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Anytime you use a computer, you rely on its operating system to process each step you take. The two more common operating systems in today’s world are iOS from Apple and Windows. Linux is an alternative to those two operating systems that has some advantages and disadvantages you need to know.
What is Linux?
Linux is an operating system designed for modern computers. It is one of the more popular open-source OS options available. Linux essentially sits in an out of the way spot on your computer and comes to life when you need it.
You can download all of your favorite apps, programs, and software. When you open one of them, they send commands to Linux, which then sends messages to your hardware to make sure you can do anything you want to do. Linux lets you play games and do all of the things you would do with another OS. Many developers even make programs with specific versions for Linux users.
How is Linux Different?
Whether you have an old PC or you just bought a new one, you might consider installing Linux. One thing that sets it apart from other OS options is that it’s open source. Anyone with the technical know-how can make changes to the code that others can then use.
Download and install the OS to see how it runs and make sure you feel comfortable using it. You can then look for custom versions that other users created and get help making your own custom version.
Is Linux Compatible With All Devices?
Yes, Linux is compatible with most devices, No matter what type of device you use, you can run it with Linux. Wearable devices such as a fitness tracker or a smartwatch can usually run Linux. It also works on phones and tablets that keep you connected as well as some cameras and music players.
You can even run Linux on a PC that has another OS already installed. Some companies also sell Linux USB thumb drives. They come with Linux already installed, which makes it easy for you to transfer a copy to your computer.
9 Reasons Why People Use Linux
Though you might hear people talk more about Windows and iOS, around 1/3 of everyone who uses a PC or electronic device relies on Linux. It is especially among developers and people who do not want others to keep track of their digital footprints. We found some of the top reasons why people love and use Linux.
1. Frequent Updates
Though iOS and Windows updates are available, it can take a long time for them to hit the market. You might think those big companies have tons of tech support workers who keep an eye out for problems and release patches as soon as possible, but it can take a long time for you to get an update that fixes a glitch you find.
Linux tends to work a little faster. When an upgrade becomes available, you get an alert about it on your system. You can go online and download the update without your PC crashing or any other problems popping up.
When you buy a new PC, it comes with an OS installed. If you need to buy a new OS though, the cost can be quite high. Windows 10 sells for around $140 for a Home version and $200 for a Pro license. You need a Pro license to use Windows for commercial or business purposes.
Upgrading to Windows 11 can cost even more. One of the top reasons to invest in Linux is that it doesn’t cost a thing. Not only can you use the OS for free, but a lot of the software that is compatible with Linux is also available for free. You can also upgrade to a new version of Linux without paying a cent.
3. Easy to Install
Before you can use Linux, you need to install it. Linux allows you to try the OS out and see how it works before you commit to it. Amazon and other sites sell Linux CDs as well as USB drives. If you have a CD try, simply place the disc in the tray and close it.
You can then load Linux and see how it works. The USB drive option is just as easy to use because you plug it into your PC and open the OS. You can also go online and download a version of Linux that comes with any of the features you want.
Do you remember the old Mac commercials with Justin Long who claimed that Macs didn’t get viruses? Macs today are just as susceptible to viruses as Windows computers are. You might pick up adware and find pop-up ads flooding your screen or spyware that allows someone to view your desktop remotely.
Many users like that Linux is more secure and does a better job of protecting their data. Linux has a series of layers, with each layer having a different lock. For a hacker to access your info, they need to find a way to unlock and get through each layer, which is not worth it for them.
5. Compatible With Web Browsers
The chances are good that you use a web browser at least once a day. Google Chrome is very popular because it offers incognito browsing that does not keep track of your online habits. Firefox and Safari have some fans, too. Linux works with all of the top web browsers. You can search for any information you need and get the same results you might get on your phone or tablet. Linux has some minor flaws when using some of the other web browsers though.
6. Open Source Code
You rely on your computer for dozens of things every day. From buying things for your home and checking your email to playing games and watching movies, you probably use it for a few hours every day of the week. Have you ever wished that your PC could do different things or that it did more for you?
One top reason to use Linux is that it lets you customize your experience. You can easily go online and pick a version that has all of the features you want. After you gain more experience, you can change the open-source code, too.
7. Lots of Text Editors
While you can’t use Microsoft Office with Linux, you can use other text editors that work just as well. They even allow you to choose the file format you want to use to ensure that your documents are compatible with Office.
Using a text editor lets you write a paper for school and even insert websites or references. Photo and video editors will find software that lets them edit images, too. You’ll even find editors that let you edit the OS before you share it with others.
8. Compatible With Most Computers
One of the worst things about trying to upgrade your PC is when you find that your system cannot support the update. Windows offered users free upgrades to Windows 10 and later Windows 11, but those who had older systems found that they didn’t meet the basic requirements for those upgrades.
With Linux, you don’t need to worry about outdated hardware or any other problems. Linux works on systems that have less hard drive and memory space, too.
