So What Do I Gain?

No operating system is perfect, and nothing comes without some hassles, but as time goes on, Linux is getting closer and closer to perfection. These days, Linux is even easier to install than your old operating system, and you don't have to reboot time and again as you load driver disk after driver disk. I won't bore you with everything I consider an advantage but I will give you a few of the more important points.


Say goodbye to your virus checker and stop worrying. Although Linux is not 100% immune to viruses, it comes pretty close. In fact, to date, most so-called Linux viruses do not exist in the wild (only under tightly controlled environments in proof-of-concept labs). It isn't that no one has tried, but the design model behind Linux means that it is built with security in mind. Consequently, viruses are virtually nonexistent in the Linux world, and security issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently by the Linux community. Security flaws are well advertised. It isn't unusual for a security hole to be discovered and a fix created within a few short hours of the discovery. If something does present a risk, you won't have to wait for the next release of your operating system to come along.


The stability of Linux is almost legendary. Living in a world where people are used to rebooting their PCs one or more times a day, Linux users talk about running weeks and sometimes months without a reboot. "Illegal operations" and the "Blue Screen of Death" are not part of the Linux experience. Sure, programs occasionally crash here as well, but they don't generally take down your whole system with them.


Linux is a multitasking, multiuser operating system. In this book, I concentrate on the desktop features of Linux, but under the hood, Linux is a system designed to provide all the power and flexibility of an enterprise-class server. Linux-powered Web site servers and electronic mail gateways move information along on the Internet and run small to large businesses. Under the friendly face of your graphical desktop, that power is still there.


It is possible to do everything you need to do on a computer without spending any money on software?that means new software and upgrades alike. In fact, free software for Linux is almost an embarrassment of riches. In Chapter 7, I'll show you how to install (or remove) additional software on your Linux system.

Freedom from Legal Hassles

When you run Linux, you don't have to worry about whether you've kept a copy of your operating system license. The GNU GPL, which I mentioned earlier, means you are legally entitled to copy and can legally redistribute your Linux CDs if you wish.

Keep in mind, however, that although Linux itself can be freely distributed, not all software that runs on Linux is covered by the same license. If you buy or download software for your system, you should still pay attention to the license that covers that software.