Ten Reasons Why You Can Use GNU/Linux

There are a lot of reasons why GNU/Linux makes sense in IT today whether on the server or the desktop/notebook:

  1. It’s great software developed by millions of developers around the world and distributed widely on the web with a Free Software licence that allows you to run, examine, modify and distribute the software.
  2. It’s fast and efficient because the priority is speed and efficiency, not marketing.
  3. It’s easy. Even my young grand daughter has no problem running it. Students, teachers, bankers, clerks, managers, writers, artists, photographers, videographers, etc. use it with no problems at all.
  4. It’s infinitely customizable if that’s what you want. Never again do you have to accept a single concept of an OS. GNU/Linux can be anything you want simply by removing one package and installing another. If you can’t find the package you like, you can write your own or hire a programmer. That’s unlikely to be necessary because there are hundreds of distributors and each distribution is customizable.
  5. There is a huge set of applications for GNU/Linux. In the past year a couple of gaps have been filled: gaming and video editting. If you want just a few applications or if you want hundreds, it’s easy to create the system you need.
  6. Package management means it’s simple to install/remove applications or to update your entire system with just a few clicks.
  7. You can manage 1000 PCs/servers as easily as one making GNU/Linux suitable for individuals or large organizations. It’s a true networked OS which allows secure management of all machines from any machine using openSSH and the package manager.
  8. Worried about malware? Malware is almost unheard of in GNU/Linux. I have been using GNU/Linux for more than a decade and never seen any. The bad guys make malware for that other OS because it’s such a fat soft target.
  9. It costs almost nothing to use, because it’s free for OEMs to install, or costs $0 for a download.
  10. You can buy it retail/pre-installed. You just have to look. Where I live that’s mostly on the web but it is available everywhere. If you’re lucky enough to live in Brazil, Russia, India, China and Malaysia etc. you can find it on retail shelves.

“Most of the reasons why people think they can not use Free and Open Source Software, and particularly GNU/Linux, is that they are thinking about the GNU/Linux of fifteen years ago, and not the GNU/Linux of today.”
see Ten Reasons Why You Can't Use GNU/Linux

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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26 Responses to Ten Reasons Why You Can Use GNU/Linux

  1. matchrocket says:

    I did not write they did not matter for free software.

    Neither did I. I was talking about people. I used the word three times in my post. The people it matters to, and they know it matters, are the developers and their employers. It also matters to any organization large or small that uses FLOSS. They are keenly aware of the freedom to distribute software.

    You come here to spread FUD about Linux and open source Mr. Wilson. You are a Microsoft troll. You don’t have to prove anything, you just have to smear Linux and open source any way you can. Too bad for you the World switching over to Linux and open source. You can’t stop it. You can’t even slow it down. You are just jerking yourself around, entertaining yourself.

    How does it feel Mr. Wilson? Do you feel better now that you’ve tried to spread the lie that the Four Freedoms don’t matter?

  2. George Wilson wrote, “It can safely be assumed that the great majority of users do not study programs (freedom 1), do not redistribute copies (freedom 2), do not distribute copies of changed versions (freedom 3), because they don’t make changes in the first place.”

    That still matters to all end users because folks that do have those skills and interest can assure them that the programme is optimal, secure and trustworthy. Software developers in particular, love Free Software because they can easily incorporate it in new software, saving a lot of time/effort and giving the user better software. Users care about that.

    A lot of people love Android/Linux because of its capability and flexibility. Would they love it if it cost ~$100 more per copy, would not interoperate with other systems, was slower and clunkier so that various suppliers could count their bonuses, and endlessly chatted with M$ and its “partners”? I doubt that. It’s software freedom which squelches all those negatives. Users love Free Software whether they exercise each and every freedom every time they use the software. The argument of George Wilson is like the argument that the right to life doesn’t matter because ordinary people are smelling the flowers instead of extolling the virtues of freedom all day long. Users have lives. They are better off because of software freedom whether or not they are aware of the software’s licence. Users know when they are better off. They show that by the choices they make when offered choice.

