BitBot Software uses Linux and many other FOSS software packages daily. In fact, we have made it our whole business. I encourage you to consider what Open-Source Software can do for you and your business.
What is FOSS?
FOSS stands for ‘Free and Open Source Software’. ‘Free’ in this context refers to ‘freedom’ (as in free speech), not price (although FOSS also tends to be).
What is Linux?
Linux is an operating system for your computer, in a similar way that Microsoft Windows and Apple’s OSX are operating systems for your computer. Linux is stable, extremely flexible and well supported. It is the fastest growing operating system in the world and it is freely available for you to install onto your computer! Sound great? It is!
Why should I move to Linux?
Ok, so your installation of Windows ‘works fine’ so why should you bother about Linux? Good question.
Viruses and Spyware
Linux does not suffer from virus and spyware problems like Windows does. This is because of the secure way Linux was designed. Imagine not having to worry about getting a virus or opening that email attachment! Feel confident when using your computer.
Security and Stability
Linux is designed to be stable, safe and secure. Due to the nature of open source software, any security flaws are fixed very quickly. The world’s best programmers and thousands of people contribute to the programs you would use everyday and this means you get the best software packages available which are continually being improved. Using Linux puts you in control of your computer and you can rest knowing your system is safe, secure, and the software will always exist. Security updates are always available and you don’t have to worry about issues like Microsoft no-longer supporting your version of Windows and having to pay for an upgrade (and probably a new computer!).
You can search for and install software on your Linux computer in a single convenient application. No searching the internet for the files you need or fumbling through the latest CD you got in the mail, just hit the install button to watch Linux download the required files from the internet and install them for you. Not only this, but once you have your system and applications installed, Linux keeps track of all of the application updates automatically, regardless of whether you have used those applications before or even knew that they were installed! So whether it’s a security update, a new version of OpenOffice.org, or even the core Linux system itself, it is all handled seamlessly and easily. And, most importantly, being open source you know you can trust the software that is being installed!
Linux is often at the forefront of computer technology and innovation. It is not bound by the same pressures as commercial entities and people are free to be creative and innovative. Some examples of where Linux has already included features before Windows are: fancy 3D desktop effects with Xgl and beryl; TV and media centre with mythtv; desktop searching with beagle; desktop widgets with superkaramba; and many more. Plus, Linux is available for free right now!
Linux runs on anything. In fact it is the most widely supported operating system in the world! From brand new computers to old ones you were going to throw away there is always a Linux version for you. With Linux you can still browse websites all over the internet, watch movies, listen to your music, access your digital camera, use your scanner and much much more. You can also send emails and create documents that are compatible with Windows systems.
Free (as in freedom)
Linux is free open source software. This might not mean much to you if you are not a programmer, but even if you are just an end user, it means you can trust the software). Free open source software is also gaining popularity all over the world and is on the rise. Now is a good time to start learning a valuable new skill set.
Free (as in price)
You might think that your computer came with Windows for free, but you actually did pay for it. Linux however, actually is free. Forget worrying about pirated software! From complete office suites to media programs and internet applications, the open source software that comes with Linux is not only fully featured, it doesn’t cost a cent.
Easy and Intuitive
A single 20 minute install of Linux will set up all your software and all your hardware in one go! You don’t need to waste time searching for driver disks and going through the frustration of installing all your software. Once your Linux system is installed you will find it is very simple and easy to use. Linux is continually being improved and made more intuitive because people have the freedom to make changes to the software. These are then made available for everyone else to benefit from.
Choice and Control
Linux also puts you in control by giving you choice. Choice about what software to run and how you run it. You don’t have to worry about being stuck with one particular program or a set way of doing something. There are thousands of free computer programs available for you to install at the click of a button! Indeed you can even customise the interface to your liking, or choose one of the various Linux versions available that work differently out of the box. Linux is flexible and lets you create a system that works for you. Find or create something that suits you!
Everyone using Linux does so because they chose to, not because they had to. People develop Linux because they have a passion for it, not because they do it for money or market share. This means things are done for the right reasons. Users are always willing to help others and Linux is a global collaboration effort. The Linux community is made up of people just like you and it’s a great community to be a part of.
Linux is also FUN to use. Imagine actually enjoying using your computer again! There’s just something great about running Linux on your computer, even computer savvy people will be impressed!
What about my data?
One of the major hurdles when converting from closed source software is compatibility. Companies which create their own closed source formats make it virtually impossible for anyone else to know how their formats work. Despite this, Linux is compatible with almost every data format in existence and there is generally a freely available program that will read your data. For example, Microsoft Office documents are supported in the OpenOffice.org suite and Adobe Photoshop files are supported in the Gimp.
Organisations all around the world, including the National Archives of Australia, are switching their documents to this new format to ensure unrestricted access to digital information now and in the future. We encourage users to switch from using closed and dangerous proprietary formats to open and freely available formats, which will be around forever.
It is likely that much of your existing Windows software will not run on Linux natively. However, there are ways to provide a compatibility layer for Linux to allow you to run Windows software.
Most computer games will not run natively under Linux. There are a few however, like the Unreal Tournament and Quake series of games, which already run perfectly under Linux.
Essentially, the file format for Microsoft Office documents is closed source and proprietary. Although Word and Excel files are the pseudo-standard in many business contexts, it is important to understand that the way in which the Microsoft Office suite of applications store your data on your computer’s hard drive is not a standard. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent Linux applications which are great replacements for all of Microsoft Office’s functionality. Even better, some programs like the OpenOffice.org suite can even read and write Microsoft Office files.
Linux supports more hardware devices out of the box than any other operating system, however there is a range of devices that do not work easily. Most of these are what is called ‘win-hardware’. These devices have a software component which needs to be installed on Windows in order for them work. As Linux does not run Windows software these devices are often hard to configure. Example devices include some wireless cards, some printers, and some internal dialup modems. In many cases the open source community has written their own Linux drivers for these devices, however in some cases the manufacturer may not release sufficient information to make this possible. Fortunately more and more manufacturers are supporting Linux, so hopefully this issue will soon be in the past.
Will Linux run on your computer?
As Linux has excellent hardware support, chances are that the Linux distribution you choose will run well on your computer.
BitBot Software recommends Ubuntu Linux for most casual computer users.A big thanks to the author of this article Christopher Smart, originally published at Make The Move. This post is an extract of that article originally licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License. For the full content, please visit Chris’ website.