Originally Published: Friday, 17 September 1999 Author: Luke Groeninger
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Is Linux for You?

With the sudden media explosion about Linux in the last year, more and more people are looking at Linux and asking, "Is this right for me?" This being a very ambiguous question, it goes without saying that it all depends on who you are....

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With the sudden media explosion about Linux in the last year, more and more people are looking at Linux and asking, "Is this right for me?" This being a very ambiguous question, it goes without saying that it all depends on who you are.

Linux, initially developed by college and university students around the world, has a highly technical background that never included behaving as a desktop operating system. As such, I have a hard time recommending Linux to most computer users and enthusiasts. It suffers from usability issues, including a heavy reliance on the text-only command line interface, and relatively weak hardware support. It is still far too easy for a user logged in as root to completely trash a system, requiring a full reinstall of the distribution.

Long time UNIX veterans will find Linux extremely easy to use and adapt to, and will probably find it difficult to go back from. Based almost entirely upon GNU tools, the cryptic commands make perfect sense, and are extremely powerful and flexible for anyone who understands what they are doing. The stability and amount of control that it offers will make veteran system administrators feel right at home. However, because it doesn't fully use high-end hardware, enterprise servers are better off with another operating system to achieve maximum performance -- for now. But on servers small and large, Linux runs like a charm, offering a level of performance that is comparable or better than most commercial competitors.

People looking at Linux should look at the advantages and disadvantages very closely before deciding to use it. I have spent the last 3 years learning Linux, and still have a lot to learn about it. Despite the fact that I am considered a seasoned "veteran" by my peers, I still find Linux annoying to deal with on a desktop level from time to time. If you do choose to use and learn Linux, the advantages can far outweigh the disadvantages.

Luke Groeninger is currently a student who, in his free time, also runs several Linux servers for his school. Feel free to send suggestions, comments, and any non-flame email to him at dghost@linux.com.





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