How To Explain Linux to a Windows User

Theres been a question I have seen on multiple occasions both on the “How do I explain Linux to a Windows user” end as well as the “What is Linux?” question. That got me thinking.. what is the best way to explain Linux to a normal Windows user who has never heard of Linux? Have you ever been using a laptop in a public place, or have someone over at your house, and you’re running Linux and someone asks you why it looks different? Do you take the easy way out and say “it’s Linux, it’s like Windows but different!” or do you actually explain what Linux is? Here are some ideas of getting the message across as easy and straightforward as possible.

Explaining Linux to a Windows user

Here are a few ideas you can put together to help you explain Linux:

  • Every computer has an Operating System. Windows is an Operating System. So is Linux.
  • Linux was written in the early nineties by a college student name Linus.
  • Linux is not owned by any one person.
  • Linux is free, unlike Windows. Most people pay the Windows fee when they buy the computer that comes “pre-installed” with Windows.
  • It’s fun to use.
  • You have complete control of all aspects of the operating system.
  • It’s “look and feel” is completely customizable. You can make it look like Windows or you can make it look unique.
  • You can’t use all of the same software applications that you use on Windows, but there are alternatives to windows programs.
  • If your computers primary use is for playing popular computer games, hold off on installing Linux.
  • Linux is secure and practically virus and spyware free.
  • It can be a lot faster than Windows with the right setup and configurations.

How do you explain Linux to a Windows user?

5 thoughts on “How To Explain Linux to a Windows User

  1. Admirable but totally wrong approach. Look it is the rare Windows bird that ‘gets it’ about even the Windows OS. Most Windows users are like most automobile drivers — Key fits in slot, put in ‘D’ and go.

    So the approach has to be that a Windoze driver has to expereince, on the keyboard, the linux environment. Verbals won’t work. Playing with the environment and its applications will.

  2. 1. Linux is not an Operating System. It’s a kernel. Linux combined with the GNU tool chain is an Operating System.

    2. Linux is a registered trademark and is indeed owned by Linux Torvalds. He permits it to be used freely, but can revoke rights at any time he wishes.
    see: http://www.linuxmark.org/faq.php

    2. GNU/Linux is not always free (as in beer). It can be bought and sold at will. It is however Free (as in freedom).

  3. Spoken like a true Stallmanist.

    When you’re done kissing Richard Stallman’s ass, reality will be happy to receive you.

    “1. Linux is not an Operating System. It’s a kernel. Linux combined with the GNU tool chain is an Operating System.”

    Mmmmm, while true, Linux itself is also used to refer to the operating system. Only whiny Stallmanists try to downplay Linux by just shoving it into being “just a kernel.”

    Note: There ARE non-GNU using Linux distributions out there. (Note: I refuse to call it GNU/Linux. Stallman doesn’t deserve credit for Linux. He didn’t create it, and he’s not really an active developer for it.)

    “2. Linux is a registered trademark and is indeed owned by Linux Torvalds. He permits it to be used freely, but can revoke rights at any time he wishes.
    see: http://www.linuxmark.org/faq.php

    LINUS Torvalds, not LINUX Torvalds. But yes, Linux is mostly, but not completely oned by him. There are pieces of it he has no copyright over and therefore doesn’t actually own.

    “2. GNU/Linux is not always free (as in beer). It can be bought and sold at will. It is however Free (as in freedom).”

    I was aware of this. As are most Linux users. But the facts are that MOST open source software is free (as in beer.)

    Again, I refuse to call Linux GNU/Linux, since many other operating systems, Mac OS X and Windows included, have the GNU tools ported to them, and they’re not GNU/Mac OS X or GNU/Windows. And don’t feed me the “without GNU Linux wouldn’t exist” bullshit.

    By 1991, GCC was far from the only free/open source compiler.

    On top of this: Most Linux distros have more BSD tools than GNU tools. But the BSD guys don’t go about trying to claim Linux is BSD, now do they?

    And, finally, don’t bring up the compiler: People develop with Microsoft compilers, doesn’t magically make software a Microsoft product!

  4. “People develop with Microsoft compilers, doesn’t magically make software a Microsoft product!”

    I’m sure Ballmer & Co. would LOVE to change that!

  5. Its just software get over it “IT View” look in the real world no one cares as long as either OS’s get the job done. Its like deciding what your want to drive, who cares so long as it has 4 wheels and takes you places you need to go.

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