So far we’ve covered open source programs you can run on your computer. Most often they’re safer, lighter, and able to have you get the task done just as easily as proprietary equivalents.
Now, we’ll take it to the next level and talk about entire operating systems you can use on your machine. With an open source OS, at the maturity level of the existing projects, you will be able to make your entire computer safer, leaner, and quite often easier to manage.
Linux is one branch of open source OS you can go to. Contrary to common thought, you don’t need to know or run command lines using the main distributions available. You can do so if you want to customize your system or solve some very specific problems. But, let me assure you that this kind of situation can be extremely rare. I’ve been running Linux almost exclusively for months and only had to run command lines a couple of times guided by one of the several user generated forum tutorials.
One of the hardest things to do when I migrated was to make the choice of which distribution to use. All of these distros are free, mature, and very stable. My favorites are Fedora, openSUSE, Ubuntu (or Kubuntu, Xubuntu) and Mandriva. Also, you’ll have to choose the file system and visual desktop management systems: KDE, Gnome, or the lighter Xfce. Currently I’m using Ubuntu which comes with Gnome. But, it is all a matter of choice and preference.
Why I chose Linux?
- because it is free (download as you wish, copy, share, upgrade);
- because it is much safer from virus;
- very low maintenance required since pretty much you won’t need an antivirus, anti-spyware, and defrags;
- software repositories will come with hundreds of free softwares that’ll be just a click away from you to download and install;
- everything is basically modular so you can add, remove, adjust anything that you need;
- it will work well with other computers running Windows and MacOS (file sharing, networking).
All of the projects mentioned above will have a live CD option so you can try without actually installing anything to your machine. So, have fun exploring the Linux world and later we’ll be back with some installation tips.