Cybersecurity Insights & Analysis

What is Linux, and why should I switch from Windows? 🐧

This article explores the benefits and considerations of transitioning to Linux, helping you determine if it’s the right time for you to embrace this open-source operating system.

The dominance of Windows and macOS in the operating system market has long been established. However, Linux, an open-source alternative, has been steadily gaining momentum and attracting a growing number of users. With its flexibility, security, and cost-effectiveness, Linux presents a compelling case for individuals and organisations to consider making the switch. This article explores the benefits and considerations of transitioning to Linux, helping you determine if it’s the right time for you to embrace this open-source operating system.

What is Linux?

Linux, a powerful and versatile operating system, has become an integral part of the technological landscape. Originating in the early 1990s, Linux has grown into a robust and reliable platform, favoured by developers, businesses, and enthusiasts alike. In this article, we will explore the essence of Linux, its origins, characteristics, and the impact it has had on the computing world.

The roots of Linux can be traced back to the mind of Linus Torvalds, a Finnish computer science student, who in 1991 released the first version of the Linux kernel. The kernel, or core of the operating system, acts as the bridge between software applications and the computer’s hardware. Torvalds, inspired by the Unix operating system, aimed to create a free and open-source alternative that would be accessible to all.

Over the years, Linux has significantly influenced the computing landscape. Its dominance in the server market, powering a substantial portion of web servers, cloud infrastructure, and supercomputers, is a testament to its reliability and scalability. Moreover, Linux has played a crucial role in the development of the Android operating system, powering the majority of smartphones worldwide.

Whilst Linux is predominantly used on servers, there are plenty of reasons why you would want to use Linux on your personal computer. Personally,  I use Ubuntu,  Linux Mint and Kali Linux as my operating systems, depending on what I need to use my computer for. Here are my top reasons for making the switch to Linux:

The advantages of using Linux:

1) Freedom and flexibility

One of Linux’s most significant advantages is its open-source nature, which empowers users with freedom and flexibility. Unlike proprietary systems, Linux allows users to access and modify the source code, tailoring the operating system to their specific needs. This flexibility extends to software choices, as Linux offers a vast repository of free and open-source applications, providing a wealth of options for customisation.

2) Stability and performance

Linux is renowned for its stability and performance. Due to its modular design and efficient resource management, Linux systems tend to have fewer crashes and a lower risk of performance degradation over time. Linux can run on a wide range of hardware, including older machines, breathing new life into ageing systems and saving users the expense of constantly upgrading hardware.

3) Cost-Effectiveness

Linux’s cost-effectiveness is a compelling factor for both individuals and organisations. Linux distributions are typically free to download and use, eliminating the need for costly licenses. Additionally, Linux’s resource efficiency allows users to run the operating system on lower-spec hardware, reducing hardware expenditure. The cost savings can be particularly advantageous for budget-conscious individuals and small businesses.

4) Vast Community Support

The Linux community is known for its passion, knowledge sharing, and collaborative spirit. With millions of users worldwide, Linux benefits from a vast community that provides extensive support through online forums, documentation, and tutorials. This collective knowledge base ensures that users can find assistance and guidance for almost any issue they may encounter, making the learning curve of transitioning to Linux more manageable.

The disadvantages of using Linux

Linux clearly isn’t for everyone, however. It has a much steeper learning curve than the likes of Windows and MacOS. However, personally I believe that the privacy, security and performance benefits are worth the time you invest climbing the learning curve. There are some considerations that you should ruminate over before making the switch, namely:

1) The Learning Curve

Transitioning to Linux requires adapting to a new operating system and learning new tools and commands. While the learning curve can be steep initially, the availability of community support and extensive documentation can help mitigate this challenge. 

Linux boasts a robust and passionate community of users and developers who are willing to offer assistance and guidance. Online forums, discussion groups, Udemy Courses, YouTube channels, and dedicated communities provide a platform for users to seek help, share experiences, and learn from one another. Leveraging this wealth of communal knowledge can significantly ease the transition process.

