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LinuxAdvantages Of Using Linux Over Windows

Despite the fact that Windows is immensely more popular than Linux, that doesn’t necessarily make it ‘better’ – at least not in every sense. There are some ways in which Linux is actually far better than Windows, and has a significant advantage over it.

In particular the advantages of opting to use Linux as opposed to Windows are its:

Nonexistent cost

As you probably know you need to purchase an original copy of Windows or a license in order to install it, and that can be fairly pricey. On the other hand as Linux is open source it is completely free and for some versions (i.e. Ubuntu) you can even have a copy mailed to you for a small fee to cover postage.

Full customization

Although Windows allows for some customization, it is often skin deep and only covers certain areas. With Linux however anything and everything can be customized, including the desktop, windows, network settings, and so on.

Diverse distributions

It is important to note that there are several distributions of Linux, each of which caters to a different set of needs. Depending on your needs and how you intend to use your computer, you can pick one that suits it best and benefit from its specialized nature.

Security

Unlike Windows, Linux tends to be less vulnerable to viruses. In part this is due to the fact that it is less popular and therefore doesn’t attract the attention that Windows does. However in addition to that Linux is more secure at its core, and because it is open source if and when there is ever a threat or vulnerability its community can respond and fix it almost immediately. In most cases it isn’t even necessary to use an antivirus on Linux – that’s how secure it is.

Hardware requirements

Newer versions of Windows typically have hefty hardware requirements that older machines struggle to cope with. In comparison Linux has far lower requirements, and can run on dated machines with little or no issues whatsoever and will never have to worry about how to speed up a Mac or PC. Some distributions of Linux may have slightly higher requirements, but even these are a far cry from what Windows needs.

Odds are you may have noticed that the open source nature of Linux is behind many of its advantages, and that is something that Windows simply can’t match. Make no mistake Windows does have several areas where it is stronger than Linux as well, but in some cases Linux is definitely the far superior option. At very least you should now be aware of the reasons why you may want to experiment with Linux or even use it as your primary operating system.

Original article

Switching to Linux

Unlike Windows, Linux was developed to make Internet and LAN user-friendly and give a user whatever they might want.

The open source operating system — Linux — is one of the most important pieces of computer software in the world today. Linux runs every Android phone and tablet on Earth. Linux serves up most of the webpages you view and powers most of the web apps you use. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Wikipedia — they all run on Linux. Plus, Linux is now finding its way onto televisions, internet of things, and even cars.

The TOP500 List shows 498 out of 500 supercomputers on the planet run Linux. Yes, Linux evolved as a server operation system behind the scenes, but over the years it became a great Desktop and Laptop Operation System offering versatile opportunities in all walks of life.

But Linux has many implementations. If you are planning an installation - and therefore consequential usage of Linux, you will inevitably have to first choose a distribution, aka distro.

Distro

There is multitude of Linux flavors and all of them are good, even better or just excellent. But the best choice for a novice is Linux Mint. You will get a very powerful system with thousands of immediately available free powerful applications providing you with endless possibilities in all walks of life.

There is statistics showing that Linux Mint is the 4th most popular OS in the world after Windows, MacOS and Ubuntu. Why Linux Mint and not Ubuntu? Because Linux Mint is easier - it automates many tasks, such as installation of printer drivers, codecs etc.

Desktop

There are a few flavors of Linux Mint - Cinnamon, Mate, KDE, xfce, LMDE. All of them are good and equal in their power, but they have some differences.

Unlike Windows, Linux does not have a graphic interface hard-coded into the Operating System. In Linux graphic interface is another application that runs alongsie all other applications. Linux itself does not require any graphic interface at all - it can be controlled from the Command Line Interface (CLI, terminal) and happily run this way on the most powerful servers. It can even run as a Headless Server - without a monitor, keyboard etc.

Thus, there exist various distros and flavors that include various graphic interfaces, aka Desktop Environments that are based on different technologies. Apart from this they all are equal and good in their possibilities.

