We’re talking operating systems this week.

Click here if you’d like to read our article on Windows.

Click here to learn the pros and cons of Macs.

If you’re a Windows or Mac user, Linux is a whole different world. This open-source software is a great, free alternative to tech giants, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. But it’s certainly not for everyone. Linux isn’t just one operating system, it covers a wide range of choices that are referred to as “flavors” or “distros” (short for distributions). Linux has five times as many flavors as your average Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor.

Good choices for beginners include Mint, Ubuntu, Zorin, and Linux Lite.

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Pros

First, it’s an open-source system that’s free to download and use.

Some Linux distros, like Linux Lite, can revitalize an¬†old PC that’s not capable of running a new operating system like Windows 10.

The hardware cost can be zero, since you can install it on an old PC. There are even portable version of Linux that allow you carry your PC on a flash drive. But you can also create a high-end high-performance PC with Linux. It’s a very flexible operating system.

You can download and use all manner of free programs for a Linux system including browsers, email clients, office suites, games, and more.

You aren’t part of any corporate giant’s system, so there is greater privacy.

Linux is not a prime target for hackers and malware distributors. That doesn’t mean its impervious to attack, just that sometimes crooks don’t notice it. It’s still important to update to the latest version of your distro offered to stay safe.

Cons

There are so many different version of Linux available, the choices can be overwhelming for a non-tech savvy user.

Each distro has its own website, tech support forums, and web store where you download programs. There’s no central location to get all of your tech questions answered. Tech support is mostly crowd-sourced and supplied by other users.

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A lot of Linux users are tech-savvy and they may not have patience with folks who aren’t. You’ll want to make sure to find a forum for beginners. If you happen to have a techie friend or a reliable computer guy, it’ll be much easier to get started. Plus, technically-inclined people love Linux, so they’re usually pretty keen on showing others how it works.

You won’t be able to use some of your favorite¬†Windows programs unless you install an emulator. Not everything works with one, though. For most programs, you can find a suitable Linux-compatible alternative in the store for your particular distro.

If you’re technically adventurous and in the mood to learn something new, Linux is a great alternative.

Click here to visit the site for Linux Mint.

Click here to visit Ubuntu

Click here for Linux Lite