The days when there were two and a half operating systems – Mac for creative types, Windows for everyone else and Linux for the weird kids in the corner – are well and truly over. For a start, OSX and Windows both owe a debt to Linux; Microsoft is courting Linux for its Azure cloud service, for instance, too. It’s been awhile since Linux was the sole preserve of bitcoin-waving digital mountain men. It’s coming to business; time to get to grips with it.
The biggest Linux myth is that it’s too difficult to start using. Unfamiliarity and the sense that there’s a steep learning curve vie with the feeling – based on nothing, usually – that you’ll have to learn a whole new suite of apps and basically, you’d rather just stick with XP, please. But many of these ideas are false. Let’s let some light in on the Linux debate.
Myth: The interface is unfamiliar
Leaving aside for the moment the fact that OSX, Apple’s flagship operating system, is built from the same Unix base as Linux, don’t you jump from OS to OS all the time? Even iOS and OSX are different; throw half-a-dozen Windows variants and a couple of Androids into the mix and you’re an OS jetsetter. What’s one more? And like every modern OS, Linux is based on 60s research into the way children with learning difficulties absorb new information. It’s pretty intuitive.
Myth: Solving Linux issues is too difficult and unintuitive
First, Linux is pretty difficult to break and when it goes wrong (which is rare) it’s easy to fix, thanks to comprehensive log files and a simple troubleshooting system. Compare that to Windows, which breaks all the time, and OSX, which is really hard to fix (see you in the Console?) and it comes out favorably.
Myth: Linux doesn’t support the apps I need
OK. This isn’t Linux’ fault, but it is sometimes kind of true. It’s more to do with software companies shunning cross-platform support, though that ship has now well and truly sailed and three-OS Windows/OSX/Linux support is increasingly the norm. As Linux user numbers creep up, though, app licensing will catch up. Meantime, you probably spend 70% or more of your time in a web browser anyway, right?
Myth: I’ve never installed an OS before
Again,this one is half right… for the wrong reasons. The majority of computer users haven’t done an OS install, because they normally just upgrade when the new Windows comes out by buying a new computer. But that doesn’t mean they can’t do it. And a lot of those upgraded from the ill-fated Windows 8 to Windows 10, so they now know how to install a pretty substantive upgrade, even if it’s not technically a whole new OS. Besides which, installing an OS isn’t hard. Linux in particular is about as easy as installing an app, especially one of the more user-friendly variants like Mint.
Open source, agile, and easy to use: maybe it’s time to give Linux a shot?