I Use Linux Because ...
That's right. One of the reasons I use open source Linux is because there
are free versions of it -- many free versions. As the humorous Smart Linux User mug
design says, using Linux with all of it's thousands of packages, can make you
Of course I realize that if Linux was a really poor operating system, then
being free wouldn't suddenly make it a good operating system.
But -- Linux is a good operating system. It just happens to be also
available in free versions. It's part of the open source concept. This site
will give you some information about Linux, but a good book will give you
even more, something like
Linux All-in-One For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)).
It Uses Less Resource
Less resources than what?
Well, less than the other popular operating system out there, Windows. I'm
running a 3/4 megabyte, 1 GHZ computer with a recent Linux operating system
(Puppy Linux it's called), and I couldn't even consider running the latest
Windows with that old architecture. Not and get decent performance. A handy way
to get a number of different Puppy Linux flavors is from the Puppy
Linux Variety Pack - Slacko, Racy, Wary, Lucid, and Macpup on one CD.
I 'm also running Puppy Linux an old 166 MHz laptop. That laptop was made in
the Windows 95 days, and in no way was going to run a modern Windows
But with all of the configuration choices available in Linux, I was able to
run the old laptop with good performance on a modern Linux system.
On my bigger, dual processor system I used to simply scale up and run a
Debian operating system. The range of sizes of Linux operating systems is
easily as large as the range of PC computers out there. Debian has such a large
software archive that it is used as the basis for many other versions of Linux.
You can get Debian from the web, but installing it that way can be laborious.
I'd recommend a handily packaged CD at a low price, like Debian
Linux 8.0 "Jessie" on DVD - Full (64-bit) Live / Install version..
Like I say, I used to scale up to Debian. During the time I've
been using Linux, Puppy Linux has scaled up also. The main issue with the older
431 version was that it didn't have much software in its archive. So
if you were used to some Linux packages, you'd have to jump through hoops to
get them to run in the old Puppy Linux. But with the newer versions, the
package manager has gotten a lot smarter, and the software archive has gotten
a lot bigger. So now I use Puppy Linux on just about everything, laptops and
Linux is a Multi-tasking, Multi-user System
Be aware that Linux isn't a simplistic operating system, like a bigger
version of DOS.
Linux is a full multi-tasking system, with preemptive scheduling. Linux
allows different priorities to be assigned to tasks, and it handles large task
The modern kernels also support the new 64 bit processors, and
multi-processor computer systems.
In addition, Linux is a multi-user system. Multiple users can log on via
terminals plugged into serial ports or via a lan port. A computer running Linux
is essentially what used to be called a mainframe.
Linux Is Very Robust
I mean Linux is really robust. There are some Linux systems managing
networks that have literally been running continuously -- for years.
Linux uses a disk system that has some safeguards built in. I've used OS/2,
Windows, and Linux on home systems. I've had to completely re-install OS/2
after a disk crash. More than once.
I've had the same experience with Windows. Where I was last employed, the
standard fix for a sick Windows system was a re-install.
I've never had to re-install Linux to recover from a disk crash. It is
Linux Uses The X-Windows Standard
Linux uses the MIT designed X-Windows system for windowing and GUI handling.
For a good description of how the X-Windows system works, consider something
like The Joy of X: The Architecture of the X Window System.
From my perspective, X-Windows is vastly superior to the Microsoft Windows
system. Why? I'll endeavor to make a few points.
For one, the X-Windows system, which gives all of the graphical user
interface tools, rides on top of the Linux system. The multi-tasking, task
swapping, multi-user smarts of Linux lies beneath the windowing part. Even if
one configures their system for a small resource requirement and completely
leaves out the windowing capability, they will still have full multi-tasking
capability and multi-user capability. Even my little 166 MHZ 83 MB laptop is a
multi-tasking, multi-user computer.
For another, there are many window managers that handle the X-windows system
in Linux. This gives the user enormous control over the kind of functionality
that is involved in the windowing system (and the amount of resource used by the
windowing system). Click the MENU button on this web page header to
get the full menu, and examine the Window Managers Review for a look
at just a small fraction of the available window manager systems.
How many window managers are available? Over 50, and each of those
has considerable tuning available to the user. They range in size from around 2
megabytes to over 80 megabytes. Talk about a selection to choose from.
The X-windows system uses a client-server arrangement. Each task
created to run with windowing support has these two components.
What that means is that with the X-windows system, you can run an X-Windows
process on any computer in a network, and have the display show up on your
local system. It doesn't matter what operating the remote system is running as
long as it supports X-windows.
