13 Reasons why you should switch to Linux

You are considering to buy a new desktop or laptop computer because the performance of your current system is not up to standards anymore. But you doubt about what to buy and how much money to spend. And you have some doubts because you upgraded in the past each 3 years and ask yourself if these kind of investments are actually really necessary, while your current equipment is not really broken. Did you know that Linux can bring back your old device back to life and will give you at least some years extra with your trusted companion. In this blog post I will give you 13 reasons why you should switch to Linux.

Linux still misses a human face

Linux is currently the most used operating system in the world when including all devices it runs on, like Android phones, supercomputers, Internet of Things and of course regular pc’s. But when we look only at the desktop and laptop related figures, it is a bit less positive. The reason that Linux on the desktop still has not become mainstream yet has to do with a wide variety of issues. Besides the fact that most new pc’s are standard delivered with Windows and the biggest part of the buyers group probably doesn’t see a reason to wipe that newly bought computer, the whole Linux community lacks the drive to give Linux a more human face. When looking at the numerous websites and forums related to Linux and Open Source, a large part of blog posts, articles and discussions, have a deep technological character and are coding and command line related. What we miss is a good chunk of websites and blogs with quality articles for normal home users and professionals with a focus on small business, resale, photography and design.

13 reasons why you should switch to Linux

One of the reason for this website is indeed to give Linux and Open Source a more human face, so potential users see that the Linux platform can be greatly used for other use cases than coding and server management only. In this blog post I will therefore first focus on the basics why you should at least have a look at Linux in the first place and maybe consider a switch from macOS to Linux. After being a Apple user for 15 years I became a Linux user and I have never looked back since. But we all need to read or to hear some convincing arguments first to make such a step.

Note: One important thing to keep in mind before going into those reasons is the diversity of available distributions of Linux. In essence Linux is only the raw core of the system, but the graphical desktop environments and the availability of software give in my opinion the real face to what Linux is and can offer. There are lots of distributions that are very complex and beginners and people who just want to be creative or productive and do real things with their computer should stay away from. I always say that an operating system is not the goal in itself and must not be in the way of just using your software. In my humble opinion a distribution like Linux Mint is the perfect distribution for both beginners and advanced users with a focus on productivity and stability. So my 13 reasons why are based on my experiences with Linux Mint, but are also applicable for distributions such as Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie and other Debian derivatives. But try Linux Mint first. You can’t go wrong.

So here are my 13 reasons why you should at least consider the switch to Linux:

1) Run and use Linux directly from a live usb stick
2) Speed and simplicity of installation and updates
3) No bloatware
4) No unwanted or unexpected updates
5) Anonymity
6) Free of charge operating system and applications
7) A very helpful and fast responding community
8) Great non commercial applications available for every purpose
9) Options for beginners and experienced users
10) Runs perfectly fine on your old hardware
11) No concessions, as it can do the same as the mainstream systems
12) Flexible to change to your needs
13) Great and extensive software center

Run and use Linux directly from a live usb stick
Compared to operating systems like macOS and Windows, Linux is much more flexible in using the system without actually installing it. So if you want to try it out first and test it on your specific hardware, that is simply possible by starting Linux from a USB stick in live mode. All functionality is available for you to try without touching your installation of your current operating system.

Speed and simplicity of installation and updates
Installing of, for example, Linux Mint or Ubuntu, including the graphical desktop environment and a lot of important ready to use applications like LibreOffice, Thunderbird and Firefox, will take no more than 10 minutes. Yes, really! I didn’t believe it as well the first time I installed Linux Mint on an old Dell T3400 workstation. Compare that to the lengthy installation process of Windows 10, which feels suddenly like a bad joke.

No bloatware
When you buy your new Windows 10 workstation or laptop, or when you do a fresh install of Windows 10, the first thing you see when you click on your start button that there are quite some apps that you don’t need and that have a highly commercial function. Ofcourse, you can remove them, but that is the whole point. I want to start with a clean system that I can fill with whatever I want, not with what a manufacturer wants me to see. When you install Linux Mint or Ubuntu, only very useful apps will be standard installed, but even in the latest version you can choose to do an absolute minimal installation. You are the owner and you are in control what you need.

No unwanted or unexpected updates
The update strategy of Windows 10 is absolutely terrible. Multiple times I have been confronted at work with a non stoppable update while giving a presentation. Or when you start up your laptop and you can’t start working for 20 minutes because you can’t cancel the update process. In Linux you are the one in control. You determine when you want to do an update and on which level. And while the update is running you just continue with your work. No interruptions at all.

Anonymity
Both Apple and Microsoft are increasingly busy with the integration of functionality to follow, steer and bind the user from a commercial perspective. Especially the latest Windows 10 is full of tracking functionality. When you want to be the owner of your pc, your software and your data, without being followed by your Operating System manufacturer, then Linux is the only option. The developers behind Linux and related distributions have no commercial goals whatsoever, so they don’t feel the need to know how you use your system and your data.

