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Desktop Linux


The acceptance of Linux as a desktop operating system has lagged behind its phenomenal popularity as a server system, but this is changing -- somewhat. More than 30 million people worldwide now use Linux, many on the desktop, according to The Linux Counter. The vast popularity of Ubuntu and LinuxMint have a lot to do with that.

Many of the traditional "general" Linux distributions now offer versions customized for desktop users. Many others include a desktop option during the installation routine, which will in turn configure the system with those defaults that make the most sense for a desktop computer, such as productivity tools, multimedia apps, and games.

Some of the more popular "general" Linux distributions include Debian, Gentoo, Red Hat, Slackware, Suse, Mepis, and the exciting and popular Ubuntu, which comes in several versions for desktops, servers, multimedia professionals, and educators.

My personal favorite, however, is Linux Mint because of its speed, stability, and clean interface.

Whatever your personal preference, the introduction of Linux distributions designed from the ground up for desktop users is exciting. These distributions go beyond simply selecting appropriate applications. They strive for ease of installation, simplicity of use, and broad hardware support.


Is Linux Hard to Use?

Not any more. Yes, there are still a lot of commands and such that you have to learn if you really want to understand Linux at the guts level, but modern desktop distributions have gotten so polished that the average user will rarely, if ever need to use the command terminal. In fact, my nieces, nephews, and godchildren all know how to use Linux -- and they range in age from 4 to 11. Even my gray-haired mother uses Ubuntu Linux as easily as she uses Windows.


Pro's and Con's of Desktop Linux


  • Linux is powerful, stable, inexpensive or free, and runs well even on less-than bleeding-edge hardware.

  • There are thousands of applications written for Linux, many of them free, to do pretty much whatever you could ask a computer to do.

  • Linux is an open-source, collaborative project that benefits the entire community and makes quality software available to anyone.

  • Linux is a very secure system that is immune to almost all viruses and spyware.


  • Hardware support for Linux, though much better than it used to be, still lags somewhat behind Windows.

  • Linux will not run Windows programs natively. There are various emulators and API sets, such as Crossover Office, that will run some Windows applications in Linux. But this is the exception, not the rule.

  • Linux does require some learning, although the newer desktop distributions like Mepis, XandrOS and Linspire will allow you to use the computer productively almost immediately, while you learn the finer points of Linux as you go.


Next: Designing a Linux Computer




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