Linux initially started as the OS of choice for servers, but not so much for PCs. However, that has drastically changed over the years, and currently, in 2021, Linux is more than capable of replacing the Mac or Windows installation on your desktop.
And to prove this point, we have put together a list of the most compelling reasons you should use Linux. So without wasting any more time by prolonging this introduction, let’s dive into what’s really important.
Top 10 Reasons Why To Use Linux
1. Free and Open Source
Especially for personal use, Linux is absolutely free with no strings attached. You can’t get a better deal than that! As a result, you have zero entry barriers to trying out the operating system. But the thing that will make your stay with it is its open-source nature.
Unlike Windows and Mac (which are closed-source), the Linux operating system’s source code is available to the general public under the GPL license.
This allows you to view and modify the code to your likings and create a personalized operating system catered to your needs and requirements. Now I understand that this might not appeal to non-coders. But think about how many doors it opens up for third-party contributions?
Because of this open-source nature of Linux, you have got solo developers and even mega-scale corporations working on the Linux Core (a.k.a., Linux Kernel), coming out with their own spin on Linux – optimized for different uses cases.
These are called Linux Distributions or “distros,” and it’s by far one of the most appealing reasons for switching over to Linux.
The open-source nature of Linux brings peace to an end-user because the code is highly scrutinized by everyone out there. Any wrongdoing by developers is immediately highlighted. Hence Linux doesn’t track your usage and pays respect to your privacy which we will discuss in detail in the next sections.
2. A Plethora of Distros
We slightly touched on Linux distros in the last point. Basically, the Linux Core is packaged with a software collection and a graphical user interface, streamlined to fit a particular use case.
Now it’s hard to pinpoint an exact figure on the number of Linux distros currently available on the internet. But what we do know is that there are over 500 distros in active development. And all of these are optimized for different usage scenarios.
For example, we have Ubuntu – one of the most popular Linux distros – targeting people who are new to Linux. And then there is Fedora, catering to tech enthusiasts looking for the latest and greatest software in the FOSS community.
We also have far more niche-flavors like Linux Mint, which aims to deliver a Windows-like user experience to Linux newbies.
As such, no matter what’s your usage pattern or work style, you’re bound to find a Linux Distro that fits the bill. But in case you don’t – you can always customize it according to your needs. Speaking of which, on to the next point!
3. Unparalleled Customization Options
Linux is unmatched in the number of customization possibilities it brings to the table. You can start with any distro and gradually tweak and change certain aspects of it ‘till it looks and functions completely differently.
It’s practically possible to start with Ubuntu and then manually change things to work and feel like Fedora.
For the overall design and aesthetics, you get the option to choose between various “Desktop Environments” like GNOME and KDE. This gives you the overall GUI for the operating system. Needless to say, each of these desktop environments is also populated with countless numbers of settings for further customization.
Then, you have access to package managers, which you can add to your system to gain access to a large repository of software that you download & install with a few code lines.
The possibilities are truly limitless. There are even tools available in the market that let you create your own Linux distro. How cool is that?
4. Extremely Secure
Following the Open Source point we discussed earlier, some of you might be thinking- since the Linux source code is publicly available, doesn’t that make it insecure? Can’t hackers browse through the source code, find vulnerabilities, and attack it?
Yes, it is possible? But at the same time, the source code is also available for scrutiny by good-willed developers. Ethical hackers are always on the lookout to find any security loophole in Linux and report it to be patched before any bad actor can misuse it.
But what about viruses and malware? Well, Linux doesn’t enable root privileges for all its users – unless manually granted by you (the admin). It becomes virtually impossible for any threat like viruses or malware to attack the core of the system.
Linux is also the operating system of choice if you’re worried about your online footprint. Almost all the popular Linux distros respect your privacy and won’t spy – let alone store or collect – any of your personal data.
5. Better Stability and Reliability
Following the previous point, Linux is also an extremely stable operating system and far more reliable than other offerings on the market. There is a reason why Microsoft uses Linux to power their Azure cloud computing service and not Windows Server. Apart from the Redmond Giant, Linux is also used by Google, Facebook, and almost all major cloud servers.
And all this is because the OS puts an extraordinary amount of attention on process management and uptime.
With Linux, you’ll rarely run into issues like system crashes or BSOD-like freeze-ups. In fact, most of the Linux servers boast year-long uptimes without needing a single restart. There’s also no need to restart the OS after installing updates or patches.
Besides this, you’re also unlikely to notice your Linux PC slowly downs with age. Unlike Windows, where you have to format the OS every 6 months or so, Linux will keep offering the same performance level as you got when you installed it for the first time.
These are some of the major reasons why Linux is so popular in professional work environments, especially by server administrators and software developers.
