Linux: the CHOICE how-to guide.

Free, stable, fast — there's a lot to like about Linux. We take an in-depth look at this powerful, open-source operating system.
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01.Use the source

Linux penguin logo with coloured balls

You've heard about Linux. It powers everything from servers to mobile phones, can be found in schools, governments, industry and homes, and a good chunk of the internet’s infrastructure is powered by it. CHOICE Computer’s Editor even runs it at home!

Linux is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, and traditionally the domain of hardcore computer geeks. But that’s changing. The last few years have seen rapid development in the desktop sphere for Linux, so much so that it’s now emerging as a replacement for Windows.

That’s not to say it’s everyone’s cup of tea — Linux isn’t Windows, and works a little differently. Nevertheless, it’s making inroads into mainstream consumer systems, thanks in part to low-cost Linux-based laptops such as the ASUS Eee PC.

If you remember your first few days with Windows, you’ll know that learning a new operating system isn’t something you pick up overnight. Fortunately it’s easy to explore Linux alongside Windows, so you don’t need to give Windows up — unless you want to!

In this report we tell you all about Linux — what it is, the various distributions, where you get it from, and what it's capable of. We also provide a tutorial on how to install Ubuntu Linux alongside Windows, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Reasons to try Linux:

  • Tired of paying for Windows, MS Office, security suites and basic applications.
  • Tired of worrying about viruses and other malware.
  • Want to learn more about Linux.
  • Have old hardware you want to keep using.
  • Want to try something different to Windows for your main desktop operating system.
  • Want to support open source and even contribute to the community yourself.

Reasons not to try:

  • Limited free space on Windows computer.
  • Windows games or desktop publishing are a priority.
  • Need to back-up your data first whenever installing an OS.
  • Learning to use a new operating system.
  • Other people who use the computer may not share your enthusiasm!

Please note: this information was current as of March 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.



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