As both an operating system and a community, Linux has been a major, positive force for the last 3 years of my personal and professional life. So I wanted to consolidate the reasons it appeals to me.
This post isn’t about proclaiming that Linux is the perfect solution for everyone, but it might be perfect for you. It’s not about saying you should completely ditch Windows, either. But you might want to dabble with Linux here and there to see if it’s right for you. Or just to experiment with something fun and different!
For the average PC user, I think it’s a far less frustrating experience.
I use Linux, macOS, and Windows for various tasks. For me, it’s all about staying sane and using the right tool for the job. The right tool for MY needs.
With that in mind, I wanted to give you 5 reasons that may lead you to consider switching. These are totally subjective, and they’re targeted at the average Windows user and not people who rely on Windows-exclusive applications for a paycheck.
One thing to know right up front: the modern Linux desktop OS is no longer the obtuse, bewildering, and command-line-driven thing it used to be. Not remotely!
1: Linux Gets Out Of Your Way
Windows has a tendency to beg for attention. It’s like the kid in school who desperately wants to be noticed and is borderline belligerent about it. “Please use me,” cries Cortana. “Hey, would you recommend me to a friend or colleague?” asks Redmond. “Hi, I noticed you’re using Chrome. Edge is totally better” insists the Edge browser. “This would be so much easier if you signed into a Microsoft account!” “Hey, remember Skype?”
And so on. . .
Ubuntu doesn’t really nag you about anything. Canonical, the company behind it, offers paid professional support on various levels, but those reminders are nowhere to be found in my day-to-day usage. The company has several sources of income, but they’re not beating down my desktop about it. And that’s really, really refreshing.
2: You’re Not A Slave To The Terminal (Unless You WANT to be…)
Linux usability has improved substantially in the past 5 to 10 years. When I first dabbled with it years ago, installation was relatively simple, but the post-install configuration was a nightmare. You had to spend a lot of time using the terminal, issuing text commands to troubleshoot hardware issues. Issuing more text commands to install graphics drivers. That required digging deep into forums and a heavy amount of googling.
The geeks and power users here would call it fun (there is a certain thrill to installing a piece of software and everything it depends on with a single line of text)! For the average Windows user, it was a complete deal-breaker.
Thing is, I think many people still have that perception of Linux. Thankfully, it doesn’t apply anymore.
Taking my personal experience with Pop OS as an example, I didn’t need to touch Terminal. All the laptops I’ve ever used or reviewed in the past 3 years had hardware that was automatically detected, right down to a default 200% text scaling for the Dell XPS’s small 13-inch 4K display.
Will this apply to every machine you install Linux on? Probably not. Especially with brand new graphics cards from AMD. Then again, Windows isn’t flawless with hardware detection either.
3: Installing Software Is Even EASIER
I know there’s this perception that Linux is complicated. I thought so too. Based on my experience years ago it was. Hell, I remember downloading a package, opening up Terminal, navigating DOS-style to the location, extracting it, granting the appropriate permissions, and sometimes even having to compile it first.
None of that was intuitive.
Now installing software is even easier than on Windows. On Ubuntu, for example, the included Software Center contains a wealth of programs across a wide range of categories (news, productivity, graphic design, audio, social media, and video editing, etc). To install them, you click Install. You don’t have to browse to the site, download the .exe package, launch that, progress through a series of license agreements and dialogue windows.
You. Just. Click. Install.
Relatively new to Linux are “Snaps” and “FlatPaks.” These are universal packages that install easily across various distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Manjaro, Solus, and others. The Snap Store contains a ridiculous amount of apps to choose from, and not just the “open source clones” you may associate Linux with. Spotify, Telegram, Slack, Blender, Discord, VLC, OBS Studio, stuff like that are there.
And again, installing these apps is a breeze! So is updating them. . .
4: Updates aren’t a headache. They’re glorious!
Have you ever sat and contemplated how much time Windows steals from you with its updates? Or how many times it has rebooted at the most inconvenient time, only to keep you waiting longer while it configures those updates? Or how the majority of software you have installed outside of the core operating system has to be updated separately?
With Linux, sure, you’ll get a notification. You may be required to restart (I’ve spotted this in Fedora), but in my experience, you won’t be forced to do so. And, like Windows, you can fine-tune how updates are handled.
Here’s the glorious part: unlike Windows, Linux normally updates your other software too. All in one batch. No need to update it directly through the individual app and then step through a series of dialogue windows.
Fewer notifications, fewer nags, less time invested. You just update your system and your software all at once. It’s genuinely elegant and ridiculously refreshing!
5: The Linux Community
Perhaps the best aspect of Linux has nothing to do with an operating system at all. Nope. It’s the people! I’ve been fortunate enough to find a surprisingly helpful horde of people on all corners of the internet willing to invest their time into helping me — and people just like me — make the transition.
And they don’t stop there, either. They’re always willing to recommend new tips, tricks and software to make your computing life that much easier.
This was suggested by my friend Stephen Cross, and it’s too perfect not to include. It belongs on this list forever. Thanks Stephen!)
“You make the decisions, not a corporation. You choose the hardware. You choose the OS and desktop environment. You choose the software applications.No ecosystem locks you in and leaves you with one choice.”