Mate is a Desktop Environment based on Gnome Desktop Environment and Ubuntu package base (applications). Mate is the most user-friendly, intuitively understandable and easy for a person switching from Windows. Such person will have the shortest and easiest learning curve.

Cinnamon is another Desktop based on Gnome and Ubuntu package base. It was developed by Linux Mint team. Very popular, but not intuitively understandable.

Xfce is a very light-weight Desktop Environment - which means very simple and minimalistic, has light-weight graphics and requires the least processing power. It also uses Ubuntu package base. For more experienced users.

KDE is still another very popular Desktop Environment based on Ubuntu package base.

LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) is a distribution targeted at experienced users, which provides the same environment as Linux Mint but uses Debian as its package base, instead of Ubuntu. Features Mate and Cinnamon Desktops.

After choosing a distribution you will need to first download an .iso file of 32-bit or 64-bit version of your distribution, appropriate for your hardware. So, find out what hardware you have - 32bit or 64bit. Typically 64-bit systems are newer computers with lots of memory (starting with 4Gb RAM), while 32-bit systems are older computers with up to 4Gb or RAM.

If you follow our advice and start with Linux Mint Mate, you will install the Operating System from the .iso file you've downloaded (which usually takes half an hour), and after that you will have a system, packed with tens of applications apt for most of what you may want to do with your computer. If you ever need applications for a more specific tasks, you will find them among thousands of applications available for free download in your distribution Software Repositories

Installation

To perform Installation you should first create a bootable flash Drive. Download and run an application like Unetbootin or Etcher. First you will need to select your Flash Drive and format it to the default filesystem. With that out of the way, you will need to select your Flash Drive and write your downloaded .iso file to it. This will give you a bootable Flash Drive that you can use to install your distribution to your machine.

Boot you computer from bootable Flash Drive

To do that plug in into a USB port and start your computer. When BIOS POST (Power On Self Test) messages show up, try to find the button that evokes boot manager. It may be Esc or Del, F12, F2, F8, F9.

Press these buttond during POST one by one. If you are lucky, you will see a dialog box, showing your current boot drive and your USB drive with an option to select the boot drive. Select the USB drive and hit Enter.

These actions will boot your computer from the USB drive. Soon you will see the USB drive boot menu with options to

  • Boot your new distribution
  • Check image ingetrity
  • Test memory
  • Etc.

I strongly recommend that you Check image ingetrity first. It will run for a few seconds and tell you if your USB Drive boot image is consistent and good.

Restart your computer and Boot your new distribution. Click on your Network Adapter icon in the system tray, choose your Wi-Fi and input your password - or connect your computer to your LAN with a cable.

Now is the time to start Installation. Start Installation by clicking on Install Linux Mint icon on your Desktop. Enter your default keyboard layout and hit Continue button.

Hardware

The next screen will present you with invitation to install third-party drivers. In Linux the Kernel is responsible for providing drivers for your hardware. Most of the times it will have all the necessary drivers and will install it behind the scenes for you. For now assume the Kernel has all the drivers and continue with Installation. If not - you will correct it later or reinstall.

Disk allocation

Click Continue button. In the next screen you will be presented with the options:

  • Install Linux Mint alongside current installation present on the disk;
  • Erase disk and install Linux Mint;
  • Something else

What should you do? Choosing "Install Linux Mint alongside current installation" means that the Install Master will try to shrink one of your partitions, freeing space for you Linux Mint installation. You may try to do that - provided you have backed that partiton up in case you have valuable info there. But that would be a rather unusual scenario for a Linux user.

May be "Erase disk and install Linux Mint"? That too would be a very unusual scenario for a Linux user, because it's not likely that the Installer will tell you what it did and how. A typical Linux user wants to know what is being done in their box and how.

Hereby you are left with Something else scenario.

Choose "Something else" hit Continue button.

In the next screen you will see a window of Gparted (Gnome Partition Editor). It will list all existing partitions as

  • /dev/sda1
  • /dev/sda2
  • /dev/sda3
  • etc.

