The Linux Convert - moving from closed to Open Source

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Linux Convert - Why Use Linux!

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Main Feature - Building a Linux PC - quick, easy and cheaply!

Why Should You Use Linux?

For some people, this is a major question today.

There are a lot of people using some version of Microsoft Windows (for example, lots of pages on this site have been created with Dreamweaver 8 on a Windows XP installation!) who are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. For the vast majority of people Windows is perfectly suitable for all their day to day requirements and they will find it difficult to convince themselves that the effort involved in a Linux Installation is worth while. This page is here to help you make that decision.

Before you read any further, remember we LOVE Linux so the information here is biased that way. Just as if you go to www.microsoft.com you will see information biased about "just how great windows is." The main difference is we also like Windows! (Oh no! That is all the die hard Linux fans who "hate-Bill-Gates-as-he-is-the-antichrist" people leaving this site!!!) To put it simply, the operating system is there for you. Do not be swayed by either the MS fanatics who will try to ignore that Windows can have any faults or the Anti-Windows crowd (some of whom would back an OS that couldn't support a keyboard if they thought it "got at" MS)

Background

(mainly for UK visitors) - Towards the end of 1998, there was a sudden swell in the number of people in the UK who jumped on the Linux bandwagon. This was partly caused by curiosity and partly dissatisfaction with "current" OS platforms. The fact that Linux is free, in the guise of Unix(:-}) it powers most of the web and is quite "cool" nowadays helped no end. Then two very popular UK magazines (PCPlus with S.u.S.E and PC Direct with Red Hat) put Linux on their cover-disks, and LOTS of people bought copies. Freed from the need to either pay for it at all (other than the cost of the magazine) or have to download it (at UK phone rates it is cheaper to buy Windows NT4 Server!!!)*there are people at home and in work contemplating using Linux. On this part of our site we will give you some good reasons to install Linux. Print them off and show them to your friends, or better still copy them, put your name on the top and hand it in to your boss as a report to get your office Linux powered!

Pros

As Linux is a variant of the grandfather of operating systems (Unix) it naturally has built in, working support for:

  • Multiking - Linux really can run several programs at once!
  • Multiuser - Unix (and therefore Linux) was designed to be used by hundreds of users at once.
  • Multiplatform - You can get a version of Linux for nearly any processor.
  • Multiprocessor - The Linux Kernel will make optimum use of however many processors you can give it!
  • Internet Friendly - Linux really is designed for the internet - it runs TCP in its native state. Linux can be configured into a secure firewall fairly easy.

Linux protects the use of its memory as it runs each process, this makes it unusual for it to crash due to an errant bit of software. (No more blue screens of death!) Linux also allows multiple processes to use the same memory space.  

Linux uses paging for its virtual memory  (not swapping whole processes like some other OS) - the page file  (swap file or whatever you want to call it) can be a separate partition or a file in the file system, or both, with the possibility of adding more swapping areas during runtime. Theoretical Linux supports 2 GB of useable swap space.

There are no limits to how much RAM you have and it will access what you have much more efficiently.

All free memory can be used for caching, and the cache can be reduced when running large programs.

You can install Linux on a machine that already runs any other OS. There maybe one or two technical "issues" if you try to run it alongside Unix or another version of Linux but it will co-exist with Windows/95/98/NT/2K with little or no trouble. Linux will also run your MS-Dos/Windows applications (occasionally this may require extra software such as Wine)

The complete source code is available, including the whole kernel and all drivers, the development tools and all user programs; also, all of it is freely distributable. Plenty of commercial programs are being provided for Linux without source, but everything that has been free, including the entire base operating system, is still free.

There are multiple virtual consoles: This means you can have several independent login sessions through the console. You switch by pressing a hot-key combination.

It supports several common file systems , including Minix, Xenix, and all the common System V systems, and has advanced file management capabilities of its own, which offers partitions of up to 4 TB, and file names up to 255 characters long.

Access to MS-DOS partitions (or OS/2 FAT partitions) is catered for and transparent to the user: you don't need any special commands to use the MS-DOS partition, it looks just like a normal Unix partition (except for funny restrictions on filenames, permissions, and so on). Linux also supports HPFS (OS/2 2.1), HFS (Macintosh) filesystems.

Linux's network background means it supports TCP/IP networking, Appletalk server, Netware client and server, Lan Manager (SMB) client and server, AX.25, X.25, IPX, DDP (Appletalk), and NetBEUI. This means that it can communicate with other operating systems on the same network.

Stable network protocols included in the stable kernels currently include TCP, IPv4, IPX, DDP, and AX.25.

Cons

Very steep learning curve.

That's about all I can think of :-)

Seriously if you can think of anything to add I will put it here for the world to see. All your comments are welcome.


* This situation may be about to change with the introduction of free local calls to ISPs in the UK. Now it is a bit more feasible for people to tolerate the long download times.

As this opens the door to 24/7 internet access the need for a secure system is paramount. Enter Linux! (back)


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