Why GNU/Linux Is the Best OS for Regaining Your Digital Freedom
5 min read

Why GNU/Linux Is the Best OS for Regaining Your Digital Freedom

Stop using proprietary and freedom-limiting operating systems, free yourself by using GNU/Linux
Why GNU/Linux Is the Best OS for Regaining Your Digital Freedom

You've probably heard of the term Linux from time and time again, and for good reason; while Linux is far from being a common desktop operating system, it powers most of the internet and servers. The reason for this is that Linux gives you much for fine-grained control over your system, with generally more stability and support than Windows or macOS in the case of a server. But that's not to say that Linux can't function as a desktop OS, it very well can, and if you take the time to learn it, you'll never want to go back to Windows or macOS ever again. And of course, Linux is free, both as in price and in freedom, so there's no risk in giving it a try.

Learning Linux is also an experience that can be very rewarding and even fun, knowing the ins and outs of the command line, using terminal-based software, and overall just knowing more about your system is a great first step towards tech-literacy; and there's also the added benefit of you looking like a l33t-hax0r xddd.

The Command Line

If you've never touched Linux before, most likely you probably have no experience with any kind of command line or prompt, and if you did it was probably opening up PowerShell and running ipconfig. The command line is an extremely useful tool and knowing how to use it effectively is a skill that will benefit you and your knowledge of the system. Pros of learning the command line include:

  • Minimal/smaller software
  • Faster than their GUI counterparts
  • Easy to debug
  • Can do many more things that GUI can't
  • And much more...

You should realize that in the background, commands are being processed all the time, even if you don't ever actually open up the terminal; GUI programs are still in essence software that is run in the terminal, but now it has a bloated interface to "help" you navigate settings and menus. Just stick with the simple text based software, I guarantee you it's not as hard as you think it is (presuming you know basic English).

Being familiar with the command line means that you will have a deeper knowledge and lower-level understanding of the system. You'll realize that at its core command lines and TTYs offer you much more precision, flexibility, and control than any GUI can. No more do you have to wait for that one bloated GUI program to take 5 minutes to launch up to do such a menial task, everything can be done quickly in the resource-light terminal.

Superior Documentation and Access to Programs

You might have been led to believe that Linux won't support many of the programs that Windows user have the "privilege" of using; and you're right, there are quite some few programs made for Windows and macOS that won't work on Linux. But that's not a problem, because as a Linux user of 5 years now, I've realized that the Linux community has made free and open source alternatives of every proprietary software known to man, so you're bound to find something that fits your use case. In fact, I'd go so far to even say that Linux has MORE access to software than Windows does; the open source and Linux community is vibrant and filled with talented developers that want to develop fantastic software for the community.

Software for Linux also generally have the added benefit of having superior documentation, via "man pages," short for manual. These man pages are accessed via the terminal and showcase everything that the program can do, while being stored completely locally, meaning no internet access is needed.

And if you really do need to use a proprietary piece of garbage such as the Adobe Suite, I recommend trying to run the programs in Wine, a compatibility layer to run Windows software on Linux, and if it doesn't work, set up a Windows virtual machine. I urge you to use free (as in freedom) software as much as possible and cut as many proprietary programs from your life as possible. Trust me, the open source community has some amazing software.

Stops Ignorance

Generally I believe the less ignorant you are, the smarter you are, and the same thing definitely applies in the tech world. Using Linux makes you ask questions as to why these proprietary operating systems do the shady practices that they do, and appreciate the amount of freedom that Linux gives you. Windows and macOS are advertised as being idiot-proof, but as the YouTuber Luke Smith pointed out; these OS's are not idiot-proof, but rather smart-proof. These OS's hold your hand too much, and is locked down so much that any sort of customization aside from the ones given is basically impossible. They limit creativity, innovation, and don't allow you to tinker with the system. As opposed to these inferior OS's, Doug Gwyn states:

Unix [Linux] was not designed to stop its users from doing stupid things, as that would also stop them from doing clever things.

In order to foster innovation and creativeness, you must present a problem, and in Windows and macOS, the problems kept from the user at all costs in order to build an ignorant and tech-illiterate user base.

Every mistake is a lesson learned, and I've made many mistakes in my Linux journey, some that costed me hours and days, but I learned a lot because of these mistakes, and I will never stop making them.

Increased Privacy and Security

Linux is known for its superior security, user/group standard, and permissions. Being free software, Linux isn't also made to track you and exploit your privacy. The privacy also comes from the fact that if you run Linux, most likely you're going to have mostly free software installed, which in turn increases your privacy even more. Running Linux gives you a sense of peace knowing that everything you do on your computer isn't being actively sent back to Microsoft or Apple so that they can offer to personalized ads that know everything about you.

Security wise, Linux has actual administration passwords aside from the default user password, meaning that you don't just click a button and then suddenly that software has administrator access to your computer (I'm looking at you Windows). You have to actually provide a password that then lets a program be run as the root/administrator user. Again, with Linux and a lot of software being open source and free as in freedom, you also get the added benefit of knowing that the code has been audited by thousands, possibly millions of people, so you can feel safe knowing that your computer isn't spying on you and that your data is secure.

Linux is far from being easy. It's very hard to get used to after years and possibly decades of being trained to not think outside the box by Big Tech, but keep at it, and sooner than you realize it you'll be a tech-literate. In my own personal experience, I just went cold turkey and used Linux exclusively, even while I had school and needed to do actual work. It was hard at first, but you'd be surprised at how fast the human body and brain can adapt to a situation, and soon enough I was just as, if not more efficient than I was when I was using Windows. Every day, I'm learning more and more about computing, and deciding to install Linux quite literally changed my life for the better.

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