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GQ-09: What are the benefits of / Why use Linux?

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GQ-09: What are the benefits of / Why use Linux?


Ok, first of all, just as tyme mentions: the real first message of this topic was written by sitor, and the foreplay and idea came from Darkelve, as you can read here.

As I was just the one posting a hint to start a fresh topic, my message ended up on top - you can read it below, I left it here for completeness.


The real idea, as Darkelve already hinted, is not to state why you don't use/like MS, please open a topic in the offtopic subforum.


So please, post the reasons why you like linux, how you got started and what you feel is good about it. Take sitor and Darkelve's posts as examples. And I will add my story as well, though you can find a lot of my opinion on my website...



aRTee's comments


==============Original message===================

sitor, great arguments, why don't you just start a new topic with

This is why linux!

as a topic subject, and paste your info in there.

I agree with loads, but will add my own comments, as soon as this new topic gets opened. Just reply here with the link to it, I'm tracking this one....


Also: yes I agree Darkelve, that antims link is just enough reasons to know why not to use any MS stuff, Linux has a lot more going for it - most of what I think is on my switchsuccess page, but that was written a year ago, and I'm not the same person anymore... nor is linux the same linux anymore.. :P


sitor's comments


Before I go, first a little history on how I became hooked on Linux:


Being at work as a project manager in IT, I felt that I should learn some basic stuff on UNIX (not having the least knowledge of it at the time). As UNIX trainings were quite expensive, it each time got postponed. At a certain point in time I heared that Linux was a type of UNIX that could be run on a normal PC which you can download for free. So I started to install it on a test PC. And that is how it started. Today I have my desktop at home in dual boot Mandrake Linux 10.0 CE with the Windows XP that came with it (which I still barely use). When the time comes that I will need a new PC I will for certain buy one that comes without M$ tax. I will not install M$ software illegally either.


So here is my list:


1. Ease of Operating System (OS) installation: I use my PC quite a lot and love to try out new softs. This means that in my Windoze days I needed to reïnstall Windoze about every year. It took about two full days to install and configure the Windoze box with all the soft I require. This include the installation of most of the softs I use (Office, Winamp, Winzip, ...) next to the OS and changing the basic settings to my liking, but without the really detailed finetuning. When I reïnstall my box now, it is not because I have to, but because a new version came out. Installation of Mandrake Linux and softs takes less then 1 full day (again without detailed finetuning).


As mentioned Windoze becomes unstable after time, especially when often installing and removing new software. I do not use this as a pro-Linux argument, because with Linux I change the whole system when a new version comes out, not only the software running on it. So I have no experience myself how Linux behaves in this respect. I never had the same installation long enough.


2. Ease of application installation: On most OSes, installing software has become a piece of cake. However what I find particularly nice in Mandrake Linux is that if you want to install a bunch of new softs, you just indicate which ones you want in the Mandrake Control Center (MCC), and it all gets installed automatically in one go. No need anymore to install the different softs one by one.

Removing applications is as easy and again, you can do lots of them in one go. I never had bad experiences regarding stability.


3. Choice: For anything that runs on your PC there is choice. If you are scared by that, don't, just stick with the Mandrake defaults and you'll be fine. If not and you like to try out stuff, there is tons you can try. Ranging from the way your desktop behaves (desktop manager), the way the application windows are presented (window manager) up to different applications (different applications of the same task, but even different versions of the same application).


4. Availability: It is so easy to start doing new things in Mandrake Linux. You just open the MCC and do a search on keywords relative to what you want to do in the packages descriptions. You get a list of applications that have something to do with those keywords and their descriptions. Just indicate the package that look like they seem to meet your needs and install them all in one go. After that you just try which one suits your needs best. No need to go to a shop first. You want it, it will be downloaded for you.


