Most computer users have an expectation that, when they purchase a new computer, it will come with a version of Microsoft Windows™ installed. Some may even believe that this software is free. And most will have no experience of the alternatives that they might be using instead of Windows.
While Windows™ is certainly the most common operating system found on PC class machines, there are viable alternatives. These include a number of operating systems derived from the BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) Unix source. FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD are high quality open source operating systems.
However, in the last few years, Linux has become a much better known alternative. It is now widely used for server machines both on and off the Internet. What many computer users do not realise is that it can also be a very effective desktop operating system, offering excellent security and a wide range of high quality software, much of it available at no cost to the end user.
The quesstion becomes, is it worth while using an alternative such as Linux for normal computer work?
Linux, as the most common alternative to Windows offers a number of potential advantages:
Naturally, there are also disadvantages to using open source software such as Linux:
There are a number of factors which should influence any decision regarding use of an alternate operating system such as Linux.
The primary one should be the software a user requires for the computer. For the vast majority of uses, there are excellent alternatives to the common Windows™ applications. For common office tasks, email and web access, Linux provides a wide range of alternatives. Not only that, but in most instances, this software comes ready to install with the basic operating system.
Linux installation and configuration has a reputation of being difficult. For the most part, this is no longer true. The majority of modern Linux distributions will install quickly and easily and will detect the hardware that is being used without problems. System configuration has also become quite simple in most instances, with a range of graphical configuration utilities to make the user's life easier.
While there are still some areas where hardware support is not as good as that provided by Windows™, most modern hardware is well supported. With a little care, the user should experience no problems with installation or hardware support.
For those users who require specific Windows™ software, Wine may allow that software to be run under Linux. In many instances, this can provide a viable alternative to running the software in its native environment.
Ubuntu has become the best known Linux distribution. Other alternatives, such as OpenSUSE are well worth consideration. For a lighter weight option, more suited to older hardware, Vector Linux is also a possible choice.
Brill Computers can supply both suitable hardware and a modern Linux distribution to match. We can support both installation and use of Linux. Feel free to discuss your requirements in this area with us.