  3. George Wilson wrote, “I have not experienced 2 minute logins on Windows XP.”

    Then your experience is limited. Try “roaming profiles“, a “feature” of XP from clunky servers at 100 mbits/s. I have encountered it at several places. In one place I had a gigabyte of stuff on my “desktop” and if I logged in on a different PC in the lab, XP tried to “sync” all that stuff before I had a usable desktop. Do the maths. 100 mbits/s is about 12 MB/s, 80 seconds of doing nothing for no benefit to the user who only needs an image of his desktop which can be sent in 0.1s. I was at another place where the server running M$’s OS would randomly pause up to 30s for routine requests from the network like permission to log in…

    Meanwhile, I can set up a system for $0 in licences and a couple of hours of configuration for a large system of PCs where I can guarantee 10s logins to a usable desktop and with good hardware 5s is quite possible.

    This kind of crappy performance from XP was considered “normal” by most users of that OS. When Vista came out with further nonsense delaying logins, people began suing over it. In several cases, employers decided not to pay employees during logins lasting up to 15 minutes… This is one of many reasons why GNU/Linux and Free Software is beloved. It’s not out to waste resources in order to convince people that “that PC is old and slow and needs to be replaced” in order to sell more licences.

  4. oiaohm says:

    George Wilson
    –do not redistribute copies (freedom 2)–

    Lack of this freedom is a pain in ass. This does not just apply to giving to another person. This can be redistribute copies between you own machines.

    –I can run closed source software, freeware, shareware, public domain for any purpose just fine.–

    Lot of free-ware and shareware has limitation clauses.

    For an end use the 2 most important is freedom 2 and freedom 0. End users directly suffer when they don’t have those two.

  5. oiaohm says:

    George Wilson I have expense 2 min logins on old XP machines.

    Copyprotection left overs from education software. Can push it out to 20 mins. That could be a new dual core.

    There is some very big crappy software out there on Windows.

  6. George Wilson says:

    The usual drill is to power down at the end of class.

    Is it? Where I went to school the PCs were powered down automatically at the end of the day. The magic of Windows.

    The performance I described was on 8 year old PCs…

    The performance you described was on 8 year old PCs misconfigured in all possible ways. I have not experienced 2 minute logins on Windows XP. Not even on 8 year old PCs.

  7. George Wilson says:

    Quote from George Wilson: “The four freedoms don’t matter one bit.”

    If the Four Freedoms didn’t exist, we would all be talking about how great Windows 8 is and how we can’t wait for the first service pack.

    Matchbox, I wrote that the four freedoms don’t matter one bit to the user. I did not write they did not matter for free software. It can safely be assumed that the great majority of users do not study programs (freedom 1), do not redistribute copies (freedom 2), do not distribute copies of changed versions (freedom 3), because they don’t make changes in the first place. Freedom 0, the freedom to run the program for any purpose, is actually not a FLOSS dependency. I can run closed source software, freeware, shareware, public domain for any purpose just fine.

    This quoting-out-of-context thing is not really working for you, is it?

    By the way, the source code of which program have you studied recently?

  8. George Wilson wrote, “Logging in with another user account took 2 seconds to desktop. No, I’m not using an SSD.”

    That’s not how schools use PCs. They have 500 students that all use the same lab. Are you going to waste resources having 500 sessions opened on all machines and files synced to the servers? Silly. The usual drill is to power down at the end of class. The performance I described was on 8 year old PCs…

  9. bw wrote, “If they are power starved and using 10 year old equipment and having to share with so many others, they are in the bottom fraction of most schools.”

    On the contrary, when schools in the North had clusters of PCs in every classrooms there were many big city schools with none at all in classrooms. Schools in the North have a lot of disadvantages due to weather, terrain and remoteness so they value IT dearly. For example, it is thousands of times cheaper to provide ebooks to students via computers than dead tree books just because of the freight. Air freight is $1 to $5 per pound depending on remoteness. Trucking over ice in the winter is very rough on freight. The web is a huge resource for northern schools at very little cost compared to bringing in books and toys. That ebooks are searchable greatly increases their value.