5. Problem solving: I'm the typical Community Edition guy. I want the newest and the latest that is not really development anymore. If I want to do something, and it does not work, I'll take the time to try to get it working. With closed source stuff (even the stuff you paid hard €'s for), if you ask the owners to help you, most of the time you get: "Only bought a license, no support contract? Sorry." Or: "Yes I know you have a support contract, but that is not a supported feature." Or: "Yes, that is a known bug. We will let you know when it is resolved." I experienced that I you request help from the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community, that often the responses come so fast that you cannot follow the pace. I actually had a case of a bug in video editing SW. The mean time between my message and return message from the author was about three times faster then the other way around (I tried to respond as fast as I could, but I'm a full time working man with children).


6. Evolution: Everything is going so fast! When I started a little more then a year ago, certain things were only possible in command line interface (CLI) (which I'm not afraid of, but I much prefer Graphical User Interface (GUI)). So much things that I needed then and postponed or did in CLI, can now be done via a very good GUI.


7. Ethics regarding licenses: I do not want to imply that using proprietary SW would not be ethical. However using illegal copies of SW is not. And I have yet to meet the first home user that does not use FOSS and that does not use any illegal SW on his PC. I don't, I use FOSS.


8. Ethics regarding the less rich: FOSS is a great thing for the countries where they do not have the money to buy software. Mostly when you use FOSS, you give something back to the community (even if it is only that the more users there are, the more important it is for vendors to support Linux / FOSS). This way the people who need to use FOSS from necessity (lack of money) get a better experience and can get more done thanks to FOSS. Of course giving back in the financial form to the organisations that create FOSS or by really helping other people are even much better.


9. The feeling to belong: Maybe that is more this board then Linux, but when you are into it, you really get a good feeling that you belong to a nice group of people, even if you never see any of the others (which would even be impractical, because the live often at the other side of the planet).


10. Study: If you would want to know how certain things in IT work, Linux is great. Just start playing with it. If you don't know anything about the subject yet, you'll have problems. Google your way out of them. Install stuff, read manuals, get the satisfaction to get it working and learn,.... for free!


11. Get rid of the fear: Stop fearing viruses, trojans, worms, spyware and all that kind of stuff. I'll not say that it doesn't exist in Linux, or that it will never exist (wow, that would probably start some debate). But in practise, at this moment, you do not have to care. I never heard any Linux user have problems with it yet.


12. Be in control: Anything in Linux can be changed. From the way it boots till the fonts it uses to display you something.


13. Live Distro's: A live distro is a Linux distribution (distro) that is put on one CD. You can download the image of that CD and burn it. There are a couple of live distro's that combine certain sets of software (like all kinds of video and audio software, educational games, ...). If you stick CD in the CD reader and boot the PC from the CD, it will start the distro from the CD without that you need to install anything on the Hard Drive. Cooool man! Some of them have the capability to get info from USB sticks. So they store your data and settings on the USB stick. Next time you use it (on any PC with a CDROM and USB port), just use your own desktop to work on your own data!


14. Tools: There are so much nice tools on Linux that are sitting there, just waiting to be used by you. Whenever you get bored, just start a small discovery. You'll notice there are things that allow you to do things that are so handy, without having thought about the fact that it could be possible before in your life.


15. Safe to let anyone use your PC: By default there is a root user that is the only one allowed to do the risky stuff. Your normal user can not mess up too much (except his own data). In Mandrake Linux this is very intuitive and not disturbing. But you can allow your 4 year old to play games on his own, without having to fear that he will by accident render your system useless. It is possible to make Windoze safe like this, but by default it is not. You can get Linux unsafe but the good distro's are safe by default (there are some bad distro's that are unsafe as well though).


16. Specific for Mandrake Linux: Know what you are doing: Most of the time when (in the GUI) you need to make some decision on how to configure something, you will get a basic explication on what a good choice would be. This gives the good feeling that you know what you are doing.


