Learning

Linux for Starters: Your Guide to Linux – Introduction

Why use Linux?

There are many advantages that Linux confers compared to proprietary operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X.

We’ll focus on the biggest attractions that Linux offers.

Here’s 8 great reasons why you might want to try Linux.

CheckboxAs Linux is published under an open source license, you have the right to choose your own destiny. You can change and use your machine as you see fit without any restrictive licensing. Install Linux on as many computers as you want.
CheckboxNo charge. Most distros are available to download without any form of payment. Users are free to donate their time, expertise, or money instead.
CheckboxStability. Linux machines are often up for hundreds of days compared with the regular reboots required with a Windows system. The crash of an application is much less likely to bring down the operating system under Linux.
CheckboxIncreased security. Linux is much more secure than rival proprietary operating systems. The open source nature of the system means that independent experts can help identify vulnerabilities and fix them. There’s also a significantly lower risk of nasties. For example, there are only a handful of viruses that can affect Linux machines.
CheckboxA massive range of open source software is available. To whet your appetite see our Best Free and Open Source Software.
CheckboxVariety – each distro offers a different take on the desktop. Some use very modern user interfaces, others offer a more traditional desktop environment.
CheckboxHardware support. Linux runs great on hardware regardless of its age. Hundreds of millions of people rely on PCs that are several years old or even older.
CheckboxAn excellent environment for learning to program. Most Linux distros include a complete programming environment.

Next page: Page 3 – What do I need?

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – What is Linux?
Page 2 – Why use Linux?
Page 3 – What do I need?


All articles in this series:

Linux For Starters: Your Guide to Linux
1What is Linux? Why use Linux? What do I need?
2Choose a Linux distribution meeting your specific needs and requirements.
3Make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick in Windows.
4We show you how to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard disk.
5Things to do after installing Ubuntu.
6Navigating your way around the Desktop.
7Updating the system, install new software.
8Open source replacements for proprietary Windows desktop software.
9Get started with the power and flexibility of the terminal.
10We cover the basics of files and permissions.
11Getting help from your system.
12Learn all about the file system.
13Manipulating files from the shell.
14Maintain your system with these simple tips.
15Managing users on your system.
16Explore different desktops to GNOME 3.
17Gaming on Linux.
18Protect your privacy with this guide.
19Access the Windows desktop from Linux using a remote desktop client.
20Set up a virtual machine running Ubuntu as the host and openSUSE as the guest.
21Wine lets you run Windows programs on Linux without emulation.
22Extend your GNOME desktop with extensions and themes.
XUseful Linux commands.

Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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7 comments

  1. Your greatest need when switching to Linux is an open mind. If you think LInux is Windows with a different name, you will fail.

    1. You can make almost any distro look like Windows, but it is also done for you. if you want it done for you I would recommend Zorin.
      From the Zorin site:
      Zorin OS is designed to be easy, so you don’t need to learn anything to get started. The Zorin Appearance app lets you change the desktop layout to feel like the environment you’re familiar with, whether it’s Windows, macOS, or Linux.

  2. I migrated from Windows a long time ago and despite trying many different distros I’ve always and continue to encounter the same problem with Linux: inability to USE installed apps because they don’t appear in the list of applications, and unlike with Windows, the user CANNOT CHOOSE where apps are installed nor where a shortcut will be placed and it is IMPOSSIBLE to find the equivalent to exe files in order to launch apps and place shortcuts where the user chooses, so much for freedom…

    As a newbie unless you are happy to be limited to the apps included in whichever distro you have chosen to try, you will find it very difficult to install different ones, either because the “manager” will fail to fetch the app and dependencies and/or you will fail to find the right files for your distro, and if you manage to overcome all those “obstacles”, you may well find yourself UNABLE to use an app you may have finally managed to install because it’s “disappeared” in your computer as per the above. Something that only takes minutes to do with Windows could take hours, days or even weeks with Linux, so good luck to you!

    To resolve many problems with Linux, many sites will prompt you to use “commands” in a terminal, which either involves having to learn and remember them or copy/pasting from the site, but the commands will ONLY work if you have the RIGHT commands for YOUR distro as they all use different ones!

    As far as I’m concerned Linux largely remains by geeks for geeks and is not at all newbie friendly; I regularly install distros for people wishing to migrate from Windows, and always warn them of the above, the profusion of distros is a nightmare in trying to find the “right” one for people, especially newbies, it’s no wonder manufacturers stay with Windows and continue to enrich Mr Gates.

    The sad thing is I really think Linux is a great idea and could surpass Windows as the dominant operating system but this will NEVER happen because of the way it’s designed; how much longer must people wait to have a really user friendly Linux distro that gives COMPLETE control of it without having to be a geek to do so…

    1. If you expect Linux to behave exactly like Windows, you have the wrong mindset. The vast number of activities are NOT harder in Linux than Windows, but can be quite different. Of course, there’s a learning curve. That’s true for any operating systems. Linux is no harder to use than Windows.

      Linux is not for geeks, all my family use Linux with no fuss and bother. Installing software with Linux is often easier and quicker than with Windows.

      All my programs appear in the Applications list.

      Most non-geeks don’t care where programs are installed. For any user who uses a package manager, they don’t need to worry about where programs, configuration data are stored, as the package manager handles everything behind the scenes.

    2. Installing almost any program in Windows, you’ll find tons of stuff (libraries etc) dumped in the Windows directory. Often a Windows application’s uninstall program doesn’t remove all the crud in there. The number of times I’ve had to fix Windows machines because the partition holding the Windows directory is full is crazy.

      Linux was designed as a server operating system.

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