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Learning Debian GNU/Linux

Learning Debian GNU/Linux

By Bill McCarty
1st Edition September 1999
1-56592-705-2, Order Number: 7052
360 pages, $34.95 , Includes CD-ROM

Previous: 1.2 What is Linux? Chapter 1
Why Run Linux?
Next: 1.4 Linux Resources on the Internet

1.3 Reasons to Choose or Not Choose Linux

Here are several reasons for running Linux. The more of these that are true of you, the likelier you are to be happy in running Linux:

You want a stable and reliable computing platform.

No other popular operating system is more stable and reliable than Linux. If you're tired of crashes and hangs and the lost time and data they entail, you're a candidate for Linux.

You want a high performance computing platform.

Linux can coax blazingly fast performance out of hardware below the minimum required to load and run other popular operating systems. And, with ample memory and a fast CPU, Linux goes toe-to-toe with anything Microsoft or other vendors offer. If speed is your thing, Linux is your hot rod.

You need a low-cost or free operating system.

If you're someone on a budget, such as a student, or if you need to set up many systems, the low cost of Linux will let you reserve your hard-earned capital for hardware or other resources. Linux is the best operating system value on the planet.

You're a heavy network or Internet user.

If you use networks, especially the Internet, Linux's advanced support for TCP/IP may light up your life. Linux makes it easy to construct firewalls that protect your system against hackers or routers that let several computers share a single network connection.

You want to learn Unix or TCP/IP networking.

The best way - perhaps the only way - to learn more about Unix or TCP/IP networking (or computers generally) is through hands-on experience. Whether you're interested in such experience owing to personal curiosity or career ambition (system administrators are often handsomely paid), Linux affords you the opportunity to gain such experience at low cost, without leaving the comfort of your home.

You seek an alternative to Microsoft's vision of computing's future.

If you're tired of marching to the relentless drumbeat of the Redmond juggernaut, Linux offers a viable way to cut the umbilical cord and set about creating a new computing destiny for yourself and others.

You want to enjoy enhanced peer esteem.

If you're a technical worker, such as a programmer or engineer, you may acquire enhanced status among your peers by being an early adopter of Linux. (Of course, in many peer groups, it's already too late to become an early adopter of Linux; but at least you won't become a late adopter). You can even obtain decals and bumper stickers to advertise your good taste in operating systems (see the Linux Mall at

You want to have fun.

Hopefully, you've discovered that one of the best reasons for doing anything is that it's fun. Many Linux users report that they've never had so much fun with a computer. There's no better reason for running Linux than that.

To be both blunt and honest, some folks shouldn't run Linux. If one or more of the following are true of you, you should run Linux only if you have a good friend who's knowledgeable about Linux, available by phone at odd hours, and works cheap:

You're scared of computers.

If you're scared of computers, you should spend more time working with Microsoft Windows 95 or Windows 98 before venturing into the Linux world. Linux may indeed be right for you, but it's not right just yet.

You don't like to learn.

Setting up and running Linux will require you to learn new concepts and skills. None of these are especially difficult, but if you don't like to learn, setting up and running Linux will stress you out. Instead, you should stick with the familiar.

You're married to certain Windows applications.

You can run some Windows applications under Linux's WINE emulation (over 100 applications at the time of writing, Microsoft's Minesweeper and FreeCell among them). However, this isn't true of every Windows application. Before putting your toe in the Linux waters, you should obtain up-to-date information on the status of WINE emulation of your favorite Windows applications (see

Rather than convert your desktop system to run Linux, you may prefer to install Linux on a second system or convert your existing Windows system into a dual-boot system that can run Windows or Linux. That way, you have your choice of running your favorite Windows applications or Linux.

Previous: 1.2 What is Linux? Learning Debian GNU/Linux Next: 1.4 Linux Resources on the Internet
1.2 What is Linux? Book Index 1.4 Linux Resources on the Internet

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