I've networked with DEC computers and been able to run the DEC software
so that the display and interaction occurred on my Linux system.
Linux Is Loaded with Software
I used to use an older version of Debian named Woody. Woody came on 7 CD's,
and was said to have over 11,000 packages. It satisfied both my personal
and work related requirements for over 3 years.
Many of those packages were libraries and system tools, but thousands were
user programs, programming languages, etc.
The Etch version that I used next came on 11 CD's full of software. I'll
never used even a significant fraction of all those utilities, languages, and
programming tools. Can you imagine all that for free? An embarrassing cache of
I particularly use many of the programming languages, being a computer
scientist by trade. Listing only a few, Debian includes C, C++, Java, FORTRAN,
forth, basic, smalltalk, Ruby, Python, perl, Awk, Gawk, Tk, Tcl, Yorick, Tela,
R, PDL, Gforth, and the list goes on.
There are compilers, scripting languages, text manipulation languages, math
languages, and GUI oriented languages. Enough to keep me entertained (and
educated) for years.
There are office suites,
like the freely available LibreOffice v4.3 for PC [Open Source Download],
editors, graphics packages, graphics programs, document mark up languages, and Internet utilities.
A former associate of mine used to be a dedicated Windows user, and when I
introduced him to Linux, he tore in with abandon. Once he got the hang of it,
he became an avid user and advocate, and has also had little need to purchase
As for me, I haven't had to buy software for a few years, and yet I have
more software available than I can likely ever experience.
Installing Linux Software is Easy
I particularly used Debian for a number of reasons. Since about anything
under the GNU license is contained in Debian, it is likely the distribution
with the largest inventory of software.
As it happens, Debian also has one of the best software management and
installation tools. It uses a product called dpkg (for Debian package), and
numerous front-ends are available to make interfacing with dpkg easy.
When you run across a utility that seems to be just what you want through
one of the interfaces, just select install. Whatever supporting software and
libraries are needed are automatically installed, and the product is also
automatically configured. Just for fun, I created a T-shirt design using a take
on a Rocky Horror Show quote. It's called Don't Dream It -- Apt-Get
It, based on the Debian apt-get install utility. In Debian,
you don't dream it, you just apt-get whatever software you want..
And here's pleasant news for you Windows users: rarely is a reboot needed
after installing a software package. Just install it, and use it.
Remarkably, this is even true of drivers. You can set up scripts that load a
seldom used driver, run the software that needs it, and remove the driver when
the software is finished running. Is that neat or what?
Removing software is just as easy, with no complex registry maneuvers
necessary to get rid of an unused package.
Derivatives of Debian Offer Many Choices
Because Debian is so complete and has such a nifty installer, many
derivative distributions of Debian are available. The Derivatives are
usually targeted so that the targeted users have an easy and complete
Many of the derivatives are available on runnable CD distributions. So
you can boot and run the distro from a CD and see if you like it before
you decide to install it.
Some of the more popular derivatives are:
Knoppix - An office oriented CD distro from Germany|
DamnSmall - A very small distro derived from Knoppix
Ubuntu - A neatly packaged Office oriented distro
MEPIS - Another CD distro oriented to office and multi-media
Progeny - A next generation version of Debian
Linspire - Designed to be an easy transition for the Windows User
Puppy Linux - Based On Ubuntu, And Able To Use Ubuntu Packages
A good place to check out distros is Distrowatch.com.
Slackware, Another Foundational Linux
One of the oldest distros of Linux out there is Slackware. Slackware has
a rigid philosophy of sticking with simple. It doesn't come with elaborate
GUI install utilities, but a simpler interface that works with simple batch
files. They believe that simple batch files, each designed to do one thing,
are much easier to debug, and less likely to fail due to some install
Slackware is also even more conservative than Debian, in that upgraded
systems come out less often, and only after rigorous testing. One consequence
of that is you can have stable installs for a longer period, as a new version
won't be crowding you real soon. Another, not so positive aspect is that the
Slackware software archives aren't as large. A Slackware user group has created
the Slackbuilds website to service
that problem. Slackbuilds.org has many of the more commonly desired software
products that aren't in the Slackware archive, set up with a build
standard to make it easy to build the products on any Slackare system. Not as
convenient as Debian's exhaustive archive, but very useful none-the-less.
Being a fundamental system, Slackware has inspired it's own progeny of
distros, including SALIX,
SLAX, and Puppy Linux
Slacko, available at Puppy Linux.
My current preference is in fact Slacko.