The Firingsquad Introduction to Linux
What's this Linux Thing?
If you're a typical Firingsquad reader, and you haven't spent the last year in a bomb shelter (or Redmond, WA), you've almost certainly heard of the little operating system that could, Linux. If you ask 10 otherwise computer savvy people to describe Linux, you would probably get ten completely different answers. Some of the things you would most likely hear would include:
- Linux is kind of hard to use.
- Linux is really hard to use.
- Mankind will not understand Linux within the lifetime of this Universe.
- There are no games for Linux.
- Every game produced in the next ten years will be ported to Linux.
- Linux doesn't have a pretty graphical interface.
- Linux is better looking than Buffy.
- Linux is fast, but NT is faster, according to an independent test.
- NT is slow. Linux is fast. Microsoft is a bunch of liars.
- If you install Linux, nobody will be able to help you.
- If you install Linux, thousands of Finnish accented geeks will kick down your door in an effort to fix your system.
Some of the stereotypes above have a grain of truth in them. Others are complete misconceptions. This article is meant to shine the light of truth on some of the hype and anti-hype that is currently swirling around one of the most misunderstood operating systems in computer history.
Why should I waste my time on Linux?
The three biggest draws to Linux are its stability, versatility, and raw performance. When compared to the OS's most people are used to, Linux is an extraordinary stable system. It is very rare for a well-administered Linux system to crash in a way that necessitates a reboot. Even for people without system administration experience, Linux is definitely more stable than Windows NT, and almost indescribably more stable than Windows 9x.
Linux is an operating system with many faces and uses. While it's original claim to fame is it's capabilities as a server OS, Linux has been making big strides in the desktop world. Easy to use interfaces combined with a growing number of business applications have made Linux competitive for a standard corporate desktop. The backrooms of many Fortune 500 companies have been long running Linux, but it is only recently that individual users have been able to seriously consider it as a full featured desktop OS.