Common Myths About Linux OS

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If you Google the word "Linux" you will get a little more than 90 million replies, simply indicating the popularity of Linux the world over. On the local scene, however, there is a general lack of awareness indicating its unpopularity. Learning a new OS is not easy, especially after the relative ease that Windows offers. Over the years, 1 have found Linux to be a stable OS offering most, if not all, what Windows has to offer. A number of myths surround the OS and I tackle the most obvious ones here.

Is it for Free?
A very misunderstood term. The "free" here means, free to copy, alter, modify and distribute. It does net in any way mean that you go to a store and walk out with a bundle of Linux, without paying a penny.

Must be Difficult
Three years ago, yes it was difficult. Now Linux looks, feels and works like Windows, so switching over should not be that painful. The GUI, accessing folders, reading, writing data to floppy or other removable media is a matter of clicking the appropriate icons. Previously, one had to create mount points for each of these devices which itself was uncomfortable.

Can I access the Internet Through It?
Of course you can. It is a full fledged OS and you just need to have the right kind of hardware. Modems are a sore issue with Linux, but if you have an external modem all your troubles are reduced considerably. There are very less internal modems that are supported by Linux so going for an external is a sensible decision.

Will it Crash?
Linux is a very stable OS. Unlike Windows, for instance, it doesn't need constant restarting after making a change. I am running both Windows XP and Linux on my PC and over the last two years, my Windows has crashed several times whereas Linux has remained Unaffected.

What about Viruses?
There are a very few known viruses which have been affected Linux. So its considerably safe from viruses, worms etc.

How do you memorize so many commands?
The Terminal programs are run from commands. Linux has hundreds of commands but really don't have to memorize all of them. The Help is quite comprehensive and will guide you in this regard. However, since present day Linux distros feature detailed and workable GUIs so this is not a major issue.

What about Compatibility?
Linux uses Ext2 or Ext3 file systems, which can literally access Windows Fat, Fat32 or even NTFS file systems. So if you are running two OSs like Winx and Linux (Mandrake 9.0, for example) you can access your Windows-based partitions from within Linux.

Can I attach it to a Network?
Definitely, although this will require some additional knowledge (Samba) and configuring if you want to attach it to a Windows-based network.

Can I chat with IRC, MSN or Yahoo?
Of course most Linux distros come bundled with IRC, Gaim, Licq, and if you want to get all these as well as Yahoo and MSN, try out Mandrake 10.

What about miscellaneous hardware like Flash Drives or Webcams?
Flash drives work just fine with Linux so you don't have to worry about them. However, you may have to create mount points for them which is a matter of few commands. Support for Webcams is growing so it is better to check up HCL of your Linux before buying one.

How about ripping CDs?
Yes you can. Grip in Mandrake, for example, is a quite utility for this purpose. It not only allows you to Rip but also encode! Also there are a number of Sound/CD/Video players to choose from in most of the Linux flavors.

What will happen to my Windows?
Nothing except that it will exist on another partition. During boot up you will get the option of booting in to Windows or Linux.

Will my existing hardware work?
Net necessarily, but chances are increasing since support for new hardware is getting better. However, it is better to check the HCL of the Linux you are using.

Are there any Office Suits that come with it?
OpenOffice is becoming the defacto Office suite in case of Linux. Moreover, different editors like Emacs, Gedit or Kwrite are there to choose from. Similarly, there are tools for faxing documents, creating/viewing presentations and spreadsheets, making charts/graphs, packages for project management, and other regular office tasks--even power control features in case you want to install it on your laptop.

Is it secure?
Actually yes, in fact, more than Windows. In Linux a normal user does not enjoy a lot of privileges as compared to a "Superuser" or "root". Access to other user's files is restricted. Hacking a Linux-based system is more difficult.

Support for Games?
Although most Linux distros have their own library of games, but these games may not appear all that attractive compared to Windows-based titles like WarCraft, Medal of Honor, or even Flight Simulators. A lot of companies have started tailoring popular games for Linux machines, so die hard fans of Medal of Honor or Doom 3 won't be disappointed to find their favorite games on the web. Visit the links mentioned at the end for more information.


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