Linux is a freely available operating system which has gained a lot of attention in recent years. There are many reasons someone would want to use Linux. As an individual, you may want to save money on Windows XP licenses. You may be sick of re-installing everything after you get hit with the latest worm or virus. You could be looking to learn more about how a computer works or how to program. You make yourself very valuable in the job market if you know how to operate a Linux system.
If you're looking into Linux for your organization, you may also be looking to save money. That's not all that Linux can offer your organization, though. By choosing Linux, you avoid being locked in to one vendor, relying on that company whenever something goes wrong. With Linux, you have the blueprints of the whole system so that you can fix the problem yourself. People are realizing this, and companies are realizing this as well. Many of the same companies who used to depend on customers being locked in--IBM, HP, Sun, Novell--have changed their strategies to include Linux.
Whatever your reasons, I have to tell it like it is: there are trade-offs involved. I'd say that the biggest trade-off is the learning curve. You may have heard that Linux is hard to use. This is true only when you don't know how to use it. Once you figure out how to use it, you've done the hard part. This problem leads to other problems, like the cost of training people in an organization to use Linux. It's also hard to learn the internals of your computer or learn to program in Linux when you don't even know where to start. And who cares if you're free from being locked into a vendor and have the option to modify the system when you don't even know how to use the system?
So, this steep learning curve leads to other problems. By specifically targeting this problem, I hope to make it easier to reap the benefits of using Linux.
Comments, questions, suggestions, corrections? Send them all to joshuago at users dot sourceforge dot net.
Copyright © 1997-2006 Joshua Go (joshuago at users dot sourceforge dot net). All rights reserved. Permission to use, distribute, and copy this document is hereby granted. You may modify this document as long as credit to me is given.