Linux is a free operating system which was created by an college student for a project for school. He combined a collection of free software and shareware that he downloaded from the Internet, to make an operating system. Linux is unique in that it is not copy righted but is copy left. This simply means that anyone can download Linux and is source code for free and make any adjustments they believe will improve the operating system as long as they make it available for others to download. This feature can very well be the key that will eventually make Linux the most desirable operating system on the market.
Many computer users feel that Windows will never be removed from the position that it has gained in the market. Windows was the first major operating system that used a graphical user interface. It did away with the task of remembering a list of Dos commands to accomplish normal computer activities. With Windows, a user simply has to click on an icon to accomplish a task. Without Windows, personal computers would probably not be as popular as they are today.
Linux has several major advantages over Windows. The biggest advantage is probably the cost. Its free as opposed to $400 for Windows. Application software for Linux is also a lot cheaper then Windows software. A lot of Linux software can be downloaded free off the Internet. There are many Linux user groups that work on developing and testing applications, and making them available for the public. Windows software is mainly developed by large corporations that must make a big profit off their software in order to fulfill their large payrolls.
Another major advantage of Linux is the technical support. While you will probably have to pay for a support package, you will be getting very good support. The people who support Linux are not just college students working a part-time job. They use Linux on an every day basis and truly care about fixing your problems. With Windows, however, tech support is usually free but very lousy. A lot of times the tech-support doesn’t even use the application they are supporting unless they are at work and can only answer questions on which they can find documentation.
One disadvantage of Linux is trying to load it. Windows comes with a wizard that installs with very little user input, which makes it very easy to install especially for the average computer user with no technical education. Linux requires hardware knowledge and some Dos commands. The instillation process is very interactive. However, this is rapidly changing, Linux programmers at Redhat are working on creating a wizard to install the operating system and soon it might be easier to install than Windows.
Linux is also great for networking, it can be configured to share CPU’s modems and any other hardware. Linux comes shipped with all the software needed to create a very powerful server. It comes with a Mail server, Internet server, Database server, C++ programming tools and many other development tools that you would have to buy separately with Windows NT.
Linux is not just an college project anymore, it has advanced into a very powerful and useful operating system. Many say it is just a matter of time till it bypasses Windows and Macintosh. It will probably gain popularity very rapidly in the next 5 years as it becomes easier to install by an average user on a personal computer.
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