Top reasons why you should switch to Linux, from Windows [Opinion]

linux_penguinThis article is part of our ongoing series aimed at teaching the everyday Windows users about Linux, providing reasons to switch, and helping people making the switch.

It has been awhile since I have written an article dotTech and I must say I missed it. Today, as my comeback article, I am here to tell you why you should switch to Linux. Read on to learn more.

I want to make a confession to you, I was a closet Linux user for many years. I would hide my screen from curious eyes scared of questions I would have to answer and frankly I wanted to avoid getting mad defending my philosophical beliefs.

My confession fits well into this article because I wanted to introduce you a multi-part series on the subject of transitioning to Linux. This series will be written in plain and simple English and hopefully inspire you to make the plunge into a world unlike any other.

Before we dive into the common questions like what distribution you should use or apt-get is, we need to talk about the benefits of Linux and why you should consider using it.

Linux is a free and open source operating platform; millions of people around globe are always coding and testing changes to improve the software and the system. Comparatively, proprietary operating systems like Windows and Mac are closed and often have less people working on it. There are, of course, pros and cons of being open source and pros and cons of being closed source. Let’s talk about why I feel Linux is better than the first.

One of biggest bonuses to using Linux is that it is almost virus free. That’s right you read that correctly. There are two reasons why Linux is almost virus free.

The first reason is, there are simply less viruses that target Linux and less malicious scumbags creating Linux viruses than Windows or even Mac (which can actually be considered a Linux distro, if you look at its history). Why are there less viruses targeting Linux? Probably because there are less consumers using Linux than Windows, which means malware creators get less bang for the buck, so to speak. True, there are many servers that run Linux and infecting a server with malware is the holy grail for scumbags. However, targeting and infecting servers with malware is significantly harder than targeting and infecting consumer machines, which is why you see so many attacks on Windows.

The second reason is, Linux is by design more safe to use than Windows. Without diving into the complex programmer jabber, Linux does not by default allow any user to be a system administrator. In many distributions you will run a programme with evaluated privileges through another tool called “sudo” meaning any and all applications that access high risk sectors of system will need the root (admin) password (this is somewhat similar to “User Account Access Control (UAC)” introduced in Vista). This complex system renders malicious code useless since it can’t run as admin and removes the need for you waste resources on an anti-virus. That’s right no anti-virus to update, no license to buy and no looking over your digital shoulder for scary viruses and hackers. (Although, keep in mind, Linux is not immune to platform-independent attacks — like phishing.)

If that wasn’t enough, as I may have mentioned before, Linux is completely free to download and use and so is most of the software that runs on Linux. You will never have to pay to upgrade to a newer version of Linux (or, more specifically, newer version of the Linux distribution you are using). You will never have to buy Microsoft Office or worry about license keys again. Your system won’t treat you like a thief and won’t call home to validate your license, you’re just trusted and your privacy is respected. Most of the time anyway — there are some proprietary software and distros on Linux that behave like Windows, but by and large most Linux distros and software are not this way.

Another advantage is customization. Linux gives you complete control, you are able to control every aspect of the system. You will be able to control the appearance as well as which processes are running. You might be a power user of Windows and are saying to yourself, but “I can control the appearance with themes” and you would be right, but Linux customization is far beyond themes and fonts.

A few other benefits include:

  • Runs fast and stays fast

  • Works great on legacy (older) hardware and supports newer hardware

  • Super-dooper fast boot speeds

  • Many flavours or distributions (versions of Linux) available for you to pick from

That being said, thank you for the warm welcome back and check back soon for the next part in the series, which will cover the basics of the Linux operating system and how to switch. I promise it will be fun. Oh and if you disagree with the reasons I give above or if you have other reasons, post a comment below and let us know. Enjoy!

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43 comments

  1. CSmyre64

    [@jecko96]
    Just so you know It also works on PCLinuxOS….
    If you need something that will allow you to edit PDF’s and is cross-platformed (Review, annotate, and edit PDF Documents with PDF Studio™ for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux) try PDFStudio
    they have a trial version that you can try. I tried PDFEdit which is alright unless the page is rotated (bug). So far PDFStudio gets the thumbs up.

