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Linux: The Pros and Cons

When it comes to operating systems, most people have only heard of Windows and Mac OS, but there are several other options available. The most popular alternative operating system is Linux, an open sourceoperatingsystemoriginallydevelopedin1991 by Linus Torvalds. There are several hundred versions of Linux, but the most popular and user-friendly by far is Ubuntu. There are several reasons someone might want to switch to Linux, as well as several barriers that could prevent them from doing so successfully. Cost, familiarity, speed and features are all major factors to consider when making the switch.

Cost

Most versions of Linux, including Ubuntu, do not require the user to purchase any software; everything is availableforfree, from the operating system itself to word processors and media players. Because the software is free, however, it can be difficult to find adequate desktop support. Usually, a user will have to resort to searching through Linux support forums, trying to find an answer to their question. Some options for paid support exist, but they run on subscriptions, which can negate the benefits of having a free operating system.

Familiarity

Every version of Linux, even Ubuntu, differs wildly from Windows and Mac OS. There are numerous options for configuring the GraphicUserInterface (GUI), but there will always be aspects of a Linux interface that don’t match up to a Windows user’s expectations. Further, the actual inner workings of Linux are completely different from that of Windows, so even an incredibly knowledgeable Windows user will have troubles adjusting. Just because it’s different, however, doesn’t mean it’s inferior. Linux is an operating system made by its users, so it tends to lean towards efficiency rather than flash.SpeedThe configuration options for Linux don’t stop at the GUI level; the entire operating system, down to its most basic components, can be customized. Linux is run on phones, thin clients, servers, desktops, ebook readers and many other devices one might not expect. Because of its versatility, it can easily be optimized to provide more speed and efficiency than Windows or Mac OS typically can. Also, it can be run on otherwise outdated hardware, turning that junk computer in the closet into a home server.

Features

Because Linux is not related to Windows at all, it won’t natively run Windows applications. That means, for starters, that Linux is not an ideal platform for serious PC gaming. Most major games aren’t released with a Linux version, though there are sometimes workarounds. One option is to use Wine, a windows compatibility layer for Linux that can allow some Windows programs to run natively on Linux. Also, Linux is, under normal circumstances, immune to viruses; if the user is employing good practices, even if they do get a virus, it will be unable to affect the system in any meaningful way.

Switching to Linux can be a confusing, harrowing ordeal, but it can also be very rewarding. There’s a reduced risk of obtaining a crippling virus, increased computer lifespan and many more options than either of the major operating systems offer. In the end it all boils down to matching up computing needs and desires with the amount of time one is willing to spend learning new software.

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