So you have Windows; the OS many in the tech industry regard as poison (Josh Topolsky of The Verge among them). Maybe poison is a bit unnecessary, but even so, Windows for many users is still not ideal.
Then you've got OS X - the rather controversial OS from Apple. While it is a very good OS, many people don't like it - maybe beacuse it's from Apple; possibly the most controversial company in the tech industry today.
But then you have the elephant in the room - Linux. What's this 'Linux', I hear you ask? Let me explain.
You've heard of Android? Well, Linux is sort of like the desktop version of Android. Both are open source, both are highly customizable, and maybe most importantly, both are free.
However, Linux is only the name of the kernel and the operating system: there are a lot of what are called 'distros' (short for distributions), such as Ubuntu (the most popular Linux distro), Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu) and Fedora (traditionally Ubuntu's main rival).
I personally run Ubuntu. This is because it is very stable, there is a lot of support on the internet for it, in the form of forums, and because it is the most Linux OS, it has the most things available for it.
So why is Linux so good? Let me explain:
- Being open-source, it is highly, highly customizable, much like Android is.
- There is a lot of choice - it is estimated there are over 1000 distros to choose from; there is probably a lot more.
- It is a tinkerer's OS - I fiddle with my phone a lot, removing things I don't need - Linux is exactly the same.
- You can customise you own version of it
- A lot of things are free - because the whole OS is free and open-source, a lot of programs are as well.
- It is a lot quicker than Windows. Windows can get very bogged down after a while, but Linux does not - while Windows is based on MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System), Linux (and Mac OS X) is based on Unix - in my opinion (my personal opinion) a better base for an OS.
- Updated regularly. Ubuntu gets updated a lot - every six months there is an update (12.04, April 2012 is the next release).
So as you can see, Linux has a lot going for it. But there are some bad things about it as well:
- Because it is a completely different OS, it cannot use OS X or Windows programs.
- Because of this, Linux is woefully under supported - it doesn't have popular Windows and OS X programs like Steam or Adobe's Creative Suite
- This can cause massive headaches for new users - you can imagine "but...where's Photoshop...?".
- This is even more of a problem when the open-source equivalents aren't very good - I won't mention names, but if you know these parts, you'll know what I mean.
- Because it is a tinkerers OS, it is quite easy to break - you can get root access to the filesystem reasonably easily, meaning you could do anything you wanted. This is bad for inexperienced users.
So while I love Linux, I'm not completely happy with it. I'll be writing a follow up to this post about how Linux could be improved.