Linux is an operating system kind of like Windows. The reason you should care is that unlike Windows there are no viruses in the open for Linux. And although you are not charged for it, companies like Red Hat, Novell, Oracle, and IBM have spent a lot of time and money on it. There are well over a thousand computer programmers who have worked on it. So although Linux is free, it is not cheap.
Linux is also open source. That means that you can see the computer source code, and if you can read programing languages, you can know what your computer is doing. In fact, you can actually change it and make it better if you want. This is great, because there are a thousand eyes looking at what your computer is doing. There have been rumors for years that Microsoft Windows has a back door that allows Microsoft or any government agency to spy on you. There’s no way to disprove it because Microsoft doesn’t share their source code with anybody. It is closed source.
Linux can be shared. Again to compare with Windows, although it’s the same for Apple’s Mac OS X, you can’t share Windows with your friends. I know, we all grew up being told that sharing was a good thing. Well not to Microsoft or Apple. Not only is it wrong, it is criminal. Doesn’t that seem strange to you? Sharing makes you a law breaker. Well with Linux, sharing is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Make as many copies of Linux as you like and give them to as many people as you like. It’s legal because Linux is copyrighted with those permissions already given to you. It is called the GNU General Public License.
Lastly, Linux will run on older computers. Is Windows getting too big for your computer? Is it running slower and slower? Well Linux can give you back your old computer. (If its really old, try a distribution called Puppy Linux.)
Linux includes over 30,000 free programs including Firefox, Thunderbird, Google Chrome, and LibreOffice. Although many Windows programs would run on Linux, some will using a program called WINE. But even if they don’t run, you will find many substitute programs that work just as well or better.
Actually you might already be running Linux and not know it. Android is a Linux based operating system, so if you have a Droid phone you are running Linux. If it’s good enough for your phone, it might be good enough for your desktop. Worth a try, don’t you think?
So where do you begin? I suggest you begin with a live Linux Mint CD. Linux Mint is a distribution of Linux that bundles together all the programs you will need. The live CD allows you to put the CD in your computer, reboot, and then test drive Linux Mint. This allows you the chance to get use to Linux Mint before you actually install it. Remember to backup all your files before you install Linux Mint, otherwise you will loose everything.