Furthermore, Linux distributions come with comprehensive documentation that covers a wide array of topics, from basic commands to advanced system configurations. This documentation serves as a valuable resource for users at all levels, offering step-by-step guides, troubleshooting tips, and best practices. Additionally, many Linux communities actively contribute to creating and updating detailed wikis, further enhancing the availability of learning materials.

2) Software Compatibility

While Linux offers a wide range of software options, it may not be compatible with all applications, especially proprietary or niche software. Users should evaluate their specific software requirements and explore alternatives or workarounds before making the switch.

There are some popular applications that simply will not work on Linux, unless you take advantage of Wine – I’ll cover this in a later article. Some of the applications that will struggle on Linux include:

  • Adobe CC applications, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro, are designed primarily for Windows and macOS. While there are workarounds, such as using compatibility layers like Wine or virtual machines, users may face challenges in achieving seamless performance. Exploring open-source alternatives like GIMP or Krita for graphic design and video editing can be a viable solution.

  • Although Steam has made strides in supporting Linux, not all games available on the platform are compatible with the Linux operating system. Users interested in gaming may need to check game compatibility or consider utilizing gaming platforms specifically designed for Linux, such as SteamOS or Proton.

  • Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, is widely used in many professional environments. While Microsoft does not officially support Linux, users can explore web-based versions or utilise compatibility layers to run Office applications. Additionally, open-source office suites like LibreOffice provide robust alternatives for word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation needs.

The above list is not extensive. Proprietary products often don’t see a need to create applications for Linux; the market simply is not big enough.

3) Hardware Compatibility

Hardware Compatibility: While Linux supports a vast range of hardware, certain devices or peripherals may have limited driver support. Users should research compatibility with their specific hardware configurations to ensure a seamless transition. Some of the key hardware issues you may experience include:

  • Graphics card compatibility can be a crucial consideration for users, especially those engaged in graphic-intensive tasks or gaming. While many graphics cards are supported natively, some high-end models may have limited driver support. Users relying on advanced graphics capabilities should verify Linux compatibility and explore driver options for optimal performance. 

  • Printers and scanners from various manufacturers may require proprietary drivers for full functionality. Users should check Linux-compatible models or investigate community-developed drivers to ensure seamless integration with their printing and scanning needs. Popular printer manufacturers often provide Linux drivers for their devices, but this may not be universally applicable.

  • Certain wireless network adapters may require additional drivers to function correctly on Linux. Users relying on Wi-Fi connectivity should verify compatibility and explore Linux-compatible adapters or community-developed drivers to ensure reliable wireless networking.

In conclusion...

Linux stands as a testament to the power of open-source collaboration and community-driven development. Its robustness, security, and versatility have earned it a significant place in various computing environments. While Linux boasts numerous advantages, including cost-efficiency and community support, potential challenges such as limited software compatibility and a learning curve should be considered when deciding whether to embrace this open-source powerhouse. Whether you are a developer, a server administrator, or a casual user, understanding the pros and cons of Linux provides a well-rounded perspective on its role in the ever-evolving realm of technology.

Hey! Can we make it official? 😘

I would love to share my latest ethical hacking, defensive security, OSINT, and anonymity guides with you. But I’ll need you to trust me with something… your email address. I promise not to spam you, and you can count on me to keep your data safe 😇

More Cybersecurity Insights & Analysis

Fifteen Steps to maximising firefox privacy 🔒✅

Download the complete FireFox checklist that I give to my counter-surveillance clients – completely free of charge! I will take you step-by-step through advanced Firefox Configurations that will help you maximise your privacy, security and anonymity. 

Enter your details below and I will email it to you straight away. And don’t worry, your data is safe with me 😇

Access free subscriber only content 😘

I would love to share my latest ethical hacking, defensive security, OSINT, and anonymity guides with you. But I’ll need you to trust me with something… your email address. Your data will be encrypted and I will never sell it to third parties 😇

UK Cybersecurity Company

About Aitken Security

Aitken Security is a UK Cybersecurity Company specialising in offensive and defensive security.