Why Linux? 7 Reasons That Make Linux Great

There are several reasons that I love using Linux. Ubuntu to be more specific. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you can get by without the latest and greatest games, it’s generally a great operating system. Sure, there are some annoyances, but name one operating system that doesn’t have any. Want to know some really great things about Linux that make it number one in my book? I’ll tell you…

Of course the price is great. You simply can’t beat free. Many people think, “you get what you pay for“, but that’s not entirely true. For instance, even most Windows users will say that Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome are the best browsers out there. How much do you pay for those? That right, they’re free. Although these are free, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some really good developers behind the software.

One of my favorite features of Ubuntu is its software management. This is especially true when it comes to updates. In Windows, it could turn into an all-day job just to update the operating system, and then all the software you have installed because you have to go to Windows Updates and the websites for all of your installed software. Some programs might have an update system built into the software, but I still say it’s not as nice as updating everything in a single place at a single time. All of the software is available for install from the same place as well. When you decide you need a new program for keeping track of your bank account, it’s just a case of opening your favorite package manager and installing it from there.

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Since Linux is open source, there are a ton of choices and options. This can be daunting to some people who like simple. It can be very simple. It’s even a choice to have choices. You can go to Ubuntu’s website, download the latest release, install it, and enjoy the operating system with its default set of software. However, you can also dig deeper and change nearly everything. Whether it’s the desktop environment, email client, look and feel of everything, or nearly anything else you want, the options are there. Unlike Windows, you can even change the default file manager. If you don’t like Windows Explorer, you can’t exactly ditch it and use a different file manager. In Linux, you can use the default file manager if you like, which Nautilus is a great file manager in itself, or you can install something else (like Marlin) and set it as default. Simple as that.

It’s nice to be able to customize something when you don’t like the defaults. You can change nearly any aspect of the operating system, as I mentioned. This can be done through themes, color schemes, widgets, change of software, or pretty much any other way. In an earlier article, I told you how to move the navigation buttons to the left of the address bar in Nautilus 3+. Most customizations aren’t that involved, but due to the young nature of the latest versions of Gnome and Nautilus, some options aren’t supported yet. Overall, if something isn’t to your liking, it’s usually easy enough to change it to what you want.

People may think different things when the word “support” is mentioned. Some people will think, “I need help, where do I go?“, while others will think, “Does my 3G modem work with it?“. Both are valid concepts of support, and both are really good in Linux. It’s easy to get help with Linux. If you have a problem, there are many forums and chat rooms you can use to get help. Ubuntu Forums is possibly the best place to get help with anything related to Ubuntu, its derivatives, and its software. If a more general forum would be better suited for you, LinuxQuestions.org is the place to go.

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When it comes to hardware support, that can be a tricky subject to tackle from either the user’s aspect, or the developer’s. Some hardware is supported by Linux, while some hardware manufacturers support Linux. Things that aren’t supported in either direction are usually being handled the best they can in some way or another. The Linux community is big, and I mean really big. That means that if there’s a piece of hardware out there, it’s bound to be in the hands of a Linux user or developer. If it’s not already supported in some way, it’s probably being worked on by someone in the world. Even if something is already supported, there’s probably someone working on making it easier to work with, no matter how well it already works. The goal is to make everything work, and make it as easy as possible to do. That seems like a very noble goal, especially when it’s such a big task with some hardware.

This actually goes in with support, but it’s done well enough to be mentioned separately. There are many ways to file a bug report. Ubuntu even has bug reporting built into the operating system. When you find something wrong with the software and you file a bug report, it will be verified and assigned to a developer to be fixed in the next release of the software. If it’s big enough, it could even justify a bug fix release on its own.

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At the same time, there’s also feature suggestions. Most open source software has a way to make suggestions for improving the software. Nobody knows a user’s needs and desires like a user, so if you find something missing from your software choice, make a suggestion. This is one of the best ways for developers to know what they need to add to their software, and in most cases, they like to get that feedback.

As I mentioned before, the Linux community is really big. It’s not hard to go into the Ubuntu IRC chat room and find over 1000 users online. These people are there to get or give help, or just to talk about Ubuntu-related stuff. There are even Linux User Groups (LUGs) all over the world. There’s a good chance you can find one near you, or you can even organize a group of your own. With how the Internet works, it’s easy to create an online community for your area, organize meetings, create forums, chat rooms, host install parties, and much more. If you have a verified group, you can even get free or discounted stuff from different places to help promote Linux and open source software.

