What makes Linux so great? Here are the eleven things that make Linux an important tool for serious computer users.
1. It’s Used on Nearly Every Server
Linux is the standard for servers. There’s no way around it. Linux has long been the most popular HTTP server software, and it’s built firmly on top of the Linux kernel. Enterprise users might lean towards Windows for compatibility with Windows’s workstations, but server admins broadly work in Linux. If you want to understand and work with servers, you need to understand Linux.
2. It’s Standard for Development Environments
Developers also like Linux and not just because it’s popular with HTTP servers. Part of this comes to use by tradition: early computer programmers used Unix-based systems. Of course, it was one of the few operating systems available at the time, and it was hugely popular in academia. Today, modern developers do the same. But it’s also largely more effective for programming, thanks in part to the powerful shell and “everything is a file” philosophy of Unix-based systems.
3. Powerful Native Terminal and Shell
Much like other Unix-based operating systems like macOS, all Linux distributions boast a powerful shell. Often called Terminal, this text-only interface for your machine’s guts is the closest you can get to hacking the mainframe without Keanu Reeves dodging bullets. It’s the window to your computer’s soul, in a way, and the most powerful tool on most Linux distros.
4. Empowers Users to Solve Problems
On Linux, the user can solve their own problems. This can also be a downside since it often means the user must solve their own problems. As an educational tool, however, nothing is better than solving a real problem for yourself. That’s how most of us learned to program, and it’s how you can learn better system administration as well.
5. Doesn’t Limit User’s Access to Critical Systems
As computers have become more widespread, they’ve become more limited. Each year, major operating systems restrict the user in the name of security. Sadly, they’re most often right: only a small percentage of users know enough to run their system responsibly, so it makes sense to lock out average users to prevent accidental damage or preventable errors. But if you’re one of the few who are wise in the ways of tech, then Linux will give you more freedom than you’ve ever desired. You can break anything you want, and fix it too, so long as you’re smart enough.
6. Higher Stability than Other Systems
When you need to run a reliable mission-critical system, like an air traffic control computer, you build it simple and modular. A problem in one system shouldn’t affect another. Linux is built on exactly this philosophy, with a strong kernel with the flexibility of Unix and widely-tested packages to support it.
7. It’s Open Source and Free
The cost of your operating system may not be something you put much thought into. Windows might cost around $100 for a personal license, but considering how rarely you purchase operating systems, it’s hardly an unbearable burden. But open source means more secure, and free means widely used. Both are great attributes for an operating system to have.
8. It’s More Secure
Security is a major part of the Linux working environment. Because the system is built by an open-source community, an untold number of eyes are constantly examining the system for security issues. With Linux’s dominance in the server space, that security is also crucial for the security of the Web. As such, the secure development of Linux is of major importance to the modern world of tech, as most web technology stands on the shoulders of reliable and secure servers. It’s not perfectly secure, of course – nothing is – but it’s generally more secure than the alternative.
9. It’s More Flexible than Anything Else
Linux can be built into almost anything you want. Outside of the basic kernel, you can essentially build an à la carte operating system by adding packages to create your own distribution. If you’re willing to take the time to build it, you can create just about anything you want, from a bulletproof server to the most beautiful workstation you’ve ever seen.
10. No One Is Watching You, Unless You Want Them To
The degree of “telemetry” – a euphemism for financially-motivated spying on your user base – in modern operating systems can be disquieting. Linux contains none of that unless you install it. And considering the size of the Linux user base, very few profit-motivated entities bother to build tracking applications for Linux. Outside of your standardized browser environment, there are no system-level tracking tools installed by default. You can’t say the same about Windows or macOS.
11. You Can Brag to People on the Internet
And isn’t that really the point of it all?
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