    Check it out @ http://www.qoppa.com/pdfstudio/

  2. jecko96

    Up to this moment, I hesitated to switch to Linux because it did not have a good alternative to Acrobat Pro Then a few days ago, I installed Mint on a virtual machine in Windows and I found a very interesting software: PDF Studio (http://www.qoppa.com/pdfstudio) and I must admit it is amazing what looks original Acrobat.
    The only flaw is that it is not free, but I did not regret what I spent (much less than it costs Acrobat, however).
    Tested on Mint and Ubuntu and it works great! If you want to be picky, the tool “Text” is limited and the interface is less rational than Acrobat, but all in all, I would say that is a great substitute.
    The version 9 should be out in March, and has many other new interesting features. The most important for me is to allow OCR for pages that already have some text content included.

  3. David Roper

    DoktorThomas- the trouble with printers these days compared to twenty years ago is that they are not ONLY PRINTERS. They do everything from scanning and rotating to using for a copier.

    Print, they will. An ascii 65 is the capital letter A in any language.

    Do the other tricks, I dunno ? It would depend upon the support from the Printer maker, not Linux. So checkout the HP website.

  4. DoktorThomas™

    In South America I saw many Linux PC in stores; not so in NA.
    Finding a new PC running Linux is not easy.
    What about printers? Are my HP (High Priced ink) printers going to work with a Linux system?

  5. Mihail

    Hi Justin, this is a good article and a nice beginning. :D
    Can you please give us some tutorials not only on migration from Windows to Linux, but also on dual booting our systems and the good choice of Linux version?

  6. ben

    [@Justin Leroux]

    Hello again Justin Leroux,

    Sorry I was not able to reply to your question right away. Regarding the toturial, what I mean was about what SilencelsGolden & wwgorman are doing with their Windows OS which is “picking, choosing, & being selective” only with the fixes they install. But I am also waiting for your Linux articles.

    ben

  7. Justin Leroux
    Author/

    [@Bub] Sorry to get your hopes up! You do have to admit that LibreOffice is getting better though. A funny thing to note is that Microsoft does handle ODT very well either (I wonder if on purpose …..)

  8. Tom

    If you feel compelled to use WINE, or other cross platform, just stay with Windows. Or dual boot, or have a dedicated PC for each. What’s you’re really saying is Linux is incomplete. If that’s true for you, fine. But a Linux user that runs Wine isn’t a Linux user.

    It’s a lot like telling your wife that you need to see your old girlfriend occasionally.

    #winefree #authentic

  9. Justin Leroux
    Author/

    [@Bub] I do agree with you that WINE is not a perfect replacement as some programmes will not run under WINE. Yes LibreOffice does not convert proprietary document formats properly, but in the most recent release which 4.2 a better XML library is included and documents are rendering better and most rendering are bearable.

  10. Bub

    For the most part, this article makes good points, although it does gloss over questions of application compatibility – and we all know that WINE is not a perfect solution for that.

    But I disagree with the ossertion, “You will never have to buy Microsoft Office … again.” That is not a reason to use Linux; it is a reason to use an alternative to MS Office, such as LibreOffice. Whether you run that program on Windows or Linux is a separate question. One should also note that the compatibility question still comes up there, as well; if you must work with MS Office documents with advanced formatting, you’ll be back to buying MS Office, whether under Windows or WINE; the alternatives don’t render everything identically.

  11. Seamus McSeamus

    It’s nice to see a real Linux article here again, and also to see so much interest from people. I second Dave Roper’s dotLinux suggestion!

    As I mentioned a while back, I am almost exclusively Linux these days. I dual boot my laptop between Windows 7 and OpenSuse, and my towers all have some combination of Windows and Linux.

    Besides Mint and Ubuntu, any Windows user should find PCLinux and Zorin to be familiar.

    My recommendation is to do what I did – get an old laptop that you don’t use anymore and go crazy. Try out various distros until you find the right one for you. Most are live, so no need to install – just run them from a disk or flash drive.

  12. RaymondC

    Justin great job on the Linux article!.My Penguin in the tux appreciates this even more. I dual-boot Windows with my Linux distro, mainly because of Visual Studio and some other applications. Although, I spend most of my time on Linux.

    Thumbs up!.

  13. Justin Leroux
    Author/

    [@David Roper] That’s hilarious! To answer your question on WINE it will run both Portable apps and “Install-only applications.” For example Microsoft Office 2010 can run inside Linux and installs faster too. I will make sure to write an article dedicated to WINE, so you have reference place written in simple English.

  14. David Roper

    [@Justin Leroux] We Seniors need more WINE. Looking forward to it.

    oh, you mean the program? That, too.

    Seriously, it would be wonderful to be able to install good Win 7 programs that are not on the Distro List of Freebies. I assume they would be Portable? Or can WINE take care of that Registry crap, too?

