Are you considering buying a new desktop or laptop computer because the performance of your current system is not up to standards anymore? But you doubt what to buy and how much money to spend. And you have even more doubts because you already did an expensive upgrade only a couple of years ago and ask yourself if these kinds of repetitive 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 or even many years extra with your trusted companion. In this article I will give you 16 reasons why you should switch to Linux.
This (updated) article is part of the following tutorial series:
Maybe you did not know, but Linux is currently the most used operating system in the world if you include all types of 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 numbers, it is all 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 standardly delivered with Windows and the biggest part of the buyers group probably doesn’t see a reason to wipe that newly bought computer to directly put another operating system on it, a more important reason for Linux not having a larger user base on the desktop is that in the Linux community there is not a real cooperative drive to give Linux a more human face, so “normal” users get excited about this operating system and wait with buying a new machine and use Linux on their still working old machine instead. 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 for example coding and command line related or are focussed on the tinkering part of distributions instead of productivity. I was even more shocked to read there are even people out there on discussion groups who prefer that linux is not becoming mainstream at all, because then it is not “special” anymore. Personally I see the potential of Linux to be perfect for normal users, but what we need is a good chunk of websites and blogs with quality articles for normal home users and maybe professionals with a focus on small business, resale, photography and design, to show what Linux has to offer for these groups, in their “own language”. And this is indeed really changing as there are more and more websites that have their focus on normal users. I hope this article and the RealLinuxUser.com website as a whole also helps to give Linux the friendly face it deserves.
16 reasons why you should switch to Linux
Note: One important thing to keep in mind before going into those reasons is the diversity of available variants or distributions of Linux. In essence Linux is only the raw core of the system, but the different 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 those. But in my opinion distributions like Linux Mint and Zorin OS are the perfect distribution for both beginners and advanced users with a focus on productivity and stability, but in a friendly package. So my below 16 reasons are based on my own experiences with distributions like Linux Mint and Zorin OS, but are also applicable for many other distributions such as Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie and other Debian derivatives.
So here are my 16 reasons why you should at least consider the switch to Linux:
- Run and use Linux directly from a live usb stick
- Speed and simplicity of installation and updates
- No bloatware
- No unwanted or unexpected updates
- Free of charge operating system and applications
- A very helpful and fast responding community
- Great non commercial applications available for every purpose
- Options for beginners and experienced users
- Runs perfectly fine on your old hardware
- Better for the environment
- No concessions, as it can do the same as the mainstream systems
- Flexible to change to your needs
- Great and extensive software center
- It’s much easier to use than you think
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 what is called live mode. All functionality is available for you to try without touching or impacting your installation of your current operating system. And when you are done exploiting, testing, etc., just close the live environment and start your machine again with your installed operating system. Nice and simple.
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, for example, Linux Mint, Zorin OS, 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, 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 workstation or laptop, or when you do a fresh install of Windows, the first thing you see when you click on your start button is that there are quite some apps that you don’t need and that have only a highly commercial function. Ofcourse, you can remove them, but that is the whole point. You want to start with a clean system that you can fill with whatever you want, not with what a manufacturer wants me to buy. When you install Linux Mint or Zorin OS, only very useful apps will be installed by default, or you have the option during the installation process to choose a minimal installation which installs even less applications out of the box. So, you are the owner of your system and you are in control of what you need and use.
No unwanted or unexpected updates
The update strategy of Windows is absolutely terrible. Multiple times I have been confronted at work with a non stoppable update while giving a presentation for large important audiences. Or when you start up your laptop and you can’t start working for 20 minutes because you can’t cancel the update process. But 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 as it is mostly a smooth update process.
Microsoft is increasingly busy with the integration of functionality to follow, steer and bind the user from a commercial perspective. Especially Windows 10 was full of tracking functionality. But 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 a far better option. The developers behind Linux and most related distributions don’t feel the need to know what you do on your machine, and if they want to know a bit of technical system data, they give you the option to completely opt out of data gathering.
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 complete 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 a 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 extent 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 and for first time switchers Zorin OS and Linux Mint are great offerings. If you are completely into audio editing you can look for Ubuntu Studio or KXStudio. Do 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 lose 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. Most Linux distributions run fine on hardware from the first generation of core 2 duo based systems, which means that regularly buying new hardware is not really necessary anymore. Just keep enjoying your old but trusted machine. As an example read my article:
Better for the environment
This reason for switching to Linux is directly related to the previous reason. When you can use your “old” but still well-functioning hardware with the help of Linux for a longer period than Windows users can do with the same hardware, you ensure that the global electronic waste pile grows less quickly. Why do we always have to renew for the sake of renewing when you can keep your existing computer running smoothly with Linux. In my opinion, it is irresponsible to unnecessarily dispose of still working equipment in the landfill. With Linux you can at least postpone this for a few years. Read the following article on opensource.com that discusses the same:
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 big 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 for example at what most normal / home users of Microsoft Office 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 40 most favorite applications for Linux in 2021” 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 and tweak 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? No problem. Want to make your desktop look like macOS? Again no problem. You are in the driver’s seat. Read also my article:
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. And a distribution like Zorin OS even combines multiple formats (deb, flatpack and snap are all available out of the box in Zorin OS 16) in one convenient 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 time 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 known for its robustness and stability. I have to use Windows for my day to day work as it is provided to me by my employer, but that doesn’t mean that I am happy with it. I can’t count the number of crashes anymore, as I have them on a weekly basis. This is not always the Windows operating system itself, but also how the operating system reacts on crashing applications. From the moment I started using Linux for my personal work and activities, which was already some years ago, I can count the total number of crashes on one hand, and they were all the result of an insatiable graphics card. So Linux never let me down and I use it a lot. And if Linux is even used for multi million dollar projects like NASA’s Perseverance Rover and the International Space Station, it says something about reliability and should be good enough for your personal projects as well.
It’s much easier to use than you think
And the last but certainly not least important reason to consider using Linux is that Linux is much simpler than many people think. Linux is easy to install (much easier than installing macOS or Windows in my opinion), Linux is easy to use, it’s easy to find good applications, there are many simple user environments available and there is a lot of information and support available.Today’s Linux is no longer the Linux of the past, but a powerful, user-friendly, and beautiful operating system, especially when you look at user-oriented distributions like Zorin OS, in which everything a modern user expects from an operating system can be found.
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 for them switching to Linux was 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.
So these were the 16 reasons why you 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, manufacturers are less interested in creating their laptops and desktops with Linux. But lately we see more and more manufacturers offering Linux machines, so things are changing. 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.