Linux protects your computer
Viruses, trojans, adware, spyware… Windows lets all these enter your computer pretty easily. The average period of time before a Windows PC (connected to the Internet and with a default “Service Pack 2” installation) gets infected is 40 minutes (and it sometimes takes as little time as 30 seconds).
So you can either 1) install a firewall, 2) install an antivrus program, 3) install an anti-adware program, 4) get rid of Internet Explorer and Outlook (replacing them with Firefox and Thunderbird), and 5) pray that people trying to get into your computer aren’t smart enough to overcome these protections and that, if a security flaw is discovered, Microsoft will take less than a month to make an update available (and this doesn’t happen very often). Or you can install Linux and sleep soundly from now on.
As we have already said in the “virus” section, Open Source software (e.g. Linux) means more eyes to check the code. Every programmer on Planet Earth can download the code, have a look, and see whether it might have security flaws. On the other hand, the only people allowed to look at the Windows source code (its “recipe”) are people working for Microsoft. That’s hundreds of thousands of people (maybe millions) versus a few thousand. That makes a big difference.
Forget about viruses.
Linux hardly has any viruses. And that’s not like “Oh well, not very often, you know”. That’s like “If you’ve ever heard of a real Linux virus, please tell me”. Of course, a Linux virus is not impossible to get. However, Linux makes it very hard for this to happen, for several reasons:
- Most people use Microsoft Windows, and pirates want to do as much damage (or control) as possible: therefore, they target Windows. But that’s not the only reason; the Apache web server (a web server is a program located on a remote computer that sends web pages to your browser when you ask for them), which is open source software, has the biggest market share (against Microsoft’s IIS server), but it still suffers from much fewer attacks/flaws than the Microsoft one.
- Linux uses smart authorization management. In Windows you (and any program you install) usually have the right to do pretty much anything to the system. If you feel like punishing your PC because it just let your precious work disappear, you can go inside the system folder and delete whatever you want: Windows won’t complain. Of course, the next time you reboot, trouble begins. But imagine that if you can delete this system stuff, other programs can, too, or just mess it up. Linux doesn’t allow that. Every time you request to do something that has to do with the system, an administrator password is required (and if you’re not an administrator on this system, you simply can’t do it). Viruses can’t just go around and delete or modify what they want in the system; they don’t have the authorization for that.
- More eyes make fewer security flaws. Linux is Open source software, which means that any programmer in the world can have a look at the code (the “recipe” of any program), and help out, or just tell other developers “Hey, what if blah blah, isn’t this a security flaw?”.
Linux and “Open Source” software are “free”. This means their license is a “free license”, and the most common is the GPL (General Public License). This license states that anyone is allowed to copy the software, see the source code (the “recipe”), modify it, and redistribute it as long as it remains licensed with the GPL.
So what do you care about freedom? Imagine that Microsoft disappears tomorrow (okay, that’s not very likely, but what about in 5 years, 10 years?). Or imagine it suddenly triples the price for a Windows or Office license. If you’re tied to Windows, there’s nothing you can do. You (or your business) relies on this one company, on its software, and you can’t possibly make things work without it (what good is a computer without an operating system?). Isn’t that a serious problem? You’re depending on one single company and trusting it wholeheartedly to let something so important nowadays as your computers work the way they should. If Microsoft decides to charge $1000 for the next version of Windows, there’s nothing you can do about it (except switch to Linux, of course). If Windows has a bug that bothers you very much and Microsoft won’t fix it, there’s nothing you can do (and submitting bugs to Microsoft isn’t that easy, see the “Report bugs” section).
Forget about drivers
Linux doesn’t need separate drivers. All the drivers are already included in the Linux kernel, the core of the system, and that comes with every single Linux installation. This means:
- A very fast and standalone installation process. Once you’re done, you have everything you need to start working (including the software you’ll be using, see “When the system has installed…” item on this website).
- Out-of-the-box ready peripherals.
- Less harm for the planet because all these CDs don’t need to come with hardware any more (well, at least once Windows don’t need them either…).
When the system has installed, why would you still need to install stuff?
When you get Linux (such as Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora, etc., these are different “flavors” of Linux), you also get, without installing anything more :
- Everything you need to write texts, edit spreadsheets, make neat presentations, draw, edit equations.
- A web browser (eg Firefox) and an email program (eg Thunderbird, or Evolution).
- An image editor (GIMP) nearly as powerful as Photoshop.
- An instant messenger.
- A movie player.
- A music player and organizer.
- A PDF reader.
- Everything you need to uncompress archives (ZIP, etc.).
Why does your Windows get slower day after day?
Windows has a number of design flaws, resulting in it becoming slower and slower and not lasting very long. You’ve probably heard more than once someone say “My computer is getting sluggish, I’m gonna reinstall”. Reinstalling Windows solves the problem… until next time.
You may think this is just how computers work: they’re very new technology, and not really stable yet. Well, try Linux and you’ll be surprised. Five years from now, your system will be just as fast and responsive as the day you installed it, not to mention that you won’t have any viruses, adware, trojans, worms, etc., that would force you to reinstall anyway.
I have managed to convince many people to switch to Linux, while keeping Windows on their hard disk, because they needed to use some piece of software that Linux doesn’t have (eg Autocad), so they use both systems. Since the day they switched, most of them have reinstalled Windows about once in a year or two; but Linux didn’t let them down, and is still running perfectly well and is still snappy today.
Linux lets you spend more time working, less time reinstalling over and over again.