Why the open source operating system Linux offers advantages

by Sabrina Stein
Last edited on: 2023-06-30

"Linux is complicated and only for developers"; "the installation is far too complex" - these and similar sentences are often heard as reasons why the well-known Windows is preferred to the open source operating system Linux. But to what extent are these arguments true - and do the "disadvantages", perceived at least at first glance, really outweigh the advantages of using it? This is the topic of our current blog article. For all those who have never dealt with the topic before, there are certainly some surprising facts about the open source operating system!

The history of the open source operating system Linux

Just 20 years ago, the operating system was mainly found only in the dark offices of programmers - simply because the user-friendliness was far too low for the PC user of the time. Especially in the 1990s, Windows was far superior to the open source operating system in this aspect. Thanks to the graphical user interface provided by Microsoft, the operating system could also be operated quite easily by private users. Windows therefore spread quickly and precisely because Microsoft's product was and still is preinstalled on many computers, hardly anyone thought to take a closer look at the alternative Linux and the numerous advantages it offers - after all, people are creatures of habit.

Over the years, however, the situation has changed somewhat - Linux now has a user interface that is quite respectable and easy to use even for the average private user or Linux newcomer.
Especially in the business environment, many companies have already become aware of the advantages of Linux and have been using the operating system successfully for several years. For reasons of data security, it is also used, for example, on servers and devices in online trading or in banking.

Why Linux is certainly more widespread than you think

But before we convince you to try Linux, we have a confession to make: You're probably already using it! - Yes, you read it right! In fact, almost everyone uses Linux nowadays - and on a daily basis - often without even knowing it. To understand this, some basic knowledge is necessary first. "Linux" is the name for the operating system kernel, which was developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991. A "kernel" is the operating system core. Since Linux is free software (open source - more on this later), a wide variety of developers can use this kernel as the basis for developing or compiling a "distribution". Such a distribution, for example Ubuntu or openSuse, is a combination of various programmes - a "software package". Linux is then, so to speak, the foundation on which the most diverse kinds of houses can be built.
Now back to the statement that actually almost everyone uses Linux: The basis for the system that is on our smartphones is also Linux. Android and Apple iOS are based on the open source software.
How much time did it take you to learn how to use your smartphone? Certainly not very long - after a short "familiarisation phase" you get to know every system quite quickly and it doesn't take long to forget the effort - quite the opposite of the possible advantages you can benefit from in the long term. We would now like to go into these.

Linux advantages – Why Linux fulfils the most important criteria for long-term user satisfaction

Have you ever thought about which features make a product, a service provider or supplier interesting in the long term - which ones make the customer loyal? - i.e. which satisfy you as a user or consumer in the long term? In most cases, these characteristics are: good performance, i.e. reliability, transparency, trustworthiness, flexibility, a good price, depending on the purpose: security - and if there should ever be questions or problems: good support. In addition, we humans prefer not to feel restricted in our decisions - in other words, to be allowed to decide freely. Furthermore, the sustainability of products and actions is increasingly becoming a relevant factor in decision-making and satisfaction.
Of course, at this point we would like to go into more detail about why Linux users trust the operating system.

What separates an open source system from a commercially available operating system

Linux is an open source software. Open source does not, as is often assumed, stand for the free use or usability of software - even though this is often the case. The term is primarily intended to indicate that the source code on which the software is based is freely accessible and can therefore be viewed by anyone. So also you - or for example any experienced programmer - have access to this source code. Commercial operating systems such as Windows or Mac OS were developed by the respective provider - such as Windows or Apple. Only the provider has access to the source code. This cannot be viewed by users. Of course, this also means that not all processes running "in the background" can be traced. In the past, this aspect has often led to critical media reports on the data security of well-known software providers. Those who not only want to take note of the corresponding points of criticism, but also want to get out of the way, could consider using open source software. Because here - due to the openness - a whole community pays attention to the (data) security of the software.

Since not only a team of developers, but thousands of programmers and developers have access to the source code, security gaps can be detected very quickly and corrected accordingly - perhaps one reason why the German Federal Office for Information Security, which uses the "Schwachstellenampel" (vulnerability traffic light) to highlight existing security gaps in frequently used programmes, gives Linux a particularly good rating here.
But not only that! - The editing and further development of the code by the community is also possible and even desired. If further developments are made to the software, these must also be made publicly available again.
For example, in the case of individual projects, developers have the possibility to adapt the open source code to their wishes through the internal IT department or through appropriate service providers. This would not be possible with commercial software. Additional features, updates and, in this context, the correction of errors or security gaps are associated with considerable effort for the producer of commercial software and can therefore also take a certain amount of time. With open source software, this is completely different.
There is absolute transparency and a lot of potential for development. Furthermore, the corresponding support among each other, i.e. within the community, can take place. All these aspects can be guaranteed independently of the economic situation of a commercially interested provider.
In this way, Linux is characterised by qualities such as openness/transparency, flexibility, independence and security, which can lead to a high level of trust in the application - and within the community

Other advantages of Linux

In addition, Linux is powerful, fast, sustainable and resource-efficient in the long term. You know it from other operating systems: Over time, booting up the computer takes longer and longer, and at the latest after the update - which of course starts exactly when it has to go fast - you pray that you will get access to your data again at all. Of course, this is a bit exaggerated, but it has all been experienced. Linux retains its speed when booting up even after years. One of the reasons for this is that not so many programmes are loaded. Defragmentation of the file system is also not necessary, as there is no fragmentation. In addition, it can be used on the latest devices as well as on outdated technology without any problems.

Since Linux has hardly any virus attacks to fear, the use of corresponding security software can also be kept to a minimum.
Another advantage of the software that should not be underestimated is the fact that there are no licence fees for Linux - in contrast to the software products of other providers.
If the decision on the appropriate operating system does not only concern one person or one workstation, the possible positive or negative consequences are naturally greater. This becomes particularly clear in the case of licence costs. For Windows, for example, these can also amount to very high sums for many workplaces.

When making important decisions about the operating system, it is better to think carefully…

Especially if you are aiming for a business or long-term project - or simply one that is particularly close to your heart - , you should ask yourself which provider you would like to place your trust in and decide accordingly which system, for example, should run on the chosen server - because ultimately this is the foundation on the software side and in these "digital times" an important success factor.

As a provider of hosting services, one bears an even greater responsibility with the supply of servers and should make the decision about the operating systems very consciously due to the points mentioned above. Because not only one's own success can suffer when security vulnerabilities occur - also the success of the valued customers is related to corresponding decisions. Since in a large part of the cases the hosting customer decides himself which system should run on his server, at least a good consultation by the hosting company in advance is useful and necessary.

Give Linux a try and discover the advantages!

We humans like to do things in a way that we or our friends, acquaintances and colleagues have always done them - or because many do them that way. However, this does not mean that these are automatically always the best ways. Therefore, it is important to regularly check to what extent, for example, the above-mentioned characteristics and values are given for long-term satisfaction - no matter whether it is about products, contacts, providers - or just about such seemingly "incidental" things as a software or an operating system.

So why not give Linux a try? - After all, you only believe a lot of things when you see them for yourself.
"How can I try it out? I can't just change my operating system - what if I don't like it? Then I'll have all the work" - these concerns are of course perfectly understandable - but they are not at all necessary when it comes to Linux. For example, you can easily test the Ubuntu distribution - from a USB stick - without deleting the system you are currently using. So – what are you waiting for?

We are looking forward to your experience report from the Linux world!