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OPINION: Why I love Linux.

by Gavin Henry on March 22, 2004.


I was trying to decide yesterday on what my next tutorial should be, and I realised I had never written about why I love Linux1 so much. Well, it's time to let the world know.

I love Linux because of its abilities.

These are my favourite abilities. Most of them aren't words, but they should be and I will use them anyway ;-)

  • Reliability
  • Scalability
  • Configurability
  • Securability
  • Profitability
  • Sharability
  • Communability


I can always rely on Linux to be stable. As we all know Linux can run for months and months with out any crashes. I can rely on my skills to work on any Linux Distro, therefore I can be at home on any distro (but I prefer Fedora).

If I am on my desktop and for some reason my screen freezes, I can go to another console screen (Ctrl-Alt-F1) kill the offending program (kill command) and then come back to an unfrozen desktop (Alt-F7). If that doesn't work, I could SSH into my desktop from another machine and fix it that way. I could also press Ctrl-Alt-Backspace and restart the X Server as well. If I am really stuck, I could jump on my server, that sits next to my desktop and open up a serial terminal, which that should always give me access, and fix it that way or use the Magic SysRq keys.

The point is, when I change things or something breaks (which rarely happens) I don't have to reboot, like on some systems.


I can run Linux on anything from a usbdisk and floppy disk to a Watch. Here's a brief list:

When I think about it, this is actually pretty amazing. I can run Fedora as my desktop, my server and if I so chose, I can can buy more machines and with a bit of tweaking have my own super computer in the form of a Linux cluster, like Google has.

One of the best things I like about scalability, is that when I chat to new clients about our Migration Plan, I can say that as they switch, the initial cost might be the training, and as they scale their business and require more desktop/server machines, they no longer need to buy a license for each additional one. Great.


The decision is mine. If I don't like Gnome or KDE, I can use Xfce or any of the other numerous desktop window managers. If I don't want a GUI, I don't have to have one, and it doesn't break the whole system. If I hate the way things look, I can change them. If I don't want the machine to start a certain way, I change it. If I don't want a hard disk, then that's fine, I can create a thin client. If I don't want a full Internet suite like Mozilla, and just a browser, I can run Firefox or Dillo. If I don't like one program, there is another to replace it.

As all files are text based, configuration is simple, open up a text editor and I can see all the options to edit in plain English, but if I wanted to, I could use all the GUI tools available as well. No registry in site. This in my eyes makes Linux much more simple than any other Operating System.

Scripting is an integral part of a Linux system, therefore with my scripting skills I can also change/create anything. I can create my own scripts for starting and stopping services on Linux, I can use scripting to do just about everything, before the need arises to use a more powerful programming language.


Most default Linux Distro installations need a bit of securing, but some are built with this in mind, like Adamantix, Trustix and a few others. I can switch off services, tunnel ports and protocols, recompile my kernel for a more hardened version using things like SeLinux and Grsecurity. I can log everything. Because I can view the source code, bugs and vulnerabilities are picked up and fixed almost immediately. I can create hardened binaries using things like PaX.

Because the Linux kernel has loads of features, I have one of the best firewalls available today,IPTables. IPTables, with other security products like, SNORT and various other technologies can secure any Linux box. But I must remember that my Linux box is only as secure as I make it, and I must constantly monitor it, to keep it effective.

I can use various other technologies as well. I might not even want to install Linux on to my box, I could just run it from a LiveCD, so if it gets cracked/hacked, I can just reboot and everything is back to how it was.

I can even run Linux on Linux with projects like User Mode Linux. I could even create my own Linux network and monitor how the real crackers/hackers in the world do what they do by creating a Honeynet.

I could also make it the most secure by not putting it on the Internet and keeping it in a fire safe, but then that would be no fun. ;-)


There are two kinds of profitability I love about Linux, these are how my education profits and how my pocket profits. I am learning everyday with Linux, not only does it allow me to develop my skills using any programming language ever created but I can create anything on Linux. Linux is free at it's heart and free for me to download. I just need to read about various licenses to understand this.

I can run my business on with Linux (which I do). Office applications, accounting applications, art applications are all of very high quality and require no start up costs. Again, great for my pocket.

It is well known that money can be made from Linux, you just need to look at all the latest events that have happened. Novell buying SUSE because they can see the profit in it , all number of companies bringing out new products running Linux, like shown at this years Demo 2004. Also, all the phones with Linux on, like the one's Motorola's announcement. It's no wonder, because there are no start up costs for getting into Linux, therefore companies can download the kernel and any applications they need and just start developing.

I can sell Linux services or resell for another company. I can write training materials with some of the best authoring tools in the world. No matter what I chose, there is money to be made.


Networking is at the heart of Linux, in fact this is how it grew up, therefore Linux is based on texts files, which I have already mentioned. To make Linux shine, it needs to be on a local area network or with some form of network connection.

I can update, download and monitor my machine completely remotely. I can create virtual servers that can host massive sites, I can create High availability servers. I can sit in my bedroom with my old PIII 500Mhz laptop and watch DVD's across my LAN with VideoLAN. If I want to try something, I can just download it, RTFM and begin immediately. I can run my own websites, create my own Internet Service Provider, create my own e-mail servers. All at no cost.

The possibilities are endless.


The Community. This has to be the most amazing part about the Linux culture. I can ask questions, join mailing lists, go on chat rooms, go on forums, read news sites, read manuals, ask a friend, and more often than not I get an answer in less than 5 minutes. You can't buy this kind of support!!! If I want paid support I can buy it. I can buy a distro from say Red Hat or SUSE or many others. I can go to local Linux companies and pay for their services.

I can contribute directly to the kernels development if I so chose or any other Linux project. It's in my interest to do so, as I can come up with new features and get them screened and approved for quality by some of the best minds in the world.

I could help with a desktop project, or I could start my own. The thing is, you are never alone, there is always someone better out there and willing to help.

There is a Linux User Group in just about every city in the world where you can meet all kinds of people. In fact in a chat room or on a mailing list, you might find yourself chatting to someone very famous in the Linux world. In fact, when I was thinking about a company name for my Linux company, I had the word TUX, in it. I wasn't sure if this was copyrighted by Linux Torvalds, so I e-mailed him. I got a nice reply in a few days, saying, (trademark law, not copyright law). Nope. Only Linux. Go wild as far as I'm concerned. Linus.

You wouldn't get that from Bill Gates now would you.

You can see that help is everywhere, some distributions need it, some don't. Depending on your needs, you can just install it and you are away and running.


In closing my explanation, I would just like to invite people that have not used Linux before or people that have thought about it and not tried, to try it and adopt it into your heart. It is a culture and a way of life. It's very easy, and there is loads of help out there. It's no way as hard as it used to be, with installs now only taking about 20mins, depending on what distro you use. Business users should migrate now, spend your money on training and never worry about per seat licensing again.

You will make new friends, learn new things, understand a computer like you have never before (if you so wish), you will find joy in computing again. You will find help in your City, and you will be surprised by the people you end up talking to and helping. You will get the job done. Most of all you will learn and have fun.

Well, I hope some of you share my feelings, thoughts and I hope that I may have convinced some of you to switch and some of you to stay.


Well, that's it for now. For any comments or corrections, please e-mail me.