Someone once asked me:
Why Linux and what does it do for me an average user?
Here is my response.
First, I should say that "why Linux" is a lot different for me than
for an average user. I have been using Unix since before Windows was
born, so for me, Linux is a more comfortable environment than Windows,
and the fact that it is free and better quality is just an added
For an average user, the reasons would be these:
- Less buggy. To say that Linux never crashes is an
exaggeration, but not by much. It is very stable. This is less
of an advantage since Windows NT and its successors came on the
scene. (Basically, Microsoft recognized that Windows 95 was such
a kluge that it could not be turned into a stable system, so they
threw it out and started from scratch to do it right.)
- No viruses. This is a generalization with, I suppose,
exceptions, but Linux viruses are very rare. This is in part
because its market share is so small, the bad guys don't find it
worth while to target Linux systems. But the main thing is that Linux has a
well-designed security model. Before NT, Windows had essentially
none. It still does not have a very clean separation between
ordinary users and administrative users, and so it is much
easier for hackers to compromise your system.
The common arguments against Linux are:
- Linux has a learning curve that is steeper than Windows'. This
charge used to be true, but it really isn't any longer. I use
the Ubuntu distribution, and apart from the need to install it
yourself (pre-loaded Linux machines being rare), using it is no
more difficult than for Windows or Mac. You don't have to
resort to the command line for anything any more.
- Linux lacks a good office software suite. This situation is also
getting better. There are
are some MS-Office look-alikes around that inter-operate quite
well with the MS suite. I recommend LibreOffice.
The most serious problem is that there are so many third-party
software vendors who produce products only for Windows, or at most
also for Mac. This situation will only change once Linux gets enough
market share for these people to take it seriously.
I recommend you read Neal Stephenson's In the beginning was the
command line at
http://www.cryptonomicon.com for some insightful comments on all
this and more.
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