    Ashraf, we need a splinter group of DotTech. DotLinux, quickly, quickly.

  15. Justin Leroux
    Author/

    [@GF] That’s a question I get very often and its a good one. There is a tool that lets you run most Windows software on Linux It called WINE. In the next article I will make sure to cover WINE for you.

  16. vandamme

    [@GF] Some of your dear programs run on Linux, or even started on Linux, like VLC, Gimp, LibreOffice. You don’t see them at the usual “download” sites because you usually download them from the distro’s repositories. That way you know they’re safe and work with your OS.

    Most distros have an app selector/installer where you can search for a particular program, read the reviews on it, and click to install (or remove, if you don’t like it). But finding the right app can be a problem; there are a few places I go for alternatives or longer reviews, like techsupportalert.com or osalt.com. This could be a great opportunity for some tech blogging site (HINT).

    Years ago I started installing only cross-platform apps on our Windows 7 machine. My wife uses that exclusively, and there is only one program she uses that is still Windows only. I told her that ONE MORE VIRUS and she’s on Linux (it can boot Ubuntu and Mint already) and Windows is toast. I could probably change the icons and menus in Mint and she wouldn’t notice the difference (except it boots faster).

  17. vandamme

    [@David Roper] I’m just a youngster (66) compared to your 70 year old friend, but I’m a retired vacuum tube engineer with CRS syndrome (Can’t Remember S…tuff). If I can figure it out, anybody can (with enough searching through forums, manuals, and tutorials). The thing is, Linux is different. Not hugely different, and not always better. Like, installing a printer driver. Click, done. On Windows, feed in a CD with 300 MB of cruft which installs all over the place. Edit config files? Sure, I have them but don’t need to touch them (usually), best to let the control program (e.g., YaST) do all that.

  18. David C.

    I would love to know if it’s possible to dual or triple boot Linux with Windows Vista and/or 7.

    I’m currently still using Windows Vista, which has hundreds of installed giveaways and games that I use periodically, but I’m also planning to finally install Windows 7 in a dual boot configuration with Windows Vista, because I don’t want to lose all of my free software, many of which can’t be reinstalled without purchase.

    My thoughts are to use the operating system that works the best (maybe Linux for everyday online activities and email) and then whenever I need to access a specific software or function that’s not available in Linux or Windows 7, I could simply boot into the OS that contains what I need. Maybe there’s a better method, but I don’t know of any other options to avoid losing my software.

    Thank you and I really look forward to your next series of articles.

  19. ben

    vandamme February 19, 2014 at 7:03 PM
    ChiJoan February 19, 2014 at 7:08 PM
    David Roper February 19, 2014 at 7:40 PM
    Emrys February 20, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Hello Justin Leroux,

    Please consider the posts of the aforementioned readers in your next Linux article. Thank you.

    @SilencelsGolden & wwgorman,
    I wish there is also a tutorial on those things that you do with you Windows OS.

  20. Justin Leroux

    Everyone thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts. I am very happy to see that so many people are interested in Linux I am in the process of writing the next replacing Windows article. [@AT] you will be happy to hear Valve has backed Ubunth with Steam gaming.

  21. AT

    [@David Roper] I’m not an active Linux user, but from what I have seen and used a few years ago, the different distros are very well mannered and pretty much anyone can install and use. If you can use Windows, then you can use Linux. It’s not like the early days when a knowledge of Unix command line is required, but it doesn’t hurt. Unless you want command line, most if not all distros are GUI. Most distros come with a live disc that you can burn to disc or mount onto a USB drive and then boot into a Linux session to see if you like it.

    Most of the popular software already have a Linux version so the transition is not hard. Windows software can be run through WINE. Some incompatibilities still exist so a crash may still happen, but the crash does not propagate across the system the way it does in Windows.

    From talking to different Linux users, the only reason any of them continue to use Windows is games.

  22. wwgorman

    [@SilenceIsGolden]

    Good for you. I have just switched to being selective about what I allow Windows to update on my Win 7 Pro 64 bit desktop as I have found some updates will disable the Integration Features of the Virtual XP Mode. In fact, I test each piece of new software for this problem. I recently purchased Adobe Acrobat XI and it was a program that disabled those features. I put it in the XP Virtual Mode with an icon on the desktop (this is not an easy-to-do shortcut and requires some work) and Acrobat starts on its own within the Virtual shell and can use the Integration Features directly in its file opening and saving modes.

