But as we all know by now, neither MS nor Apple products really do work with everything. So considering that Linux is a composite result of millions of dedicated users posting their programs up freely in order to 'make a go' of the OS, Linux has come long and far, and yes is a competitor. But for all that, certain shortcomings remain. Chief among these are the lack of drivers for peripherals, though the lack is shrinking daily. More importantly, the way files are organized and displayed so that the user can manage his disks, is not yet ready for prime time. But is improving. Most importantly, maybe because Linux has such a strong place in IT and the desktop is designed to be an outgrowth of it, the issue of what PERMISSIONS you will have to see and use the operating system files, is to some, a Linux strong point. To me, it hamstrings the individual user, far more than Windows does. So much for the negative.
On the positive side and outta da box, Linux can well do certain things Windows and maybe Apple, cannot do.
*RESCUE WINDOWS. This is by far the most important thing Linux does better. There are dedicated Linux programs like Clonezilla and GParted, and many kindred, which will actually rescue your machine when Windows inevitably won't boot. I've had occasion to use Linux to rescue my Windows machines maybe six times since last May. When Win7 failed to boot in November, I fortunately had cloned that hard drive just prior to the crash, and used Clonezilla to restore it; for the restoration WINDOWS programs wouldn't work. So too, back in May and June when hardware then registry crashed, it was GParted to the rescue, to back up the machine so I could give it to my repair guys. You need a version of Linux for this reason alone. These 'packages' of programs in many Linux flavors, all can include by download, both Clonezilla and GParted, or kindred programs. And they download easily and well. To use them, you just put your pen drive or CD of that Linux flavor in the computer while it's off, then turn it on. The interface for accessing programs is usually intuitive, and not overly complex. You don't have to use a command line, these days.
*Partition flash drives, and format them in non-Windows ways which tend to be very efficient.
*Operate smoothly on much slimmer specs (cheaper, older machines which don't run well in Windows or Mac).
*Format DVDs and write to them so that any computer can use the results; which XP cannot do, and Windows 7 cannot do all that well all the time.
*Surf on the internet more safely than other OS, simply because the system lacks the kinds of openness and identity which the average hacker or thief, would need.
*Exist on a 'stick' (though with variant success and difficulty, varying with each stick and distro) -- so you literally take your computer with you on a pen drive. This is very important for preserving privacy, too, as the system is alien to most other computer OS, so you don't leave any traces behind. The ability to take all your files in a pen drive and then RENT a computer or sit in a cafe, is very nice.
*Most music and movies you'd watch in Windows or Mac, you can also watch in Linux, and the streaming, cookie handling, etc. can be better. Plus, your usual Firefox or Chrome browser will still sync.
*Contrary to popular opinion, there is good commercial MS-Office-type software written in Linux which also is readable directly in Windows: WordPerfect. It's always been used to convert back-and-forth to MS Word, for as long as I can remember. There isn't 100% compatibility, but frankly many in the legal profession prefer WordPerfect over MS Word; only WP can write truly long documents well. And therefore, if you're on Linux, whatever you compose in WordPerfect can be read in the Windows WordPerfect without 'translation'. So you don't have to settle for the 'free' MS Office clones like Libre Office (which is the best among all the OpenSource versions out there right now). Just google for (usually used) copies of WordPerfect for Linux. Or call Corel, see if they have the latest version for sale. They probably do, as Corel is always big for big business.
*Mail can be POP3 or IMAP, through various email clients on Linux, and you can print to pdf, so can port the mail over to your Windows/MAC later.
*Backup programs and other 'housekeeping' is very much simpler in Linux versus the others.
*Downloads for what you need are very well done for you, via a great program called 'Apper'. And the downloads are MANY. In fact, the problem is in picking what you'd want, there are so many choices. If what you want doesn't work, or the download isn't successful, the Apper wizard knows it and makes all kinds of smart observations, adjustments, queues up what didn't work for a later time when it will. Really smart program, far superior to anything in the Windows or Mac world.
Each flavor of Linux specializes in certain of these things: Slackware, Mint, Ubuntu aim to focus on the content consumption side, though Ubuntu also specializes in the IT side, connectivity to your home office and the cloud. Fedora also is more business-oriented. The latter two are more 'current' with later hardware you'll likely have on your machine. Then there's Zorin 6 Ultimate (which you pay for, but very little), which tries to suit gamers as well as business. CentOS is well known in business. Then there are the petite Linux flavors designed to work on little netbooks or even older machines that still run Windows 98SE. Just Google based on your needs, and see which Linux 'answers'.
These are significant advantages. So if you are willing to tolerate the subpar file management and file access/calculation, these advantages make Linux a good buy. And yes, it's technically free, but cost is in use, not purchase price. And of course, if you're benefitting from the use, do pay for it. That way you help insure that those advantages, continue. Free is never free...
This post has been edited by brainout: 10 February 2013 - 11:52 AM