Why Are People So Crazy About Linux?

You see it all the time, a "product" that has a tiny percentage of the desktop market, and yet it's popularity is so evident. I'm not going to get into my thoughts on the future of Linux on the desktop, or what the percentage gains versus Apple looks like. What I'm interested in discussing, is why are people so crazy about Linux?

If you actually ask a Linux user, or a Linux supporter, you'll get a wide variety of answers. Some of the most common are because:

  • It's free! (ie, you don't have to pay for it)
  • It's free! (ie, open source, GPL, free speech, let the code flow baby...)
  • It runs on pretty much any hardware
  • Microsoft is evil and they eat kittens
  • If I use Windows or OSX, it'll make me a conformist
  • I can customize it any way I wish
  • The peer support is amazing
  • I wanna be different.
  • I hate shopping for software at Walmart
  • etc, etc, etc

So what's the real reason? Well, quite frankly, all of the above, and many others I didn't list. For me, I really like the options we have with themes, window managers, software choices, etc. I like the wiggly windows Compiz offers. I like the simplicity of text based config files. (Yes, for me, that's simpler, except for sendmail's config files... ugh) Heck, I love that there are thousands of programs simply a "yum" or an "apt-get" away.

If I had to pick a single reason that Linux is so popular, I think I'd have to say, "Because it's interesting." Love it or hate it, praise it or dis it, Linux is interesting. And that is what keeps people interested.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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SDW's picture

I have been using Windows ever since Windows 95. Why...because it just works. I don't have to decide on Windows Sobunto or Windows 293.2 or some other flavor. I have never had any problems with any windows install. Maybe I'm just lucky. I just put the disk in, it does its things and voila, I'm using Windows. Does it have its problems. Sure it does. I've had viruses, trojans, crashes and problems I couldn't figure out, but I'll take Windows over Linux any day.
Recently, I decided I was going to try Linux. I chose PCLinux. It took me about 4 days to install it. Then after I got it installed and running, I've got all this software from Mars on my hard drive. Stuff like Amarok which IMO isn't worth 2 cents.
True, Linux isn't prone to viruses and trojans but it makes up for it with other problems. I also decided to try Kubuntu. I never did get it installed. Microsoft may eat kittens like someone else said but Linux eats Dinosaurs.
Linux will NEVER take Windows place, never. People want something that just works right out of the box. They don't want to have to do any partitioning, write scripts or programs or give up their software. When is the last time you were in a store and saw a bunch of Linux software for sale? I can tell you...NEVER. I don't want peer support, I want support from the company. Personally, I've never had any problems with Microsoft. In all the years I've been computing, I've had to call Microsoft 3 times and all 3 times they were very helpful and helped me solve my problem. I have nothing against Microsoft. I like their software and it works. True, I don't know much about Linux but that isn't all. I'm not going to learn either. If you like Linux and you're happy with it, great. But me, I will always be a Windows user and I can't wait for Windows 7 to come out.

Re: Why Are People So Crazy About Linux? Not me..

Anonymous's picture

Linux is a steep learning curve and an enormous time consuming occupation. Those, other than geeks that do not value their time, can mess with all they want. I am not crazy about Linux. The true reason why I looked at Linux is simply a challenge. Alas, I don't want to lay around underneath the car trying to fix the engine for hours and days on end, instead I want to drive a car and leave the tweaks and repairs to a mechanic. That's why I don't use Linux on my laptop - its way too much work. Linux needs to do away from command line by eliminating the necessity of incessant typing in the terminal. Only then, the masses will take a second look at an otherwise noteworthy OS. Until then, Linux will merely exist for embedded mobile devices solutions, servers and geeks wanting to tinker. By the way, most Linux apps are simply not to anywhere near up to par with those written for Windows.

Does Microsoft eat kittens?,

Anonymous's picture

Does Microsoft eat kittens?, oh my...

Sticking it to the MAN!

mel's picture

In short.. the reason why we use linux is to financial voice our opinion that we have the right to choose a non-vendor specific OS or software suite. We are free of Overcharging software thieves and we can choose to "contribute" to an Author if we please rather then to give and give to a vendor who only has market trends and others interests in mind.

We are a community with everything from the most basic users to microprocessor programmers. We choose to be a social group versus the windows mentality to push out a product and provide a support page with bugs, and ignore critical problems within the software until it becomes heavily exploitable.

Honestly with the current problems with OSX 10.5 "Leopard" I see Apple turning into a Ux/Linux based microsoft. So many critical bugs flaws that it crashes more then windows yet they just ignore the problems.

Honestly... I hope to see the fall of Apple and Microsoft for there mistreatment of there users/clients/vendors.

i'd go with the "apt-get"

netron's picture

i'd go with the "apt-get" reason. no more license keys. no begging vendors to provide one on a mission critical app.

its just "apt-get install".

It is a good hobby

Anonymous's picture

Windows and Mac are bad hobbies. A new OS comes out every couple of years. Apple introduces new hardware once every couple years, a new OS every three years. When you get a new OS, from apple, you install it on your old hardware and an hour later you are done, what do you do then?, you wait another 3 years.

With Linux you can always investigate: KDE vs GNOME, what is going on with KDE 4.0, can I get linux to run on my toaster, is this Ubuntu distribution better than my Happy Puppy distribution, how small can I make a linux box, can linux really run well on a $69 1Ghz Via motherboard (yes), what is this gOS thing....?

Because a Pinguin is cool, a

(R)ick's picture

Because a Pinguin is cool, a Window not?

Many Windows apps are not cool

Anonymous's picture

I had the recent experience of a person I was the caretaker of. She was a user of proprietary Windows applications: a daily journal and a calendar app from Broderbund. Cheap applications that the company stopped supporting and that can't be read by any other applications. When she passed away last year, her son, who is a Mac user, could not and would not use Windows to access her files. How could a Mac user stoop so low as to use Windows?

Because I don't have to

Anonymous's picture

Because I don't have to provide a CD key (genuine disadvantage) everytime I want to do a system software update, or call the vendor to beg them help to re-install a system.

because Windows is a bad idea

William Gardei's picture

I got tired of viruses, worms, and other crawlers chewing away
on my hard drive. After the 3rd time re-installing everything
I went with Ubuntu (a Debian based Linux derivative). I can do
everything I could do in Windows and so far haven't lost anything.

Walls & Windows.

abhilash's picture

To add with ...

!!! In World without fences and wall, who needs Gates & Windows!!!!

That was the best comment so

Anonymous's picture

That was the best comment so far!!