10 Reasons To Replace Windows With The Linux Operating System

Manjaro Linux

Introduction

A lot of people run Windows on their laptop and desktop computers and quite often the reason for that is because it was already installed when they bought the machine.

What is interesting though is that if you give people a better option then there is every chance they will switch to something else.

If you don’t believe me look at the rise of Google Chrome. Internet Explorer used to dominate the browser market share but now Chrome controls over 60% compared to Internet Explorer which has under 10%.

Linux is better than Windows, especially for home use and in this guide I will provide 10 reasons why.

In this guide I will highlight 10 reasons to replace Windows with Manjaro Linux.

Before I start though let me dispel some misconceptions.

When people think of Linux they often think of a geek typing dozens of commands in a terminal window to achieve the same goal as clicking one button in Windows. They think of poor drivers, lack of software and poor hardware support.

This is of course nonsense. Who in their right mind would type dozens of commands instead of clicking a button? This is 2018 and Linux is a million miles away from the terminal based operating system with clunky graphics and minimal hardware support.

Linux is for everyone. You don’t have to use the terminal at all if you do not wish to do so and 99.9% of tasks can be completed without entering any commands at all.

This list is in no particular order.

1. Disk space

Linux Disk Usage

If you are reading this whilst running Windows look at the amount of disk space that Windows is using, especially if you are running Windows 10.

Windows is like a teenager, it consumes as much as it can and never tidies up after itself. Windows 10 can easily eat up as much as 100 gigabytes of space and every month the number goes up due to the number of updates.

I am running Manjaro Linux and the amount of disk space used is currently 30 gigabytes. This total includes every software package I have installed including 2 alternative desktop environments (desktop environments provide the graphical user experience within Linux), 4 development environments, a full office suite, graphics application (along the lines of Photoshop), audio applications, video players, 2 browsers, Spotify, Steam and an email client.

The important thing to note is that when I install updates the amount of extra disk space used will be minimal.

2. Memory Consumption

Linux Memory Consumption

You might not care about disk space if you have a big hard drive but what about memory consumption.

Windows on its own uses a lot of memory and there is little you can do to remove the initial amount used because the graphical user interface is in the main not very customisable.

It is also worth considering that when running Windows you have to run a memory intensive anti-virus application.

From the outset before running any other application you are already using a decent proportion of your system’s memory.

Linux can be as lean as you would like it to be. If you want a user interface every bit as powerful as Windows then yes it takes a bit more memory but if you are happy to forego some of the flashier graphics then your memory consumption.

The above screenshot shows the memory consumption on the laptop I am using to write this article and as you can see the consumption is about the 30% mark. A large chunk of the memory is being used by Google’s Chrome browser which currently has 4 tabs open.

I am running the Gnome desktop environment which provides the graphical user interface used within Linux. If I switched to something less intensive like XFCE or LXDE then I can reduce the consumption further.

3. Updates

I’m sorry but this is one huge reason not to use Windows any more.

How many times have you booted your computer and seen the message “Installing update 1 of 23” or indeed the one in the image above?

How long does it take to install that update? It is random, sometimes it is minutes, sometimes it can be 30 minutes or more.

It is really annoying isn’t it.

There you are logging in to print those tickets out for the concert you are going to and Windows is going to make you late.

What is worse is that it sometimes does it whilst you are working.

There you are typing away, writing that letter of complaint to the airline that left you stranded overnight or playing that game which has taken you ages to get past a certain level and BOOM!!!!

Oh yes here it is, the dreaded “Windows needs to install updates, your machine will reboot in 30 seconds, please save your work”. Aaaagh what do you mean save your work. I am playing FIFA here and I am beating Barcelona 2 – 0 to win the champions league. You can’t save mid game. There is nothing you can do.

Now lets compare that to Linux. You can choose which updates to apply, when to apply them and in most cases the updates will be applied without you knowing they have installed except for the little notification telling you that it has finished. If you don’t want the message, don’t worry, you can customise that.

4. Security

Linux is more secure than Windows. That isn’t a blind statement, it is a fact.

According to this report 77% of viruses were distributed on Windows in 2017. The rest were spread across all the other operating systems including Android, Linux and OSX.

There are obvious reasons why malware developers create their wares for Windows and that is based on the number of people using it.

Linux still has a very small market share of the desktop and laptop market and so it is often not worthwhile writing malware for Linux.

Malware, viruses, worms, trojans and other nasties aren’t the only thing that make a computer secure.

One of the most common scams at the moment is a message that appears on your computer stating that you have 100 viruses or you have something wrong with your computer. The message gives you a number to call to get technical support to fix the issue.

