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Why Use Linux? 9 Benefits to Consider

linux in golden letters

Are you setting up a new server and wondering which Operating System is best for you? Linux has been the premier choice in server hosting for decades, but you may be wondering, why should I choose Linux? This Free-to-use system has experienced consistent growth since it was introduced over 25 years ago. While it might not have the largest market share, it’s still a worthy competitor to traditional proprietary options.

In this benefits guide, we will take a look at 9 advantages of Linux that you should consider.

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1. It’s Open Source

open-source

Unlike the operating systems of Windows and Apple Mac OS, Linux is a FOSS environment – Free and Open Source Software.

In most cases, proprietary software is built and owned by a single brand. This is the model used by Windows and Apple. But Linux doesn’t belong to any one person. It’s a collaborative effort, anyone is free to contribute and is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). What does this mean? Anyone can run, study, adapt and redistribute the source code. If you choose, you could even sell copies of the amended code, so long as you do so under the same license.

This approach is designed to encourage innovation and information sharing. In theory, the software improves continuously as new ideas are generated from a global community of programmers.

As a result, there’s no one version of Linux per se. Linux is simply the name of the OS kernel around which many different distributions (“distros”) can be built. The various parts of the typical Linux operating system are usually developed by several different companies.

It is these Linux distributions that pull all of these parts together for you, capturing the code from open-source projects and arranging it for you into a single OS that you can boot up and install. The Linux operating system will also choose the default desktop environment, browser, and other software.

The Linux kernel (the core of the operating system), the GNU shell utilities (the GNU Core Utilities are the basic file, shell, and text manipulation utilities of the GNU operating system), the desktop environment (which runs on the X server to provide a graphical interface), and more. They’re all open-source software distributed in source code form.

2. Doesn’t Break the Bank

Linux is a brilliant option for the budget-conscious. Windows 10 hooked in many users by offering free upgrades from the previous version. But a copy of Windows Server costs upward of $20 per month. By the time you’ve added other desired software, you’ll be spending significantly more than you would with a Linux operating system.

Due to the open-source nature of the Linux system, performance is where this software truly shows its advantages. The Linux kernel itself and the vast majority of its software library are absolutely free. OS? Free. Apps? Most popular server applications are completely free. Total spend for a functioning operating system: $0.

So Linux has a huge edge for the budget-conscious or even those who feel equivalent OS solutions are overpriced.

3. It’s Programmer-Friendly

programmer-friendly

Linux provides a great platform for developers. At its core, Linux is also designed to be fiddled with. This philosophical stance is at odds with the more rigid nature of Windows and Apple. Linux’s modularity means it’s possible to recreate a local testing environment for programs.

Programmers can learn when working within a Linux environment. Whether they want to take a peek into the source code or build a program from scratch, Linux is flexible enough to support it. Most Linux software isn’t covered by an end-user license agreement (EULA) as it would be in proprietary programs. In fact, the only agreement required by most Linux software is that any derivatives must also be free and open source.

4. Security

No OS is iron-clad against software attacks. So why use Linux over others? Linux has escaped largely unscathed from large-scale cyber-attacks for decades. For one, Linux’s open-source nature ensures that vulnerabilities are spotted and fixed quickly as there is a great deal of Linux community support. There’s essentially a planet’s worth of brainpower on standby to patch issues as they appear. Proprietary operating systems need to rely on in-house teams and rigid testing cycles to release patches.

Part of this advantage also comes down to its lower market share. Windows and Apple remain the giants in OS distribution. But that also makes them juicy targets. Comparatively, Linux populates fewer home and business computers. That means there’s less incentive for hackers and malware developers to develop viruses for Linux users. While the Linux system has fared well against potential hackers,  strong anti-virus software is still essential for any desktop computer.

5. Starts Fast, Stays Fast

starts-fast-stays-fast

A major flaw in Windows is its habit of slowing down over time. There are a few contributing factors to this. Spyware, adware, and even benign programs running in the background can slow a system over time. But part of the problem is fundamental to Windows, thanks to the internal registry it uses to track installations.

Defrags and formats are a fact of life for Windows users. But Linux has no registry. It also doesn’t use Windows’ sluggish NTFS drive format.

6. Choices for Choosy People

If you choose a proprietary OS, you’re locked into a certain structure. The developer chooses how the OS functions and what aspects to prioritize.

But Linux’s more customizable nature gives greater scope for user choice. You can base even your choice of distro on what exactly your needs are. If you have certain priorities for your system, you can use custom variations of that distro to tailor your desktop.

The huge variety of free software also allows users to pick and choose to suit them. Windows has a small pool of open-source alternatives to Office, for instance. But on Linux, open-source is the default, so the available pool of alternatives is much larger.

This extends even to the basic UI. Windows gives a small range of options for changing its interface. Compared to the modular nature of Linux, these are laughable. Linux users can expect to mix, match, and tailor any element of the UI to fit their needs.

7. Teach an Old Machine New Tricks

old-machine-new-tricks

Have an old machine sitting around? Thinking it’s too underpowered for modern computing?

The sheer variety of Linux distros means you can always find something to run even on low-end systems. They might not be as full-featured as a beefier OS, but you can use them to revive forgotten hardware.

An outdated machine could be a great excuse to try Linux. If it’s not going to be good for anything else, install a basic Linux OS and answer the question “why use Linux?” for yourself.

8. Linux Provides Privacy

There’s been plenty of talk about the loss of privacy under Windows 10. The OS now gathers more data than ever before in an attempt to profile its users.

For some, this improves usability. For others, it’s inviting Big Brother into their desktop. So why use Linux for privacy?

Linux software collects little-to-no data about its users. And Linux is so customizable that if you suspect a piece of software is doing more than it should, you can jettison it and replace it with something else.

9. Which Version Should I Chose?

Even as a beginner in the Linux environment, you will want to know some of the basics of the systems that reside within its operating system. Distros come in all kinds of forms, from smaller versions that fit on a memory stick to large systems that work best on SSD's.

There are a large number of specialized technical distros that offer support for different devices and systems while providing software package configurations, but here is where you will find the Best Linux Distros. If you are new to the Linux community you may wish to consider distros such as  Ubuntu or Mint. However, for developers and programmers, you may wish to consider Arch Linux or openSUSE. If you are looking for security and privacy, you may lean towards Tails or Qubes OS. If gaming is your thing, consider Steam OS or Game Drift Linux.  You may be looking to switch from a Windows system to a Linux system that provides more stability and want an easy transition, there is a distro for that as well. Many of these systems choose Debian as their base for software.

Why Use Linux? Why Not?

Whether you are simply looking for a stable operating system or a complete server for your community or business, Linux Dedicated Server Hosting provides something for everyone.  From the reasons above, you can see the answer to “why use Linux?” might well be “Why not?”. Linux is a high-performance operating system that has plenty going for it, and the advantages it has in its favor are only becoming more relevant with time. So why not try a Linux system today, and find out if it’s right for you?

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Ryan Jarvis

Ryan Jarvis

Ryan is a Systems Administrator at ServerMania. He focuses on developing and supporting dedicated, hybrid, and cloud hosting infrastructures.