8 Reasons to Switch from Windows to Linux

Linuxswitch Wallpaper

As Windows 10 started to show a new face with a number of policy decisions that Microsoft made regarding its product, there’s been an observable upsurge in the number of people switching to Linux. This isn’t surprising as Linux has always been the perfect tool for privacy. If you are still on the fence, here are eight reasons why you should make the switch from Windows to Linux.

1. Linux is Free!

Yes, Linux comes at the glorious prices of precisely $0.00. To make it even better, you can use it on any devices and repurpose it to anything you want.

Camera+ Recipe? ? Scene: Clarity

While Windows and most of its proprietary software can cost you an arm and a leg to acquire the licenses, you can forego paying for any of that by using the alternatives available in Linux. There are tons of open source and free software for Linux, and even those premium software are pretty affordable too.

At the same time, this comes with the caveat that the likes of Adobe Photoshop is more feature rich and offers more professional support than GIMP. If you can live without the extras that come in many of these applications, you will have a fully working Linux desktop with a full suite of all the software you need without having to shell out anything.

2. You Can Run It without Installing

If you’re unconvinced about Linux being the best choice for you, you can test it out without having to install it on your hard drive.

This is known as running a “live” distribution. You pop in your USB stick to boot up your choice of Linux distribution, your computer loads its core components into RAM, and when that’s done, you’re greeted by a screen welcoming you in just like that!

Linuxswitch Liveusb

Running Linux through a live environment allows you to have a poke at it without any risks, getting a feel for what it’s like while making none of the sacrifices of a full installation. This way, you’re more capable of making an informed decision on what kind of flavor you’d like or whether you’d even like to stick with it after making the switch from Windows to Linux.

If you’re truly having a crisis of choice and just starting to dip your toes into the pool, I’d recommend either Ubuntu, Mint, or a much more transitional distribution like Solus. It’ll only take you an hour or so to create a live USB and try all three and make up your mind.

3. Breathe New Life into Old Computers

Windows 11 has a stringent hardware requirement and will only work with modern hardware. Linux gives you a chance to make use of your old computers and give them a new breadth of life.

Linuxswitch Oldcomputers

Distributions like Lubuntu, antiX, puppy Linux, BunsenLabs, or even TinyCore (for the more adventurous types) offer the full Linux experience in a compact and resource-friendly package. Don’t expect them to be as pretty as the higher-end stuff, but they will turn your older equipment into something useful again.

4. Linux is Secure

Whereas you often have to install anti-virus software with subscription fees on Windows, Linux asks, “Anti-what?”

Linuxswitch Updatemanager

Although it could be argued that hackers don’t bother to write viruses for Linux because of its small reach, there are other things preventing malware from accessing core parts of your system. For example, those password prompts that you’re constantly barraged with whenever you try to do something that requires root privileges will also appear when another program running on your system requires them.

5. You are in Total Control of the OS

Toward the end of 2020, Microsoft decided to make an unprecedented move for Windows 10, removing any possibility of consent from its users for the process of applying an update that would retire build 1903. It wasn’t necessarily the straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of people, but this event renewed conversations about prior anti-consumer practices and concerns about privacy that have been going on for over 20 years.

When you use Linux, you’re in control of what happens to you. If you find a distribution that does something you consider unsettling, there are at least three more out there ready to welcome you into their fold. In this ecosystem, the competitive pressure has historically been toward actions that offer you the most in-control experience possible.

6. You can Customize Everything!

If you like the distribution you have, you’ve familiarized yourself enough that you’re comfortable poking through it, but you really hate the scenery you’re greeted with whenever you boot up the PC, Linux has a solution for that.

Linuxswitch Mintthemes

The operating system consists of multiple key components that can be torn away and swapped out for others. If you want a new desktop environment that provides completely new graphics and effects to your liking, you only need to install it and get it running.

Don’t like how GNOME works? Swap it out for XFCE! Don’t like the default look and feel of GNOME? Swap it with plenty of themes out there.

