Why Linux?

Why do I use Linux? Why do I spend much of my time suggesting others use it? Is it just because it’s available for free? These are interesting questions that are not discussed very often.

I post my personal motive for using Linux below. Some are practical, while others are more judicious.

If you’re one of those quivers on the brink of switching to Linux, reading this list might be a good place to start, and you may find some inspiration to make the leap.

  • Control over my system

There’s no “right way” or “wrong way” of doing things (although there are sensible and efficient ways of doing things, of course). I have the freedom to do what I want with Linux. In the Linux community, you’ll never hear somebody say, “Hey! You’re not supposed to do that!” or, “Serves you right for doing it the wrong way!” Instead, what you’re more likely to hear is, “Hey! I didn’t know you could do that! That’s cool!” Innovative solutions are encouraged. There is more than one way to do that a.k.a TIMTOWTDT

This freedom extends to my choice of software applications I use on my system. If I don’t like a particular piece of software, I can use an alternative. This is true even of desktop or system components.

  • Community

All operating systems tend to generate communities around them, but the community around Linux is proactive, rather than passive. What does it mean? Well, a typical posting in a Windows community forum might be something like this: “Hey! Feature X doesn’t work as it should! This sucks! I sure hope Microsoft fixes it soon!” The same posting in a Linux forum is more likely to be like this: “Hey! Feature X doesn’t work as it should! Here’s a solution…” Not only that but, in the reply, there will be several other solutions from other people or the original solution will be improved by others. Not only that but a developer might read the posting and offer a tweak for the original program, or even start his/her alternative project.

People in the Linux community share what they know. This is the whole damn point. Linux is based on the fundamental concept that knowledge wants to be free. Personally, I think this is awe-inspiring, not least because Linux brings out the very best in people.

What this also means that, if you solve a problem and take just a few moments to share it, you’re making Linux stronger. You are both a user and a contributor.

  • Virus-Free

This is a very practical reason for liking Linux, but no less valid: When using Linux, I don’t have to worry about viruses. Viruses are an ever-present threat to Windows–a kind of terrorism for computers.

I won’t brag that there are no viruses for Linux, but I’m fairly certain that there are fewer viruses in active circulation. Any that arise tend to die out quickly, simply because it’s much harder to infect a Linux system due to the way it’s built.

In addition, there’s a secret I read in some of the hacker blogs and sites that are rarely discussed: The kind of people who create viruses respect and like Linux. They don’t want to damage it, either in practical terms or by damaging its reputation. There’s also the fact that Linux is still a minority operating system, and virus writers tend to target the big fishes in the pond.

The lack of viruses means I don’t have to have an annoying antivirus program installed on my computer. There are no irritating pop-ups from the virus checker telling me it’s doing a good job, and no daily/weekly scans rendering my computer almost unusable. (IMHO nearly all antivirus programs on Windows are almost as bad as the viruses they claim to protect the user from.)

  • It’s Free Of Charge

This is another very practical reason, but it really can’t be underestimated. Linux doesn’t cost anything, and everybody in the world, therefore, has access to it. Who can argue with that?

And finally, if I’m to list out my personal liking for Linux I’ll put it in this way,

  • It’s free.
  • I can run on pretty much any hardware.
  • It is highly scalable… I can install it on a 486 or a dual core.
  • Help is readily available and free of charge.
  • Well documented.
  • An inbuilt standard help system that is actually useful (man pages).
  • Powerful CLI.
  • Linux can be configured to run without a GUI for max performance. This is especially useful for servers. Other operating systems don’t have this luxury.
  • Linux will actually give you a reason why something had an error.
  • You can choose which type of desktop environment you want.
  • With Linux, we can compile our own kernel so we don’t have to a wear a one size fits all hat.
  • When you “end a task” in Linux it actually works. (SIGTERM, SIGHUP,SIGKILL).
  • The command line auto complete feature works the way you expect it to.
  • Linux tends not to hide details.
  • You can choose a filesystem that better fits your needs. 
  • When there is a security exploit I can expect a patch immediately on the next day.


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