In /dev/sda1 sda1 stands for Scsi Disk A partition 1. In Linux device output can be found in a file, and dev is a directory where that file is located. And forward slash in /dev signifies the root - the beginning of the file system. There is nothing above it, and everything is under it. Thus, /dev is a directory in the upper level, and sda1 is a file in it.

Below that list in Gparted you will see two buttons - one with the Plus sign (+), and the other with the Minus sign (-).

Now remove all partitions. Select the /dev/sda1 partition and press the Minus button. It will remove the partition. Select the next partition and remove it in the same way. Remove all partitions. Be careful - don't remove /dev/sdb - this is your bootable Flash Drive! In the end you will see listing /dev/sda and words "Free Space" in place of your partitions. Now you should allocate disk space to create 3 new partitions.

Select "Free space" and press Plus button to created the 1st partition. "Create Partition (as a superuser)" dialog box will pop up. Here we will set a few options defining our 1st partition.

BIOS vs UEFI

BIOS is Basic Input-Output System - a firmware in NVRAM chip on the motherboard that boots the computer to the point when the Operation System takes control. If you have BIOS in your motherboard, you will need 3 partitions on your drive:

  1. root
  2. swap space
  3. home

BIOS is a very old system with lots of shortcomings when dealing with modern hardware (manufactured after 2010). A new boot system has been developed to overcome BIOS shortcomings, UEFI - Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. If you know you have an UEFI motherboard or a dialog box pops up during installation and says you have UEFI motherboard, you should create UEFI partition before root partition:

  1. uefi
  2. root
  3. swap space
  4. home

UEFI partition holds EFI-mode boot loaders and related files.

  • Size: minimum 100Mib, however 200Mib is recommended.
  • Type: FAT32
  • Mount point: /boot/efi - however this is not required, the installer will detect the partition and set it automatically
  • Set the "boot" flag to make partition bootable.

Root partition

What to choose as your root partition size? Linux Mint documentation recommends 20Gb for the root partition. However your best choice depends on your needs and your resources. If you have 1Tb+ Drive you can set set it to 20Gb and forget about it.

However if you have a smaller drive, you may be cautious about choosing the root partition size. In fact, if you install Linux Mint 18+ with its standard set of applications and then install all existing browsers, text editors, players, video editing software and 20 other applications - chances are, that you will still run under 10Gb of root partition use.

To use 20Gb of root partition you supposedly will need to install a few thousands of applications - which is not very likely, especially if you are a beginner.

So, you may start with 12Gb or 16Gb for your 1st installation of Linux Mint and rest quite assured that you will not run out of space. So, set:

Size 16384Mb
Type of the new partition Primary
Location for the new partition Beginning of this space
Use as Ext4 journaling file system
Mount point /

Swap Space

Now we should create 2 more partitions - "swap space" and "/home". In times of HDDs we had to account for minimization of heads movement in HDD, and this prompted us to choose swap space location in between the root and home partitions. Now we use SSDs and there are no heads, so we can put the swap space at the end of the drive. But I so far see no reason to change the order of partitions, so let's put swap space in its regular place so far.

Swap space is used as memory in case the Operation System runs out of RAM. What are the chances that your Operation System may ever run out of memory? Memory is cheap nowadays and it's likely that you have plenty of memory. If you have a new computer and kind of 8Gb of RAM you may want to allocate the minimal amount - like 1Gb to swap space. If you have an older computer and 2Gb of RAM - it may be reasonable to allocate 2Gb of RAM to swap space.

Select "Free space" and press Plus button to created the 2nd partition. "Create Partition (as a superuser)" dialog box will pop up. Here we will set a few options defining our 1st partition:

Size 1024Mb
Type of the new partition Primary
Location for the new partition Beginning of this space
Use as swap space

Home partition

Use the following settings for the Home partition:

Size All available space
Type of the new partition Primary
Location for the new partition Beginning of this space
Use as Ext4 journaling file system
Mount point /home

Now press the Install Now button. The next question is "Right changes to the disks? Press Continue and take a breath. You are nearly done.

