Why Linux is Hip

Why Linux is HipAs a modern teenager, much of what I do requires money — movies, gas, and food aren’t free. However, I am frugal. Probably too frugal. I have way more money than I could possibly need any time soon (all of which I have earned on my own), yet I still try to spend little and save often. Some could call me cheap; some could call me wise.

I was given my first computer — a Dell Inspiron 537s — some years ago as a Christmas present. It ran Windows Vista, but was eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it came out. When the time came, though, the window for that upgrade closed only two weeks after the first stable release of 7. I completely missed it and was not made aware until I got an email from Dell a month and a half later.

Needless to say, I was angry. I believed the software was rightfully mine, regardless of when I chose to utilize it. I didn’t know it at the time, but some of the ideals of free software had already begun to take hold in me.

Over the next few years, my Vista machine became sluggishly slow to the point of being nearly unusable. Infected with viruses of all types, they seemed to repopulate every time my protection software caught them. It seemed like an unfixable problem, and just something that’s a common theme with Windows operating systems.

But I fixed it.

I do not know the first time I heard of Linux, or what research I put in to finding out more about it. The next thing I knew, I had burned a live CD of Ubuntu 10.04 and was eagerly installing it. I don’t want to overrate it, but the switch was life-changing in some ways.

In this hipster-fueled era, it simply felt good to sort of “rebel against the oppressors” of the two OS giants, refusing to use their costly, limiting software. It felt good to be able to customize absolutely anything and everything to look and feel exactly how I wanted. It felt good to use open source software, even though I’m not much of a coder. It felt good to use something that none of my friends did, or even knew of for that matter.

My daily PC experience became faster, cleaner, and easier than it had ever been while using Vista.

Viruses were a goner. To this day, I haven’t installed a single anti-virus program of any kind, and I’m not worried. Yes, viruses can be designed for Linux, but I don’t see myself encountering anything of the sort for many years. (Teenagers are arrogant, you know.)

In all, I flat-out loved Linux — loved Ubuntu.

However, I was recently given the opportunity to get a new computer. $1,000 was the budget. I started excitedly searching the Web for PCs, and was prepared to make the switch back to Windows if purchasing a machine running Windows 7. I quickly realized, though, that nothing I looked at was really worth the price. My frugality kicked in, and I formed a plan to spend roughly the same amount of money, build a computer with vastly better hardware, and stick solely to Ubuntu as my operating system (to keep from spending $100 for the bare minimum Windows package).

The details of that whole process are another story altogether, but the main point is that, even with an adequate amount to spend, I chose to only run Ubuntu instead of using the operating system that “the world runs on.” If that’s not hipster-like, I don’t know what is. Simply, mediocre teens such as myself can quite easily enjoy Linux and its open source ideals. One does not have to be some sort of hacker whiz-kid or anything. Four out of the five PCs in my household now boot up Ubuntu. Several of my friends have made the switch. None of us are regretting it, and none of us are turning back.

My name is Andrew Freeman. I’m almost 16 years old, and a sophomore in high school. I’ve probably had a geek factor my entire life without realizing it until it escalated to the noticeable degree of present. I hope to attend Georgia Institute of Technology and study to become a mechanical engineer. I am an avid percussionist and taker of naps.

Image: Public Announcement: Linux is Cool! shared by keepthebyte on Flickr.

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  • Ryan Cash

    I do a dual-boot with Ubuntu for similar reasons. My next home server will probably be Ubuntu-based, and with the advent of Netflix working on my Wii, I have less and less use for Windows. My only real holdback? OneNote – say what you will, but I do genuinely love that for note taking. Between the layout, organization, screen capture functions, and free-layout options, I’m still hooked.

    C’mon, MS – make Office for Linux, already!

    • http://www.facebook.com/scottjetton Scott Jetton

      that i do agree on… I run backtrack 5 r3 as my stable o/s

    • http://twitter.com/HarryMonmouth Harry Monmouth

      That is an interesting thought. If there was office available for Linux there would be little reason not to go for Linux. I bet that this is an issue they have actually considered in the past but refused for strategic reasons.

      • http://www.facebook.com/yuskeIchihara Wayne Gregory

        go with open office it as a great program and has about every thing that you would find with microsoft office

    • http://twitter.com/HarryMonmouth Harry Monmouth

      Just a thought, have you ever thought about replacing Onenote with Evernote. I love Onenote and have not made the leap yet mainly because of work but it seems to me that Evernote is a lot more functional. I never considered it till I got my ereader and it had an Evernote app built in which has really made me lean towards its use.

      For me the strength of Office is in Word. As soon as you move to another word processor all of your formatting is suddenly screwed up. Having spent a lot of time in the last few weeks looking at Evernote I think that I could really go for that instead of Onenote.

  • http://twitter.com/HarryMonmouth Harry Monmouth

    Linux is really getting there. I don’t think that Apple and MS are aware of what a potential threat it is. I don’t have any issues with my mac but looking at the new Windows version I have to say that MS are close to losing their crown.

