1.2 Reasons to Choose or Not Choose Linux
its high points, Linux is not for everyone. You should approach your
decision to use Linux as you'd approach any
decision, by evaluating the pros and cons. Here are several reasons
to run Linux:
- You want a stable and reliable computing platform.
popular operating system is more stable and reliable than Linux. If
you're tired of crashes and hangs and the lost time
and data they entail, you're a candidate for Linux.
- You want a high-performance computing platform.
can coax blazingly fast performance out of hardware below the minimum
required to load and run other popular operating systems. And with
ample memory and a fast CPU, Linux goes toe-to-toe with anything
Microsoft or other vendors offer. If speed is your thing, Linux is
your hot rod.
- You need a low-cost or free operating system.
you're on a budget or if you need to set up many
systems, the low cost of Linux will let you reserve your hard-earned
capital for hardware or other resources. Linux is the best operating
system value on the planet.
- You're a heavy network or Internet user.
If you use networks, especially the
Internet, Linux's advanced support for TCP/IP may
light up your life. Linux makes it easy to construct firewalls that
protect your system against hackers or routers that let several
computers share a single network connection.
- You want to learn Unix or TCP/IP networking.
The best way—perhaps the only way—to learn more about
Unix or TCP/IP networking (or computers generally) is through
hands-on experience. Whether you're interested in
such experience owing to personal curiosity or career ambition
(system administrators are often handsomely paid), Linux affords you
the opportunity to gain such experience at low cost, without leaving
the comfort of your home.
- You seek an alternative to Microsoft's vision of computing's future.
If you're tired of marching to the relentless
drumbeat of the Redmond juggernaut, Linux offers a viable way to cut
the umbilical cord and set about creating a new, open source
computing destiny for yourself and others.
- You want to have fun.
Hopefully, you've discovered that one of the best
reasons for doing anything is that it's fun. Many
Linux users report that they've never had so much
fun with a computer. There's no better reason for
running Linux than that.
To be frank, some folks shouldn't run Linux. If one
or more of the following are true of you, you should run Linux
only if you have a good friend
who's knowledgeable about Linux, available by phone
at odd hours, and works cheap:
- You're scared of computers.
If you're scared of computers, you should spend more
time working with Windows 98/2000 before venturing into the Linux
world. Linux may indeed be right for you, but it's
not right just yet.
- You don't like, or don't have the time and inclination, to tinker and learn.
Setting up and running Linux will require you to learn new concepts
and skills. None of these is especially difficult, but unless
you're enthusiastic about learning and playing
around, setting up and running Linux will stress you out. Instead,
you should stick with the familiar.
- You're married to certain Windows applications.
You can run some Windows applications under
WINE emulation, but
this isn't true of every Windows application. Before
putting your toe in the Linux waters, you should obtain up-to-date
information on the status of WINE emulation of your favorite Windows
applications (see http://www.winehq.com). Alternatively, you
can purchase the commercial products VMware (see http://www.vmware.com) or Win4Lin (see
enable you to run Windows applications or Windows itself under Linux.
Rather than convert your desktop system to run Linux, you may prefer
to install Linux on a second system or to set up your computer as a
dual-boot system, running both Windows and Linux on separate
partitions of a single hard drive. That way, you have your choice of
running your favorite Windows applications or Linux whenever you
On the other hand, the quality of Linux applications continues to
improve. Many Linux users are quite satisfied with Linux applications
and desktop suites such as OpenOffice, which provides word
processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs. So, unless your
marriage to Windows applications includes a formal vow, you may want
to reconsider your marital status.
- You're addicted to 3D gaming.
3D gaming is a resource-intensive form of
computing. To provide the best possible gaming experience, designers
of 3D games strive to take full benefit of advanced capabilities of
sophisticated graphics adapters. However, manufacturers of graphic
adapters do not always provide Linux-compatible drivers. And, even if
a Linux-compatible driver is available for your graphics adapter, it
may not fully support the adapter's capabilities.
Moreover, relatively few game publishers release Linux versions of
their games. So, if you're a 3D game aficionado,
you'll likely prefer to keep one foot in the Windows
world. But, that doesn't mean that you
shouldn't run Linux; only that you probably
shouldn't run only Linux.
Still game? Excellent! Please proceed to Chapter 2
and prepare to install Linux.