red Hat. I decided to download a distro called ?Mandrake? to put on my desktop. I used it along with windows on the same box for a couple of months. The more I used Mandrake, the more I realized I didn't even need windows anymore. I could do almost everything the same. So, I wiped my windows partition clean and went 100% Linux.

To make a long story short, I've been using Linux exclusively now for years, and haven't looked back. I've used various flavors of Linux, too. I've used Gentoo, Redhat, SUSE, and Mandrake and have had good experiences with all of em'. Here is some of the software I use to replace the Windows software:

  • OpenOffice replaces MicroSoft Office
  • The Gimp replaces Photoshop
  • Ardour replaces Steinburg Nuendo
  • Muse replaces Cubase VST
  • Firefox replaces Internet Explorer
  • Thunderbird replaces MicroSoft Outlook
  • XMMS / Mplayer replaces Windows Media Player
  • GNUCash replaces Microsft Money or Intuit Quicken

and on and on... I've got free software for my digital camera, my scanner and my printer. I can watch DVDs, listen to CDs, burn CDs, create MP3s, etc... etc... etc...

Now, what about all these different distributions of Linux available? Which one is best? Well, let me tell you what I've found.

For people who are not computer geniuses, who just want an alternative to Windows without having to become a computer programmer, I'd have to say that SUSE is the easiest to use and understand, and is quite user friendly. You basically just put the CDs in, answer a few simple questions and its ready to rock 'n' roll. With SUSE, and just about every Linux distribution out there, when you install Linux, you get much more than a bare Operating System. You get a whole slew of software applications ready to come running to your beckon call. If it's not already installed, you can usually find it on line, download it, and install it for free.

All in all, Linux is just better. Here are some reasons why I say this, in no particular order.

  1. Linux usually isn't susceptible to viruses written for windows and most viruses written today are written for windows.
  2. It's FREE.
  3. Many applications written for Linux are also free and available on line.
  4. It's not as prone to hackers because it doesn't run with administrator privileges as the default.
  5. It rarely crashes, and if it does, it usually is one application which doesn't require a system-wide reboot.
  6. Linux gives you choices. If you don't want something installed, you un-install it or don't install it. Ever tried to un-install Internet Explorer on Windows?

And that's about it!


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