Originally Published: Saturday, 8 April 2000 Author: Jeff White
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Why Linux?

Whenever I introduce the idea of Linux to someone who has had little to no experience using Linux as a workstation or server operating system, I find myself always answering the question, "Why Linux?"

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Whenever I introduce the idea of Linux to someone who has had little to no experience using Linux as a workstation or server operating system, I find myself always answering the question, "Why Linux?" This article will briefly discuss a few of the most notable reasons for choosing to use, learn and experience Linux both in a workstation and server environment.

During the first few experimental installations, I find that the average user looks for, and determines whether to use Linux or not on, three working functions: X, sound, and the Internet. What then? You have X, sound and the Internet working but still have no reason to stay in Linux.

I see, you are a programmer and are in need of a platform and operating system that can compile and run your development code. You can develop in, and are not limited to: C, C++, Java, PERL, TCL, AWK, SED, Python, Motif, and lesstif. For those of us who do Web development we can develop our SQL, PHP, and CGI programs using the Internet's most popular and robust Web server, Apache.

You aren't a programmer? You are an average user and Internet surfer. There's definitely no problem there; Linux has all sorts of Internet and desktop programs such as Netscape, ICQ, gnapster, MP3 players, FTP clients, word processors, database applications, multimedia applications and so much more. Visit Freshmeat or Linuxberg for any Linux application!

Ah, you are an avid gamer? No worries; you can play all the Quake, Unreal, Starcraft (through Wine), FreeCiv and Nintendo ROMs you can handle. Halflife server can even run smoothly on Linux (Ever see the penguin at WON?) Be sure to check out LinuxGames for more games and Glide for Voodoo owners who love GL graphics!

All right, what about the server side of Linux you ask? Sendmail, Postfix, and qmail pave the way for robust and reliable mail servers with Apache providing the Internet with 61% of all its websites. (Search your favorite sites to see what they are using for a web server at Netcraft.) As a matter of fact, Microsoft's illustrious hotmail.com is using Apache and qmail for their free e-mail services. Linux can also provide an array of TCP and UDP services including telnet, FTP, LDAP, SNMP, POP, RPC, domain and NFS.

Hmm, that's great and all but why should you want to learn Linux? Most people can get by on just knowing how to send and receive e-mail, how to use a word processor to write reports and how to surf the Internet. For those of us who want to know the mundane details of how the Internet and computers work, Linux is the most exciting way to learn and experience it all.

Personally, the most experiencing and rewarding adventure I took on was setting up and administering my own domain. I have learned more about DNS, SMTP, FTP, Apache, firewalls, and security than I could have learned if I had used an NT or NetWare server. I highly recommend, after learning the basics of Linux, that you set up and administer your own domain. No longer will the larger sites seem intimidating or better than you; they will become your peers. One of the greatest things is that this knowledge can be carried over to any other form of UNIX or BSD!

The motivating step for me to learn Linux was the first time I managed to get X up and running on Slackware 3.2. It may have taken me 30 tries and 5 reinstalls, but I was so excited in the end. I am sure everyone who uses Linux has encountered an exciting success that has compelled him or her to learn and experience more. For those of you who are curious about learning Linux, I guarantee if you have the passion to learn, you will experience the excitement I have and continue to experience.

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