    Schools are by their nature a place for sharing. It is very inefficient for students to lug PCs around when they could just sit down and login wherever they are in a school. The school that I equipped from Day One with GNU/Linux could only afford the PCs with that other OS. With GNU/Linux we got the PCs, six servers, a wonderful network and huge databases and web applications.

  10. oiaohm says:

    George Wilson –There’s an even huger set of applications for Windows and Mac OS X. Nearly all relevant FLOSS is available for Windows and Mac OS X. No need to jump ship and burden oneself with a hugely annoying operating system.–

    The answer here is wrong. Mac OS X its true. Windows not so much.

    George Wilson how many of the huge pool of applications have been updated for Windows 8. If you go by currently maintained and updated Linux and OS X at moment have a clear lead over Windows.

    So if you are after security in your applications OS X has it for Number of applications.

    George Wilson windows 8 is seeing lots and lots of applications ported to Linux.

    The balance between Windows and Linux on applications have shifted. Due to less updates happening to windows applications more work in the wine solution as well.

    –And you always get the newest versions without some distribution’s package maintainer deciding for you or having to add hundreds of PPAs.–

    Secunia Q1 2013 Report Vulnerable PC Software Installations. Kinda disagrees with you. the PPA might be a pain in ass. To be correct Linux package maintainer are more dependable that most people running windows PC at keeping upto date.

    Problem exists between keyboard and chair here. Just because an installer is released does not mean end user will become aware and install it. Yes Windows might have a newer version to install first. But the deployment of that version to the majority does not happen effectively.

    PPA is kind of a pain in ass. The result is effective updating to new versions so less known exploitable flaws left in system.

    PPA are not a major issue to those running businesses with there own private repository. The Linux equal to WSUS. The own private repository is only place to change when they want to add another PPA.

    George Wilson
    –6. Installing and removing applications on Windows and Mac OS X is very simple.–
    True for OS X. Not true for Windows.

    Windows you need clean up tools for many programs. The OS X disk image solution that is very much like Android. Makes programs remove from system cleanly.

    George Wilson if you had just stuck to OS X is better than Linux in all those ways you would have been right.

    But as a idiot you mentioned Windows. Windows has technical issues.

    bw
    –If they are power starved and using 10 year old equipment and having to share with so many others, they are in the bottom fraction of most schools. —

    If you go global they are in the top 20 percent of schools. 80 percent of schools globally don’t have a computer. Let alone many computers.

  11. matchrocket says:

    Quote from George Wilson: “The four freedoms don’t matter one bit.”

    If the Four Freedoms didn’t exist, we would all be talking about how great Windows 8 is and how we can’t wait for the first service pack.

    Of course they matter Mr. Wilson. They are the foundation of FLOSS. Without them, no FLOSS. People care about them a lot. Just not the people you are talking about. You’re a troll Mr. Wilson so you always choose the clueless (about FLOSS) general public as your test case. There are plenty of other people who do know about the Four Freedoms and they do care. They care because they know what life would be like without them.

  12. bw says:

    “I have worked in schools …”

    Apparently you have not worked in very good schools. If they are power starved and using 10 year old equipment and having to share with so many others, they are in the bottom fraction of most schools. You are basing your decisions on an obscure case and that is why you keep getting it wrong.

  13. George Wilson says:

    Stupid. In the real world, schools have computers that are used by multiple users and suspend is not useful. I wrote nothing about boot time. I wrote of logins. You know, entering a password and getting a usable desktop?

    That’s even more ridiculous a claim then!

    Here, I just switched users for you in Windows 7. Logging in with another user account took 2 seconds to desktop. No, I’m not using an SSD.

    [Robert Pogson praising thin clients]

    Ever heard of Terminal Services? And if I’m not mistaken rdesktop was already available around 2001 or so. There was also a FLOSS solution called Lan Core for Windows 2000 and XP, which didn’t even require a server version of Windows.

    Not doable with Windows? Ludicrous.

  14. George Wilson wrote, “Linuxers are obsessed with boot times for no reason at all.”

    Stupid. In the real world, schools have computers that are used by multiple users and suspend is not useful. I wrote nothing about boot time. I wrote of logins. You know, entering a password and getting a usable desktop?

