With all due respect, my colleagues are wrong. Linux is hand-down the best option for computing. It isn’t even a competition. Neal Stephenson said: “Macs are hermetically-sealed sedans that look great and have a lot of advertsing. Windows machines are big SUVs that break often, but they’re everywhere and everyone knows how to use them. Linux computers are free tanks that go 90 mph in swamps, get 100 mpg and never break down.”
I’ve been using Linux for years now and don’t ever plan on switching. We can’t explore all the reasons for its superiority, but here are my main points. I’m assuming you know what an operating system is and that Macintosh, Windows and Linux are all different options.
Most people buy a computer with the operating system already installed. This is convenient, especially since installing an OS can be a pain and ridiculously expensive. The problem is Windows and Macintosh operating systems are closed source. This means the companies are the only ones able to modify the systems and sell them. That’s why if you go buy Windows 8 or OSX the disk is expensive.
Since its conception, Linux has been open-source, free. The files necessary to install the operating system are easy to download onto a CD or flash drive. The installation process is incredibly simple and can be put on a computer without removing the already-existing Mac or Windows OS. This is called dual-booting, since you have the option of using either OS.
The most popular Linux systems come ready to go with everything you need. Just put in the CD, install and you’re in business.
Macintosh and Windows systems are pretty cut-and-dry. There’s one option, and that’s it. You can’t change the system and even adding peripherals is difficult. There isn’t too much personalizing you can do outside of the out-of-the-box options.
There are dozens of versions, called flavors, of Linux. Because it’s open-source, Linux code has gone through hundreds of modifications, developments, and personalizations. The result is a plethora of different-looking operating systems, all with specific purposes. Obviously, some are more popular than others. Ubuntu is the most widely used and (debatable) user-friendly. KDE is also popular for users looking for something more bare bones.
Every Linux flavor is downloadable, and the files aren’t five-CD monsters full of manufacturer garbage you don’t need slowing down the computer. It’s free too, have I already mentioned that?
Maintenance and Repair
This goes hand in hand with availability. Once again, the closed-sourced Macintosh and Windows often require professional maintenance. You go to the Apple Store or Best Buy and pay the technicians to figure out what’s wrong, and then you pay to fix it. You quickly learn not to trouble-shoot anything difficult, as you will most likely break it.
You will never take a computer running Linux to a computer store, and you will never spend a dime on repairs. First, since you add your own software and decide the extras from day one, you don’t have to worry about a random driver breaking down, or a required update glitching. You, the user, are in control of your computer. If you do mess something up or have an issue, you can easily fix it. The open-source nature of Linux means you can get anywhere in your computer and change anything.
“But I don’t want to get in the files; I don’t know anything!” No worries, if you get an error, Google it. I guarantee there are instructions from another Linux user detailing exactly how to fix it. Thousands of Linux users who know what they’re doing are more than happy to help you out. I’ve never had a problem I couldn’t fix in less than half an hour, even if I had no idea what the problem was at first. Even better, you’ll get a better idea of how your computer works. Because of how it’s made, viruses are literally impossible in Linux. Mac friends, they lied to you on that point; you probably have a virus on your shiny Apple laptop right now and just don’t know it.
Software and Updates
Once again, all Linux software is free and downloadable. Don’t worry about your favorite game or web browser not being available. I’ve never had a problem with any software. Steam, Netflix, and all web browsers are Linux-compatible. If you do happen to have a program that isn’t compatible, there is a program called Wine; it allows all your software to work on Linux. Most of the time, I find a better program free that does just what I want.
You probably think updates are awful. Macintosh users, you see an update and are expected to pay for it. Windows users, you have no idea what the updates are for, and downloading is going to take a few hours, after which the computer will need to configure them. Linux people, we see an update and think, “Cool, more free stuff that I asked to be updated when I downloaded that program.” There really isn’t a comparison here.
That’s a very brief introduction to Linux, and why it’s the best. Apple fanboys, we welcome you. Unix is Linux’s sister; you’re so close! I understand you want to be with the prettiest and popular, but they’re just using you for money. Windows friends, I understand your desire for ease of use and comfort with what you know, but I guarantee you’ll be happier over here; it’s even easier than your Windows. Get out of that abusive relationship and come where you’ll be loved.
Joshua Wartena is a senior studying Journalism and Spanish at UVU and will graduate in Fall 2014. He is hoping to work as a middle-east correspondent or long-form magazine writer in South America. Josh is currently living in Orem and is the Opinions Section Editor