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.
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
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
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
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
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
Can I attach it to a
Definitely, although this will require some
additional knowledge (Samba) and configuring if
you want to attach it to a Windows-based
Can I chat with IRC, MSN or
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
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
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
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
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.