7. You Don’t Have to Deal with the Terminal

Just like Windows doesn’t force you to use its command line, many popular Linux distributions also don’t require a working knowledge of their terminals.

Linuxswitch Terminal

If you want to install an app, you can just go to the developer’s website, download the installer, and double-click your way into it.

Some Linux distributions will have their own “app stores” that contain a repository of software that’s curated for your use in case you want something centralized, like Google Play or the Apple App Store. In Ubuntu, it’s called the Software Center, and in Linux Mint it’s called the Software Manager.

In general, if you want to find your app store, just search for “Software” in the Applications menu and you should see some kind of repository you can click into and find all of your favorite apps.

8. Gaming Is Easier than Ever Now!

Linux can run the majority of games now thanks to the Proton project by Steam.

Linuxswitch Games

According to Proton’s own statistics, 78 percent of the top 100 games on Steam function at a satisfactory level or greater when run on Linux using the right software. Getting some of the more argumentative games to work is also not impossible thanks to utilities like protontricks.

I’m not going to lie and say it’s always going to be easy, but it is possible to have a Linux gaming rig with most of the games you know and love running perfectly fine on it. However, you may have to drop one or two of them from your repertoire. Look at what people say about how each of your games run on Linux, and if after all of that you feel you can make the switch from Windows, don’t hesitate!

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that Windows is still, and will continue to be king when it comes to the home and small business markets. However, that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. If you are concerned about your privacy and want a secure operating system, Linux is the perfect tool for you. The question isn’t, “Why should you switch from Windows to Linux?” Rather, it should be, “Why didn’t you do it yesterday?

If you’re still unsure, read the answers to commonly asked questions from Windows users looking to switch to Linux. If you prefer to dual-boot, find out how to fix the two OS showing different times.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

15 comments

  1. Changing to Linux is not hard, if you have an open mind. Linux is not a Windows clone.

    Linux has also come a long way in a short time. I use Linux, and seldom need the terminal, and what I do use the terminal I have a few copy and paste commands cheat sheet. I am a GUI guy, and always will be, I have no desire to learn a bunch of commands, and even if I did I type like crap. I am that causal computer user, not the geek, and Linux works well for me. No self corrupting registry, and no forced updates and reboots. It really is great, give it a try.

  2. Dear sir,

    A number of statements you made need to be nuanced and relativized.

    “While Windows and most of its proprietary software can cost you an arm and a leg to acquire the licenses,”

    Windows 10 is free (as in beer).

    Here’s how you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-you-can-still-get-a-free-windows-10-upgrade/
    August 11th 2021

    How to get Windows 10 for free
    https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to-get-windows-10-for-free/
    May 24th 2021

    How to Get Windows 10 for Free (or Under $30)
    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/get-windows-10-free-or-cheap,5717.html
    August 16th 2021

    Any Windows 10 user can still download and install LibreOffice, GIMP and other open-source softwares too.

    Windows 11 is supposed to be free (as in beer) if you have Windows 10 according to a recent article from cnet.com.

    – –

    “running a ‘live’ distribution”

    I see 2 issues with ‘live’ distribution. The person will feel that Linux is slow on their computer. But that is because all of the operating system is in the RAM chips. Another issue is that some distribution (Debian for example) have an ISO image for trying the distribution and another ISO image for actually installing it.

    – –

    “Linux is Secure”

    In all fairness, you should have written instead that Linux is *_overall considered more secure than Windows_*. And not that Linux is secure. And there are some people (eg on youtube, a certified software engineer who worked at Microsoft, now retired) who are claiming that Windows is not less secure than Linux.

    – –

    “You are in Total Control of the OS”

    True if and only if you know a lot about the Linux file system, system calls, how it operates internally. A new comer to Linux will not be in total control of its OS. Dedicated online community assistance websites are full of messages from users asking for help on how to do things and how to fix problems or issues they have. In theory, Linux users are in total control of their OS; in reality, only a minority of advanced (power-user) users are (or can become) in total control of every aspect of their Linux os.