When you make that call the scum bag at the other end is expecting you to be using Windows and they will try to convince you to install software to give them control of your computer.

The truth is that even if you gave them access to your Linux computer they are limited to the damage they can cause because they need your password to install software or delete critical system files. Most scammers would be confused when faced with the Linux user interface and would therefore struggle to convince you there is a problem.

When the same scammer gets access to a Windows computer they open the event viewer and show a whole host of error messages (which are quite common and usually not anything to worry about) and then convince you to hand over money for them to fix your computer.

If you pay then not only do they have your money they then go on to install more malware because scammers know “once a sucker, always a sucker”. If you choose not to pay then they start deleting things because they have full control of your computer and many Windows users use an administrator account rather than a standard user account.

5. Linux is customisable

Is there such a thing as too much choice? Of course not.

The one thing that confuses would be Linux users is that there are so many Linux distributions, and for each distribution there is the possible to install dozens of different desktop environments.

With knowledge comes power. Just because there are so many distributions doesn’t mean you have to try each and every one of them.

Pick one of the top distributions at distrowatch.org and stick with it. If you are new to Linux and want something easy to use then go for Ubuntu or Linux Mint or even Manjaro. After you have made that choice just stick with it. You can drive yourself mad by continually changing to another distribution.

You can however install multiple desktop environments and each one can be customised so that the look and feel of your user experience is just how you want it to be.

Prefer a dashboard style interface then go for it, use GNOME. If you prefer a simple menu system, use Cinnamon. Want one, two, three, four panels full of icons then do it. Add the icons where you want them to be whether it is on a panel or on the desktop.

Do you want to set up keyboard shortcuts to launch applications? Set them the way you want them and boom it just works.

Prefer a dark interface? make it so. Prefer a light interface? make it so.

Change that background wallpaper, choose the default applications for each file type, change the font sizes on menus and icons, choose whether to have a clock, no clock, a digital clock or analogue clock. Like widgets which tell you the news? Do it.

With Linux you can make the whole show your show.

6. Free Applications

Spotify On Linux

When I first started using Linux the common theme from Windows users was that the applications were sub standard. There is no Microsoft Office and there is no Photoshop.

I say, stuff that.

Yes there are some applications out there that are fantastic and I will say the Microsoft Excel is one hell of an application.

I would ask you this though. Out of all the features of Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access (really? people still use Access?) what percentage of the features do you actually use? How much does it cost to have an up to date version of these applications on your computer and how much disk space and memory do they consume.

LibreOffice is free and it is every bit as fantastic as Microsoft Office. No it doesn’t have all the features of Excel but I bet that for 99% of you out there, LibreOffice Calc does everything that you use Excel for. The same can be said of LibreOffice Writer compared to Word and Impress compared to Powerpoint.

What about Microsoft Outlook? I would argue that Evolution is just as good as Microsoft Outlook for reading your mail at home and costs you nothing when running Linux.

What about Photoshop? I guess real power users of Photoshop will be using Macs anyway and for everyone else there is GIMP.

It is also worth pointing out that if you really like Microsoft Office then you can run the online versions of the Office suite within your browser for free and it does most things that you will need it for, especially for home use.

Now I have said that the Linux applications are better than Windows so let’s have a look at some of the really good ones. For software developers there are a really decent set of IDEs available for nearly every programming language.

Brackets can be used for javascript, IntelliJ for Java, PyCharm for Python and VSCode for .NET. Worried that they aren’t as good as Visual Studio? You would be wrong. They are all top notch IDEs with the exception of VSCode which was written by Microsoft.

The audio applications for Linux are far better than the equivalent for Windows. There are also loads of them to choose from. Rhythmbox, Banshee, Clementine. Looking for a decent video player? VLC anyone?

7. Support for older hardware

In the past Microsoft have done well by their users and kept operating systems supported for longer than they ought to have been. Most of this was driven by market forces with too many customers refusing to budge from Windows XP to something newer.

This allowed Windows to work for years on older hardware and although over time the bloat of the operating system killed the performance the older hardware was still supported.

Whilst Microsoft still support Windows 7 and 8 the focus is definitely on Windows 10 and so anybody using the older operating systems are second class citizens and will be an after thought. Don’t expect any new features soon.

If you are using older hardware then it is less likely that the newest operating system will be suitable for your hardware and so you are stuck on what you have.

I suspect that some people won’t have moved to Windows 7 yet and are still using Windows XP or Vista and you aren’t even 3rd class citizens in the eyes of Microsoft.

There are Linux distributions aimed at older hardware and so not only will you get to keep those older machines running those distributions are specifically being developed for your situation and so you aren’t a second or third class citizen any more. You are travelling first class and your operating system will be completely supported.