  • Set your Country - it will determine your locale. You can change it later.
  • Set your default keyboard layout (input language). You can add more languages later
  • Indicate your name
  • Pick a username (login)
  • set your computer name
  • choose your password. The password should be easy for typing - you will have to type it a lot
  • Retype your password

Press Continue button - the Installation will start. In 5-7 minutes you will see a message "Installation finished. You can continue testing Linux Mint now, but until you restart the computer, any changes you make or any documents you save will not be preserved. Press Restart Now button".

After that you will see a message: "Please remove the installation medium, then press Enter". You are done. You have installed Linux Mint. Congratulations! Great day!

First things to do after installation

Basic Linux Mint Mate system comes ready to use, but a few tweaks can take it from good to great quickly!

Install a new background

If you are not happy with the default background - right-click empty space on the desktop and choose "Change Desktop Background". Appearance Preferences window will open and new backgrounds will start to download from the repository. After couple minutes you will have plenty of backgrounds to choose from.

Change the panel text to white

If you have chosen a dark Desktop background, you may want to change the panel text to white. Open ~/.config/gtk-3.0 directory, right-click on empty space and create a file, name it gtk.css. Next open it in text editor and put the following contents in there:

panel-toplevel.background.horizontal,
.mate-panel-menu-bar,
#clock-applet-button,
#clock-applet-button:hover {
   color: white;
}
#tasklist-button {
	color: white;
}

Log out, log in - and you are done!

Adjust panel properties

You may want to make the panel wider, or make it transparent, or change its location. Right-click the panel and select Properties. Adjust it to your liking.

Install Mint Menu Start button

If you are not happy with the default button, you can install an alternative Start button, e.g.:

Start Button Start Button Start Button

Right-click the button you like and save the image to your computer. You can create a dedicated folder for your configuration files, e.g. ".setup" in your home directory and save it there. Next right-click the default Menu button and choose Preferences. Select the new button in .setup directory and remove default button text.

Install Controls and Windows Borders

Customize Controls and Windows Borders to your liking. Right-click empty space on the desktop and choose "Change Desktop Background". Appearance Preferences window will open. Click Theme Tab - click Customize button. If you don't find better Controls and Windows Borders - download and try our favorites:

MCity-Clearlooks2Squared.tar.bz2

Install Icons

Take a look at the icons options, offered by default installation. Right-click empty space on the desktop and choose "Change Desktop Background". Appearance Preferences window will open. Click Theme Tab - click Customize button. If you don't find better Icons - download and try our favorites:

Set Profile picture

Create a square .jpg picture of your face of a size like 200x200 px. Rename it to .face (starting with a dot, no extension) and put it to your home directory. Next time you boot youor computer, you will see it on Login Screen as your Profile picture.

Configure Terminal

Terminal is one of the oldest computer interfaces aka Command Line Interface (CLI). Linux uses CLI commands a lot, and quite often GUI (Graphic User Interface) applications are just means to mask CLI commands. You will love using CLI commands, and therefore you may find it helpful to customize Terminal to your liking.

Press Ctrl+Alt+T to open Terminal. Click Edit menu item and select Keyboard Shortcuts. I prefer to change a few default shortcuts, because this way I can input those commands with one hand. Here are the new shortcuts:

  • Copy - Ctrl+C
  • Paste - Ctrl+V
  • Close Tab - Ctrl+W
  • Close Window - Alt+F4
  • New Tab - Ctrl+T

Now close Keyboard Shortcuts window and open Edit menu item - Profile Preferences. You may find useful to set the following config values:

  • General Tab - uncheck Use the system fixed width font checkbox
  • Colors Tab - uncheck Use colors from system theme checkbox. Choose the color you like.
  • Scrolling Tab - check Scroll on output and Scrollback unlimited boxes

Close Profile Preferences.

Change terminal prompt color

Changing terminal prompt color is very useful, because it will let you find the beginning of the output easier.

Click on My Computer icon on your Desktop. The window that opens is Caja File Manager. In the left pane click on your home directory icon (top icon with your name). Click on File menu item and select Create Document - Empty File.

