You are considering buying 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 you want to spend. And you have some additional doubts because in the past you upgraded every 3 years and you ask yourself if these kind of investments are actually really necessary, while your current equipment is not 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 15 reasons why should consider a switch to Linux and Open Source software in 2020.
Why you should consider Linux
One of the reasons for the existence of this website is 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 focus on some solid reasons why you should at least have a look at Linux in the first place and maybe consider a switch to this operating system. 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 Linux distributions that are very complex. Beginners and people who just want to be creative or productive and do real things with their computer, should stay away from these distros. But for example Linux Mint, Zorin OS, Ubuntu and Elementary OS, are perfect distributions for both beginners and advanced users with a focus on productivity and stability. You can’t go wrong with these Linux variants.
So here are my 15 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
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
14) Linux is the best OS to move from Windows 7
15) Linux is the best OS to support your eco friendly lifestyle
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 impacting your installation of your current operating system.
Read my blog post “How to create a Zorin OS bootable usb in macOS and Windows” to learn how to make your own live USB stick. It works the same for Linux Mint, Zorin OS, Ubuntu and Elementary OS.
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.
Read more on the installation process in my article “How to install Linux Mint on a PC or Mac“.
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 a few apps that you really don’t need and being there have only a highly commercial function. Ofcourse, you can remove them, but that is my whole point. When I install an operating system I personally 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 for example 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. With Linux You are the owner and you are in control of what you need and get, not the manufacturer.
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. It all works so smooth in Linux.
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 sent back to Canonical. So no personal data is being collected. A variant like 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 full 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 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 almost 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 for example 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 but often are there as passion projects, 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 about 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 or Zorin OS Education. 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, and with every new version you give in 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.
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 built 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.
Read my article “What are the best alternatives to Adobe products for Linux” if you want to learn more about Linux alternatives for the best known Adobe products.
Or read my article “My 35 most favorite Linux applications in 2019” to find very useful applications for a diversity of use cases.
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.
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.
Linux is the best OS to move from Windows 7
Microsoft will stop providing support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. With that, Microsoft is holding on to the promise to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. Most computers that were delivered with Windows 7 at the time will no longer be suitable for running the current Windows 10 in a usable way, and many people do not want to pay the price for just a new operating system. Because many people are not aware of alternatives, they will therefore automatically be inclined to purchase an entirely new computer as an upgrade on which Windows 10 is already pre-installed. So many still usable but older computers will therefore unnecessarily end up in the garbage dump. However, lots of people, like myself, have difficulty with throwing away still perfectly working equipment. But with Linux that is not necessary, because there are many Linux distributions that run perfectly fine on relative old or under-specced computers.
Linux is the best OS to support your eco friendly lifestyle
As a person with a green heart and an eco mind it really hurts me to know that there are so many computers that will be thrown away that could last a good while longer, just by installing Linux on them. For example, for my parents I have equipped their old Core 2 Duo computer with Linux Mint 19, which now runs like a charm. They could not believe that their computer could be that fast again. And they quickly got used to the somewhat different operating system and software. So switching to Linux was for them not a big deal. Because of my enthusiasm for Linux and the possibilities it offers, I have already been able to make more people think about postponing a possible purchase of a new computer. After I showed what Linux has to offer just by booting their system with a USB stick with a Linux live environment, I have already been able to make several people enthusiastic about Linux as a viable alternative.
Linux really breathes new life into old equipment. While the relatively extensive Linux Mint is already running fine on old computers, you can get even better performance by using a very light Linux distribution, such as Lubuntu, Linux Lite or Zorin OS Lite. My goal is to make as many current Windows 7 users as possible aware of what Linux has to offer and to what extent the purchase of a new computer may be postponed. Perhaps you as existing Linux users can do the same by telling people about the environmental impact of frequently buying new computers and throwing away old ones. Tell them about Linux from an environmental point of view and its power to slow down our disposable society a little. This makes in my opinion Linux the best operating system for a greener world. So spread the word.
As you can see from the previous words and arguments, Linux and Open Source software has a lot to offer for every type of use case and user. 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. So at least give Linux a try and probably you will be nicely surprised. And maybe you will become a new ambassador for this great platform.
Speak to you next time!