There are also many blogs out there, like Make Tech Easier, that post articles to help you along the way. Most of the time, if you can’t figure out how to do something, you can usually find the answer on a blog of some sort listed in Google’s search results. In the spirit of open source, users will often volunteer their time and knowledge to be shared with others.

There are a lot of things to like about Linux. It’s not just Ubuntu, but most distributions offer a lot of things to like. There are a lot of people that are passionate about open source software, and the developers volunteer their time to make it all better. In the end, it all boils down to the community that surrounds Linux. If it wasn’t for the community, Linux wouldn’t be as good as it is. You can expect Linux to get even better as the community grows over time.

What are some of your favorite parts of Linux? Let us know what you have to say in the comments.

20 comments

  1. Sorry to say this because I’m like Linux very much, but I can’t just sit and look at a OS without using it for a purpose. 

    As it nearly always seems (also in this article) is that it isn’t so important which possibilities a OS gives. For example; I do photograph some, and I’v haven’t still found a good program for Linux that a) Manage my photos, and b) Offer editing of Canons raw format. Something is always missing. Of course; this is NOT Linux fault, but it is still wrong to recommendt it until the tasks that have to be solved is possible.

    Then there’s this always recurring comparison between Linux and Windows. Why? Can’t Linux stand on its own feet?

    As it comes to community, I’m not impressed at all. For some months ago I wanted to dualboot Mint with Windows 7, but had some questions because Linux wouldn’t install. So I went to a Linux-community to ask. Guess what? I was taken for beeing a troll, and litteraly thrown out of the forum! It’s very often that new Linuxusers is seen as a pain in the ass. 

    Lastly, after trying many brands of Linux the last 15 years, I always return to Windows because at some point “something happens”, and I can’t find out what to do. Often will suggestions and/or tutorials show me cryptic commands in the terminal; commands that is NOT userfriendly after all. 

    Linux is MUCH better now that for 10 years ago, but has still a long way to go I think.

    PS: Sorry for bad english; I’m norwegian.

    • You’re right. I am being a long time Ubuntu user. There could be problems for you to picking Linux Mint or smth else. There are a lot of forks of forks in the Linux area. I hate that most of them just spoils the name with litter (can’t say the same for Mint, it does some job, but anyway Ubuntu all the ways for me). But it’s not the point. The point is, for me also Linux need some more work to do, especially Ubuntu. But as it was said before, nothing is perfect. Atm for Photo Designer or Video Editors, Ubuntu wouldn’t fit properly. Yeah, maybe there are some alternatives, but they aint that good and easy to use. I am happy I am seeing progress here (Lightworks, Novacut). I am pretty sure, if there will be an Adobe Creative Suite, Linux will kick the ass. So I am being patient and just waiting to see what happened. There has been a lot of progress in the couple last years. 

      Just to remind you guys, even everyones’ so much beloved Mac OS X have had problems in the past. But Steve Jobs made some deals with Microsoft, to get MS Office, also tryed with Adobe which was denied at the first, but after years, Adobe started developing Creative Suite for them. That was the kicker software for OS to gain it’s popularity for already taken users by Windows, because they were getting ability to use the same beloved software.

      P.S. Sorry if I made any mistakes writing all of that, and if there is any accuracy please correct me.

  2. Something that struck me almost straight-away with Linux is that is polite. Not intrusive. It doesn’t say – by default behaviour – “stop everything, nothing you are doing at the moment counts, *I’m* about to do an upgrade! so you better save your work quick because I’m gonna reboot this computer and that’s it. You lose all your work? Tough! After all, I’m the Operating System!”
    How many times does that have to happen before one starts to think the whole process needs a re-think.

    You get this gentle notification. You do your updates if and *when* you’re ready. And you re-boot when YOU are ready, not when some pinhead designer decides it’s going to happen. And before some M$ apologist jumps in with : “oh, but you can *change* that!” – yep, well aware. I did say “default behaviour”. Which means you actually have to teach Win7 manners.

    And UAC? Does it *really* protect against viruses? No, because when you are doing something legit, you click “Yes”. And again. And again. And pretty soon, a pattern develops whenever the UAC box pops up. And next thing you know, you’re infected.

    Linux can get infected. But it’s a LOT harder.

    •  I agree. Linux is more friendly when it comes to administrative tasks. It still asks for a password when changing system settings/files or installing software, but this is the strongest protection Linux has against virus threats. A virus cannot install itself on the system and a virus in a user’s profile folder is much easier to remove.

      I’ve seen people getting frustrated with UAC’s constant “Are you sure” messages and frantically click through them. I’ve also seen these nags show up 3-4 times in the same process, but I’ve never seen that happen in Linux.

