Looking to upgrade your PC with a modern, secure operating system? Don’t want to spend a lot of money? Then it could be time to take a good look at Linux.
Although Linux has a reputation in the non-tech world as the operating system of choice for hardcore geeks, that’s changing. Several flavours of this operating system (OS), particularly the best-known Ubuntu variation, are becoming a viable option for more and more computer users. Many have made the shift to Linux’s user-friendly interface without the technical know-how that it once required. One of Linux’s most compelling features is the price. In line with the open-source philosophy, everything you need to run a basic system can be legally downloaded for free.
Back to basix
In common parlance, Linux is an operating system. More specifically, it’s the core of the OS, or the kernel. Operating systems that use the Linux kernel, such as Ubuntu, Mint and Debian, are called distributions (distros for short – see Distilling the distros). Each distro commonly combines the Linux kernel, inside the OS itself, with installation tools and device drivers, and some include a bunch of ready-to-go programs to cover common activities such as email, word processing, video, audio tools and so on. The inventor of the Linux kernel is Linus Torvalds, who wanted an alternative to having to pay for a UNIX-based operating system. Once he created it for himself, he shared his kernel for free with other clever coders, who built upon it to create their own full operating systems. Everyone likes a bargain, and within a few years there were literally hundreds of distros built on the Linux kernel. There are now about 300 public distributions currently available, varying from user-friendly Windows-like environments to industry-specific tools that are only useful for specialised tasks.
Wine, don't whine!
Can’t install your favourite Windows program on Linux? Don’t whine, download Wine. You can use this open-source compatibility layer to run Windows software on Linux systems, without actually running Windows itself. A Windows program running in Wine is unlikely to run as smoothly as a native Linux alternative, but it can get the job done when there are no other options. Resource-hungry programs, such as rendering software, are less likely to run smoothly on Wine.