Cool and flexible: The Linux alternative

Cool and flexible: The Linux alternative


Have you ever wondered what happened to Linux? Linux is the free software created through the open source development process that many technology enthusiasts had predicted would revolutionise the world of computing.

It may not be widely known, but Linux did revolutionise computing. If you own an Android phone or a Kindle e-reader, you are a Linux user. Linux is at the core of those popular devices and is found in a variety of other places, from the world’s most powerful supercomputers down to the tiny Raspberry Pi device that is a favourite among electronics hobbyists.

But Linux has had less success in personal computers. Fewer than 2 percent of desktop or laptop computers run it, according to a survey by Net Applications. That could be because for the bulk of Windows and Mac users, switching entirely to Linux probably does not make sense. But exploring Linux could still be worth the time for those looking for a proven, low-cost alternative to the two mainstream operating systems.


  1. It is unfortunate the Linux desktop cannot be made more user friendly to new users. Actually, it can be, we just cannot seem to find the right people for the job. Obviously, it’s difficult to compete with enormous multi-national corporations like Apple and Microsoft. If the day comes when someone can make switching from Windows or iOS an easy, seamless process, I still believe those operating systems will become dinosaurs rather quickly.

  2. YOU SAY: That could be because for the bulk of Windows and Mac users, switching entirely to Linux probably does not make sense.

    I would submit that the bulk of users do not do more than Linux will easily do — why would you suggest that a complete switch would not make sense?

    • Personally I think it’s because Linux just isn’t up to running on the latest, bleeding edge hardware. This is mostly due to Linux holding such a small share of the Desktop OS market. Unless and until Linux an get a majority of that market Hardware manufacturers aren’t going to write driver for there hardware to run on Linux. If the system can’t meet the requirements of latest games and software and/or the developers aren’t writing the software specifically for systems linux is capable of runnning on then the “Desktop” user isn’t going to want to invest time and money into learning how to work with a new OS. Linux won’t get a majority of the market until it’s virtually painless to switch. JMHO

  3. There are many apllications I use that I would dearly take with me to Linux eg an orchid programme. This is not possible as I have tried several different programmes, such as wine, to load these programmes in Linux. None work. This issue neads urgent addressing.

  4. There is a great deal of fear about switching. There are so few Linux users that most people still have the idea that Linux is not suitable for casual computer users. They cannot ask a friend for help. If they have a problem and try to get help from an ISP or hardware manufacturer or retail store, they are told “Sorry we only support Windows and sometimes add MAC to that but rarely ever Linux.

    I have switched more than a dozen people to Linux over the past 3 years and about 90% of them are completely happy though some of them had to struggle for a while. In my experience it requires between 30 and 40 hours of hand holding to make a new user comfortable with Linux. If one is prepared to provide that AND to provide occasional help via email and/or telephone, most new users will become dedicated Linux users. If not, most of them will revert to whatever they were using before.

  5. When BestBuy or other Big Box store provides laptops with Linux pre-installed, at an alternative, with price matching, that will still not be enough for the store. But Intel announced that this June, PCs with dual boot to choose between Android and Windows will be available on the market. This decision to have dual boot does not auger well with Microsoft. Hopefully, Android could be replaced by another Linux version, as suits the user, all the while not disturbing Windows 8.x

  6. I made the complete switch without problem, eventually settling on Linux Mint. My problem is, if I want to buy a laptop in Aussie without an OS, it is impossible. All are preloaded with Windows. If Linux pre-loaded was an option at the retail level then it may have greater penetration. Alternatively get schools interested but this is where rich multi-nationals have the advantage.

  7. I tend to agree with Lyle here.. plus the statement “cannot be made more user friendly”? If you take a look at Windows last couple of iterations you will note that they are basically now moving more and more to utilising functions/features that have been in both Linux and Mac for a good many years in many cases. The use of Linux in the Server segment shows that it is robust and reliable and trusted by the Tech administrative side of business but it is the general office administrative side of the equation that needs educating as to the strengths of Linux as a Desktop alternative.

    The difference is that Microsoft try to “enhance” ie. develop a Windows proprietory look/use, so that they can lay claim to it being this, that or the other. At the end of the day they are utilising more advanced graphical user interfaces than in the past and putting their own spin on them. The unfortunate thing for users is that they are applying those changes to the top of a tired operating system that has been a nightmare now for years with the one spark of light in recent years being Windows 7. It is the closest thing they have come to that is okay to use albeit still hampered by Windows usual hassles.

    To intimate that Linux is somehow more complex to use than Windows is strange, I think anyone who uses Linux and then for some reason has to use Windows again for same functions it is often very annoying.

    The reason Windows still reigns as the main OS is simply Big Business and the supposed sweeteners that MS throw to them at times to snare them for yet another contracted period with their next honeypot.

    With the automotive industry now adopting Linux as their OS for in vehicle systems by many it is a good sign that they are starting to take notice.

    I think if Linux want to make the rest of the business world sit up and realise just what the Linux Desktop can do then maybe it is time for a huge push to get one of the European administrations who have made the changeover to Linux for their operating system of choice to allow the press in for a thorough documenting of just what they have achieved including any shortfalls. It is too easy for people to simply believe the FUD that a lot of the MS faithful distribute as fact. Many of them haven’t even run the Open Source alternative software available for Windows let alone an operating system.

    Probably an even better concept would be to try and have a big workshop of big business to be shown one of these changed administrations and let them speak with the actual users/implementers of the technology. They are far more likely to believe people from like work functions explain how they undertake various functions and achieve these utilising whatever software, hardware, etc that it takes. I am afraid to say that too many of the tech articles in magazines are only that, articles, which in the most part fail to give any real detail and so are easily dismissed as advertising and nothing more.

    Change isn’t always embraced that comfortably by a huge amount of people but it doesn’t mean it is unattainable.

Comments are closed.