Computer Reboot: Linux
What is Linux?
Linux is an operating system and software suite for your computer. (That's what Windows and MacOS are also.) Operating systems are the fundamental programs that run your computer, provide you with a graphical user interface (GUI) and allow you to run other software such as word processors, spreadsheets, and games. Linux, Windows, and Mac OS all provide the sames kinds of basic functionality, but they do it in different ways.
Unlike Windows and MacOS, Linux can be configured to run on just about any computer-like device. You probably own a device that runs Linux. Linux is used in a huge number of computer systems, gaming consoles, juke boxes, Internet servers, cell phones, MP3 players, PDAs, and many more. If you use the Internet, you are using Linux machines somewhere. Most Web sites run Linux. Linux is the fastest growing operating system.
Why Haven't I Heard of Linux?
Linux is free! And most of the software for Linux is free as well.
So, You won't see many Linux items in stores. Some Linux distributions
(like Linspire) are sold along with commercial software add-ins at
electronics stores, but you probably missed it among all the other
commercial software on the shelf. Since most applications for Linux
are also free, they are not in stores either. You probably have
heard of some sofware available for Linux.
Here are a few examples:
- Mozilla Thunderbird Email
- Mozilla Firefox Web Browser
- MySQL Database
- GPG encryption
- Open Office office suite
- Star Office office suite
- Gimp image manipulation and printing
- Maybe you have seen a movie that was rendered on Linux computers like "Finding Nemo."
How Do I Get Linux?
People usually get Linux by downloading it from the Internet and burning a CD. Since Linux is free, Computer Reboot charges only $1.00 to burn a CD for you. You are paying for our time and materials, not the software.
There are a lot of reasons to switch from Windows to Linux. Faster. Safer. Better. Free.
Linux is Free - Windows is often sold with a computer, the price is included. You paid for it. Most Linux software is Free - Even the most basic applications for Windows cost you extra.
Linux is a secure operating system - Linux doesn't get viruses, malware and spyware like Windows.
Linux is more Efficient - Linux runs faster on less expensive hardware.
Linux is more stable - The computer I wrote this web page with, has been running at over 100% for over a year, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, no breaks (except 9 months ago when I had to move it and unplugged it for a few minutes). In that time, I have had no crashes, no viruses, no spyware, not the slightest issue. The computer is on the internet all the time. That's over 9000 hours of exposure, no issues.
Linux keeps up - Microsoft releases "fixes" on the second tuesday of each month. If something needs to be fixed with Linux, updates are available sometimes within the hour.
Linux is way ahead - The latest Windows version implements a lot of "new" features that have been in Linux for years. (Where do you think they got the idea?)
What is "Open Source" and what is "Proprietary"?
Open Source is the opposite of Proprietary.
Proprietary means Secret. Proprietary, legacy software, like Windows, is kept secret from the average user. You are not allowed to see how it works, how badly it is designed, or to make your own changes.
Proprietary means Expensive. The programs are copywrited. You are not allowed to make copies and use them on other computers. You are not allowed to give copies to your friends.
Proprietary means Risk. If the software company tells you the program is safe, secure, or doesn't track your every move, you have no proof. You just have to take their word for it. And, they have lots of reasons to lie.
Proprietary means No Choice. Since proprietary software vendors have big incentives to keep you from buying other vendor's software, they make every effort to make it hard for you to use other software. They force you to buy their new products to keep up to date, by ending support on old products and forcing their partners to do the same. You end up with "Vendor Lock-in".
Proprietary software is an Ecological Disaster. Proprietary software vendors make deals with hardware vendors to sell their latest products and to force users to buy new hardware. What do you think happens to all the computers no longer supported by the new version of Windows?
Open source means Transparency. Open Source programs are available for you to look at any time you want. You can read the actual program. If there was anything "fishy" in there you could see it. And believe me, there are people looking at it! They are looking for anything they can use to attack Linux and make their proprietary software look good. If they had found it, you would have heard about it.
Open source means High Quality. Since any problems with open source software can be found by anyone, the problems are found. They are found fast. They are fixed fast.
Open source means Diversity. Since there are millions of people working on open source projects, there is input from many more people than a software company can get. As a result, there is more choice.
Open source software runs on more hardware types, in more languages, in more places than any proprietary software.
Open source means Safety. If there are security holes, people know about it and fix it. There is no reason to pretend there is no problem, there is no stock price to protect, no lawsuits to avoid, no reasons to lie.
Open source means Low Cost. Many big hardware vendors have turned to open source to make their products cost competitive. IBM, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Sun, and many others have embraced open source as a way to provide better products to their customers.