    – –

    “You can Customize Everything!”

    A new user can indeed customize *_almost everything_* but it will require him/her to search a lot, to seek assistance and may even lead (or require from) him/her to change his/her distribution.

    Gérard

    1. A “free upgrade” is no free as in free beer. It is an extension of what you have paid for. Seeing I have not paid for a Windows licensee there is no free upgrade for me, I would have to pay, and in “buy the beer”. It also does not address the cost of MS software. I used MS from Win-95 to Win 7. I did find open source software that adequately did the job of expensive MS software. That is what led me to switch to Linux when the god awful Win8 was introduced. I found Linux very easy to learn and actually used my OS rather than spending my time downloading and upgrading spyware and virus software, repairing the registry, defragging, and trying to recover missing space on my hard drive. I am also a total GUI guy, and still am able to successfully use Linux. Also did you know Windows has forums for those that need help, just like Linux? Yes people can’t figure out how to use Windows on their own either!
      https://www.windows10forums.com/

      1. James,

        From the start, I said that a number of statements in the article needed to be nuanced and relativized.

        “A ‘free upgrade’ is (…) an extension of what you have paid for.”
        So, it is not an addition. The upgrade is free. And there are people (digitaltrends, tomshardware) who claim that Windows 10 can be free. We are very far from demonstrating that Windows 10 costs “an arm and a leg” here.

        “I did find open source software that adequately did the job of expensive MS software.”
        We agree then. I wrote “Any Windows 10 user can still download and install LibreOffice, GIMP and other open-source softwares too.”

        “I found Linux very easy to learn”
        Good for you. But this apparently is not the case for everyone. “Total control” and “Customize Everything” may be possible for advanced users, not everyone. There are lots of topics where even power users would have difficulty in finding suitable solutions (e.g. that I know of: turn off Proton UI in Firefox, transient scrollbars, thin scrollbars).

        Linux on the desktop still has a long slope to climb up. Despite reasons given in the article, Linux did not gain significant adoption immediately after the Windows Vista and Windows 8 releases (generally considered commercial failures).

        Gérard

        1. The difference is Microsoft is a big company with a huge advertising budget. Linux is not. MS also used very questionable business techniques to gain market control, i.e antitrust violations and patent trolling. Enterprise invested heavily in MS Windows and it is expensive to change, and also employees were now familiar with MS Windows but not Linux. Apple (built on BSD) is also very expensive. That does not make the Linux Desktop a failure. It is a very good desktop. More marketing does not make something superior.

    2. I can appreciate your call for nuance. However, even in video form introducing the level of nuance I normally do when speaking face-to-face with someone on this subject would take over an hour. Imagine how much that would be in writing! :D

      While it’s true that Windows has made extraordinary leaps in security since the release of Win 7 and entrenched a new design philosophy that amplified this with the release of W10, Linux still continues to provide excellent separation of points of failure that gives it an edge. This is particularly notable in matters of privacy. Windows is a system built around convenience, but does not offer a similar level of privacy, a concept I lump in together with security as I do not think that the two should be separated.

      Speaking on doing daily tasks, I would have agreed with you 5-10 years ago, but Linux’s strides in usability are noticeable in the more popular distros like Mint, Manjaro, etc. My wife, a pretty computer-illiterate person, was able to install and set up Linux Mint in a few minutes and to my surprise did not need my help.

      Speaking on live images, the bootup is slow, but as you said the system is in RAM. RAM will always operate extraordinarily fast. USB 3.0 also makes TTB much faster, eliminating the former issue.

  3. One of the most popular lies about Linux is that it is hard to learn. A newsflash for everybody; IT IS NOT! What is hard is the unlearning of the “Windows way of doing things”. Interestingly, I don’t hear many people complaining that OS/X is hard to learn.

    I used Windows (Win 3.1 – Win XP) exclusively at work over a period of 10+ years so it can be said that I managed to acquire some knowledge of Windows. In early 2000’s, I switched cold turkey to Linux and have used it exclusively since. A few months ago, my daughter gave me her old laptop running Win 7. I can use it but only in its most basic functions. I find Windows is hard to re-learn. Or rather, the Linux way keeps getting in the way any time I try using Windows.

