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10.07.2010

Knocking On Linux's Door

I have used ubuntu linux for more than two years, it's a very nice operating system that is totally different from windows. Linux is friendly enough now, all the job could be done in it easily, there are plenty of free and open source softwares and distributions to choose from. I write this post because I want to let more people know about Linux, it is not the operating system only for hackers, but for all human beings!

Linux was created in 1991 by a Finnish student named Linus Torvalds (He is now a US citizen). At the time, it was essentially a clone of the UNIX kernel. But nowadays, thanks to a substantial amount of development effort by people all around the world, Linux runs on virtually every modern computer architecture. More description can refer to wikipedia. For me, Linux is a kernel's name, kernel of different Linux based system and the general term for all Linux distributions.

I don't want to write long and nonsense words and I'm not a geek, just make a comparison to Linux and Windows to make it simple to understand for everyone.
 Linux's better parts than Windows
  • Freedom! Linux and most free and open source softwares are under GPL(General Public License) license. This license allows that anyone could copy the software, see the source code, modify it, and redistribute it as long as it's licensed with the GPL.
  • Don't need to pay for your operating system and some prerequisite softwares. Unless you use the piracy Windows and MS Office. If not, you may have spent more than $100 on your Windows. Linux is completely free of charge, and you can share it with others, also has some nice office suit like Openoffice and Libreoffice.
  • Do not need to worry about viruses. It is not impossible to get a Linux virus, but it's really very hard for this to happen. As most people use Microsoft Windows, virus makers target Windows. And Linux has more secure authentication management than Windows. So you can save some money for anti-virus software.
  • No defragment needed. Windows will become more and more slowly because disk fragmentation, but Linux won't.
  • Take part in solving bugs. If a bug bothers you a lot in Windows, it may be difficult to report it and you just can pray that Microsoft will fix it fast. But for Linux and nearly all open source softwares have a bug tracking system. You can not only do bug reports, but also can do some help to solve bugs if you could. There are a lot of peocple around the world work together to make softwares better. 
  • Upgrade the version of distribution freely. You'll need to pay few hundred bucks for new Windows, but linux is free.
  • Let your old computer have a second life. Some lightweight linux distributions could run perfectly well on old hardware.
  • No backdoors in your software. Open source means you can see source code. The community keeps a close eye on all the softwares. So do not worry about this.
  • Fantastic 3D desktop. Impressed by the 3D and transparency possibilities of Windows Vista and Windows 7? Watch the two video below, you'll must be amazed if you never tried Linux beofre. (Linux is much less demanding hardware requirements than Windows, of course, free!)


How do you feel?
Some cases you should stick to Windows
  • You can't live without some proprietary software. Honestly speaking, there're open source programs that can replace majority of proprietary softwares, but if you make a living with those proprietary softwares, then keeping Windows is probably a good choice. However, their open source equivalents are worth to try.
  • You're a hardcore gamer. Though you can play a lot of free games on Linux, but most popular games just can be run on Windows. And Valve still have no plans to create a native Linux Steam client :(
Be aimed at above circumstance, you'd better stick to Windows. There is also a project called "Wine" which is capable of running some Windows programs, see the appDB. Anyway, don't rely too heavily on it.

If you want to try Linux, continue to read.
Now it's time to download a Linux distribution to your computer and test it! Don't be afraid, you can keep your Windows :)

As a ubuntu linux user, certainly I recommend ubuntu to you. There're several ways to try ubuntu linux. You can burn a CD or create a LiveUSB, then you could try ubunut by LiveCD, LiveUSB without installation.

If you're running windwos, you can try Portable Ubuntu Remix and Wubi. Portable Ubuntu Remix is a project consist in a portable image of ubuntu that could run in Windows as a native Windows application. And Wubi can install and uninstall ubuntu in the same way as any other Windows application. It's easy and safe.