I thought I would do something different today and discuss Linux, the operating system I use on my computers. Some people love it, some people hate it, some people don’t know what it is.
This is very off topic but I often get asked why I exclusively use Linux/Android instead of Windows and Apple products and software. If you do not want to read about computer software, go right ahead and skip this post. This will be one of the very rare times I ever mention this, since the computer software I use has nothing to do with fitness or health. I will get back to fitness and juggling shortly.
For those of you who do not know, Linux is an operating system, and it looks a lot like Windows. There are many reasons I use Linux on all my computers, my laptop, as well as my desktop. Among them are:
- It’s free
- It’s open-source
- It is much less susceptible to viruses and other malware
Some people may have trouble believing this, but the operating system(and all the software) on my computer is free. I downloaded it and installed it myself(my computer briefly had Windows on it). Many years ago, I was a Windows user, but it was buggy, bloated, and insecure. Why pay for something like that?
Besides these issues, Windows is not open-source like Linux. “Open-source” means I can look at the code, study it, change it, juggle it, copy it, and distribute it to anyone(try doing this with Windows or OS X or iOS). I’ve been doing this so long I forget what software licenses are!
Since most computers in the world run on Windows, computer viruses mainly infect Windows PCs(and Macs to a lesser extent). Hence, there aren’t very many viruses that can infect a Linux system.
Since I am a big believer in free/open source software, I have a strong dislike for both Microsoft and Apple. These corporate behemoths put too many restrictions on what I can do with their products that it is for good reason they are called “digital prisons”, and I find the patent lawsuits these companies are involved in absurd, and disturbing. Besides this, they also push an anti-freedom agenda to protect their markets. Some tell me they are “easier to use” than Linux, but in my opinion there really isn’t a big difference.
I think being able to alter the code of whatever software I am using makes it “easier to use”. The Linux desktop and just about everything else is also very easily customizable, with lots of very different interfaces to choose from.
Linux has come a long way over the past decade, thanks to all the users who continue to work hard at improving it. Though it helps to be a techie, Linux is about as easy as using Windows or OS X. It just may take some getting used to. If you are not very good with computers, Linux may not be for you. If you are using an Android phone or tablet, you are already using a form of Linux.
There are so many different distributions of Linux, and it’s a lot of fun trying them out: Fedora, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, Debian, among many others. I use Debian. The internet browser I am currently using is Opera, a free, open-source browser program. I sometimes use Mozilla Firefox, which is also free, and open-source. These browsers come with the Linux distribution I use(just about all come with a browser), as well as the freeware version of Office, and many free art and graphics programs. There is an online freeware library I use to download whatever I want for free. It’s all legal.
The biggest problem some Linux newbies may have is finding compatible hardware for their Linux PC, but this is becoming less of a problem. It’s not an issue for me. Unfamiliarity is also a problem, but as I said before, it just takes some getting used to. If you just want to try out a Linux distribution to see how it is without changing your computer’s operating system, you can download it to a live CD/DVD or USB stick, and boot into it from there. There is also dual-booting, which means you can have both Windows, and Linux on the same hard-drive, you just have to choose which operating system to use at startup.
While I am a big believer in software freedom, and freedom in general, this doesn’t mean I only use free, open-source software, but most of what I use is. While it’s not perfect, my Linux PCs do everything I need them to do.