    I’ve not downloaded it yet but that in itself is telling. I have a touch screen laptop yet I am very wary of Windows 8. I have been more seriously considering it for a lower powered device that I have an attachment to but whether I choose Linux or Windows 8 is still very much up in the air. In fact the only reason I haven’t gone for Linux already is that it seems kind of foolhardy to just paper over a perfectly good Windows 7 installation just because it is a bit sluggish.

    It has been a while since I have had Linux on a machine but the last installation I tried was really impressive and was definitely getting to the point where it could be a credible threat to one of the paid for OSs.

  • http://twitter.com/kuda188 Kudakwashe Nyangoni

    Depends on what you want.Windows has Microsoft Office. The one biggest reason why people buy, as well as gaming. Mac, I don’t know why people buy it.

    • Cody Dean

      Simple solution – libreoffice.org

    • Tom Richardson

      The way I see it, if Linux and Window’s had a baby, it’d be OSX.. It has some of the compatibilities of Windows for major programs (some games etc), and is UNIX based like Linux. This is great for me as it means with one computer (without dual booting), I can play games and do my work (I study Computer Science at the University of Manchester) as I need a UNIX system to do work.

      I have friends who question why I have a Macbook Pro, and that is my exact answer. Everyone has different needs and this suits mine perfectly.

      And thats why people buy Macs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1430310093 Wolfee Darkfang

    This is my feelings exactly. You hit the nail. My first time ever using Linux was 6 years ago (ubuntu) when a partner of mine showed me how to use it. I didn’t continue using it immediately, but I eventually came back to it later on. Right now it is my primary OS (Mint 13) dual booting with Win 7 for those occasions where a Windows game wont run on wine or needs tweaking that can only be done that way. I have no desire to get Win 8 because to me it’s another flop. I’ll probably update to Mint 14 soon when it’s out. I would use Ubuntu but the unity interface is too different for me. I need my classic desktop. 😀

  • http://twitter.com/#!/gpowerf G.Power

    I run Windows and Ubuntu on my PCs. I don’t see it as a hipsterish thing, it simply makes sense from a financial, performance, and usability perspective to run Ubuntu on some of my PCs.

  • gautam divekar

    i use windows 7 for my pam, games and c# and use fedora for freeipa …. it just makes sense to run them both… nothing hip about it !!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/raphael.sanches.5895 Raphael Sanches

    Hi there…I have switched to Ubuntu 1 year ago and I don’t consider going back!…I was a Windows fan…Windows 7 blew my mind since beta…but after a while I got bored and wanted a new interface…a dock! …since you can’t remove the taskbar I started to look for other OS and found Ubuntu…..
    In the begining it was hard to get used to…all the comands and The Terminal!!!!…and I also had terrible problems with my video card…guess …..ATI!….one day I stopped trying to make it work and switched back to Windows 7..and I remember looking at it and the fun, the excitement and the endless possibilities were not there….since then Linux and I have been together for over 1 year and I can’t wait to come home and see what are the news…new distros…new interfaces….new apps…new STEAM!…

    Really…really love Linux…and Ubuntu…(without Unity..of course)…LOL

  • http://www.facebook.com/denny.prijadi Denny Prijadi

    people get attached to OSes like they are married or something.. OSX and Windows are still better than the best linux. Dual booting OSX and Windows on my Macs give me best of both world (gaming) , with Virtual Windows for non-gaming applications on OSX..

  • ronknights

    Linux will never be more than a niche operating system. You just can’t get all the “Big Name” software in Linux. And Linux doesn’t have other software that I use, such as DAZ Studio and Poser.

    PC makers tried selling PCs with Linux in the past, but they never sold all that well.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mark814 M h

    I was a dyed-in-the-wool Linux hater (well, maybe not hater, that’s too strong of a word). It was a fun little toy to screw around with when I was bored for a night and nothing more. Certainly not something I would waste hard drive space on and keep loaded! Currently I have Win 7, Win 8 and Ubuntu 12.04 on my system.

    I have been running Ubuntu mostly for the last 2 months and only go into Windows when I want to play with Win 8 or do other Windows-only things (games or whatever). Otherwise I’m in Ubuntu all the time. I have played with Linux since 1991 or ’92, whenever Linus first put it out, but never took it seriously. Now I find Ubuntu as easy to set up and use as Windows ever was, but a whole lot cooler and with more interesting things to do in it. I have LibreOffice installed, as I have in Windows since dumping MS Office long ago. I find very few things that I can’t do in Linux that isn’t compatible with a similar WIndows app.

    Currently I’m looking for a good 3D design package similar to Solidworks and/or AutoCAD. But I’m retired now, so it’s not an absolute must, I just want to keep my chops up. Next up on the docket is learning how to program in it. Something I haven’t done since C++ first came out?