  23. Emrys

    I, for one am very excited to hear that you are writing on Linux. I run Mint 16, having burned out on Win7 and all the headaches there. I still get Ashraf’s site posts out of pure love and loyalty to him. He has without fail responded to my pleas for help with my Windows problems and I hold him in the highest esteem not only as auld use or apt-get is, we need to talk about the benefits of Linux and why you should consider using it.

    Linux is a free and open source operating platform; millions of people around globe are always coding and testing changes to improve the software and the system. Comparatively, proprietary operating systems like Windows and Mac are closed and often have less people working on it. There are, of course, pros and cons of being open source and pros and cons of being closed source. Let’s talk about why I feel Linux is better than the first.

    One of biggest bonuses to using Linux is that it is almost virus free. That’ Guru bit as a decent human. (Thanks Boss, I have strayed from Windows, but still listen to the wisdom found only here). And I am now blessed for having doing so. Justin, your lectures are a prayer answered. I have had few lessons on Linux other than YouTube. An item for Linux noobs that I feel is worth mentioning is that it can be “try it before you buy it” by running it from a live boot CDROM. The sticky part for me is setting up a dual boot system. Again, thank you. I eagerly await your future posts.

  24. Emrys

    I, for one am very excited to hear that you are writing on Linux. I run Mint 16, having burned out on Win7 and all the headaches there. I still get Ashraf’s site posts out of pure love and loyalty to him. He has without fail responded to my pleas for help with my Windows problems and I hold him in the highest esteem not only as a Guru bit as a decent human. (Thanks Boss, I have strayed from Windows, but still listen to the wisdom found only here). And I am now blessed for having doing so. Justin, your lectures are a prayer answered. I have had few lessons on Linux other than YouTube. An item for Linux noobs that I feel is worth mentioning is that it can be “try it before you buy it” by running it from a live boot CDROM. The sticky part for me is setting up a dual boot system. Again, thank you. I eagerly await your future posts.

  25. David Roper

    If person who was, say 70 years old, wanted to try LINUX and that person used to be very proficient in DOS 1.1 and up to Win 7, what would be the distro for him to try?

    For instance, are there things like Autoexec.bat and Config.sys and ways to build “Batch” files?

    I loved that…I mean the old person who was 70 told me he liked it… ahem, cough cough.

  26. vandamme

    [@SilenceIsGolden] I’m running Suse now, and it’s powerful and versatile but I wouldn’t select it for the n00b. Mint or Zorin are better: just install and get back to work. (Or, if you’re used to Apple, try the Apple-y version of Zorin, or Pear).

    Also, consider how long you’ve been learning about Windows. It won’t take you that long to get up to speed on Linux.

    Linux has changed for the better over the years; it’s still pretty young. And, you don’t have to learn the scary command line interface; it’s just faster sometimes.

  27. Falco

    Good Reading. Been thinking about switching to Linux from XP for a while now. Since Microsoft will no longer support XP after April, I see no reason to support Microsoft after April. So yeah, looking forward to the follow up articles on Linux. Thanks Justin & welcome back.

  28. vandamme

    There’s plenty more reasons. Here’s the best article I’ve found, even though it’s kind of dated: http://www.whylinuxisbetter.net/

    Two more big reasons are XP and Windows 8 (’nuff said).

    For me, I like to tinker and play at home so I’ve tried different distros: Puppy, Ubuntu, Mint, Suse; and desktops: KDE, Gnome 2 & 3, XFCE, LMDE, Unity, E17, Cinnamon. At work I just need functionality without drama, so I’ve run Mint Cinnamon on my ex-XP machine.

  29. SilenceIsGolden

    I have been solely on Windows since the very first version (DOS before that) and tried Suse a couple of years ago — pretty much around the disaster that was VISTA. I soooo wanted to switch, but it just turned out to be too steep a learning curve.

    A good friend, who’s been on Linux forever, recommended Suse for its user-friendliness, and my friend thought it best for somebody wanting to switch from Windows. But, I felt like I would have to take off 6 months from everything I was doing and just learn Linux/Suse. I couldn’t do it.

    Meanwhile I’m so happy with Win7, it hasn’t crossed my mind in years. I’m even planning on using Win7 beyond the end-of-support by M$ — been picking and choosing what “fixes” to install anyway.

    I had my PC built on spec about 4 yrs ago, and I don’t see any need to upgrade there either.

    I guess what I’m saying is: unless you have specific needs — why not cut the constant keeping up with the latest and greatest and stick with what works?