Linux is the most popular open source operating system today and it has some clear advantages to Windows and Mac in terms of freedom and privacy. Today we will cover our top reasons why we use Linux on our desktops.
What is Linux?
Linux is a free and open source (FOSS) kernel used by a family of operating systems commonly referred to as Linux Distributions. The kernel is paired with many other programs to make a functioning operating system. Many of the common utilities come from the GNU Project so it could be more accurate to call these operating systems GNU/Linux.
Many operating systems such as Arch, Manjaro, Fedora, and Debian are built upon this technology and release for free. When someone says they use Linux, they are often referring to one of many distributions of GNU/Linux.
Why use Linux?
Now we are ready to go over some of the reasons you might want to consider using Linux on your computers.
1. It is Free
Did you know that a Windows 10 license can set you back upwards of $200 depending on version? Every Windows computer you purchase has a small markup for that license and it can be costly when building your own computer. Not only that, you don’t actually own it and you have to keep paying for it with your data. I’ve been spammed with messages on my Windows PC to update, signup for a Microsoft account, and use Microsoft software; that is not freedom.
Most Linux distributions are free as in Freedom and free as in beer. They do not take any of your data, they don’t take your money, nor do they try to force you into a particular workflow.
2. The Software is Free too
Linux has a dedicated FOSS community that builds and maintains software. There is software for almost any task you could think of available in most distribution’s repositories (more on that in point 5). This software costs you nothing, and you can access the source code.
3. Linux is Private by Design
We all know that Microsoft and Apple are always watching us. There is no way to fully know what is going on in the background. You can’t see the the source code and you can’t disable all forms of spying without losing important functionality. Most Linux distributions advertise they do not collect any data without your consent. Don’t believe them? Check the source code and you can see for yourself.
Privacy is a right, so don’t accept anything less.
4. Linux Gives you Choice
Another reason to use Linux over its competition is choice. Not only are there many distributions to choose from, but you can customize them to your hearts content. Want a dock instead of a task bar? Got it. Want to use Comic Sans as your system wide font? Evil but you can. Don’t want the built in video player or word processor? There are probably 5 or 6 alternatives and you remove them all together if you don’t need them.
You can change the software to fit your workflow and needs. Some people need a simple solution without any complex software packages or customization features. Others want to tweak every aspect of their desktop. There are options for everyone.
5. Native Package Management
Package management makes life easy. You can control what software you have on your system, update with a single command, and you don’t have to worry nearly as much about security issues.
Windows has things like Chocolatey and Mac has Homebrew, but they are not the default. The Microsoft Store gives you very little control over software, and Apple has a walled garden approach to their software distribution. You have no control by default on proprietary platforms. Microsoft knows this and has been trying to improve their package management, but it doesn’t change the fact it will always be proprietary and you have no control.
Commonly used software is just a click away in most Linux distributions, and you can always chose to download the software from the vendor’s website if you don’t want to use a package manager.
6. Linux is Just Easier
This might come as a surprise, but Linux is easier than you might think. In the past Linux was the land of computer geeks and system engineers, but nowadays it can be easier than other Windows. You don’t have to worry about viruses, updates forcibly shutting down your system while you are working, or being forced into a workflow that doesn’t work for you.
The biggest difference between that makes Linux easier than Windows is that you don’t run as admin by default. Most Windows users run as an admin by default because it is necessary for daily use. Some games even need admin to play on Windows. This is a massive security risk, as you can easily break your system if you don’t know what you are doing. It also makes it easy for viruses to gain control of your system. Most Linux distributions make a regular user along with an administrator (Called Root) account. You only run Root when you need to do things like update software or manage advanced system settings. Everything a regular user might need can be done without admin privileges.
Another big factor that makes Linux easier to use is that most distributions have everything you need out of the box. Often you need to install a new media player, browser, and word processor when you get a new Windows PC, Manjaro(my preferred distro) comes with all that and even Steam by default. I can still uninstall the apps I don’t need, but it is nice to know that everything just works out of the box for most use cases.
Give Linux a Try
Linux is easy, private, and secure. Consider giving it a try to see if you like it. We recommend Linux Mint and Manjaro as first Linux distributions, because they are easy for beginners and have a great selection of built in applications. You can also try using Linux on the inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer.
Please stay tuned for our guide on how to get started with Linux in a virtual machine and install it on a computer.