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Many people new to GNU/Linux ask the same question in one of many forms - "What are the advantages of Linux?", "Why use Linux?", "Is Linux better than <SOME_OS>?", etc. This article will provide a single article that should answer this question for all people asking it.
Below, the contributors of this article are listed.
1. By using GNU/Linux, such users help those systems contribute to the cause of free software, the goal of which, is to make computers available to everyone without the restrictions of licenses and copyrights. Thereby, preventing a few companies from controlling computer use and extorting money from the people who use them.
2. Freedom of choice.
- There are several applications available for every task. Individual users are free to choose the one, or more, they like best. And more than one similar application can be installed, and used simultaneously. Thus giving users power over their computers, instead of a company dictating which applications are to be used.
- GNU/Linux can be configured to be as simple or as complex as one wants them to be.
- Users can customize low-level software like the kernel up to themes in the GUI. For instance, users can use a specific kernel version or they can make their own and install it. Users can even change the login screen and the desktop interface.
3. Most distributions have a community of users, bound by the use of a common system. Many of those users communicate on message-boards/forums, strengthening the feeling of a community. Also, there are many message-boards/forums for Linux in general.
4. Copious amounts of documentation exist on the Internet (for free).
5. Less bloatware, spaghetti code, etc. leads to a faster and more efficient system. For example, most Linux distros shutdown and restart faster than Windows. Also, many Linux distros have a smaller resource footprint than Windows. This frees more RAM and CPU resources to be used towards other tasks.
6. GNU/Linux is highly secure and suffers from very little to no malware. GNU/Linux is so secure, most websites are hosted on a GNU/Linux server. As of 2013, there are 60,000 Windows viruses and 40 Linux viruses. According to W3Schools.com, in May 2013, 4.9% of visitors were using GNU/Linux and 82.5% used MS-Windows. This comes out to about ten viruses per percent of Linux users and 730 viruses per percent of Windows users. These two ratios are very different.
7. GNU/Linux is absolutely free because it is licensed under free software licenses. Anyone from an individual to a large corporation can legally and freely download, install, and use Linux on their systems. Some companies like Canonical and RedHat sell services like support, but the operating systems themselves are free even without purchasing a support license.
8. GNU/Linux can run on a server for months without needing a reboot. Some distros can run up to a year before a reboot is considered.
9. GNU/Linux supports a large variety of network devices and protocols.
10. GNU/Linux has fully developed multitasking abilities. The kernel can handle many processes at once without interference.
11. GNU/Linux is open-source. This means that anyone can view the code that make GNU/Linux. Users can copy the code and modify it as they please, but their new code must remain under the same license. This also allows users to find and fix bugs themselves if needed.
12. GNU/Linux has many different forms to choose from, all of which are free and legal to download. If users are needing a distro specific for graphic design or some other task, there is a distro to satisfy those needs.
13. Some for-profit companies make proprietary software for GNU/Linux. Users that prefer proprietary software can still obtain some for Linux (hopefully legally).
14. Many Linux distros run well on older PCs. This allows users to continue using older hardware.
15. Most GNU/Linux support is free. To solve issues or get answers, ask for help on Linux forums like this one (Linux.org).
16. Most Linux distributions do not have the multiple editions with varying restrictions like Windows. For instance, Windows 7 has a Starter, Home Basic, Enterprise, etc. editions while Ubuntu is just Ubuntu and CentOS is CentOS. This means GNU/Linux is not restricted. For which ever distro a user installs, they know that they installed the best form of the distro.
17. GNU/Linux uses a shell that has been patched, fixed, and tested for years - BASH. BASH is a stable shell that was made 1989. However, Windows used Powershell since 2006.
18. GNU/Linux supports more architectures than Windows.
19. GNU/Linux supports more filesystems than Windows. With a Linux system, users can use memory cards that are formatted for Windows, Mac, Amiga, or any other operating system. Linux also supports a large variety of virtual, cluster, and network filesystems.
20. Bugs and issues are fixed more quickly in Linux than Windows (Linus's Law).
21. GNU/Linux has a large range of uses since the kernel supports many kinds of hardware. GNU/Linux can be used as a workstation, any type of server, firewall, router, cluster, supercomputer, embedded system, etc.
1. Freedom of choice comes at a price. Choosing from the assortment of applications and distributions requires knowledge gained from experience. Likewise, having the power to configure a system any way one wants to configure it requires knowledge. The more one knows, the more one can do. Using Linux requires learning at least a little.
2. Lack of hardware support. Some hardware manufacturers do not provide adequate open source support for their products. The result being some hardware is difficult to get working and a small number are incompatible.
3. For those who value the ability to play games, GNU/Linux may not provide the experience you desire. GNU/Linux lacks the extensive game support that MS-Windows has gained.
4. Lack of support for some major brands of software - like Adobe Photoshop. (GIMP is still a good alternative, but some users claim they are not quite the same). For some Windows-only applications, there are no alternatives and WINE may not run the Windows program sufficiently on a Linux system.
5. The learning curve scares many users away. Some users just want the computer to run and not have anything to do with its log files and command-line.
Read Introduction to Linux (http://dcjtech.info/topic/introduction-to-linux/) for more information.
Further Reading (Reading Guides)
- A Newbie's Guide to the Linux System - http://dcjtech.info/topic/a-newbies-guide-to-the-linux-system/
- General Linux Topics - http://dcjtech.info/topic/general-linux-topics/
- Linux Administration - http://dcjtech.info/topic/linux-administration/
- Linux Distros - http://dcjtech.info/topic/linux-distros/
- Linux Installation - http://dcjtech.info/topic/linux-installation/
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