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MONDAY, JULY 04, 2011
I hesitated before writing this article because the last thing I wanted to do was write something that would come off as an advertisement for a particular corporation's operating system. But, Linux is not a corporation (it's free for the public), and it's a nice way to explain the headway open-source code is making. Secondly, I feel I should give Linux some attention since it's not only free but more environmentally friendly than other systems. And as I’ll explain later, it even helps improve the education systems in third world countries.

Open source software (like Linux and the familiar Firefox) is generally free, and can be continuously upgraded for free, because the source code is open to the public, so it can be developed and acquired by anyone. This can mean that the software is safer because it's always being updated and worked on by developers worldwide. It also means that many new features can be implemented into the software before a corporation's programmers can export the idea, which often makes the open-source programs look more innovative than competitors. Lastly, in most cases, updating to the next generation of a software is free, unlike what consumers had to go through with Vista or Leopard.

Because every aesthetic feature is more customizable to the user's taste, Linux can often come off as a more beautiful interface. For example, the Linux Operating System was the first to delineate from two dimensional desktops to be made into a 3D cube. You can actually have 2 or more desktops to help with multi-tasking. A common question from both Mac and Windows users is if Linux is capable of running all the programs available with Windows and Mac OS.
Not only can you put Linux on PCs but on Macbooks too. Here's someone playing with the effects found on Linux

Even Mac OS and Windows realize the potential of open source and so have made some components on their systems open-source. They've ended up with great results. By the way, my friends working at Apple insist that Apple is open-source so I thought I should address them. Apple is not open nor free source. Although they seem to have taken a few extra steps towards open source, key components are still held closed by them, which has frustrated quite a few developers and has lead to more bugs on Mac OS than there would have been if it made itself completely open source (if you don't believe me check out: Example 1, Example 2,Example 3).

Apart from that, the Linux community has helped develop a running operating system, EeePC, which uses a lot less electricity than most if not all laptops available. They only sell for about $150 and you can only buy one if you buy another for someone in a third world country. It's called the One Laptop per Child program.

Other than being amazingly efficient, Linux can also save old laptops since they don't need to be tossed out if they run slow and can be boot up with a fast Linux version like Xubuntu or Damn-Small-Linux. And you don’t need to be a programmer to use Linux. If you went with the build of Linux such as “Ubuntu,” then you wouldn’t have to use any coding at all since it was meant to be used by non-programmers. And in case you do run into a problem you can simply ask on their amateur-friendly forums and they'll give you a code to copy/paste onto your system. If you do want to give Linux a try, Ubuntu is the most popular distribution to try and best of all it's free.



I always thought that open-source was less safe because it was more susceptible to hackers. Am I wrong about this? I don't know much about software or computery stuff...



Replying to Hogan:
In a recent "hack contest," held right here in Vancouver by CanSecWest, hackers were allowed to win laptops by hacking into them. One was a Mac, the other Windows and the third Linux. Mac was the first to get hacked, then a lot later Windows was hacked, and Linux never got hacked. There's several things that make open source safer actually. But if you are wary of the security just look at the browser you're using, I'm assuming it's Firefox? Firefox has proven to be secure enough for you to browse the internet (where most viruses are from) and yet it's open source.

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