Linux is both open-source and free to download, making it difficult to calculate an accurate number as far as its market share. Despite the proverbial “one percent” thrown around by various bloggers and technology publications, some estimate up to 8 percent saturation. Dell reported that almost 33 percent of its notebooks shipped with Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distribution, pre-installed in 2009. You can usually get a good deal on your favorite laptop or tablet if you buy it with a pre-installed version of Ubuntu.
Windows and Mac OS X are by far the two most familiar operating systems for laptops, mainly because most new notebooks come with them already installed. But those who mostly use their computer for web-based applications might benefit from Linux. Here are three reasons to make the switch.
Minimize Malware and Viruses
One of the main selling points of MacBooks is that Mac OS X cannot run executable (.exe) files, which is what most trojans and worms are. For executable files to run on Linux, additional software such as Wine is required. A good majority of malware is run through Microsoft’s ActiveX framework via Internet Explorer. Mozilla Firefox is pre-installed as the default browser on most Linux distributions, while Epiphany and Google Chrome are the recommended alternatives.
Keep in mind, no operating system is virus-proof. But using Linux will minimize the risk of being exposed.
Unlike Windows and Mac OS X where everything is point, click and let the computer do the rest, Linux distributions give the end-user total control. Linux users will need to become familiar with a terminal (the black DOS box) and the corresponding command lines. It will likely be a trial-and-error learning experience, but one that will give you an understanding of a computer’s inner-working like never before. For instance, the first time you insert a flash drive in a USB port, you’ll learn how the data is actually accessed and mounted. There are plenty of cheat sheets out there to choose from, and online forums are also a click away.
The saying goes “the best things in life are free,” and Linux is no exception. There are no licenses to buy and the software can be installed on as many machines as you wish. The best part is that Linux is open-source. You can customize your operating system to do anything and everything you want it to. Of course there are premium distributions which you can pay for that provide extra features and software.
The aforementioned Ubuntu, along with Mint and Xubuntu, are the three most common free distributions for beginners. Puppy Linux is also free and can be installed on old machines that do not have the power to run Windows.
RedHat, Zorin and Xandros are a few of the paid distributions, mostly used by businesses.