I am a tech enthusiast myself, and I follow online privacy-related news closely.
Hello and welcome to Beginner's Guide to Linux. If you've come across this article, you've probably heard about Linux on the internet, or from friends that use Linux, but you don't exactly know what it is.
Let's assume that you're a novice with computers. When you turn on your PC, chances are it's running Windows or Mac OSX. Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX are examples of the operating system.
Put simply, an operating system is software that operates your computer. Windows has a taskbar which used to run your applications, a file browser that you use to manage your files like photos and music, a web browser to access the internet and more.
Linux, officially known as UNIX/Linux, is another operating system with its own desktop file browser and 10s of 1000s of different software applications.
Linux vs. Windows vs. macOS
So here's the big question. If Linux does everything that Windows does, then why would I use Linux as my computer's operating system?
Well, there are a few key differences between Linux and other operating systems like Windows and Mac OS. The first, is that Linux is open-source software, which means that anyone can change the operating system.
If someone doesn't like the way a part of Linux works, they can change it any way they like to suit their needs. Because of this particular type of licencing you see many different versions of Linux or distributions of it. Each of them are similar, but with their benefits, and all are Linux.
What this means is that you have the freedom of choice to find the version of Linux that works best for you. And there's a distribution out there for everyone.
While operating systems like Windows or Mac OS may suit your needs just fine. If there's something about the way it works that bothers or annoys you, there's very little chance of it being changed or improved.
The second big difference is cost. Windows and macOS, both come at a price, it might be the cost of the hardware attached to these operating systems or the licensing fees they charge from different OEMs (in the case of Windows). While both are much cheaper than they used to be, you have always been able to download most distributions of Linux completely free of cost. Software improvements and bug fixes to Linux are offered free as well.
Application software is the same story. Almost all software for Linux is free from Office suites to web applications, games, and even photo and video editors.
Another key difference is Linux offers a variety of desktop environments that you can use. Many open-source developers have created intuitive desktop environments for Linux that work in their unique way to help you better interact with your computer.
Different Linux Operating Systems
So which Linux distribution should you choose? Linux supports several hundred distributions, each optimized for some specific use case:
- Linux Mint: Requires low computer expertise, easy to install, easy to use and has a familiar-looking desktop for Windows users.
- Debian: For those seeking a truly free Linux distribution with no proprietary drivers, firmware or software, then Debian is for you.
- Ubuntu: A modern Linux distribution that is easy to install and easy to use.
- openSUSE: A stable and powerful Linux distribution. Not as easy to install as Mint and Ubuntu but a good alternative nonetheless.
- Fedora: The most up-to-date Linux distribution with all new concepts incorporated at the earliest possible opportunity.
- Mageia: Rose from the ashes of the formerly great Mandriva Linux. Easy to install and easy to use.
- CentOS: As with Fedora, CentOS is based on the commercial Linux distribution, Red Hat Linux. Unlike Fedora, it is built for stability.
- Manjaro: Based on Arch Linux, Manjaro provides a great balance between ease of use and up to date software.
- LXLE: Based on the lightweight Lubuntu distribution this provides a fully-featured Linux distribution for older hardware.
- Arch: A rolling release distribution, meaning that you don't have to install new versions of the operating system at any point because it updates itself. More difficult for the new user to get to grips with but very powerful.
- Elementary: Linux for people who like a Mac-style interface.
One of the most popular desktops for Linux is called GNOME. They released version 3.6 in September 2012, which uses an overview pane by default to manage your windows and applications instead of a traditional taskbar and start menu. To open a programme or switch windows, you would click the activities button in the top left corner or move your mouse all the way to the top left corner of the screen.
Another popular desktop environment is the K desktop environment or KDE. KDE has a desktop and taskbar similar to windows but is incredibly customizable. Allowing you to make the desktop and taskbar exactly how you want it. You can add a number of extra features to the taskbar and desktop with widgets, which are customizable controls to enhance your desktop capabilities.
To summarise for many Linux means freedom, the freedom to use your computer how you want it with as few restrictions as possible. As with learning anything new, there is a learning curve. But luckily there are many options for trying Linux on your PC without actually affecting your current operating system or data. So whether you use a computer to browse the web, perform office tasks, graphic design games, or even are a video producer. Linux offers an endless array of computing possibilities.
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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
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