One question that manages to wiggle its way into my email inbox entirely too often. Nevertheless, it’s worth repeating as it obviously is something computer enthusiasts are dealing with apparently. Why use Linux over Windows? Is there a singular reason or perhaps, more reasons than anyone could have imagined? Based on my experience in supporting both Windows and Linux, my usage of both OS’, I think it really comes down to the following.
#1 The curiosity seeker
This is an individual who isn’t dissatisfied or otherwise upset with their current Windows experience. But they keep seeing this “Linux” thing popping up in the news and are genuinely curious as to what all of the fuss is about.
#2 The Windows hater
With a burning hatred of all things using the Windows logo, this person is either into Linux because of their embracing of FOSS philosophy or perhaps, simply because they have a negative history with Microsoft products.
#3 The control freak
Even if it means there’s a learning curve, this is the kind of person who is deadly serious about making sure that they tweak their operating platform until their wrists hurt. Control, is the name of the game and there is no question this is an area where Linux excels.
#4 The adventurer
With no real strong feeling about alternative OS’ one way or the other, this is a person who loves the challenge or going against the grain. Showing off the fact that they can do something that others cannot. Especially if it can be done in a duplicatable way that others can follow.
Where did I fit in?
So where would I for instance, happen to fit in? Back in 2002-2003, I started out in the #1 slot and soon found myself falling head first into slot #4, then later slot #3. What made my “learning days” in slot #4 so fun was all of the cool stuff I was learning. But unlike many others out there, I never branched out into more complex distributions of Linux. Instead I found myself wanting to make the experience easier for others instead of me advancing away from what was easy.
I would become comfortable with the command line tools, then find GUI alternatives to share with others. I followed trends and even created a few of my own with the platform. I can honestly say that my years with Linux have made me wiser, quicker and more intuitive than I ever thought possible. These skills later translated into other gigs as the years passed.
My advice on Linux is this. If you’re happy using what you run now. Awesome, stick with it. Because the one thing that I have little tolerance for more than anything are people who try something only to complain all day how it’s not like an experience they’re used to. Give me a break. When I run OS X or Windows, I have to remember to hold the same point of view in place. After all, it’s a different platform. So patience and a desire to learn, are helpful if you’re considering diving into slot #1 above.
The reasons to use or not use Linux over Windows are derived from the motivation to take on the Linux challenge in the first place. Without falling into one of the above four slots, the reason to use Linux would likely be meaningless for most people.