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GNU/Linux distributions are everywhere, servers, routers, smartphones, security cameras and more. Some of them can also be used on your computer and nowadays there are a lot to choose from. I started using GNU/Linux distros back in 2011. The computer I used to have couldn’t keep up with windows 7, it was just too heavy. So I did some search and found ubuntu, and that’s where I started. It wasn’t that big of a deal to learn to use it. In a couple of weeks or so, it was manageable enough. Soon I started to explore and play with other distributions. I had a lot of fun.

Still there are some questions a lot of people do ask. Is it worth it? Why should I use it? Well, here I try to explain my point of view on the topic.

There are some appealing advantages of using a GNU/Linux distribution:

Customisability

Most GNU/Linux distros allow you to refine pretty much anything. From how your desktop looks (Desktop Environments) to which kernel modules to load (you can make yours too!). There are really a lot of ways of making a linux distro yours. A glance to r/unixporn is enough to give you an idea of what kind of customisability it is capable of. 

Security

The Linux kernel has more than 4,300 developers that contribute to it. Therefore bugs in the code are more likely to be quickly spotted and corrected. The code is estimated to change 8.5 times per hour. Which if you ask me, is a pretty solid security mark. Every day new bugs are spotted and corrected, which makes the linux kernel a robust and secure kernel.

Variety

The open-source nature of GNU/Linux allows anyone to create one. So if you don’t like the one you’re using don’t worry, there is a ton of them to choose from. The LFS project, allows you to build your own linux distribution starting from the source code, so you get to decide in detail what to put in it.

What about programming on GNU/Linux?
I used to code my projects with Windows, macOS and GNU/Linux. If I were to pick one OS to write code on, I’d choose GNU/Linux. Why? I think that the time needed to configure the development environment, is the the fastest out of the box. Package management software on GNU/Linux distributions makes this really easy, though some package management software is also available for both macOS and Windows.

Clearly it’s not just upsides, otherwise anyone would be using it. The biggest downside to me, is software compatibility. Some software which is widely adopted won’t work on GNU/Linux distributions. The Adobe suite or Microsoft office, won’t work natively on Linux, you could with emulation or using a virtual machine, but you’d get a very different usage experience. New games often aren’t compatible with Linux, though there were some attempts.

I think that if you’ve never seen it, and decide to go radical, just using it for enough time, the learning curve shouldn’t be that steep.
Pro Tip: The faster you get yourself accustomed to the terminal, the better.

The bottom-line

GNU/Linux is not for everyone. Most people need to be able to use some proprietary software. Some people simply aren’t comfortable with this kind of big switch. I think GNU/Linux is a great learning experience. it’s not problem-free, but every time there’s something that doesn’t work, you can often work your way out of it. It is surely suitable to be studied and analysed from enthusiasts and geeks. What my experience taught me, is that giving gnu/linux to non enthusiasts equates to giving a very powerful tool to someone who can’t fully appreciate it.

What do you think? Is GNU/Linux for anyone, or just for enthusiasts? Is it too complicated or it just takes practice? Discuss in the group

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