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. In the past 3 years, I have never had a
Linux system crash except for hardware failure.
- No viruses. Again this is a generalization with, I suppose,
exceptions (though I have never heard of any Linux viruses). The
main thing is that Linux has a security model, whereas Windows
(non-NT versions) does not. So at least the security holes are
bugs which can be fixed, rather than deliberately designed
features of the system.
The common arguments against Linux are:
- Linux has a learning curve that is steeper than Windows'. This
situation is improving steadily: the Gnome project is doing a
good job of improving the interface. Also, some vendors (Dell
for instance) now ship systems with Linux pre-loaded.
- Linux lacks a good office software suite. This situation is also
getting better. You can now get WordPerfect for Linux. There
are some MS-Office look-alikes around (StarOffice and Applix
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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