What about Linux? A question that we rarely hear but that is worth asking.
So what is Linux, and why should anyone, individual or company, have any interest in it?
Ok, for the newbies out there, we will try to give a very basic explanation. Linux is a FREE operating system (OS) that is developed by its creator (Linus Torvalds), improved and enriched by thousands of developers around the world. And yes, all these guys work for free and do that out of generosity and passion!
But this is only the core of the system (called Kernel), and then comes on top of it a graphic interface which together with the core form what we call “a distribution”.
There are hundreds of Linux distributions that can suit all the needs from the basic users to the professional.
The most popular distributions being Ubuntu, Red Hat, Suse, Mint and Fedora.
This is the first big difference with the most popular OS around: Microsoft Windows, which have a unique graphic interface.
Each of these distribution has a different look & feel and can suit different needs such as simple Desktop, production tool or file server.
The second and biggest difference with windows is the applications. In fact, all the software that are designed for Windows cannot run on Linux. They have to be completely rewritten in order to run on it.
This is the biggest weakness of Linux. As the system has been deployed on less than 1% of the desktops of the world, it is not profitable for software companies to invest time and money to rewrite their applications for the system. So you would not be able to run natively Microsoft office, Adobe Photoshop, Windows live messenger, or any of the professional tools such as CRM’s or accounting software.
Of course, most of the major applications have their own free equivalent on Linux. These are applications that are developed and shared for free by the computer community. Most of them are basic, but some can easily compete with their commercial counterparts.
Here are some examples:
- Microsoft Office / Open Office (or Libre Office)
- Adobe Photoshop / The Gimp
- Microsoft Outlook / Evolution
- Windows Media Player / VLC Media Player
Most of the popular free tools such as Skype, 7zip, VLC, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, or Picasa run natively on Linux. Unfortunately, sometimes they have fewer options than their Microsoft Windows versions.
If your needs are basic, such as browsing the Internet, typing letters and spreadsheets, sending e-mails, watching videos, listening to music, and chatting, then you will easily find the right distribution for you. Ubuntu and Mint are probably the two most user-friendly distributions.
The advantages of Linux are clear: no more viruses, no more software to crack, and most important, a completely free system!
In small and medium size companies, to this day, Microsoft Windows remains irreplaceable.
And the main two reasons are the applications, and the fact that most of the users are already trained on this operating system.
Windows versus Linux is a very vast topic. We deliberately simplified this article, but we would gladly answer all your questions and give you far more information about it