Three Benefits of Linux
What's in it for ME? What's the sense? What's wrong with Windows? Your WEIRD! These are most of the things I hear when I talk to someone about switching to Linux. Well, let me tell you what happens when you switch…
One of the things folks discover right off the bat is the overwhelming amount of free software available for Linux. Debian and RedHat based systems are what I'm used to, but there's Suse and Slackware as well, and each of these distributions (and their derivatives like Fedora, Ubuntu, VectorLinux, etc) has a vast repository of apps waiting for download.
And there are often several different applications to choose from that will accomplish the same task. Want a word processor? Try Abiword. Or OpenOffice. Or LibreOffice. See what I mean? Even the desktop environment is something you can choose. Have your desktop look like OSX, or Windows 3.1, or something totally different. It's up to you.
There isn't a whole lot of malware out there for Linux. I think a lot of this is just because Linux isn't popular enough to make writing malware very profitable; at some point this will change. Even so, Linux is written in such a way that were a user to get hit with a virus, it wouldn't have permission to run rampant on the computer because users themselves don't get to run rampant on the computer.
Spyware, like tracking cookies, are a browser problem. It doesn't matter which operating system you're on, they can track you if your browser accepts cookies. It's not very difficult to block them (here's how to do it in Firefox) so this isn't much of an issue. Scam emails don't have a preference for operating systems either. I can click on a scam email and get taken just as easily as a windows user.
I find that the biggest benefits of Linux are in the "it keeps going, and going, and going" department. Every so often an update will screw with things, but for the most part it's smooth sailing. My computers at home haven't slowed down over time like they did when I ran Windows. I remember every six or eight months having to wipe the drive and reinstall everything, just because Windows gunked up over time as I installed and removed software.
I have no such problem with Linux. Any wipes and reinstalls I've done were when I was switching to an entirely different distro.
Yes, there are a few drawbacks to Linux. One is temporary, and that's just the fact that you have to get used to it. Linux can feel very different for newcomers. I have the same problem now whenever I have to sit down and use a Windows box.
Most likely, there will not be Linux versions of specialized programs you've gotten used to. An older woman I know uses a particular family tree program, and there's no such animal for Linux. It's a deal breaker. She could learn GRAMPS, but wasn't interested when I mentioned it, and so has to either put up with my fading knowledge of how to support Windows, or find someone else to fix her computer.
In a business environment, you're going to run into vendors who have set themselves up to only deal with Windows based customers. I've mentioned it elsewhere (like in my Technology For Small Business rant) I just saw it happen again today, when someone was given a choice by their vendor of xps file or snail mail for quotes. Very nice. I haven't looked too far into what will open xps files yet, but what I saw so far didn't look promising. My advice is to stop using these vendors. There's GOT to be another one that's on the ball in the technology department.
Other than cost (Linux is free for the most part) the benefits of Linux far outweigh the drawbacks. Let me know when you give it a whirl.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles FreeDigitalPhotos.net