Linux has been one of the most robust and secure operating systems and now with its user friendly features it can be your next choice. Microsoft shifted from Windows 7 to a tablet operating system which they have been pushing to their users by name of Windows 8 and Windows 10, many long time Windows users are struggling to decide which direction to move. If you want to know more how Windows 10 failed its users, check out this article.
There are many users including me who refused to move to Windows 10 after Windows 7, now problem is to decide which direction to go in future. While searching for the answer I realized that the natural successor of Window 7 is not a Windows operating system anymore. I decide to move to Linux Mint and it fits like a perfect replacement for Windows 7. Now it does not surprises that even Microsoft has realized it and first they introduced Bash shell on Windows 10 and now you can run complete Ubuntu Linux on it. Lets try to know more about Linux and understand why you should move to Linux after Windows 7.
Linux is an open-source operating system which is available over the internet for free. It comes in different flavors and you should know few points before making a decision –
1) Ease of use-
This used to be one of the reasons to stay away from Linux, but now ease of use has become one of the reasons to choose Linux operating system. Latest Linux flavors are coming with excellent graphics and functionalities have become super smooth to use. Features like File Manager, Adding/removing new hardware (setting up a printer, scanner, 3G dongle etc.), installing new software (by using Software Center or Software Manager). New users coming from Windows background hardly face any serious issue when they start using Linux.
Your all other favorite software are also available on Linux. Like Office packages (LibreOffice, OpenOffice, WPS Office), Media Players (VLC, Spotify, XBMC, SMPlayer etc), Mail Clients (Thunderbird, evolution), Torrent Client (Deluge,Vuze, Transmission), Messengers (Skype, Pidgin), FTP client (FileZilla), graphics editing (GIMP, Inkspace, Blender, Picasa) and many more types of software are available.
2) Free Operating System for your business-
You do not need to spend huge amount on Windows OS licenses if you run your business using Office package, accounting software, a Web based business software such your Asp.net/Php/Html5 based application or a cloud based software such as Salesforce, SAP, Office365, Amazon AWS, Azure, online Project Management tools or any cloud based app.
All famous browsers such as Firefox, Chrome (Chromium) and Opera are available on Linux. Best part is that if required you can also run few old versions of Internet Explorer on Linux operating system using WINE. Therefore, if you are accessing some age old website which is only compatible with Internet Explorer 8, still you are covered.
3) Runs smoothly on low configuration machines –
Weather it is your old PC or a new Chrome book, your Linux operating system will work smoothly on it. Therefore while moving to Linux you should least worry about your system configuration. Even if it is very low in resources you will always find a lean variant of Linux operating system which can do wonders on it. I run Linux Mint Cinnamon on a Intel Core 2 CPU with 2GB RAM and it works whole day without any hiccup.
4) A very safe operating system even for non-tech savvy users –
Linux is inherently safer than Windows operating system, and low count of viruses and malware for Linux platform makes it even safer. Rarely you will find anyone using anti-virus on Linux. To highlight this point I would like to quote two real world examples.
Recently I came across a Windows PC which was being used by two kids for playing online Flash based games. And it was severely infected with different malwares and viruses.
Reason was that, kids were opening any website link with Cartoon characters and they were clicking Yes on any pop-up coming on screen.
On the same machine I made a partition and installed Linux Mint Cinnamon. Also installed few additional free Linux based games (to persuade kids to use Linux) and with Firefox and Chromium browsers I gave that machine to those two kids.
Since then they have been using their Linux system with no complains regarding malwares and viruses.
Similarly, I met one shop owner who was not very tech savvy and was using his computer primarily for business purposes using web based ERP software. His PC was running extremely slow and for his two MFD’s he was missing correct drivers also. As an experiment, again I made his PC duel boot with both Linux and Windows, and asked him to see which one he likes more. I was also able to find exact drivers for his MFD’s.
