Windows 10 has been out in the wild for a while now. For the most part, people have been really liking it. It’s probably the most streamlined version of Microsoft’s operating system to date. Still, some people aren’t happy with the upgrade and are looking at alternatives.
Introducing Linux: it’s a free and open source platform which many operating systems are built upon. If you’re looking to move from Windows to an alternative, here are eight compelling reasons why you should leave Microsoft for a more free and open source operating system.
1. Free operating systems for life
All Linux-based operating systems (for the most part) are completely free. You won’t find yourself driving to a Best Buy to buy your copy of Fedora Linux. All that is required is a USB flash drive, an Internet connection and the know-how to get it installed.
There are hardly any operating systems based on the Linux kernel out there that cost money. Sure, some do cost a fee to get them going, but those are enterprise Linux distributions. When it comes to desktop Linux, the price is a modest $0. This is perfect for those who can’t spare the $199 cost to get a full-featured copy of Windows from a big box store.
2. Free programs
More free stuff. Sounds good, right? If you were to install Ubuntu Linux on your laptop, you’d have access to tons of software totally free of charge. You see, Ubuntu operates on the notion that software should be free. Sure, if you look hard enough, you can probably find some programs that cost money, but paid software is largely a minority on the Linux platform.
Yes, there are free programs on Windows too, but most of them are not first-class programs. For example: since Adobe will probably never port Photoshop over to Linux, we have Gimp. Gimp is a huge software project filled with lots of contributors dedicated to making a viable photo editor for the Linux platform (and they also have a Windows version).
3. Better security
One of Linux’s huge strengths is how seriously security is taken. When you install software it is impossible for you to do so without knowingly entering your password. What’s even better is that when you install a Linux distribution, all the software you will ever need is inside servers that are maintained by the developers of the operating system itself. They go through each and every package and verify that it isn’t malicious and even sign them. This removes the ability for malicious software to install itself (like on Windows).
4. It’ll run on anything, including aging hardware
You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy of Microsoft’s latest operating system that can run on something as little as 128 megabytes of RAM. As for Linux, this is totally possible. If you have an aging computer that isn’t compatible with Windows 10, don’t worry! There are Linux projects out there that specifically focus on old hardware. For example: Lubuntu can run on very little RAM yet allows its users to enjoy a modern, clean operating system.
5. No walled gardens
When you use a Linux distribution as your main operating system, you’re not expected to have a Microsoft account, a copy of Office 365, Xbox Live, a Skype account and a One Drive account. You’re not forced to participate in an ecosystem that you may not agree with, and Linux isn’t filled to the brim with one company’s “vision.” Instead, you get to choose your own. Who can argue with that?
6. Your privacy is taken seriously
In Windows 10 your privacy is mostly disregarded. A lot of aspects to Windows 10 are less than privacy-friendly. When you use Microsoft’s new operating system, you are telling them that it is okay for them to collect data on you. They harvest information on your device’s location, your calendar data, emails and texts, contact info, and the list goes on. If you’re interested in reading the full write-up on how Microsoft handles your privacy, Christopher Harper has written an article about it here.
If you value your privacy, avoiding Windows 10 is a must. Most, if not all, Linux distributions take your privacy very seriously. You won’t find a bubbly talking assistant on your Linux desktop collecting data and information on you for financial gain. What’s even more important is that if a Linux distribution is found to disregard your privacy, it will be quickly called out by the large community of Linux developers and fixed quickly.
7. Open source
Most, if not all, Linux distributions are made in part by open source technologies. A vanilla installation of your favorite Linux-based operating system likely won’t contain any closed-code programs. This makes it easier to give away the operating system for free, but it also means that modification of the operating system is legally allowed. This means that if you want, you can freely modify your operating system until your heart is content.
If you’re really good at programming, you can even join up with your favorite Linux distribution and contribute to it. All of the code used is open and publicly available for everyone to see, and anything is possible.
Have you ever wanted to change the icons or the way the folders look in Windows? What about the overall way the task bar looks? Maybe you just want to try out a new desktop entirely. On Microsoft’s operating system, this isn’t entirely possible. You’re stuck with the Windows 10 look, and there’s just no getting around that.
On Linux distributions this is not the case at all. You can take apart your operating system, and replace the icons, the desktop theme and nearly anything else you can think of. By doing this it’s possible to take Linux and make it truly unique. The same can’t be said for Windows 10.
Every year the reasons to switch to Linux increase. There’s no doubt that the Linux platform has matured past being an “operating system for hackers” to being something that everyone can enjoy. Hopefully this list will help those unsure of abandoning Windows 10 for a better platform that respects freedom of choice, privacy and software freedom.
Linux users: when did you switch to Linux? Tell us below!