6. Perfect for Programmers
With Linux, you have support for almost all the major programming languages out there, including Python, Java, Ruby, Perl, C, C++, etc. On top of that, you’ll also find tons of libraries natively developed for Linux.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real benefit of software development on Linux is that you get access to the Linux Terminal, which is miles ahead of the Windows Command-Line. It gives you access to powerful tools, making your coding experience much more efficient and productive.
Other useful tools that you’ll get on Linux to aid with software development and programming support bash scripting, native SSH support, and even package managers – which many programmers reported as a useful asset.
Here is a look at the 6 Best Linux Distros for Programmers and Developers to get you rolling.
7. Runs on Any Hardware
Linux has a reputation for running on almost any hardware, including, yes – even a toaster. But what we are interested in is its ability to rejuvenate older systems and make them work as good as new.
Do you have a 10-year old laptop running on 2GB RAM that can barely boot up Windows? Well, install Linux on it, and it’ll become a perfectly usable system for browsing the web, watching videos, and even getting some actual work done – like word processing.
Magic, isn’t it?
Linux is extremely resource-efficient and doesn’t require top of the line specs to run smoothly. There are even specifically designed Linux distros for older, more limited hardware. Here is a list of the top 10 Lightweight Linux Distros, where you’ll even find an option that takes less than 256MB RAM to operate smoothly.
8. Easy to Use & Promotes Productivity
One of the big reasons why Windows and Mac seem user-friendly is that you grew up using them at school, at home, and perhaps now, even at work. But as you may recall, back then, it did require a little time to get to know and understand how everything works.
Linux also comes with a similar learning curve. It will take some time to use the OS productively and know where every option is located without having to do a google search now and then.
But that being said, the GUI on Linux has progressed leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades. Right now, you have access to desktop environments that give you almost the same GUI you’re used to on Windows and Mac. This allows you to get comfortable with the OS right after your first boot.
Furthermore, once you get the hang of Linux by learning a few commands and how to use the terminal, you’ll realize just how powerful and efficient the OS truly is. You’ll find yourself much more productive and efficient than you ever were on Windows or Mac.
9. Complete Control Over Software Updates
Unlike Windows, where the OS forces you to install bug-riddled updates now and then, Linux gives you complete control over the ‘when and which update’ you want to install on your system.
You can configure Linux such that all the latest updates are installed as soon as they are available. Or you can manually install select updates only after making sure that it offers some value over its current version.
With Linux, you get the quality-of-life feature to update the operating system and all third-party software installed on it from the same terminal, using only a few code lines.
And the best part is, you don’t need to reboot the operating system after installing an update.
10. An Awesome Community
Linux is blessed with a large and active community of software developers, contributors, and Linux enthusiasts who are always welcoming new users.
No matter what’s your question or what type of problem you’re facing, you can rest assured that someone has the answer and that someone is on one of the many online Linux forums.
It’s amazing how quickly you’ll get a response to questions you ask on these free community threads. And most of them are well-detailed answers to help you resolve your issue.
There’re also tons of well-written resource pages equipped with all the knowledge you need to better understand before using your operating system. The most notable of which is ArchWiki – a site you should have bookmarked if you are a Linux user.
When people say Linux is unintuitive, clunky, and difficult to learn, they are talking about a time we left 10 years ago. In the modern narrative, Linux gives you a refined user-friendly UI, a more secure and reliable work environment, and powerful tools to become more productive and efficient yourself.
As such, 2021 is the perfect year to ditch your old operating system and get started with Linux – where the real innovations are taking place.
“2. A Plethora of Distros”
Quantity does not mean quality. Instead of having a couple of dozen well-written, innovative distros we have hundreds of distros of dubious quality that differ very little from each other. Linux’s greatest strength is also its biggest Achilles’ heel. Because of Linux philosophy of freedom, every Tom, Dick and Harry changes some cosmetics and calls it a distro. DistroWatch lists over a 1,000 distros in their database. Only about 300 are considered “active”. Most of the rest are either dead or dormant.
“4. Extremely Secure”
“Secure” – yes, “extremely” – not so much. Linux IS more secure than Windows or OS/X but not nearly as secure as BSD.
“5. Better Stability and Reliability”
Depends on the distro. Debian, Slackware are stable as a rock. Others, especially those based on Testing and Experimental branches of the main distros can be and are flaky and unstable.
“7. Runs on Any Hardware”
Only true for 64 bit-based hardware. Distros and distro versions for 32 bit processor are quickly being phased out. There still are a very large number of 32 bit systems being used across the world.
“10. An Awesome Community”
Just like in any other community, you have the great and not so great and the downright malevolent.
“When people say Linux is unintuitive, clunky, and difficult to learn”
The problem for those coming to Linux from other O/Ss is not learning Linux but “unlearning” the habits learned and developed while using the old O/S. They expect and want Linux to have the exact look-and-feel and the functionality of their old O/S.