Picking the right operating system for your computer can make a big difference when it comes to ensuring that your machine survives for as long as possible. At the moment, there are three major choices when it comes to your operating system, and there’s plenty of debate about which one is the best option.
We’re talking, of course, about Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
Linux is interesting because while Windows is developed by Microsoft and Mac OS is developed by Apple, Linux is open source software that isn’t proprietary to any single company. That means that developers are able to make modifications to the code and to share their advances with the wider community, and people don’t need to purchase the software to be able to use it.
What is Linux?
Linux was first released on September 17th 1991 by Linus Torvalds. While it was originally developed for personal computers, it’s since been ported to more platforms than any other operating system. Part of its success and notoriety is down to Google, who based their Android operating system for mobile devices on the Linux kernel. A kernel, by the way, is effectively the core of a computer’s operating system.
Now, over 25 years later, Linux is as popular as ever. While it’s difficult to gather statistics, because there’s no central database to show how many people are using the software, it’s estimated that just over 2.5% of internet users are accessing it from a Linux system. Meanwhile, many Linux users are active on discussion boards and community sites, and while Mac OS and Windows overshadow it in terms of active users, there’s a thriving community around Linux that the other operating systems can’t compete with.
Linux differs from Mac and Windows because there are comparatively few generations of the software. But despite the more frequent updates from Microsoft and Apple, Linux still holds its own in the eyes of its enthusiasts, and it’s often considered to be more durable – thus offering more longevity and increased machine life – than other operating systems.
Here are some of the main reasons why people love Linux.
Windows operating systems are prone to crashes – including the notorious blue screen of death. Whether you’re running XP, Vista, 7, 8 or 10, you’ll find that once it crashes once, it’ll keep on crashing. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to fix it – it’ll find a way to surprise you by crashing in another new and interesting way.
Part of this is because Microsoft is under pressure to release constant updates to meet consumer (and shareholder) demand. In contrast, new builds of Linux aren’t released until the system has been properly tested and configured to ensure its reliability, as well as its resistance to crashes and other glitches. With Windows, if you have too much software open then the entire machine can need a reboot, but Linux is designed to avoid that.
Sure, some people find Linux difficult to use because they’re so used to looking at a Windows machine. However, it doesn’t take long to learn how to use it, and most people find that it offers more flexibility and a greater degree of customisation.
It’s particularly popular with software developers, because it can be difficult to modify Windows and Mac OS machines with software that you developed yourself. And, because it’s designed to be open source from the get-go, you can share your software with other developers and the wider community, allowing you to receive feedback on your work and even suggestions on how to improve it.
One of the reasons for Linux’s enduring popularity is the fact that it’s been around for so long. This means that there’s a whole heap of supporting material available to people who are in search of documentation, and it also has a legacy for innovation throughout the years that people can expect to see more of in the future.
In fact, Linux has surprised everyone by sticking around since the early days of the development of the modern operating system. It’s this reputation that allows users to install it with a certain piece of mind, confident in the knowledge that it’s not about to disappear or to no longer be supported.
4. How to Get Started
Because Linux is open source, it’s free to download for anyone who wants it. A good way to start is by taking a look at some of the most popular distributions, which is the industry term for different builds of Linux that combine different features and aesthetics.
Some of the most popular distributions include Ubuntu, Fedora and Mint KDE. You can also look into specialised versions of Linux, depending upon what you plan to use your machine for. For example, KX Studio is designed for audio and video production and offers a free equivalent to expensive software.
Remember, it can take a little while for you to get your head around the software, but it can be infinitely rewarding once you start to get the hang of it. If you’re having trouble, join a Linux community or get in touch with a developer for a little advice. Before you know it, you’ll be wondering why everyone else is still using Mac OS and Windows!