    I have worked in schools which use diesel generators for power. It costs a few dollars per hour to leave all computers running so they are often shut down when not being used. Boot times are more a function of drive transfer rates and seek times than anything to do with the OS but I would bet a GNU/Linux system can match anything that other OS can do. The particular case I mentioned involved “roaming profiles” which proved very unreliable. GNU/Linux can accomplish the same effect by using a GNU/Linux terminal server and it’s snappy because the files do not need to pass over the network. Further the files are likely to be in RAM if they are used by multiple users at login… So, a $0 installation of GNU/Linux can knock the socks off a $100 per seat installation of that other OS and its sorry excuse for a server.

  15. George Wilson says:

    Compare 2 minute logins with that other OS to 4s logins with GNU/Linux. That’s a real world comparison shown to staff and students on identical hardware, one with XP and one with GNU/Linux.

    That’s a “real world” comparison you made with an XP installation you misconfigured in all possible ways and let get riddled with malware. 4 seconds with Linux? A freshly installed up-to-date Linux distribution easily takes 30 seconds on my notebook. Incidentally, that’s also about the time it takes for Windows 7 to boot to the desktop on my notebook.

    Also: when do I boot? Almost never! I suspend my computers. And that’s it. Linuxers are obsessed with boot times for no reason at all.

    Open OpenOffice.org in 10s on that other OS, less than 2s with GNU/Linux.

    And I just did. And it took 2 seconds for OpenOffice to open on my Windows 7 installation.

    Users notice a lag from a click longer than a few tenths of a second. You can bet they agonize over every operation with that other OS. Waiting for M$ to get its act together is not efficient for users.

    So? I’ve never seen my Windows 7 become unresponsive. Must be your bad memory again. Or your Windows skills.

    Most of his other blather is not worth a reply. It’s all his opinion apparently not based on the real world where users actually get stuff done instead of working for M$ for free.

    It’s very much based on experiences in the real world. The real world where the vast majority of people get things done with Windows. Only you live happily ever after in La-La-Linuxland, ignorant of reality.

    But that’s your choice. It’s always good to have choices.

  16. George Wilson wrote, “Users are not interested in the four freedoms. They want to get things done. Either Linux can do that for them with its “great software” or not. The four freedoms don’t matter one bit.”

    I know from my work in schools that students and teachers don’t appreciate M$’s EULA, with its 20 PC limit on networking. They don’t want to pay $thousands just to connect PCs to a LAN which they can do for $0 under the GPL and other FLOSS licences. Freedom in IT is real. M$ wants to sell licences. Users want to use the hardware they bought for the best use of it. Having to authenticate every PC with M$ is also a pain for all the users who have “home” OEM licences. The lack of freedom with M$’s OS is palpable.

    One of the great pleasures of my life has been the ability to meet teachers’ demands for functionality sometimes within minutes using Debian’s package management system. That would not be possible with non-free software. Real users do appreciate the freedom to install as many copies as they want any way they want.

    George Wilson wrote, ““Fast and efficient” — what does that even mean? It’s a useless metric.”

    Not useless at all. Compare 2 minute logins with that other OS to 4s logins with GNU/Linux. That’s a real world comparison shown to staff and students on identical hardware, one with XP and one with GNU/Linux. Open OpenOffice.org in 10s on that other OS, less than 2s with GNU/Linux. Users notice a lag from a click longer than a few tenths of a second. You can bet they agonize over every operation with that other OS. Waiting for M$ to get its act together is not efficient for users.

    Most of his other blather is not worth a reply. It’s all his opinion apparently not based on the real world where users actually get stuff done instead of working for M$ for free.

  17. George Wilson says:

    Oh, please! For the love of God! Not again.

    1. Users are not interested in the four freedoms. They want to get things done. Either Linux can do that for them with its “great software” or not. The four freedoms don’t matter one bit.

    2. “Fast and efficient” — what does that even mean? It’s a useless metric. I can work fast and efficient within Windows and Mac OS X. Yes, those operating systems which are marketed by their evil makers.

