by Wesley Gibbs
The biggest complaints and headaches from students about their computers these days are viruses and malware. A possible solution is transferring their operating system from Windows or Mac to Linux. According to the HowtoGeek.com website: “You do not need an antivirus program on Linux.” Linux uses a different file system than Windows or Mac, and by design, will not run unapproved programs or processes. Leading the HowtoGeek to say: “Using an antivirus is completely unnecessary for desktop Linux users.”
Linux is an old computer operating system and well-known to many technical people in the industry as it is the most widely used system anywhere on the internet, from web servers, and Wi-Fi routers to many brands of mobile phones.
Desktop distributions of Linux traditionally took a back seat to the old war horses of Windows and
Macs. That is until recently with the evolution of many
new and user-friendly development distributions of the Linux OS.
Linux Mint is a top contender with a polished desktop interface that would be instantly recognizable to Windows users, as well as an impressive suite of user themes, backgrounds artwork and spectacular screen savers. Mint programs are also centrally located in one software manager and can be instantly downloaded and installed with a single click – very similar to mobile phone apps from the Google Play Store.
For the curious and adventurous user willing to explore, Linux comes in many other tasty flavors. Zorin Linux is similar to Mint in many respects. MakuluLinux is specifically designed to integrate immediately and intuitively with social media accounts. And the popular and well-supported Ubuntu with its unique Unity desktop would be instantly recognizable to Apple Mac users.
But it doesn’t stop there. Steam OS Linux is designed especially for gamers. Qubes, Tails and Security Onion are focused on user privacy and security. OpenSUSE is a distribution designed for business use. And Arch Linux is a do-it-yourself OS that can be built and customized from the ground up.
Most Linux systems also come with the LibreOffice suite which allows users to write and save documents in the popular Microsoft .docx or .pptx format with perfect translation back to MS Office.
Linux is also great for education and learning. Students are learning how to install learning games directly from a command line. Examples include Tuxtype, for fun arcade style typing practice, and Stellarium, which turns your computer into a fully functional planetarium. Children’s Linux distributions include Qimo (like Eskimo), KidX, and Edubuntu. Students at MIS are now learning how to run fully functional versions of Linux Mint and Qimo in VirtualBox right on top of Windows.
If you are interested in learning more about Linux, you can download a distribution of your choice from distrowatch.com, burn it onto a bootable DVD, or write it to a USB stick, and boot into a LIVE version, which allows you to see, experiment and test drive Linux on your computer without touching any part of your existing computer setup. It’s never been easier to experiment with newer, useful, exciting and more productive computer technologies like Linux.
Wesley Gibbs is an ICT teacher at Mooltripakdee International School.