Thursday, November 8, 2007

Linux - A Free Alternative To Windows.

Disappointed with Windows but can't afford a Mac? Then try Linux, the free and open-source Operating System. Long termed the "OS for geeks", Linux-based systems are now getting a new lease of life after user-friendly versions hit the market.

There are currently more than 300 different Linux versions and one of the most popular is Ubuntu, which has over 8 million users worldwide since it's release in 2004. With the emergence of more user-friendly versions like PCLinuxOS and Feather Linux the number of users is expected to rise dramatically and large computer manufacturers are taking heed - Dell and Lenovo now offer laptops pre-installed with Linux rather than Windows.

Not only does a Linux-based operating system like Ubuntu contains all the applications you need - from web browser, document and spreadsheet software to instant messaging and e-mail applications, it is also completely free. Some distributions like Ubuntu, even promised that their releases will remain free of charge and be constantly updated. That means you'll always have the latest and the best that the open source world has to offer.

Contrary to popular beliefs, you do not need to be an expert in computer programming to use a Linux-based operating system. User-friendly versions like PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu have a similar point-and-click interface with Windows and are able to recognise and install drivers for most common hardware.

If you are still unable to cut Microsoft's umbilical cord, some versions allow you to try out the software first without installing them into your PC. Simply download the software from the website, burn it onto a CD or DVD-ROM and boot your computer into Linux using the CD. Distributions that offer this feature include Knoppix, Ubuntu and Feather Linux, to name a few. And if you really cannot let go of Windows, try dual-booting, an option that allows you a choice of which system to boot into when you turn on your PC.

Stable, secure and with thousands of free and useful applications available, you really have nothing to lose in using Linux and if you need further convincing to switch, here are 5 more reasons :

1. No Crashes
Windows users will be very familiar with the infamous "blue screen of death" that greets them whenever their system crashes. In contrast, Linux users rarely experienced it and have been known to run their PCs continuously over a year without a single crash or reboot.

2. Fewer Viruses
Windows currently has more than a hundred thousand known bugs, while Linux has less than a hundred and being open source, this figure is expected to dwindle. Linus also uses smart authorisation management, as it requires you to authorise any action that may potentially harm your PC by entering your password. That results in lower incidences of being tricked into installing malware and running virus programs, simply because it will not let you.

3. Tech support
If you ever come against a wall, there is round-the-clock support provided by any of the Linux online forums. Just post the problem there and the very helpful and active Linux community will answer your call for help within a day or two.

4. Free software
There are thousands of free programs and applications - from web browsers, media players, office productivity tools to games, available for downloads. Most of them serves as alternatives to commercial software, the most notably being Mozilla Firefox ( for Internet Explorer) and OpenOffice ( for Microsoft Office).

5. Runs on old machines.
Many new computers struggle to handle the memory and capacity demands of Vista, which requires 512MB RAM and an 800MHz processor. In contrast, the latest Ubuntu version, the Feisty Fawn, needs a measly 64MB RAM and a 300MHz processor. Other versions of Linux require even less. That means you can actually run a ten-year-old PC on Linux with few worries.

*Related post : Free Desktop Utilities

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Brad said...

You saved me a lot of time by posting this article. Thanks.

My Den said...

Hi brad,
Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for dropping by. Take care.