A new file will be created and its name will be selected for renaming. Name it .bashrc, hit Enter. Hit Enter once again to open that file in editor. Put the following contents into it:

PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;33m\]\u\[\033[01;33m\]@\[\033[01;33m\]\h \[\033[01;33m\]\w \[\033[01;33m\]\$\[\033[00m\] '

Save, close file, open Terminal. Your command prompt will be yellow.

You can choosse other colors using the following values: Black 0;30 – Dark Gray 1;30 – Blue 0;34 – Light Blue 1;34 – Green 0;32 – Light Green 1;32 – Cyan 0;36 – Light Cyan 1;36 – Red 0;31 – Light Red 1;31 – Purple 0;35 – Light Purple 1;35 – Brown 0;33 – Yellow 1;33 – Light Gray 0;37 – White 1;37

You are done. Close Profile Preferences and Terminal.

Install TrueType fonts

Open Terminal and run:


sudo aptitude install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Alternatively you can use another method to install TTF fonts. Avoid using both methods simultaneously.

Or install more TrueType fonts

Open fonts directory in root partition:


sudo caja /usr/share/fonts/truetype

Input password and copy your .ttf files folder to /usr/share/fonts/truetype. Rebuild the font information with


sudo fc-cache -f -v

Install applications, printers and scanners

Applications

Linux applications are installed from downloadable archives, called packages. Each distribution has its Repository and its packages are downloaded from its Repository. They are developed, compiled, checked and included in the Repository by the Developing Team. For your own good avoid installing applications from other sources.

Linux Mint has Software Manager - find it in Mint menu under System header. Open Software Manager and explore its contents - it lists thousands of applications for any possible use. You can legally download and install all of them for free!

All those packages can as well be downloaded and installed from CLI - Terminal. Later, when you know all your favorite applications by name, you may find it easier to install them from Terminal. Using CLI you can install many of them simultaneously, with one command.

Here we will install a few well-known applications that are always good to have on a computer. Those are:

  • chromium-browser - an open source web browser, used by Google as a base for its Google Chrome
  • pepperflashplugin-nonfree - a Flash Player, maintained by Google
  • calibre - an Ebook Reader and Manager
  • hardinfo - a Hardware Manager
  • mc - Midnight Commander, file manager
  • soundconverter - a file format converter
  • imagemagick - an open-source software suite for displaying, converting, and editing raster image and vector image files
  • shutter - a feature-rich screenshot program
  • inkscape - a professional quality vector graphics software
  • scribus - a powerful open source desktop publishing software
  • gthumb - an image viewer and browser to organize your photos

We will install them in Terminal with one command. We will use a few commands to perform the installation:

  • sudo - assigns us Admin rights, required for the task. Stands for “super user do!”
  • aptitude - a package manager
  • install - a command to the package manager

Here is the code:

sudo aptitude install chromium-browser pepperflashplugin-nonfree calibre hardinfo mc soundconverter imagemagick shutter inkscape scribus gthumb

Printers and Scanners

Printers and scanners require drivers to work with the Operation System. A driver is a kind of ID card of the device that lists what it is and how to use it.

Printers and scanners are manufactured by various manufacturers. Some of them - like HP - are willing to participate in Open Source initiative, and provide Linux drivers for thir products.

Other manufacturers - like Canon - are not willing to participate in Open Source initiative, and provide Linux drivers for their products.

However Linux developers often can themselves create drivers for officially unsupported devices. Thus, many Canon scanners are supported in Linux. Here is the list of supported scanners: Supported Devices

Some models are not supported, because e.g. scanner interfaces are not standardized, development of scanner Linux driver requires a lot of guesswork and the manufacturers do not provide specifications.

If you own an HP printer, you can easily install its driver in Linux using hplip - the HP linux printing and imaging system, that provides full support for imaging and printing on most HP printers.

Here is the code:


sudo aptitude install hplip                                  
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Page last modified on Nov 12 2018 11:19am