    3. That’s probably why “little woman” relies on you for system administration. “Easy” is something else. With Linux you’ll be in a world of pain soon.

    4. How is that relevant for the normal user? We are still using the mere mortal for whom installing Linux is too daunting a task (your words on this blog) as a yardstick, aren’t we?

    5. There’s an even huger set of applications for Windows and Mac OS X. Nearly all relevant FLOSS is available for Windows and Mac OS X. No need to jump ship and burden oneself with a hugely annoying operating system.

    6. Installing and removing applications on Windows and Mac OS X is very simple. And you always get the newest versions without some distribution’s package maintainer deciding for you or having to add hundreds of PPAs.

    7. You can easily do this with Windows and Mac OS X, too. Your non-ability to do so should not be grounds for judgement.

    8. Worried about malware? No, I haven’t had malware despite using that other OS, despite not using anti-malware and anti-virus software.

    9. No, it doesn’t cost money. But you will spend insane amounts of time to make shit work.

    10. Wishful thinking at Mr. Pogson. Where it’s on the retail shelves people buy these computers because they’re cheaper and then put Windows on them. It would be most helpful if you’d actually visit the places where Linux is supposed to be a retail success. Ever were in China or India recently?

  18. oiaohm says:

    bw you did not read your web page did you.

    andlinux does not work under 64bit windows. Its a dead project.

    –I understand there is a way to even run Linux as an application under Windows.–
    The answer to this is there was. It is no more.

    Only option now is virtual machine and programs like darktable cannot be operated from virtual machine properly. Why they need to talk to the hardware.

    bw
    –I thought the FOSS darling in this category was something called “Gimp”? You can use it on Windows, I see.–
    And you are wrong.

    bw graphical tools on Linux gimp is MS paint. Number 2 is Krita. http://krita.org/download Yep Krita under windows is a highly experimental beta. But Krita Perfectly stable under Linux.

    If gimp is not number 1 what is. Normally something paid for like http://www.kanzelsberger.com/pixel/ and other commercials. Hello Linux people pay for software.

    http://www.digikam.org/download?q=download/binary/
    Ok windows version unstable.

    This is the universal thing you find. Ok you might have number 1 on windows bw. The number 2 and 3 that have features that fix up issues in the number 1 you either don’t have or not stable under Windows.

    You say you have office suite. Ok do you have Calligra http://www.kogmbh.com/download.html No right its highly unstable on windows. Calligra is stable on Linux and OS X.

    PHP you lack the optimisers like https://github.com/facebook/hiphop-php/wiki. They are not for windows. So your windows hosted you are running badly.

    Apache is in fact the slowest httpd option on Linux. http://nginx.org/ That is the number 2 httpd server on Linux is not for windows. nginx has about as much market share as IIS.

    “everything else with any significant following” Is bull crap. Unless you say Microsoft IIS does not have any significant following.

    Your arguement says nginx should be on Windows. bw.

    The reality Windows you don’t have the FOSS applications. At best you have what is called number 1. You don’t have all the options in those programs. Even Apache on Windows is missing features.

    Apache on OS X is fully featured.

  19. bw says:

    “its a lie what you said and I can prove with hard data.”

    It is an historical fact that you have never seen any “hard data” and would likely not recognize it if you ever did. Start with how many people on the planet actually give a fig about this “Darktable” app and would change their workstation from Windows to Linux in order to be able to use it.

    I don’t know myself what this app even does or who would use it or why, but it appears to be a graphic image editor. I thought the FOSS darling in this category was something called “Gimp”? You can use it on Windows, I see.

    Ditto for the other biggies like the Office suites, MySQL, PHP, Apache, and everything else with any significant following. All of these FOSS programs are used mostly on Windows as a matter of fact. Look up those hard facts. I understand there is a way to even run Linux as an application under Windows.

    http://www.andlinux.org/

  20. Mats Hagglund says:

    However obviously only about 4-5% of people are installing operation system to their pc ( i don’t have studies just my intuition). 95% are buying portables and desktops with OS pre-installed. And that’s the reason why Windows dominates the pc, not because people would like to have Windows on pc.

