I've used Linux for 30 years. Here are 5 reasons why I'll never switch to Windows or MacOS

There are several solid reasons for switching to the Linux operating system and, once you do, you probably won't look back.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The default NyArch Linux desktop.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

I started using Linux back in 1997. I had been using Windows 95 and found it to be, well, unreliable. Although I wound up tossing myself into the open-source deep end without a lifeboat, it didn't take me long to realize I'd found my "forever OS."

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But why? What makes Linux so special for me that I wouldn't even consider making the switch to either MacOS or Windows as my primary OS? Even though I do use MacOS for certain tasks (such as video editing), there's not been one instance when I considered making the permanent switch. As for Windows, well, every time I have to touch that operating system, I'm reminded why I never liked it from the beginning.

Why don't we get to the method behind my madness? 

Are you ready?

1. It makes sense

Whenever I have to work with another operating system, I find myself regularly thinking, "This doesn't make any sense!" Linux, on the other hand, was designed by someone (Linus Torvalds) who understood how to create an operating system in a logical manner. 

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Here's a good example. On Windows, if you want to run a command, you have to run it from the folder in which the executable is saved. Say, for instance, you want to run Firefox from the command line. To do that on Windows, you might first have to change into the Mozilla Firefox directory and then issue the command start firefox.exe. On Linux, you can type firefox from any directory and the application will launch. This is possible on Linux because there are certain directories that are in a user's $PATH, which means the commands within those directories are recognized from anywhere in the filesystem. There's no extra work to be done. It's simple. It makes sense.

I've always found that every configuration, every setup, every installation on Linux makes sense, from the low-level stuff all the way to the desktop.

2. It's easy

This might run counter to the public opinion, but Linux is actually far easier than either MacOS or Windows. I will admit that in those early days, Linux was challenging. However, over the years, the developers and designers listened to the users and created an operating system (and various distributions) that simplifies nearly every aspect of using a computer. And, before you think it, you don't have to use the command line on Linux. You could go your entire life with Linux and never so much as open the terminal application. When people ask me how hard it is to install Linux, I tell them, "If you can install an application on Windows, you can install the Linux operating system." That's how easy Linux is now. 

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Another area where Linux shines in its ease is installing applications. If you want an app, you open the desktop's app store, search for it, and click Install. If you download an installer (such as a .deb or .rpm file), most often your desktop is set up to automatically open the likes of GDebi (a GUI tool for installing downloaded applications). Or you could use the command line package manager, such as sudo apt-get install opera -y. If you can't find the app in the default repositories, try one of the universal package managers, like Snap (sudo snap install opera). 

It never ceases to amaze me how complicated some Windows app installations are. Even worse, you might wind up having to reboot the computer to complete the installation. The only time you ever have to reboot a Linux computer is when the kernel gets upgraded (unless you're using Fedora, which does often require a reboot).

3. It lets me work how I want

This one is important to me. I've always found both MacOS and Windows to be incredibly limiting in flexibility. I want to work in a way that best suits me, not Apple or Microsoft. Thanks to Linux, I can do that. 

If I don't like how something functions, I can change it. You see, Linux isn't locked down into one way of doing things. In fact, with Linux, there's a never-ending combination of how you can do things. This is made possible because of various distributions, desktop environments, window managers, package managers, and more. 

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Here's a simple example. I copy/paste quite often. I'll be working on something and realize that I need to move a paragraph. At the same time, I might have copied a URL and need to paste it as a link. Instead of having to copy/paste twice, I can use Ctrl+c/Ctrl+v on the paragraph and use select/middle mouse click for the link. The middle mouse paste feature has always been such an efficient way of copying text and when you combine it with the traditional method, it makes things very easy.

4. It's flexible

If you like, you can use Linux as is. Install Ubuntu or Linux Mint and use it as the developers intended. Or maybe you don't like the GNOME desktop, so you install Plasma. You prefer a dock instead of a traditional panel, so you install Cairo. You don't like having the dock on the bottom of the screen, so you move it to the left side. 

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With Linux, there is no vendor lock-in. You are not limited to what the desktop looks like, how it behaves, or what it does or does not do for you. Even within a single desktop environment, you can bend and twist it however you like. With GNOME, there are GNOME Extensions to add different features and behaviors. With Plasma, you can theme it, customize it, add widgets and plugins, and more. With Xfce… the sky's the limit. Linux is the ideal operating system for those who like to tinker and tweak. Or, if you don't, you'll find a variety of distributions, one of which will appeal to your aesthetic and use case.

5. It's secure

In nearly thirty years of usage, I've only come across a single instance of malicious software. I'd inherited a job working on a Linux server that was poorly set up. Somehow, a rootkit was installed and I not only had to discover it was there, but also migrate everything to a new server. That was the only time such an occurrence happened. 

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Other than that, I've never once worried about malware, ransomware, or viruses. Why? Linux is exponentially more secure than Windows and considerably more secure than MacOS. Before you think Linux is the perfect solution to solve all of your security issues, know that any time a computer is connected to a network it's vulnerable. The difference is how easily that vulnerability can be exploited. 

With Linux, it's not easy because the operating system was designed, from the ground up, with security at its heart. And with the help of SELinux and AppArmor, that security becomes even tighter. When using Windows (and even MacOS to an extent), it's always important to use an anti-virus/anti-malware solution. On Linux, that's not necessary.

And there you have it: five reasons why I'll never switch to Windows or MacOS as my go-to operating system.

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