After a few weeks, he seemed to be working on Linux Mint all the time as all his MFD’s got their drivers and everything was running much faster.
Since then I tried it multiple times and I was surprised that many non-tech savvy people were liking Linux over Windows operating system for their daily work. And that also exactly for the reasons (like drivers and games) which earlier used to discourage people from using Linux.
5) It is still awesome for Geeks –
If you are tech savvy and still using Windows, you need to know what you have been missing all the time.
Linux inherently is made for Network based environments so you can setup almost any type of server on it. Think of Web Server, FTP Server, DB Server, File server, or any other type of server, Linux can handle it much better than Windows.
Most of the time you will not even require to physically touch a Linux machine. Install SSH and VNC and you can always remotely control your Linux machine using Mobile phone and any other computer. You can also use WinSCP and VCXSRV to have more control.
If you want to be more adventures with Linux. How about running Linux on almost every gadget you have got. Yes, you can run it on Laptops, Mobile phones, Smart TVs, Western Digital TV Box (WDLXTV), Router (DD-WRT), ARM Processor based boxes (ex. MK808), Resbarry Pi (Raspbian). You will be surprised to know that how this operating system can adapt to run on almost any device even with a little bit of processing power and a tiny memory.
Go play with it and make your gadgets do things which were never possible without Linux. Linux opens up a whole new world of possibilities to you.
6) Help available for everything –
You are facing a trouble or you just want to do something out of the box. Google for it and you will be surprised to see how many people have already written articles about it. In most of the cases you will get step by step instruction to achieve it.
Linux has got a huge support system specially around most famous distributions like Ubuntu and Mint. However, if you are still not able to find exactly what you are looking for, just post your queries on any of the forums and pretty soon you will start to get answers from advanced Linux users.
This huge help system will soon make you confident that you are never left alone with your Linux issues.
How to choose a Linux distribution-
There are many different variations of Linux distribution which can be confusing to a new user. However, as every Linux flavor has evolved from the same base operating system, most of them are internally very similar. Usually it is just a matter of different user experience and personal preference. To make it more clear, we can categorize Linux distributions into different segments.
Home and Business users :
For people who want to use computer for their daily business work or for personal activities. I would strongly recommend Ubuntu Linux or Mint Linux (I prefer Mint Cinnamon). Reason is that these are currently two most popular Linux distributions and they have modern and easy to use user interface. Support for these two distributions are widely available and they have got maximum number of software available.
Computer Servers :
If you are looking for an operatiing system for Networking, Servers and high end computation. Look for CentOS, OpenSuSe, Debian or Arch Linux. I would suggest to read more about them individually to understand their differences.
Non-PC Gadgets :
If you want to run Linux on some non-PC hardware, look for specially compiled builds of Linux distribution. Such as for routers you can get DD-WRT, for Raspberry pie you have Raspbian, for ARM processors special builds of Arch and Kali linux are there. Search on Internet and you will find customized version of Linux for almost any device with a processor.
We must also know few practical limitations of Linux operating system.
Linux is not a preferred operating system of Graphics and Multimedia artists. Primarily because most of the commercial multimedia and graphics editing suites are not available for Linux (such as Photoshop, Illustrator etc).
Linux can be difficult to use with some new computer accessories. Reason is simply that in a Windows dominated world most of the hardware companies create Windows drivers first. Linux drivers come later or you may need to use some generic driver for it. Usually for most of the known brands you will not face this trouble, in fact in many cases Linux drivers are easier to find than Windows drivers.
Also, your favorite Windows based may not be available on Linux so make sure you check it before you switch operating systems. However, as the world is rapidly shifting towards web based apps it is becoming easier every day to get on Linux.
If you are still scared in moving to Linux, you can start with installing it on a Virtual Machine (using free tools like Oracle Virtualbox or VMWare Player) or install in on a partition of your Windows machine and you can switch between both operating systems. Best part is that you can access all your windows partitions in Linux so you will not miss any file or folder.