We all know the saying, “You get what you pay for,” when it comes to making any purchase large or small. The idea behind the saying dictates that the more we spend the better the quality, service or experience we’ll have. But this isn’t always the case and certainly not a rule. For I have discovered many, many years ago a great product that is simply amazing, awesome if you will, reliable and best of all… free! What could I have possibly discovered so long ago that is so great and costs nothing? I’ll give you a hint… I’m using it right now as I type this article: Linux and the entire open source movement.
What is Linux you might be asking for those non-techies out there. Quite simply, an operating system for your computer or other device that runs all your programs. Think of it as a free version of Microsoft Windows. As I type this article, I am using a relatively old laptop running Lubuntu (a light version of Linux) and using LibreOffice (an Office suite similar to Microsoft Office). OpenOffice is another great Office suite that includes popular word processing and spreadsheet programs. In other words, why pay for an expensive software bundle when you can use a free and perfectly capable alternative? Let me give some personal background.
When I started my first online business back in 1998, we had, as most start-ups do, a very small budget. We could not afford the expensive Windows NT (and later Windows 2000) operating system for our servers. The thousands of dollars it would have cost us to implement such software would have made it almost impossible to start, let alone stay in business. So we opted for a free version of Linux called RedHat. It was perfect. Free, reliable and open source. RedHat is also one of the few Linux based companies that are public.
Bottom line, I am here to tell you that as consumers you have many great choices for selecting a free, capable operating system for you computer. You can really save a lot of money because the Linux operating systems are very lightweight (think less lines of code) and thus can be run on older machines. I bought my very capable used laptop on Ebay for $276, installed Lubuntu on it and have been super happy ever since. No need to spend extra dollars for Windows licenses and software suites nor an expensive high end computer with all the bells and whistles.
If you are considering switching to a free Linux based operating system for your computer I might suggest the following, LinuxMint (best for newbies), Ubuntu and Lubuntu (super lightweight without all the frills).
When using these operating systems realize that 1) You’ll be able to use your computer longer since the operating system is so lightweight your hardware won’t strain under the bloat of extra lines of code 2) It’s safer, as almost all viruses out there are designed to and infect only Windows based machines, 3) You will have access to thousands and thousands of free software, from graphic design, to word processing, to spreadsheets, to common programs like Skype etc. See most software companies create a Linux version of their software so you really won’t be missing anything by switching to Linux except paying money for these things.
Let me give you one other real world example of a Linux switch. My father, several months ago, basically trashed his older Windows 7 laptop. Some virus took hold and rendered his laptop useless. He asked me to shop with him for a new laptop as he felt his was already getting too old and was basically useless since getting infected. I had suggested to him a switch to Linux. He gave me a quizzical look and thought it wasn’t for him. Nevertheless, I convinced him to give it a try since there was nothing to lose. So began my quest to find a user friendly version of Linux that “even my dad could use.” And so, I settled on LinuxMint as mentioned earlier and he has been using it ever since. I just saved him the cost of a new laptop and extended the life of his current one. Saving money… you have to love it.
See for me, frugal living entails many facets and one of those facets is not having to pay for expensive operating systems or software. We usually hear how people save money with regard to many other items but rarely do we hear about the cost saving grace of Linux.
What are your thoughts about switching over to Linux for your home computer?