Many people would love to find a more cost effective operating system than Windows. Obviously not everyone is a great candidate to make the switch to the open source operating system. However, once you better understand the strengths of using the Linux desktop, you too might find that migrating makes a lot sense.
In this article, I will show you some things you can do for your business with Linux that you can't do with Windows.
1. Install Once and Forget It
Assuming you choose a stable release of your selected Linux distribution, you can, in all reality, install it and forget it. While I am not suggesting that you forget critical security updates by any means, the fact that Linux is just not on the radar for those with a malicious intent means that you can lock down a system for much longer with a lot more safety. You can go without running security updates as long as the PC in question is not connected to the Internet. For those PCs installed on the Internet, you will find that you will want to make sure that you keep those patches coming. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Windows users on the other hand, need to run those updates regardless of their Internet connection status simply because malware can indeed be installed through means other than an Internet connection.
2. Save a Fortune in Software Costs
While there is no question that most of the open source software used on Linux is also readily available for Windows as well, it is nice not needing to install it as it comes by default. Immediate access to free office suites, graphics editors, and other software means those are funds that can be put elsewhere for your business. Marketing for your business, for example.
It has long since been my opinion that most companies are spending entirely too much for software these days. Not to say that developers should not be compensated mind you, rather pointing out that there is an inherent flaw in paying so much for absurd renewals that the cost alone quickly becomes too much to bear for the growing business.
3. Install and Manage Software with One Action
To some, this is both a curse and a blessing. While it makes software updates a breeze, there is also the headache of trying to ensure that you are still able to update software that might not yet be compatible with the existing Linux libraries on your system, while still enjoying that ability to install, remove, and update software with only a couple of actions.
On Windows, the end user is either needing to use a third-party application to ensure they are alerted to the latest software updates, or simply rely on their ability to remember that checking periodically is generally the best practice. Overall, I find this to be obnoxious and a total waste of time. For my home business, this soon became counter-productive once I understood that today's modern Linux distributions all but eliminated this hassle. I elected to eliminate the Windows issue early on.
4. Browsers Without Limits
For many businesses, having access to browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer is a must. This is especially true for Web designers. Thankfully, on the Linux platform, there are a few great options that exist that allow the end user to run any browser they might happen to need. Here is a list of which and how.
- Firefox: With desktop Linux, I am able to run two different versions natively (which is helpful as FF3 is still in beta) and even toss in the Windows version of the Mozilla browser with the help of WINE.
- Opera: Again, I can run a single Linux native version with ease while at the same time, use WINE to run a Windows version if I so desired.
- Internet Explorer: Because this is a browser that was clearly designed for Windows, there are a few challenges here, but over all, it gets the job done. For accessing IE-only Web sites (ActiveX) I am able to use WINE to run my IE6 browser fairly easily. Should the need for IE7 come up, however, I would want to use the IE4Linux beta that provides the IE7 back-end.
On Windows, the user is stuck with native browsing only, which is fine I suppose, but good luck running IE 5 to 7, along with non-Windows browsers for KDE or GNOME. Certainly not saying it is impossible, but it is a real pain in the backside from the user's standpoint.
5. Multiple Desktops.
In addition to running with two monitors should I want to, the desktop Linux user has the option of multiple desktop screens in a virtual sense. With KDE and GNOME you have the option of using a simple desktop switching applet that can be loaded next to the clock if the user so desires.
Taking this even further is to use Compiz Fusion on compatible hardware. For instance in my case I am running Compiz Fusion on my built-for Linux notebook. Using the cube functionality, I am able to switch back and forth between desktop spaces with a simple key combination of my choosing. It's very helpful when you are trying to balance the books or multi-task on a project with a single monitor.
On the Windows desktop, you may be able to switch windows on Vista, but that is about it. A simple, 3-D window switcher - wow, now that is a real breakthrough.