8. Linux is free

There are two ways that freedom is determined.

  1. Financial cost
  2. Freedom to do as you please

Linux is generally free for points 1 and 2.

Some Linux distributions ask for a donation when you download them and whilst it is a good thing to donate, there is no obligation and you can decide how much you are willing to pay.

Windows 10 currently costs £119 from the Windows store.

For some of you this may not mean much because your machine already has Windows 10 and so you won’t need to pay again. You might want to make sure that you have a decent backup though, if Windows gets corrupt and you don’t have the USB drive then you might have an issue.

If you are on Windows 7 or Windows 8 the free upgrade offer no longer applies and so you will have to pay to upgrade. (Although there are guides showing you how to upgrade for free if you choose to search for them).

What about the other kind of freedom? Real freedom. With Microsoft the operating system is just a tool for which you will use according to the terms and conditions that you agreed to when you installed Windows.

Linux doesn’t lock you in to terms and conditions. Use it the way you want to. If you want to replace one library with another then nobody is going to tell you that you can’t.

If you decide to lend your Linux USB to a friend then nobody is going to come and knock on your door and tell you that you have caused an infringement.

9. Support

You would think a company that charges for its operating system would provide a great level of support.

If any of you have ever been to the Apple store then love them or hate them the guys in that shop generally provide a decent level of help.

Where do you go for Windows support? PC World? Seriously, good luck with that.

The Microsoft support forums are also poorly manned and the answers aren’t particularly good unless you ask an obvious question.

I can give you an example and it is one my daughter has suffered.

Windows 10 allows you to log in to your account using a PIN but when buying something from the store you have to use a password. If you use the PIN to log in to your computer there is a high likelihood that you will forget what the password is.

There is no way obvious way to retrieve the password for that account despite having logged in with the PIN which should give you full access.

Now imagine you have changed your mobile phone since the account was set up and so when you go for the recover password option, Microsoft wants to send a code to the mobile phone. You are stuffed.

What you have to do now is go through a process of trying to prove who you are and they ask obscure questions and I can guarantee the response after 48 hours will be there is nothing they can do. Whether you use online chat or a phone call they will say “we appreciate your position but there is nothing we can do”.

Anything you have bought using that account is now lost.

Microsoft should be able to provide a way to recover your account but they can’t. (or won’t)

With Linux, you just have a password which logs you into your machine. If you forget the password there are ways around the issue which can be found on dozens of forums.

Microsoft provides a set amount of support based on money and so the level of support is as little as they can get away with. Linux is supported by enthusiasts not necessarily motivated by money. The difference in the level of support is staggering.

10. Privacy

Here is a copy of the Microsoft Privacy Statement.

The following is a quick snippet from that statement.

Microsoft uses the data we collect to provide you with rich, interactive experiences. In particular, we use data to:

  • Provide our products, which includes updating, securing and troubleshooting, as well as providing support. It also includes sharing data, when it is required to provide the service or carry out the transactions you request.
  • Improve and develop our products.
  • Personalise our products and make recommendations.
  • Advertise and market to you, which includes sending promotional communications, targeting advertising and presenting you with relevant offers.

I would like to specifically draw your attention to the last point. They are going to use your data to market to you anything they deem as relevant. That is fairly open ended isn’t it.

You can read more about Microsoft Privacy here.

I am not going to pretend that some Linux distributions don’t also have a similar privacy statement but as with everything Linux offers choice. In this case it is the choice to choose an operating system where they don’t collect your data and spam you with adverts or sell it off to the highest bidder.

Summary

If all of that isn’t enough to convince you then consider what you use your computer for.

If you spend most of your computing time within the confines of a web browser then do you really need to lose all that processing power running Windows with its bloated user interface, a similarly bloated anti-virus application which consumes memory and processing power. Do you really want to lose 100 gigabytes of disk space when you could get the same experience for around 20 gigabytes?

Are you at all worried about all of your photos, videos and documents? What happens if you accidentally installed ransomware which encrypts all of your files and asks you for a fortune in bitcoins. Would you even know how to obtain a bitcoin in order to pay the ransom?

Are you holding back because you are worried about the learning curve or because it is too difficult to install? There are Linux distributions that are 10 times easier to use than Windows and the installation can take as little as 20 minutes with straight forward steps.

Do you really need the applications that you are worried won’t work on Windows? Do you use all of those functions in Microsoft Office and is there really not an equivalent function in LibreOffice. I very much doubt it.

The only reason I can conceive for not moving to Linux is hardcore gaming.

 

 

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