Linux is Not Just for the Tech-Savvy

Linux has a number of benefits over the more popular operating systems (Mac, Windows) but, is often thought of as being meant for the extremely computer savvy individual. This is far from the truth, and while Linux does have some shortcomings it is probably my favorite operating system.

A big misconception
What prompted me to write this article was actually a comment I received at work. I was sitting on my laptop one morning doing random things (which is usually the case as my job gives me a lot of downtime) when my boss happened to walk by. She glanced at my screen and noticed how unorganized my desktop was with icons scattered all over the place. “Wow, you have a lot of stuff on there” is what she said but, I know in the back of her mind she was thinking “that is such a cluttered mess how do you find anything”. I happened to be using the Windows side of my computer at the time. I responded “well this isn’t my usual desktop, I usually use Linux.”. Her first question after I told her I used Linux was whether or not I was a computer science major.

Now, I consider myself to be fairly good with computers. I can navigate the web and find solutions to most problems that I have on my own with a little research. However, I am by no means a computer science major in fact I have only ever taken one computer class and that was simply on the basics of Microsoft Office. When I told my boss this she thought it was incredible that I figured out how to use Linux without any formal training. The thing is, it really isn’t that hard.

Installing and using Linux is simple
It’s actually really easy to get started with linux. You simply choose a distribution that you think will suit you and go to their website to download the disc image. In most cases you will need either a blank CD, blank DVD, or for some distributions even a USB thumb drive to make a bootable image. Most Linux distributions also offer guides for installing their operating system. The distribution I use (Ubuntu) is well known for being user friendly and offers very informative guides to get you started. You should be able to get Linux up and running in less than an hour after you download the image.

After you get Linux running you will find that the operating system is fairly easy to get used to. I know that the latest version of Ubuntu is extremely intuitive and you’ll likely have the basics figured out in a half hour or less. If you run into any problems there are various Linux communities out there that will be more than willing to help you. Just be sure to specify that you are completely new to the operating system and you will more than likely be able to find an answer to your question.

The pros and cons

The good:

The majority of Linux distributions are free to use and are frequently updated

Linux is pretty much virus-immune while it is possible to get a virus in Linux it’s virtually unheard of, in fact you will find that most virus protection software dedicated to Linux is actually to protect other people. (Linux can still carry viruses so it’s possible that you may email someone using a different operating system and they will get the virus, but you are unaffected!)

Linux is efficient with resources while other operating systems use up a lot of your systems available resources just to get the operating system up and running Linux typically uses a lot less and will run faster than another operating system.

Linux looks great, as far as Ubuntu goes the system is beautiful and keeps things looking clean and organized

The bad:

Software compatability
as I stated above I was on the Windows side of my computer when my boss happened to glance over. I dual boot both Windows and Linux simply because some software requires windows and having the option to switch makes things easier. (Dual booting your system is not hard and is fairly clear in the set-up wizard when you are installing Linux for the first time. Additionally, there are many guides available if you do a quick web search)

Downloading programs not in the software center can be a hassle while many distributions of Linux come with software centers where you can easily install common software if you attempt to download a program from a website it can often be hard to get the program up and running for Linux (even if the program is specifically made for Linux)

Last thoughts

I hope this article has convinced you that Linux is not an operating system only intended for computer experts but, rather an easy to use and efficient operating system that anyone can use. While it does have some minor difficulties for an average user to overcome they can usually be solved with a little research or, you can do what I do and reserve a little space for Windows (or Mac) and dual boot your system.

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