o A modern, very stable, multi-user, multitasking environment on your
inexpensive PC hardware, at no (or almost no) monetary cost for the software.
Linux is a rich and powerful platform--don't think of it as a "poor people"
operating system. Out-of-box Linux has as much capability as MS
Windows NT with $5000 in software add-ons, is more stable, and requires
less powerful hardware for comparable tasks.
o Standard platform. Linux is VERY standard--it is essentially
a POSIX compliant UNIX. (Yes, Linux is a best-of-the-breed UNIX.
The word "UNIX" is not used in conjunction with Linux because "UNIX" is
a registered trademark.) Linux includes all the UNIX standard tools and
o Unsurpassed computing power, portability, and flexibility.
A Linux cluster recently (April 1999) beat a Cray supercomputer in a standard
benchmark. Linux is most popular on Intel-based PCs (price of the
hardware), but it runs very well on numerous other hardware platforms,
from toy-like to mainframes. One distribution (Debian) expresses
the idea like this: "Linux, The Universal Operating System." Linux
can be customized to perform almost any computing task.
o Advanced graphical user interface. Linux uses a standard, network-transparent
X-windowing system with a "window manager" (typically KDE or GNOME).
o Dozens of excellent, free, general-interest desktop applications.
This include a range of web browsers, email programs, word processors,
spreadsheets, bitmap and vector graphics programs, file managers, audio
players, CD writers, some games, etc.
o Thousands of free applets, tools, and smaller programs. "Small
is beautiful" goes well with Linux philosophy. The small Linux tools and
applets often work in tandem to perform more complex tasks.
o Hundreds of specialized applications built by researchers around
the world (astronomy, information technology, chemistry, physics, engineering,
linguistics, biology, ...). In many fields, Linux seems like "the only"
operating system in existence (try to find out what your friend astronomer
runs on her computer). The software in this category is typically not
very easy to use, but if you want the power, it is the best software that
humanity has in these areas. Doubtful? Have a look at: http://SAL.KachinaTech.COM/Z/2/index.shtml
o Scores of top-of-the line commercial programs including all the
big databases (e.g., Oracle, Sybase, but no Microsoft's). Many (most?)
of these are offered free for developers and for personal use.
o A truly great learning platform. If you are a parent, you should
be really glad your daughter/son does Linux--s/he will surely learn something
of lasting value. If you are a teacher, you should consider the installation
of Linux at your school. "It is indeed a strange world when educators
need to be convinced that sharing information, as opposed to concealing
information, is a good thing" (http://edge-op.org/grouch/schools.html).
You select Linux if you care to provide education, not training.
The better the university, the greater the chance their computer department
uses Linux in teaching. For example, under Linux, you can immediately
begin modifying and compiling for yourself a spreadsheet application which
is in every bit as advanced and capable as MS Excel. Linux puts you right
on the cutting edge (in technology, project management, QA, methodology
of science). Many teachers won't use Linux in schools because they are
lacking in computer education themselves (at least that's what I see).
o Excellent networking capability built into your operating system.
You think you don't need a network? Once you try home networking, you
will never be able to live without it! How about connecting the
two or more computers that you have at home and sharing your hard drives,
CDROM(s), sound card(s), modem, printer(s), etc.? How about browsing the
net on two or more machines at the same time using a single Internet connection?
How about playing a game with your son over your home network? Even your
old 386 with Win3.11 may become useful again when connected to your Linux
Pentium server and when it is able to use your network resources. All
necessary networking software comes with standard Linux, free, just setup
is required. And it is not second-rate shareware--it is exactly the same
software that runs most of the Internet (the Apache software runs more
than 50% of all Internet web servers and Sendmail touches some 70% of
all e-mail). The pleasure of home networking is something I was able to
discover only owing to Linux.
o Connectivity to Microsoft, Novel, and Apple proprietary networking.
Reading/writing to your DOS/MS Windows and other disk formats. This includes
"transparent" use of data stored on the MS Windows partition of your hard
o State-of-art development platform with many best-of-the-kind programming
languages and tools coming free with the operating system. Access to all
the operating system source codes, should you require it, is also free.