    BTW – I remember trying to learn Win 3.1. Certainly was no walk in the park.

  4. Nothing new here! Same old arguments which haven’t convinced many to leave Window and move to Linux for the past 20 years!

  5. I have been working intensively with Linux Mint since 2017. Initially, I was enthusiastic. But over time, some of Linux’s weaknesses became apparent. To be honest, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages.

    For me personally, however, the advantages of Windows outweigh the disadvantages, which is why I recently returned to Windows (with a heavy heart).

  6. @Rhute Bhaer – Exactly. Try to run anthing else other than programs that are in the tens of distros’ (each one different) Software Centers then just get the hoops out because you are going to have to jump through them. This is the Linux greatest weakness.
    And as @Guenter says many of us who have wanted to leave Windows and have tried Linux do return to Windows with a heavy heart.

    1. “tens of distros’”
      I guess it must be a big shock for you to go shopping. So many different brand choices within each product! Cars, clothes, pasta, PCs. Oh, my! How do you ever make a decision on what to buy?!

      Windows and Mac users moving over to Linux are like refugees from Cuba coming to United States. In Cuba they had to buy what was in the store. In the US, they walk into a store and are paralyzed by the choices.

      In over 15 years of using Linux, I must have tried close to a hundred distros. Never had I had to “jump through hoops” to install any application. I just loaded up my Package Manager, picked the app and let the PM install it. No fuss, no muss, no bother, no hoops. But then, I never tried to install Windows-only or esoteric industry-specific apps.

      BTW – there are not “tens of distros” but close to a thousand. Many are inactive, discontinued or dormant. There are 220-230 distros that are actively maintained. Each Linux distro IS NOT different from every other one. There are very few original (as in independent) distros. All of the Linux distros in existence belong to 7 or 8 “families” such as Slackware, Debian, Red Hat, Mandrake, Arch, Gentoo,

    2. Dave, you might just want to do what I do: Dual boot. Since I have to segregate things for work, I often put my work stuff on Linux. You’ll be happy to know that software centers are not the only source of applications that can easily be installed. As our good friend dragonmouth hinted in his reply, the key is having a package manager that has near-universal compatibility. APT and RPM are probably the most pervasive around the web, which is why the most popular and beginner-friendly distros tend to be based around Debian.

      Dragonmouth, to be fair, “tens of distros” is kind of accurate for someone getting their feet wet, as they often look for the more popular variants based on things like Debian and Arch. I remember my first distro ever was Knoppix. Don’t ask me how I ended up with that, because I don’t even remember! :D

  7. People don’t switch because they’re lazy or afraid of the unknown. If I install Linux on their screwed-up Windows machine and a few minutes to show them around, they don’t bother me again.

  8. Another reason to switch from Windows to Linux is that Linux is portable and resilient.

    Windows will only work with the particular hardware configuration it was installed on. OTOH, once Linux is installed on a hard drive, that hard drive can be moved from PC to PC and the O/S will automatically adapt to the hardware. I have moved my Linux hard drive between PCs with different expansion cards, different amounts of RAM and different CPUs (AMD to Intel and vice versa) with minimum of fuss.

  9. I embraced Linux eight years ago after testing over 25 different distros on a 2005 desktop PC and settled on Linux Mint with the Cinammon desktop, which I recently switched to the Mate desktop and actually prefer it. I also have Linux Lite on a 2009 Netbook with an Atom processor, but Lite didn’t improve the performance. Then in January 2021, I installed Linux Mint with the Cinammon desktop and it works great. Finally, I installed Linux Ubuntu Mate with the Cupertino desktop environment on a 2014 Mac Mini which is speedy compared to MacOS Bir Sur which continually gave me the spinning pinwheel. No problems on any of my Linux computers. For the speed, security, and my needs for a computer, Linux is the way to go — IMHO.

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