We live in a world where we can’t think computers away anymore. We use computers for our daily tasks; managing our bank accounts, writing documents, connecting with people around the globe and watching cat videos on YouTube. Our lives rely on it, both in ways you can and cannot see.
Most people use Windows PCs or Macs.
(and I know, smartphones are computers too, but I’ll talk about those another time) But in contrary, I use Linux on my computer, and in this blog post I will be explaining why.
First of all: What is Linux?
Linux is an OS (Operating System). It’s the program that talks to your computer hardware for you, and translates what you computer is saying to something you can understand. There are many OSes out there. For example Microsoft Windows, Apple’s OS X, but also Android and iOS.
The Linux kernel was invented in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. He made it so that students could use their computers for free, and expand on their OS freely. He was a student himself, and was fed up that all of the operating systems at the time(e.g. Minix) were so expensive.
Note that I said “The Linux kernel”. Nowadays what most of us call Linux, is actually called GNU Linux. GNU was founded by Richard Stallman. The GNU team was almost done combining and creating multiple parts that make up an operating system, but one part was missing, the part to make it all tick: the kernel. The Linux kernel was fused with the GNU project and GNU Linux was born.
Since people can improve and expand on the Linux kernel, people started distributing their own versions of Linux. This has lead to the existence of the popular Linux distributions, for example Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Red Hat and so on.
I have the freedom to do what I want with Linux. Since there isn’t one corporation that makes the entire Operating System, I have the freedom to choose whatever software I want.
Look at it like legos. The entire OS is built up from lego bricks, with one big underlying brick that is the kernel. If I don’t like the bricks that allow me to hear sound for example, I can switch it out for another that’ll suit my tastes and needs better, or I can develop one myself.
The same goes for the Desktop Environment. The program that allows you to execute tasks and use your computers with the help of icons, buttons and neat little windows. On Windows, you have no choice in how you want your desktop to look like. You can theme it a little bit, but in the end you’re stuck with what Microsoft has decided for you.
On Linux, you’ve got a HUGE amount of Desktop Environments to choose from. If you want something fancy, with transparency, animations and such, there’s KDE or GNOME for you. If you want something more lightweight and simple, choose MATE, XFCE or LXDE. And there’s many more!
The internet is a dangerous place. There’s a lot of viruses floating around, hackers and scammers are trying their best to get their hands on your information. Most people that run Windows and that want to stay safe go onto the internet armed to the teeth with antivirus and anti-malware software, and even then, most of the antivirus software only covers 2% of all viruses. On Linux I don’t really have to worry about viruses.
Why is this? Well, there’s three main reasons. The first reason is that Windows(and Android too…) are the most popularly used Operating Systems on the market. It’s only logical that the virus authors write their viruses targeted towards the platform with the most people on it. The second reason is that Linux is maintained by a lot of people. If someone discovers a bug or a security threat, they can fix it themselves, and push the update out. On Windows, everything is maintained by one company. If a security threat has been discovered, it takes way longer to patch it. The last reason is simply that Linux has been built more securely. There’s less room for hackers to insert their malicious code, and there’s a much more secure permissions system.
All commercial Operating Systems have spying features. Windows 10 knows what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, with who you’re doing it and where you’re doing it. By default it collects every key you press, every word you say and your interests, location all get sent to Microsoft in order to sell you ads, and to simply know more about you. This information will be shared with several governments and agencies, and will be stored for later use. All versions of Windows since XP have backdoors in order to allow the NSA access to your computer.
Mac OS knows what you’re searching, collects your location and by default collects information about what programs you’re running. certain keystrokes could be sent to Apple’s servers and certain other sensitive pieces of information could be collected trough memory snapshots. The latest versions of Mac OS most likely contain backdoors in order to allow the NSA access to your computer.
Linux? Nah, none of that. Linux is open-source, which means its source code can be looked into by everyone. This also means that if the Linux kernel would contain any backdoors, we would know about it. No data collection is present in most distributions. In fact, the only exception is your default install of Ubuntu, since it intergrates a google and amazon search into it’s start menu. Both features can easity be turned off.
Performance and Stability
Linux doesn’t need to restart. Whether you install new software (even very big programs) or perform routine upgrades for your system, you will not be asked to restart the computer.
Windows requires more and more hardware power as its version number increases (95, 98, 2000, Me, XP, etc.). So if you want to keep running Windows, you need to constantly buy new hardware. Linux runs perfectly well on older hardware, on which Windows 7 would probably even refuse to install. It will run very well on it and allow you to perform usual tasks (surfing the web, writing documents, etc.) just fine.
Windows also gets slower over time. Your computer won’t be as fast in a year as when it was when you just installed it.A lot of people have just accepted this as part of technology, but I’d say this doesn’t have to be true.
Try Linux and you’ll be surprised. Five years from now, your system will be just as fast and responsive as the day you installed it, not to mention that you won’t have any viruses, adware, trojans, worms, etc., that would force you to reinstall anyway.
Try it yourself!
If this blog post has made you want to try out Linux for yourself, you can! In fact, you can try out Linux without touching your current installation of whatever Operating System you use at all. This technology is called Linux Live. It allows you to run a version of Linux directly from a DVD, CD or USB Stick. Most popular Linux distributions have this feature, so you can try them out anytime, without losing data. So if you think Linux isn’t for you, if it doesn’t run well on your computer or if you need applications that don’t run on Linux, you can always go back to the Operating System you were running before.
Links to Linux Distros I recommend:
- Linux Mint: http://www.linuxmint.com/
- Ubuntu: http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop
- Fedora: https://getfedora.org/
Thank you very much for reading. If you find this informative, don’t hesitate to share this with your friends, family or coworkers.