The "C" compiler that comes standard with Linux can compile code for more
platforms than (probably) any other compiler on earth. Perl, Python, Guile,
Tcl, Ruby, powerful "shell" scripting, and even an assembler also come
as standard with Linux.
o Freedom from viruses, "backdoors" to your computer, software manufacturer
"features," invasion of privacy, forced upgrades, proprietary file
formats, licensing and marketing schemes, product registration, high software
prices, and pirating. How is this? Linux has no viruses because
it is too secure an operating system for the viruses to spread with any
degree of efficiency. The rest follows from the open-source and non-commercial
nature of Linux: Linux evolved itself by "bazar-like" mechanisms
to encapsulate the best computing practices, code legibility and correctness,
security, flexibility, usefulness, coolness, performance.
o The operating platform that is guaranteed "here-to-stay." Since
Linux is not owned, it cannot possibly be put out of business. The Linux
General Public License (GPL) insures that development/maintanance will
be provided as long as there are Linux users. There is a great number
of highly-educated Linux users and tens of thousands of actively developed
o A platform which will technically develop at a rapid pace. This
is insured by the modern, open-software development model which Linux
implements: "build-on-the-back-of-the-previous-developer" and
"peer-review-your-code" (as opposed to the anachronistic closed-software
model: "always-start-from-scratch" and "nobody-will-see-my-code"). Even
if the current "Linux hype" died out, Linux will develop as it did before
the media hype started. Open source development does have its peculiarities:
the development appears rather slow (vertically) but it proceeds on a
very wide front, dangerous security bugs are fixed almost upon discovery,
there are typically several alternatives for a program of similar functionality.
Linux depth cannot be overestimated.
If you wanted to learn first-hand about the General Public License, check
these famous GNU documents:
In a nutshell,
the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) allows anybody to:
- use the software at no charge, without any limitations,
- copy, and distribute or sell unmodified copies of the software in
the source or binary form,
- modify, and distribute or sell a modified version of the software
as long as the source code is included and licenced under the GPL,
- sell support for the software.
What this license *does not* allow to do is to modify the software and then
distrubute a binary-only version of the software (without the source code).
Speaking plainly, the GPL licence just forbids stealing somebody else's
software for incorporation into a closed, commercial-only product. However,
you may incorporate GPL software in a propriatory computer program if you
obtain a permission from the author. Excluded from the use of GPL are persons
who have been found to violate GPL.
The license under which Linux is distributed is probably the most important
part of it. It is designed to perpetuate the freedom of information. Other
important open-source projects include science and law (hardly a joke).
The Linux method is really nothing new--it is simply the application of
the scientific method to software: you get information free, you add your
ideas and make your living, and finally, you leave it free. However,
some big corporations and their lawyers seem to be trying hard to change
this, to push us back in time, to the dark ages, when information was kept
"proprietary." Hence, you see in newspapers some famous Linux-connected
persons involved in all kinds of struggles.
get a flavour for the value of Linux, here are some prices for commercial
software as listed at www.amazon.com. All prices are in $USA, as
listed on 2001-02-03, with discounts. Roughly equivalent Linux software
is included on almost any Linux CD (but with no restrictions on the number
of clients). In addition, the hardware for Linux is MUCH cheaper,
since Linux can run all services on a single server:
The word "free"
has two quite different meanings in the English language, and it sometimes
leads to misconceptions about the free nature of Linux. These two meanings
follow the Latin adjective "liber" and the adverb "gratis," and they are
often illustrated with the phrases "free speech" and "free (of charge) beer."
Most Linux software is free in both senses, but it is only the first sense
which is essential to Linux.
Windows 2000 Server (5-client)--$848.99; Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server
(5-client)--$1,279.99; Microsoft Outlook 2000 (1-client)--$94.99; Systems
Management Server 2.0 (10-Cals)--$994.99; Proxy Server 2.0--$886.99; Microsoft
SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition (5-client)--$1,229.99; Microsoft SQL
Server 2000 Standard Edition (1-user License)--$4,443.99; Microsoft BackOffice
Small Business Server 4.5 NT (Add-On 5-CAL)--$264.99; Windows NT
Server Prod Upgrade From BackOffice SBS Small Bus Server (25-client)--$558.99;
Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server Upgrade (25-client)--$3,121.99;
Microsoft FrontPage 2000--$129.99; Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration
Server --$664.99; Site Server Commerce 3.0 (25-client)--$4,092.99;
Visual C++ 6.0 Professional Edition with Plus Pack--$525.99; Microsoft
Visual Basic Enterprise 6.0 with Plus Pack--$1,128.99; Microsoft
Visual Sourcesafe 6.0 CD--$469.99; Microsoft Office 2000 Standard (1-client)--$384.99;
Adobe Photoshop 6.0--$551.99; Microsoft Plus Game Pack--$19.99.
Next > 0.5
What are the differences between Linux and UNIX?