9. Get More From an Old System
Another reason so many people use Linux is that it helps them get more from their older systems. Let’s face it, even the best and most powerful PC won’t last forever. While some people use the same computers for seven to 10 years or longer, most computers will only last for an average of five years or less.
Linux not only helps you get more out of an old PC, but it can transform that computer and make it work in the modern world. You can add a new firewall and other security features to prevent anyone from using or accessing your PC.
As a bonus, you can install Linux to an old system and recover some or all of the data on it. Do you have a PC that you no longer use because it’s super slow and takes a lot of time to boot?
When you install Linux on it, you can bypass the original OS and get to the hard drive in seconds. It’s just as easy to transfer your files and data, too.
10. Better Privacy
It’s almost impossible to go a few months without hearing about data breaches. Many of those breaches occur on systems that use iOS or a Windows or Android OS. Linux does a better job of protecting your privacy. Unlike the other OS options that keep track of the sites you visit and what you do with your PC, Linux will never track, collect, or share your personal data.
11. Uses Less Space
Have you ever bought a PC before that said it had tons of space but later found that only a fraction of that space was available? Most computers and other devices today come loaded with software that you won’t use and cannot remove.
You might have a version of Microsoft Office that you can only use for a month before it expires but the program remains on your hard drive. Many computers also come with games already installed that you don’t want to play.
Not only does Linux work with most PCs, but it uses only a fraction of the space that your old OS used. You just need 300MB of Ram and 500MB of hard drive space to run Linux.
What are the Disadvantages of Using Linux? (8 Cons)
As much as some people love Linux, others prefer sticking to an OS they already understand such as Windows. Before you decide to replace your OS, consider all of the disadvantages of using Linux.
1. Learning Curve
The biggest disadvantage of using Linux is that it has a steep learning curve. When you want to open a program on your PC, you simply double-click on the icon on your desktop and load it. Linux makes it a little harder to both open and use those apps.
You need to use a terminal and enter a command line, which tells the computer what you want to do. While this might make you feel like a hacker from one of your favorite movies, it can also drive you crazy. Some users also had problems using Linux through certain distributions.
2. No Guide
In addition to the steep learning curve associated with using Linux, it also lacks any type of guide. When you buy a Windows PC, you get a built-in guide that comes in handy the first few times you use it.
This guide walks you through how to open programs and access different parts of your hard drive. You’ll find similar guides when you download games or try new apps. Linux does not come with any type of guide, but you may find some helpful tips online.
3. Lacking in Software
Are you a fan of Photoshop because you love editing photos? Photoshop works great for personal or professional use. You can use it to edit images and create posters or banners. Photoshop is just one of the many programs that do not offer a Linux version.
Before you add Linux to your PC, keep in mind that you won’t have access to as many programs as you would with a different OS. Microsoft Office and iTunes are some of the other apps that you can’t use with a Linux system. There are some Linux apps that do some of the same functions though.
4. Software Limits
If you decide to use Linux because you think that similar programs work just as well as official programs do, think again. Many users found that while the Linux apps worked well, they limited some of the things they could do. A good example is Open Office, which is a free version of Microsoft Office.
It lets you create, save, and edit documents. You can insert charts and graphs or photos and add footnotes and endnotes. When you open an Open Office document with MS Office, you might find that it doesn’t look quite the way it should. Most of the free Linux apps cannot do all of the same things that official apps can.
5. Game Problems
If you’re a gamer, think carefully about using Linux. Linux has a much smaller share of the market than other operating systems do, which is why many developers do not offer games for it. Not only will you find fewer games available, but many of the games you already own will not play on your system.
Steam is a game distributor that gives you access to a ton of games. It will work with Linux but requires that you go through more steps to load them. Even if you do find some games you like, they won’t run as smoothly as they do with another OS.
6. Hard to Install New Apps
While finding apps that work with Linux is easier than you might think, it’s often harder to install them than you expect. You cannot simply visit Google Play and click on a game, download it, and then start playing it.
Even watching Netflix and using other streaming apps is difficult. Not only do you need to find a version that is compatible with Linux, but you also need to go through multiple steps to make sure it works on your system.
7. Hardware Issues
The chances are good that you use at least one or two pieces of computer hardware every day. A gaming keyboard has a sleeker design than a standard keyboard and uses an ergonomic design to let you play for hours.
You’ll find ergonomic mice that work just as well along with speakers and USB devices. One of the problems with Linux is that it cannot support a lot of those items. You may have a hard time finding the drivers that your hardware needs.
8. Poor Technical Support
When you have a problem with Windows, you just need to head over to the Microsoft website. You’ll find a forum where you can post questions as well as 24/7 tech support. Linux does not offer nearly as much technical support.
You can check websites to find solutions to your problems, but there’s no guarantee that anyone will have the same experience or have an answer to your question. There’s also a chance that you might try solutions others found that damage your PC and/or make the problem even worse.
Linux is an open-source OS that lets you customize your experience. Some of the disadvantages of the OS include the lack of software and hardware you can use with it. Looking at the pros such as the strong security features and free usage can help you see why Linux is so popular.