3 Reasons Why Linux Scares Newcomers

Linux is a very successful, but still largely unknown, operating system - at least among traditional computer users. Windows and Mac OS X are the other major (and more widely recognized) operating systems for desktop and laptop computers these days.

Although there have been versions of Linux available for consumer computer use for years, the uptake has been, well, more of a dribble than a torrent. If Linux is a free, modern operating system, why does it seem to scare away new users rather than attract them? I have 3 reasons to start with.

1 - Marketing. Apart from a few half-hearted attempts by major retailers or computer makers (such  as Wal-Mart and Dell) to provide Linux-based systems, there really is essentially none. So why would you be interested in something that is a mystery to you?

This is an area in which Apple has excelled with OS X. The OS X operating system is based upon Unix, and Linux was originally created as a Unix work-alike. Apple however, has packaged their OS with sleek hardware and has found a growing fan base.

The fact that Linux can be downloaded for free and works well with a range of hardware would seem to make it a no-brainer.

2 - Terminology. In a Windows-centric world, even casual users usually have some idea about things like drive letters, and are used to a Desktop with a Start Button (even though Windows 8 changed some of that).

Linux does not use drive letters (what ?!?!) and you have a selection of Window Managers and Desktop Managers to choose from - also different file system types when installing, etc, etc.

Mind you, OS X does not use drive letters either, but no one seems to bother about that.

When people hear things like "Window Managers", or "Linux Distro" they just glaze over - understandably. In practice, you really don't need to know any of that stuff for everyday use - just like you don't need to know about NTFS or  DLLs to use Windows.

3 - Most computer users have never installed an operating system - any operating system. I think this is a bigger obstacle than often realized. Most consumers have Windows computers, and they will use them for a few years, and then buy another computer; who reinstalls an OS, or replaces and existing OS? Plenty of geeks of course, but we are not considering them right now.

It's a fact that many times an older Windows PC will run much better if you either reinstall Windows, or replace Windows with a "lightweight" Linux OS. You get more bang for your buck that way - and instead on hanging on to the now unsupported Windows XP, you could have a much newer OS that may meet your needs.

One plus for Linux in this regard is the "Live CD", which is a bootable CD or DVD containing a Linux OS; you can use this to "test drive" Linux on your own PC without messing up your existing settings.

So, all these reason aside, would Linux work for "normal" computer users? I think so - if your activities are like most folk; checking email, surfing the web, watching movies, listening to music, managing your digital photos and so on.

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