This is a question that comes to mind of most users of closed source OS like Windows / Mac. There are lots of reason for these and free as in ‘free lunch’ is not one of them. Trust me. I don’t want you to save money here – if you can afford proprietary/ closed source software, would request you to donate the saved money to the FOSS project you are using. Almost all the software you use under Linux are developed and shared free of cost to the general public. Just imagine if a small percentage of people shelling out hundreds of dollars paid that amount to these free software projects! How much development would have been there.
Here are the top reasons for switching to Linux:
1. Stability: Just because Linux is free does not mean that it is of poor quality or less stable than other proprietary/ closed source operating systems. Actually it is much more stable than them. If you have used Windows for a few years at least, I am quite sure you have seen these errors multiple times (I have never used Apple products, so can’t comment on Mac OS):
And these errors come out of blue, not that you were tinkering with the system. They pop up all of a sudden or during an ‘official’ OS update – which by the way, Microsoft forced on you. You won’t see such problems in Linux. There are Linux systems which have run for years without any error. Why you do you think most servers on the internet run Linux ? Even your Android phone has Linux in its core.
2. Security: Linux is built for security. This is why you won’t find any antivirus for Linux. Most ‘Linux’ anti-viruses actually search your files for Windows viruses – so that you don’t accidentally infect other people’s Windows PC when sharing the file.
Imagine a situation on both Windows and Linux for comparison:
You have given your system to your kid to do some research on his/ her school project he goes to a site which says click here to get additional documents. He clicks on the link, it downloads a software and asks him/ her to click yes (Windows UAC) to install the software which will give access to plethora of documents on the subject being researched. Guess what? Oops it was a spyware / adware and it has been installed since he clicked yes…
What will happen in Linux ? It will ask your child to provide password to install the software, which I can safely assume he/she does not have… So, when he/she asks you for help – you can spot the intention of the website.
3. Centralized Software Repositories: Say you want to install a document editor on your system. How do yo do it in Windows ? You fire up your web browser – search for document editor – go to a ‘random’ site and install the software. What if there is a backdoor in the software you installed and use it to steal your personal data ? What if it shows you advertisement ? Worse, what if it is a ransomware? You can never know!
This is where Centralized Software Repositories come in to play in Linux. All Linux distributions comes with a ‘Store’ similar to ‘Microsoft Store’ (Except it is free). Any software available in the store are thoroughly tested and are open source (that means the source code of the program is available for everyone to check). So anything you download from the store is almost certainly safe and definitely does not contain any kind of malware. However if really really want you can install some closed source (proprietary & closed source software) like Google Chrome in Linux.
Another good thing about a Centralized Software Repository is updates. When you update your Windows or Mac, only the Operating system gets update or may be a few MS/ Apple software along with it. For each and every third party software – you need to manually check their updates and update them.
But in Linux – when you run an update, it will show you a list of updates for each and every software in your system. So you can update all the software in your system at one go or chose which ones you want to update and which one you want to skip for the time being.
4. Trust: Since most of the software available under Linux are FOSS (Free and Open Source) there is an inherent trust. If there is a problem in the software – say a bug there are hundreds, if not thousands of coders reviewing your code and they will immediately call it out, or even better fix it. If you try to intentionally do something harmful with your code – it is the same, and your software will never appear on the official Store.
Can you say the same for any closed source software ? Even if it is free? Since the code is not shared to the public – it is shared with only a ‘select’ set of people. Are you ready to trust those people? On what basis? What if say a developer of a particular closed source software was forced by the local law enforcement agency to keep a back door open?
This is something that does not happen in any Linux based distributions. They will only update when you specifically ask it to update and that too by providing your password.
Ohh and try using Windows / Mac OS without a MS / Apple account.
6. Speed: Believe it or not, Linux runs much faster on a similar hardware which is fully supported. Why? The answer lies in the above points.
Firstly due to peer review of the codes – they are optimised in a best possible way.
Since the OS update in a closed source environment the 3rd party software are not updated – each 3rd party tries to run their own ‘updater agent’ 24×7 on your system (hope a lot you have seen ‘Adobe Updater notifier’ running in the system tray, for a start) which consumes system resources. Also – since your closed source OS requires an antivirus – this considerably slows down your system as well. (Why do you think your Windows 10 image is 4+ GB having less software than your ~2 GB Linux ISO? Think about it 😁 )
7. Choice: No, I am not talking about different flavors of distributions available for Linux. I am taking about software that comes per-loaded with your OS. Almost all Linux distributions come pre loaded with Firefox as the web browser. But say, you want to use Brave browser and not Firefox. No problem – install Brave browser and uninstall Firefox. Try doing the same with Edge or Safari.
8. Ownership: You own your copy of Linux – you can do whatever you want to do with it. You can even download the source code and make changes to it and then use it as per your requirement / fancy. This is not possible with any proprietary software – you are just a licensed user of that software with very restricted ‘rights’. Just take some time and go through the EULA you agree when you install the software. You will be surprised about just how little rights you have.