Switching to Linux (For the Right Reasons)

Linux isn’t malware-proof, nor does it mean you’ll never need to upgrade your hardware.
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Why are you using Linux on your desktop?

Before answering this question, consider the advantages and disadvantages and then come back full circle to your own motivation for using Linux. Nearly every week, I find my news feeds filled with the usual generic articles describing rather vanilla reasons for using Linux on the desktop.

Why do I have a problem with this? Perhaps because the reasons often being shared are just echoes of other opinions that clearly aren't that of the author. Instead, we are reading the thoughts and ideas of many articles since past.

Great platform for the wrong reason

Take, for example, promoting Linux as the malware-proof OS. Sorry to break this to you, but this doesn't exist. Or my personal favorite, Linux means you never need to upgrade your hardware.

Again, despite claims to the contrary, you get what you put into it from a hardware point of view if the tasks needed are CPU intensive. While there are distributions available that make running old hardware smooth as butter, this doesn't mean that all desktop environments are going to make that old Pentium II machine hum like a new PC.

The biggest issue I have with many “switch to Linux” articles is the ongoing pitch that the Linux desktop is a way to escape paying for software titles. This bothers me and here's why. First, many open source software applications used on the Linux desktop are available on Windows as well. So that argument quickly goes right out the window. Second, I think there's more to switching to the Linux desktop than merely saving a buck. What about the control and freedom from vendor lock-in? Isn't this of value?

Enough with the free stuff mentality. Let's consider the bigger picture as outlined below.

Free ride or freedom?

So what is my concern about making the switch to Linux in order to save money? These are trying economic times -- wouldn't using a platform without licensing costs make a lot of sense?

Yes, I am a fan of the cost savings of using open source solutions, but only when coupled with other Linux advantages. Switching merely based on cost savings is almost always going to lead to a massive switch back to the previous platform. Why? Because any hurdles along the way will be seen as a big deal, thus sending those migrating running back to the familiar.

Instead I think there needs to be more focus on "control" over how things are running. This means no surprise updates despite disabling this feature, and no concern over lost software copies since the software is readily available from the software online repositories. It also means the benefit of a generally consistent experience regardless of the system the software is installed on.

You're your own IT dept

In a proprietary world, chances are reasonable that even with an in-house IT team working in your corner, some software titles will translate into making that dreaded call to outside support. What’s worse is when that title is no longer supported or the company is actually out of business. Unfortunately this happens all the time in the proprietary software world.

With open source software running on Linux, you're in the driver’s seat. Regardless of what the problem may be, you have the advantage of being able to hire someone to address the issue head-on with your own solution instead of relying on a fix handed down by some faceless software company.

For enterprise users needing things working right now, keeping this kind of control in-house is priceless.

Trust in software

The value of privacy. Think that "Big Brother Software" won't spy on your company? Think again. Windows Genuine Advantage reportedly has a notification tool that will "call home" to Microsoft periodically while a PC is turned on. I can't speak for most companies out there, but the fact that this is installed out of the box should be enough to have you looking for an alternative OS immediately.

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Tags: Linux, enterprise software, Linux desktop, hardware, malware

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