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. I agree with the first six of your points. The Community, however, is hardly worth praise. As a rule, the savvy users can’t be bothered with ‘stoopid’ questions, while the helpful don’t have the answers…

    The most important (8th) point is missing: applications. Except for a few utilities, they don’t shine at all. For example, despite Gnumeric, KSpread etc., one must rely on a non-Linux Open/LibreOffice solution for serious work. Likewise for first class browsing/e-mail. Not to mention all the important apps that are simply not to be found.

    Users use applications. When Linux gets compelling applications, all the rest will follow.

    • “one must rely on a non-Linux Open/LibreOffice solution for serious work”

      Sorry? I use OpenOffice and LibreOffice both in Linux. I program VBA code in that environment. Use GIMP (going back to it since giving up on CS3: too many steps to accomplish something GIMP does much more quickly) and Blender and wxFormBuilder… I guess if you *need* pay-for apps you’ve grown accustomed to and you can’t find the same feature set in the analogous Linux app then might as well stay with Windows. But I’m enormously more productive in Linux, perhaps because I don’t need all those esoteric features of CS3 or 3DSMax or Word.

      •  I agree. I tend to like free software over commercial options. GIMP is an excellent example because I strongly prefer GIMP over Photoshop for its simplicity. Of course, Photoshop fans will say that you can’t get the same quality out of GIMP, but it’s always suited my needs. However, I would like to see Paint.NET ported to Linux. I know there is Pinta, which aims to be a Paint.NET clone, but I’d still take Paint.NET instead. Otherwise, I’ll use GIMP.

        Thanks for commenting.

        • It’s just to bad more people are unwilling to open there minds and learn something different I will throw these out there Blender VSE and Cinelerra are such powerful video editing software this coming from a former avid Final Cut Pro user but after the holy mess that is FCPX I decided to just try something different hence Blender VSE and Cinelerra. What’s also crazy is a lot of Linux users don’t even know about Blender VSE. Anyway Darktable is the next piece of software that just blew me out the water, talk about being able to do everything that Lightroom can.

  4. I gave up on linux after nearly 4 years of trying – I bought a laptop from system76.. Tried ubuntu. Too many irratants. Like webcam, bluetooth, suspend so on.. and not to mention the lack of quality software.  For home users, a decent photo management software, is a must. I know there is digikam, shotwell etc – but they don’t come even close to microsoft photo gallery and movie maker. 

    • Linux also lacks of a good word processor. No open source word processor beats MS Word. Or is there some out there with good spell checking, good equation editor (unlike the lousy one in OpenOffice Writer) and all the other nice features that you will find in Word? I have a hard time imagining so, but if there is, please tell me about it…

  5. I concede that a user may be lucky and get the necessary instructions within not too many tries/questions. However, the Linux fora scene is complex, so my verdict is still ‘so-so’; it’s not especially praiseworthy.

    Yes, Open/LibreOffice run fine under Linux, but they are ported to Linux . They are not genuine Linux apps. Same for the Mozilla apps. Not a problem per se, but they don’t integrate as well as they could/should, had they been Linux apps to begin with. An example: KDE has for years now offered an integration patch for integrating Open/LibreOffice with the KDE GUI, but it doesn’t work. Nobody seems to want to fix it, or even care. It is never mentioned in reviews/comments. Downers like that are being glossed over, and each new user is left to find out for himself. Hardly a compelling reason to switch to Linux. Yes, there are workarounds, and we should start getting real about things.

    As for myself, I still like Linux and have been using it as my sole OS for several years, coming from OS/2 (eComStation). I have not used Windows since the mid 90s.

    • Why do you say it’s ported ? It’s written in Java and C++, as far as I know Java Application are Cross Platform and there isn’t a need for any porting. LibreOffice is integrated in Ubuntu (with Gnome) really good, it looks like native App. So don’t blame Ubuntu for KDE stuff. 
      As as for hardware yes, Ubuntu is really a lottery, but there is a reason. There ain’t any other OS in the markert except Windows that supports all the hardware. Ubuntu just don’t restrict you from trying. People most of the times can check here to see if their computer is Ubuntu certified: http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/ 

  6. Obviously you haven’t used some of the best distros there are then. Linux Mint and Zorin-OS are to name a couple. Linux is well matured and many people love it. Yeah some distros are aimed more at people who know what they’re doing. But even people who aren’t good on computers can use the two I mentioned. Zorin is probably the best bet for someone coming from Windows. But really Linux is a far superior operating system than Windows in many ways. The only reason why Windows is so popular is because of their business practices.

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