Linux, the open-source operating system that uses a penguin as its symbol, offers plenty of advantages yet it’s only rarely seen on private computers.
The reason why is easily explained. "The normal PC user usually buys his computer with a pre-installed operating system such as Windows and usually has no incentive to go to the trouble of installing Linux,” says Keywan Tonekaboni, who writes desktop tips for an industry magazine.
Here are four good reasons why you should consider getting the penguin onto your computer.
Freedom and flexibility
"Linux focuses on the freedom of the user,” says IT advice specialist Matthias Wellendorf. In principle, anyone can reprogram or further develop the system as they wish.
"Free also means free of charge. The operating system can be downloaded free of charge and installed on any as many computers as you want,” Wellendorf says.
Linux comes with work interfaces that differ only slightly from Windows in terms of appearance and operation.
"Basically, Linux consists of a number of individual parts. The basis is the kernel, the core of the operating system, which is combined with other components such as the graphical user interface. This combination is then called a distribution," Wellendorf explains.
Many Linux distributions have been around for years. "Ubuntu, Mint and Manjaro are considered beginner-friendly distributions," Wellendorf says. "They are easy to use, have broad hardware support, and come with a large software offering.”
The user-friendly Manjaro, for example, comes with an office package, a mail program, a browser, a video player, an image editor, and much more.
Anything else that you need can be installed later. "There's a software solution for every problem," Wellendorf says.
An overview of available Linux distributions can be found at Distrowatch.com.
Security and data protection
An important security advantage of Linux is that an installed office package such as Libre Office is not as tightly integrated with the operating system as Microsoft's Office is with Windows, Tonekaboni explains.
Therefore the viruses that can be hidden in Office documents can’t harm Linux. That’s not the only advantage. "Because the number of users is low, there is practically no malware for Linux," says IT journalist Hubert Popiolek.
That means Linux users can do without antivirus software altogether, which saves on computing power. Privacy is also better protected under Linux because there’s no data collection, Popiolek says.
What many people don't know is that while Linux may not be common on private computers, it’s actually much more widespread in everyday life than one might expect.
"The Android smartphone operating system, for example, is based on Linux, just as many internet services run on Linux servers or smart home devices use Linux under the hood," Tonekaboni says.
Replace Windows or run alongside it
Linux is easy to try out and without having to make a single change to your computer. All you need to do is go to the project page of your chosen distribution and download the operating system as an image (ISO file).
Then transfer the image to a USB memory stick that has at least 4 GB. You can then boot up your computer from the Linux image on the memory stick using what is called live mode.
Those who find that they like Linux after trying it out can install it as a permanent operating system, either as a replacement for Windows or in parallel with it.
While Windows 11, for example, makes very high demands on the hardware, Linux is undemanding. "Linux gives old computers a second lease on life," according to Tonekaboni.
It also supports components for a much longer time. Older PCs or laptops that are struggling to run the latest versions of Windows can often still function well under Linux.
You can also choose a cut-down Linux distribution that does without performance-hungry elements, Wellendorf says. For example, while Ubuntu is 2.9 GB in size, the lightweight Lubuntu version is just 0.7 GB. – dpa