17. Lower Hardware (HW) requirements: For the same type of experience, it is my experience that you need less heavy HW then with e.g. Windoze. In the case of Windoze the HW requirements go up with every version. In the case of Mandrake Linux, the 10.0 version actually runs faster then the previous one (9.2). That means that you need less HW to make it run as well.


18. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. The price of course. If you can contribute, you should of course (I paid for a Mandrake Club membership myself). But you can without any problem download it for free and use it. If you like what you get, it is appropriate to pay something (if you have the means to do so), otherwise you are a considered as freeloader. But even if you pay quite some, it will always be much less then the amount you would have spent to get the same kind of software in a FOSS-less world.


OK, that's it for the moment. I'm anxious to see what other things come up. But it seems that the list could get very long.






Darkelve's comments


Ok, here's my list.


EDIT: This whole section is going to be revised, as I am on the brink of using Linux more full-time (still waiting for SuSe 9.1 Pro). And as bvc showed me, I need to voice my arguments more clearly, maybe get some things clear in my own head before I start blattering about them. Read it if you want, but it's going to be updated soon to better reflect my reasons for using Linux.






I have always been interested in technology, since I was just a kid I was learning to work with computers (those old yellow monochrome things with the big square floppies back then).


I went from Dos to using about every version of Windows. Somehow, I didn't feel quite at ease using the OS and software I was using, so I decided to explore. One day, a short while after I started to learn Html on my own, I discovered a link to one of said "anti-Microsoft" sites. Curious to learn more, I read about any article/discourse on the web I could find about it and compared the reasoning of all sides (anti-Ms, Neutral, Pro-Ms). However, I quickly had to admit the 'anti'-MS people seemed to hit the nail right on the head. I also had the 'pleasure' of experiencing this live while learning Html and coding for different browsers. One of the more interesting things in there, were the alternatives for M$ OS/software. I got very interested in Linux by then. It appealed to me because I was -still am- an idealistic person. It also appealed to me because it was so popular and seemed very mature. It promised to be able to work with my existing hardware. And, not at all unimportant, it was free and within my grasp. So shortly after, I started downloading a Linux distro and a few hours later, I burned my first coaster :D). After some searching online, I found instructions for burning ISO's and was on my way.




Before I start with the list, I want to give a remark here: a very important reason I started using it was because it was 'free'. However, at this time, the being free does not really matter to me that much. I will be glad to pay money for a Linux distro that suits my needs for the following reasons:


1. I can decide what to do on my own machine

If I want to use browser X, I can. If I don't have to, I can just ignore it, or uninstall. It's all up to me. Because at the end of the day, this is my system, and I see no reason why I shouldn't be in control of it.


Oh yeah, and it doesn't spy on me or want to learn my habits.


2. Linux acts nice to my hardware

The first year I seriously started exploring Linux, I never used more than 5 Gigabytes for all I did with it, despite of the dozens of software programs I installed. I felt really comfortable knowing I did not have to worry too much about disk space. Another thing I noticed is that my surfing and downloading things from the net is going much more fluid, especially when doing several of these things at the same time. One time, when I was experimenting and installing Vector Linux, in text mode, I had to go through a really long step (I think choosing packages or partitioning). So I was curious if after a few minutes, some kind of screen saver would show up. I was delighted to find out that, yes, it did. Call me a purist but it was these little things that showed me that yes, Linux did care for my hardware.


3. Broad choice of applications

Tell the truth, when I first started using Linux, the applications I really 'wanted' were either not there yet, or not mature enough. However, major improvements were made in this by OpenOffice.org, K3B, the different Desktop environments & Window Managers, distros themselves... Right now I've got any program I need.


4. Security

I don't really have to worry about viruses anymore. I can go on the internet with peace of mind. Hacking is of course still a problem (although not nearly as big as in Windows), but with only a little effort this too can be done.


5. Customizable

I can make my system look *excactly* the way I want. If I like Apple, I can make it look like OSX. If I like BeOS, I can do that too. Just about every element of my desktop is customizable.



