Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why Linux?

Let's be honest, sometimes when I'm using Linux I get pretty frustrated. Especially with distributions like Ubuntu who have been focusing so much on new bells and whistles that they've been lackadaisical when it comes to fixing bugs.

...and then I have to use Windows for something or other (normally gaming), and I'm reminded why I use Linux in the first place. So I thought I'd write down some of the advantages, for myself, if nothing else:

  • No more viruses! (or spyware)
    Not only do you not have viruses in Linux, an even bigger advantage in my opinion is that you're not dedicating gobs of processor and memory to antivirus/antispyware software. This is all the more important on older/slower computers.

  • It's free!
    Free as in you can see the source code and modify it however you like, as well as free as in cost, Which you'll remember next time you have to purchase a retail copy of any Microsoft software. Which brings me to my next point...

  • No more licenses/activation!
    Have you ever tried installing Windows and the key wouldn't work because it was a Dell key with OEM media? Or installed office only to discover you've misplaced your key? Since Linux itself as well as most Linux software is free, so no licenses to fuss with!

  • Less rebooting
    Not much needs to be said about the ridiculousness of having to reboot a "modern" operating system (windows) every time it's updated. With Linux, you only need to reboot when updating the kernel. And even then, it doesn't nag you every 15 minutes to reboot.

  • More security
    Linux gets security patches every day, not once a month like Windows.

  • No more startup cramming
    Windows computers gradually get slower the longer you use them, because half of the programs you install (Adobe Reader, Office, iTunes, even Google software) decide they want to run at startup. Not so with Linux.

  • Less use of system resources
    Unlike the latest version of Windows, the latest versions of Linux will actually run on old computers, especially if you use a lightweight desktop environment like Xfce, LXDE, or Enlightenment.

  • Easier software acquisition/updates
    Want to install software in Linux? Almost everything you need is simply an apt-get (or yum) away! This includes codecs, which can be annoying to hunt down in Windows. Software is also automatically updated via the centralized package manager.

  • Easier development
    Everything you need for development is available through a package manager as well (C compiler, JRE, git, etc.). Python? Already comes with Linux. Plus, development software integrates much better in Linux because the terminal isn't just an afterthought like it is in Windows.

  • Automation
    This is more important for servers than for desktops, but every single task in Linux can be automated with free software (Python, shell scripting, Puppet...).

  • Nicer font rendering
    With windows 7, Microsoft is finally starting to catch up, but Linux has had much nicer font rendering for a long time now.
Next time I'm annoyed with Linux I can look at my list and remember life could be worse--I could be using Windows ;)


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