Note: Starting from release 18.04 Ubuntu collects data, but only about system hardware, which will be send back to Canonical. Linux Mint is not collecting any system related data.

Free of charge operating system and applications
Most Linux distributions are absolutely free of charge. Most Open Source applications are free of charge as well. So you can have a completely operating desktop or laptop while only paying the investment of the computer, which can be an old cheap second hand as well. And if you are really grateful you can donate some small cash for the people behind different development teams behind the applications you use, as these people are creating these solutions out of a passion, not out of a commercial standpoint.

A very helpful and fast responding community
The developers in the Open Source community are creating their applications or distributions out of a passion for what they do and believe in. But also almost all users of Open Source software share this passion as well. So if you as a beginning user have some issues with your software, you can ask anything on numerous forums and user groups and you always get helpful response. More experienced users were once beginners too and are mostly driven to help starters out with their Linux related issues. Real issues that impact more users will be picked up by the community and mostly fixes will be available very fast.

Great non commercial applications available for every purpose
Although not as extensive as in the Windows related closed commercial software world and to a lesser extend in the macOS world, there are tens of thousands of software solutions available for free in the software centers of different Linux distributions. In the Software Center of Linux Mint or Ubuntu you can search in different categories and will be supported with descriptions, ratings and user feedback. As these applications do not have a commercial driver you even find software solutions for use cases you never thought of.

Options for beginners and experienced users
Linux is just the core of different distributions and the nice thing of having different distributions available is that each distribution can focus on a certain user group. For generic use Ubuntu and Linux Mint are great offerings. If you are completely into audio editing you can look for Ubuntu Studio or KXStudio. You need a solution for schools, look at Edubuntu. And Scientific Linux has been created with universities in mind.

Runs perfectly fine on your old hardware
Both macOS and Windows are relatively resource heavy systems that require powerful hardware on which they run and with every new version you deliver a bit of performance on your current hardware and in the long run you can no longer avoid a hardware upgrade. Linux on the other hand is a very slim operating system and requires relatively simple hardware resources. And your hardware does not have to be super modern. Linux runs fine on hardware from the first generation of core 2 duo based systems, which means that regularly buying new hardware is not necessary anymore. Just keep enjoying your old but trusted machine. Read for example my article Bring your MacBook Aluminum Late 2008 back to life again with Linux.

No concessions, as it can do the same as the mainstream systems
Lots of users of commercial software will say at first that they can’t switch to Linux because their software is not available. That’s true. Most commercial applications have not been build to run on Linux. But if you are a bit more flexible and think in alternatives instead of fixation on the de facto standards, you will see that there are a lot of solutions out there that might be working for you. For most use cases there are Open Source alternatives available. If you are not stuck to a value chain of involved stakeholders that make specific demands on supplied file formats, then much is possible. But solutions such as LibreOffice, darktable and The Gimp can work fine with the file formats of the established packages, so there is no reason to not have a look at these alternatives. And if you look at what most users of Microsoft Office for example actually use of all available functionalities, we can conclude that this is usually minimal. So there is absolutely no reason not to try LibreOffice for example.

Flexible to change to your needs
The beauty of the layered structure of every Linux distribution is that you can construct it as you want. If you want an entirely different desktop environment such as Cinnamon, Budgie, KDE or Gnome, then it is a matter of installing and logging into which desktop environment or graphic shell you want to use. But also adjusting the complete look and feel, the buttons, the colors, and the behavior of movements can be adjusted without any problem. Do you want Linux to look like Windows 10? No problem. Want to make your desktop look like macOS? Again no problem. You are in the driver’s seat. Read also my article How to choose the best Linux Desktop Environment for your needs.

Great and extensive software center
Distributions like Linux Mint are being delivered with very complete software centers, which is basically comparable with the Google Play store or the Microsoft Store. In the Software Center you can directly search for lots of applications, or browse via different categories. When you select an application most of the times descriptions, ratings and user feedback is available to support your decision to install the application. These stores are, partly depending on which distribution you choose, very extensive and complete. So basically it is not necessary to search for applications on the web (with the risk of downloading insecure software), as you have all software available in one convenient place, safe, checked and secure.

Final words

So these where the 13  reasons why should switch to Linux. As you can see from the previous words and arguments, Linux and Open Source software have a lot to offer for every type of use case and user. As already said Linux still lacks a more human face to successfully become mainstream, so we need more ambassadors to spread the word on the level of a more regular user. If people are not being informed on what is possible with this operating system and related software in their own language and at their own level, they always keep thinking that Windows and macOS are the only systems out there. And if the user base of Linux is not growing the manufacturers of peripherals are not interested in writing drivers for the Linux platform. Out of the box al lot of hardware works fine, but fine is not enough. So at least give Linux a try and probably you will be nicely surprised. And maybe you become a new ambassador for this great platform.

Speak to you next time!

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