When was the last time you installed an operating system? If your answer is “A few years ago” or “When I got my first PC in the early 2000s or 2010s, you should try installing one. But instead of Windows, why not try installing Linux this time? I know that people have previously complained about how hard installing and using Linux could be, but what if I told you that it’s not hard; in fact, using Linux is just a piece of cake these days.
When choosing operating systems, Windows is a straightforward choice for millions out there, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s still widely believed to be one of the easiest OS. However, with the growth of Linux over the past few years, Windows is no longer the only easy OS to use and install. It’s time to let go of the “Linux is hard to use satire,” get out of our comfort zones and embrace the project that truly respects your privacy and grants extra layers of security. Here’s a list of things that prove Linux is not hard to use.
When we say “Linux,” we refer to GNU/Linux, a complete operating system built on the Linux kernel. Now, there are a lot of Linux OSes that enthusiasts like to call “distros,” short for Linux Distributions. To simplify things, the only distro we’ll discuss in this article is Fedora. However, you can check out our ‘distro choosing guide’ to pick the right one for your needs.
Installation is where people find it the most difficult. While vanilla Arch is still hard to install, Arch-based, Ubuntu-based, and other distros are very easy to install. Unless you’re planning to dual-boot, installing a Linux distro should be done in a few clicks, considering you have it flashed on a USB stick, just like Windows.
Let’s take Fedora, for example. Fedora’s installer takes care of everything. All you need to do is select the disks, and it will do the rest. The same is true for Ubuntu, one of the go-to choices for anyone entering the Linux space. (Psst… Fedora is much better than Ubuntu).
And that brings us to the area that receives the most criticism—why are there thousands of Linux distros? While others view it as a bad thing, I view it as a blessing. No matter how vague your requirements are, there’s always suitable Linux distribution for you out there.
With installation out of the way, let’s talk about usability because there’s a lot to cover.
GUI, also known as Graphical User Interface, is one of the most defining components of an operating system. Windows’ UI is widely known, but Linux’s, not so much. That’s because Linux doesn’t have a common GUI but a bunch of different GUIs to choose from, thanks to desktop environments.
Now, most say Windows is easier to navigate, but that’s mostly because most people have used it for a significant amount of time, and it always takes time to learn how to use a new UI. When it comes to usability, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to use desktop environments. While the terminal is the heart and soul of Linux, the GUI has also come a long way, and most often than not, you’d be completely fine with using just that.
Every distro has a software store to help you download apps like Steam, Discord, Teams, Chromium, Slack, and Microsoft Edge, you name it. Even if an app is not present in the store, installing it via the terminal isn’t rocket science. One command line will install the app; the biggest takeaway is that you’ll learn something that day. Similarly, Linux is customizable. KDE, GNOME, Budgie, and Cinnamon are all extremely customizable desktop environments to the core. But the million dollar question is, can Linux game? Spoiler: It can and better than what you expected.
Massive shoutout to Valve for making gaming on Linux highly accessible, thanks to Steam Deck. For those unaware, Steam Deck is a portable gaming console that runs Linux and is currently one of the most powerful handheld consoles. Gaming on Linux before the Steam Deck was unimaginable, but a lot has changed in the past few years, thanks to the same and the Proton compatibility layer.
While most games on Linux run out of the box, a few need tinkering or are straight-up not supported. However, a vast majority of the Steam library is supported. Take ProtonDB stats for reference. Out of the top 100 Steam games, 19% are verified and run out of the box, 34% are playable, perhaps with some tinkering, 28% are borked, and 53% are both playable and verified. Most games that don’t run on Linux either use Kernel-level anti-cheats or belong to a publisher with a games store similar to Steam (cough, cough, Epic Games). For example, Fortnite, Destiny 2, etc. However, thanks to anti-cheats being made available for Linux, games like Apex Legends run without issues.
Graphics drivers are readily available on most Linux distributions; hence, you won’t have to go through the headache of installing them. Thanks to NVIDIA for making its drivers open-source for Linux; if an official driver doesn’t work for you, you could choose a community-made driver to run games. Well, that was about games, but what about apps? Luckily, package management has also drastically improved over the past few years.
One of the “issues” with Linux is the varied package management depending on your chosen distribution. While it’s true that it could be confusing for newbies, there is a way around it by using Flatpak. Distros like Pop!_OS come with Flatpak pre-installed (In Pop!_Shop). If yours doesn’t come with Flatpak, installing it is pretty straightforward. The only disadvantage of Flatpaks is that the applications take up a lot of space and run slower since they run in a sandbox.
Flatpak is a great and universal solution for the package management problem on distributions.
If you don’t find an application in any repositories, you can install Windows apps on Linux using Wine. It’s pretty easy.
Like any software, there is a learning curve to Linux, and it’s a shallow one. It is hard to get out of your comfort zone and switch, but once you do, it’s a rabbit hole you’ll enjoy falling into. That said, every OS has its pros and cons and based on the distribution you choose, they might differ. But overall, if you’re tired of Windows, you cannot go wrong with Linux.
Everyone has reservations when trying new things and fears that something might fail. Hence, there are more than two ways to try out Linux: a Virtual Machine or a live USB.
I’ve written my experience with Linux from the lens of a beginner Linux user to kind of an intermediate user now, and it’s been a fantastic ride! Linux has improved since then, and you’ll hopefully have a far better experience than me. It’s time we see Linux as an ever-improving OS rather than something that’s used by rocket scientists or people with higher skills. What are your thoughts about Linux as an operating system? Let us know in the comments section below.
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