  21. oiaohm says:

    bw see. Couple of obscure apps. Poor counter arguement. Darktable in fact supports more cameras than the adobe solution. So if you do have a collection of different cameras you can end up on OS X or Linux to get access to Darktable.

    http://developer.ubuntu.com/2012/12/top-10-ubuntu-app-downloads-for-november/
    http://developer.ubuntu.com/2013/05/top-10-ubuntu-app-downloads-for-april/
    bw Ubuntu does logging of applications Ubuntu users are finding popular.
    http://nitrotasks.com/#downloadbtn

    No windows version interesting. There is always applications in the top 10 popular on Linux with no Windows version.

    Yes its rarer for there to be no OS X version.

    bw yes we do have stats on what applications Linux users like. We do have stats on how cross platform they are. Almost 100 percent to OS X. It is dicey to Windows.

    bw what applications are popular on Linux are not the same as windows.

    bw its a lie what you said and I can prove with hard data.

  22. bw says:

    “This is a lie”

    lol. A couple of obscure apps that don’t have a Windows version yet are hardly a reason to choose an oddball solution like Linux.

  23. oiaohm says:

    bw “The problem there is that any such application that might be popular with Linux users is also readily available to Windows users on the same basis.”

    This is a lie. Most popular burning software on Linux K3B. The windows version still does not work.

    http://www.darktable.org/ popular raw image modify on OS X and Linux. Windows you have to buy the Adobe tool. Darktable instructions for windows users. http://www.darktable.org/install/#windows Install Linux. This is not the only application like this.

    bw there is a reason why users who leave Linux go to OS X not Windows more often. The applications todo many tasks at no cost are not ported to Windows but is available for OS X.

    Some of the unique software is custom. Like the 3d filming software allowing you to take 2 close to stock video cameras take live feeds and displaying 3d look on screen roughly and recording the footage. This allows a 5000 dollar rig to replace 10s of thousands rig. Only OS’s with this software are GNU Linux based OS’s.

    bw if you like it or not Linux does have unique to Linux applications. Yes even BSD users complain about some of theses.

    The barrier from moving from Linux to Windows and Windows to Linux is huge due to the Application differences. Both you don’t have the same set of Applications.

    Yes the question is what are you doing sometimes Linux is the best choice because of custom software or cost of software todo the same thing.

  24. matchrocket says:

    “You don’t have to use Linux to run popular open source programs. They install onto Windows, too, and that removes it as a motivator for change.”

    You’re intentionally forgetting bw, Windows and Linux are not equal. There are many differences, especially in security. If the same applications are available on both Windows and Linux, you’d want to use Linux.

    “Windows is similarly able to be remotely managed these days and that, too, is no motivation to change. Ditto real world problems with malware and acquisition costs.”

    No, sorry. Not ditto. You are attempting to equate Linux security with Windows? No, not in this reality. Go back to your troll cave and drool on yourself.

  25. bw says:

    There has not been any dispute over whether or not you could use Linux on a PC for most purposes. It is somewhat of a straw man to suggest that there is any argument to the contrary.

    What you miss here is creating a sufficient case for someone wanting to do that. You fail to cover the bulk of what is a mass product market for PCs.

    Certainly, if you feel you must “examine, modify and distribute the software” you might be persuaded to adopt Linux since you really cannot do any of that with Windows. But that is a very small fraction of the population. Even the majority of those who could actually read and modify the code effectively would not want to bother with that. Source code is no selling point at all.

    Linux is efficient and easy to use, of course, but so is Windows. Linux has improved in popularity over the past 20 years because its operating look and feel has become more and more Windows-like and so looks less foreboding to users in general. But that is hardly a motivation to change to it. It simply makes look and feel less of a barrier.

    Similarly, there is a wealth of applications now available for Linux that make its use comparable, although not totally equivalent, to Windows. The problem there is that any such application that might be popular with Linux users is also readily available to Windows users on the same basis. You don’t have to use Linux to run popular open source programs. They install onto Windows, too, and that removes it as a motivator for change.

    Windows is similarly able to be remotely managed these days and that, too, is no motivation to change. Ditto real world problems with malware and acquisition costs.

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