6. Features

Virtual desktops, tabbed browsing and chatting, split window view in the filemanager (konqueror), ... all of these features and more make the use of my computer a real pleasure.


7. Linux is social

I would have never imagined it, but the Linux community, which I know especially via the internet, appeared to be really helpful and much bigger I originally thought. It is also I nice way to get in touch with people from all over the world, discuss opinions etc. It gives choice to developping countries and/or schools on a budget. Now who said we were just a bunch of hippies ;)


8. Linux is good to my data

With Linux, I am sure that I will still be able to read in a few years, the things I create today. I am never forced to upgrage a program just to be able to read an old document or continue to use a certain function (cough* MSN Messenger*cough*).



Linux offers everything I need to use my computer on a day-to-day basis. It gives me peace of mind and a satisfying feeling I am contributing to something beautiful. Linux gives me the possibility to make my own choices. With Linux, I am in control.


All that said, these reasons are nice also:



gmac's comments


What might also be interesting is how many are using or investigating linux because they are computer geeks, nerds, whatever, and how many are users of computers for work purposes and started looking at alternatives to windows from that perspective.


In my case it was the office suites that got me started as I looked in to an alternative to MS office professional.(sad isn't it. As a student I dropped computing science as an option because spending a career designing accounting and production control systems struck me as being very boring the sort of stuff I could but didn't find interesting)


basically the attraction boils down to


1) choice of software and not being tied to one office suite with ever spiralling costs.

2) reliability I can stop my computer crashing so often but I learned the hard way.

3) Cost, £450 or free or £50 star office,, its a no-brainer tried star office and got hooked (I really do need the database not just spreadsheets)

4) usability, I can take my skill level to what I need, I like to fix things myself and know what's going on. Windows is like looking for a goldfish with rubber gloves on-you know its there but can't really work out what's going on and just hope you've got it and its a relief when you do..

5) I might not bother acquiring that level of skill-its not how I make a living, but its nice to have a choice if I choose to take it.

6) cost to experiment is low.

7) I can get help if i need it without paying the earth or being patronized(mostly)

8) the ethos has become an attraction, in particular this site is interesting beyond any immediate needs for information on linux. I like the diversity.


On short its usability but if I can't get it doing what I need i may be stuck with windows, most issues i can now work around but for some things I am stuck with windows.


what's putting me off at the moment


1) scanning software-I am well on the road to a paperless office I need linux to be able to do that

2) remote access to my home computer-not yet but give it another year or two

3) remote back up. the industry I am in off site storage will be an issue that i have to deal with. Most such services I know of use windows, I need to be compatible.

4) striking a balance between spending my time experimenting, making a living and studying for some professional qualifications I need to acquire.


Like I said it might be interesting. I am curious that's why I mention it.


One thing hat strikes me about linux advocates on this site and others asking why people don't try linux is they sometimes miss the interest that others show.


Give you an example, I was at a networking meeting, software consultant prattled on about thin client servers, remote access, intranet working blah blah, In reality most of the people will use such things if not now then in the not too distant future or now if they knew they could. He lost potential clients because he talked about what he did rather than them.


Nobody cares if microsoft is a rip off they know they need it so give them an alternative that's relevant to what they are actually doing with the computer


cybrjackle's comments


I use Linux because it's the BEST OS for "ME" :D


Yes, I've used

Windows <all of them> Yes, I think they all suck, again, for "ME"

Mac <OSX is the only other OS i like to use, OS9 on down blew for "ME"

All the BSD's <not bad, but there features that they lack for "ME"

Solaris 6-10beta < good server/ desktop sucks>

HP-UX <same as above>




You all can call me a Linux Zealot all you want, because I am B)


And I can back it up because I have used all the other OS's a lot more than most people. Windows, I know it better than most of the SA's that work on it were I work, doesn't matter, "I" still think it sucks.



Edited by Tuxiscool
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