If you’re reading this, the chances are that you own a computer. If you own a computer, the odds of it running Microsoft Windows are very high. Windows has an 87.62% share of the desktop operating system market share, with its closest competitor being Apple’s Mac OS which has just 9.4%.
Linux follows behind with just 2.4%, and Google’s Chrome OS (which is based on Linux) has 0.42%.
Most people choose a Windows PC because it’s the operating system that is most readily available. It comes pre-installed on most computers bought from a store or online, and it is what most people are familiar with.
With Microsoft ending its support for the popular Windows 7 OS earlier in the year, many people who are adamant they won’t use Windows 10 made the jump to Linux. If this is a move you’re also considering, you may be wondering how easy it is to make the switch.
Look and Feel
Most desktop operating systems have a similar basic layout that they follow. Applications are sorted into windows, with a bar across the bottom for you to switch between them and a “Start” button which pops up a menu of applications.
Most Linux distributions follow this, though Ubuntu, which is one of the most popular options, uses a bar across the top and a dock on the left. Raspberry Pi OS also opts for something similar.
It’s actually very intuitive and is easy to use once you’re familiar with the layout.
Applications are closed using ‘X’ buttons in the top right of each window, just like Windows, so you won’t have any trouble there either.
Many popular web browsers and utilities work for Linux as well as Windows. Most distributions come with Mozilla Firefox pre-installed, but you can also add other popular options.
If you’re a Google Chrome user, you will need to install Chromium. This is an open-source browser that Google Chrome is based on. It looks and feels almost exactly the same, but with a different logo and no Google branding.
If you use Microsoft Office, you’ll need to find an alternative. The most popular is OpenOffice, which can handle all Microsoft Office formats and has a very similar layout. Alternatively, you could use Google Docs from your web browser.
The one thing that you’ll need to get used to is that applications are installed differently through Linux. Your distribution may come with a program called “Discover” which is like an app store for many of the most popular applications.
If you can’t find what you need there, you will need to use the Terminal. This is a command-line interface that’s used a lot in Linux. To download an application, you’ll need to type a command, such as sudo apt-get install chromium-browser.
If you need to find terminal commands, just do a quick search on Google and you’ll likely find it.
Just a few years ago, Linux users were severely restricted as to what games they could play on their machines. Software developers often focused mainly on Windows and Mac because these operating systems make up the vast majority of the consumer market. However, in recent years this has been changing slowly.
In part, the development of HTML5 has made browser-based games accessible on almost every platform meaning its possible to play popular games like Texas Hold’em, the world’s most popular variant of poker, without needing to download any software. Previously, users would have needed to download an application to their computer, or if a dedicated Linux version wasn’t available, use an emulator like WINE.
Security on Linux is just as strong as Windows, providing you follow all of the usual safety precautions. Most distributions let you encrypt your installation to prevent theft of your data, a feature reserved for the professional version of Windows 10.
This will mean that you’ll need to enter a password before your computer will even turn on.
Linux is typically less susceptible to viruses too. Cybercriminals can get a better return on their investment coding malicious applications that target Windows, since the vast majority of computers run on it.
This means you may only need to run a lightweight firewall, which will make your computer run faster.
Getting used to Linux takes time and commitment. It can be very frustrating when you’re first using it, especially if you are a wiz at Windows. You may want to install it on a secondary computer before you commit to making the jump on your main computer.
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