Linux is a totally free, open source computer operating system. Open source means that no one company owns it. Software engineers that develop Linux work within coding or programming communities or on their own to contribute to various Linux projects.

Linux is not new–it’s been around for 25 years. But today’s Linux is modernized and cutting edge. It runs desktop computers and mobile devices. The Android operating system is a part of the Linux Eco-structure since it is built around the Linux kernel software. People today use Linux without even knowing it–it even runs many TV systems.

The operating system is free to download and use, and is mostly maintained by dedicated programmers and software developers. Many of these people work for IT firms and commercial software companies. Others work within various development communities to release Linux applications. Some companies offer free Linux versions along with offering businesses customized open source software support for a fee. Consumers never pay a penny for using Linux.

Linux is everywhere; it runs much of the Internet. Linux also runs most of the top 500 supercomputers, as well as traffic control systems, self-driving cars and cloud storage systems. Linux powers much of the servers and business computer systems as well.

Some Linux distros closely resemble the look and feel of Microsoft Windows, like this Linux Lite desktop.

Some Linux distros closely resemble the look and feel of Microsoft Windows, like this Linux Lite desktop.

Why Use Linux?

Linux doesn’t require you to purchase anything. It works on your current computer, and is becoming popular as an alternative to Microsoft Windows and the Apple MacOS platforms. Even the software that runs on Linux is completely free. For businesses that want or need specialized help, only the tech support they contract has a fee.

The idea that you can use Linux as a free replacement for Microsoft Windows or the MacOS can confuse students. Why change? As a student, you are pressed for time. Is switching to Linux really something you want to do?

The simple answer is: yes. The benefits far outweigh the slight inconvenience. Besides, switching to Linux is painless and productive. Using Linux in the long-run will save you time, aggravation and trouble from malware and viruses. Linux is rated by Internet security experts as one of the most secure computer operating systems available. Linux is the smart move to make.

Debunking Linux Myths

Linux has several misconceptions circulating about it. One of the biggest criticisms comes from people who assume that anything you get for free can not be worth the bother. After all, you get what you pay for. But that is false logic.

The open source software movement is a worldwide business model. Linux developers make money providing subscription services and customized technical creations and support for the free operating systems on personal and business computers, servers and cloud storage operations.

Even Microsoft, once an avowed hater of Linux and open source software, is now one of the up and coming contributors to the open source software concept. In fact, Microsoft has already converted some of its most popular software as apps for Android devices and free services for Linux OS users.

Two more myths are that few people use Linux and learning to use it is difficult. Wrong on both counts. Today’s Linux is modern and very customizable. Whatever your comfort zone in your Windows or Mac configuration, you can duplicate that with a Linux.

Like Windows and the MacOS, Linux has a command line utility for controlling how the system works. In the old days, computers lacked a graphical user interface or GUI that let you point and click with a mouse or a touch screen. Just like Windows and Apple computers, Linux has a GUI that is very similar to that used with Windows or Macs. So Linux is just as easy to use.

Other Linux distros, like Korora Linux, offer a very functional change of pace in design.

Other Linux distros, like Korora Linux, offer a very functional change of pace in design.

Linux Secrecy

One of the most erroneous myths about Linux is that secret developers own the software and track your every move. Nothing could be further from the truth. Two iron-clad reasons back up this view.

One, nobody owns Linux. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). This is a widely used free software license. It guarantees end users the freedom to run, study, share and modify the software.

Two, Linux is developed as open source software. That reality, coupled with the GPL license, allows anyone with programming skills to inspect the software code. That is one reason why Linux is safe and rigorous. Coders constantly review the programming and report areas that contain vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

Two related arguments are that nobody uses Linux or sales records are kept secret. No one really knows how many people use Linux on their computers. Since the software is not sold, no one has sales records for any of the Linux distributions. But you can quickly check out the thousands of downloads for the variety of Linux distributions tracked on various sites such as Distrowatch.com.

Ready, Set, Get It!

Stretch your skills, and give the Linux operating system a try. Linux is free. It works on your current computer. You can run Linux from a DVD or USB drive, leaving your existing computer operating system and all of your files intact.

All you need to get started is a free ISO file download. Then install it on a flash drive, restart your computer and follow the on-screen prompts. You do not have to remove your existing Windows or Apple system.

If that intimidates you, take your computer to a service shop and let the technician do it for you. Or buy a computer with Linux pre-installed. You can find vendors online such as System76 and ZaReason. Major computer makers also sell their computers with Linux on them.

Check out a few of my previous articles on HackCollege.com about installing and using Linux:

Learning Linux: Getting Started
Picking Your Ideal Linux Distro: Part 1
Picking Your Ideal Linux Distro: Part 2

Lots of information is available about the Linux operating system online. For example, Linux Journey is website that makes learning about Linux very easy. It focuses on plain talk and essential explanations. It offers easy-to-follow lessons about how key parts of Linux work and how to use it to enhance your computing experience.