I have used Linux computers almost exclusively for the last six years, and I think it might be worthwhile for me to point out the advantages this has given me.
One advantage that cannot be overlooked is the cost. Windows cost hundreds of dollars, while Linux costs nothing. If the computer costs $300, then fully 1/3 of the cost is probably going to Microsoft for supplying something you can get for free. That is a lot of money, no wonder Microsoft is such a large, money hungry, corporation.
Also, there are many different sources of Linux, which should not be something to consider. That is, I can talk about Ubuntu Linux, SUSE Linux, Redhat Linux, and many more flavors, each from a different company, whereas Windows is only available from one company. Using Windows is selling you soul in the sense that if Microsoft decides to cut something you find useful, you are out of luck. With Linux, you just go somewhere else.
There is much more software available for Linux than there is for Windows. True, if you go to a computer store you will find rows of windows programs, but no rows of Linux programs. That is because, for the most part, the Linux programs are free, and available on-line. Installation consists of clicking a check-box to say you want it.
One statement that needs to be made is that most people cannot tell a Windows environment and a Linux environment apart. Also, the program names may be different, but usually there is a program on Linux that will work with any of the file formats used on a Windows system. It is even possible for the Linux system to access the Windows system either over the Internet, or on a shared computer (that is, a computer with a Windows system that has been booted in Linux.
My Ubuntu system list 25,159 packages (programs) available. I've only downloaded 2584 packages total. I looking at downloading one of their Karaoke systems (there are at least two).
Linux responds to market demands faster. I recall having a 64 bit version of Linux at least six months before Microsoft came out with a 64 bit version. Some advocates have pointed out this is to be expected because there are many times more Linux programmer developing for Linux than Windows.
There is the enhancement problem. In Windows, if you see something that would enhance the operating system, you can ask Microsoft for it, but the chances of you making it happen is slim. In the Linux world, you can ask someone one vendor, and if they are not fast enough, you can pay a programmer to develop it right now. No worry about violating anyone's copyright, etc. (It is possible to violate the Linux copyright, but most people don't have the technical expertise to do it.)
Apache. Apache is an Internet server which is available for Windows, but runs much better under Linux. Since it, like most Linux software, is free, I can have a full fledged server on my laptop (which I do). While this might not make a difference to most people, to anyone developing a WEB site, it is a godsend.
Games. If you enjoy playing games on the computer, Linux comes with a set of maybe a dozen games, but the set of games that can be downloaded is very high - probably in the thousands.
Security: Windows is a security risk. The reason is that Microsoft depends on secrecy to enforce its security. The problem with that is that there are some hackers out there that can read object code as fast as most people read this article. Therefore, their security is usually breached. Linux security is based on openness. If the person that wants to breach the security wants to, he can read the source code. But so can the person who wants to prevent the breach.
In my opinion, part of the reason Linux is so secure is because it is much more of a feather in a person's cap to find and report a security breach than it is to actually take advantage of it. In addition, the finder can put the fact that he discovered a security hole on his resume, and advertise that fact, resulting in much more prestige and, probably, more money.
In the years I've been using Linux, the major problem I've had with viruses is that other people's systems have been down, or the Internet so congested with Windows worms that my system hasn't been able to get through.
One feature of Linux that I've gotten into is recovering files. My daughter accidentally spilled a coke on her laptop, which killed the computer. The problem is that, even though there was nothing wrong with the disk, it couldn't be read because the Windows operating system recognized any computer is was mounted on as new, and therefore would not boot. Finally, I mounted the disk on my laptop, and booted Linux off a CD. (Windows could not legally be booted off a CD, since that would violate Microsoft's copyright.) I could, therefore, easily access the dead Windows system, and copy the files to a thumb drive.
©2008, Baldwin Computer Science
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