Linux can be a great match for your computer, and at the right price

Special to Unicorner

Annoyed by unavoidable system update, which forced you to reboot your computer during some important work? Ever encountered the driver problem caused by the system update, which makes your old hardware useless? Have you ever thought about changing something in the way your computer looks or behaves? If the answer to the questions is yes, then I have a remedy for you. And, get this, it’s free. Yes, free.

Let’s back up a bit. Some background is in order here. Sit back, don’t let the techno talk scare you, and pay attention. You might save some big money here.

Computers are consuming more and more of our time. Love them, hate them, we’re generally stuck with them. Most people got glued to certain proprietary programs and operating systems, which influence the workflow around them. I do not think it is worse for a lot of these users. It just does not fulfil my needs – both when it comes to the way of using my computer and the amount of control that I possess over my hardware/software. I find it is too little.

There are options. Here is where Linux systems comes in. L-what you might ask? Let me explain. Linux. It is an operating system that I use. Let’s first throw in a little disclaimer: Linux is just a name of the system’s core, or kernel, but, for the sake of clarity, I will refer to it as a name of the whole system.

Most people do not care if their software enforces automatic updates, sends some data to remote servers and do not think about customizing any part of the system’s behaviour or its appearance. There is nothing wrong with that, but I think a side-effect of this is that people who are well aware of these “problems” are agreeing with it, because they think there is no other option on the market. Yet, there is.

Actually, when it comes to the realistic choices of operating systems for your computer we have: Mac-OS (only for the Apple computers, so including any further description and comparison will be useless, because it cannot be used on other computers legally); Windows (which costs money, and I am not personally a fan of it); the open source Linux family system (in most cases, it is free); and Chrome-OS (which is based on Linux Kernel and I will not cover it at all, because I did not use it for very long).

In comparison to Windows, Linux has many, many versions and distributions, which affect the how they look, how they behave, and even the way they manage and install programs. It is a free, open source, as we call it, and really easy to use and install most Linux distributions. One of the most interesting versions and distributions is called PopOS. It was created and maintained by the System76 American computer manufacturer, which makes it for the computers they sell. But because the system is free to download and to contribute code to Linux itself, they are my favourite computer company, and a good thing to know about. The great addition is that if you are using different Linux distributions and versions, you can still download their customization features and add them to your current system.

The system allows you to update it anyway you want. It will notify you about updates, but it will never start them without manually accepting them. A nice bonus is that, in most cases, updates do not require a system reboot, and will be made in the background while you can continue your work. When it comes to the driver, most of them are included in the system, and the hardware should be detected automatically. If it is not, then you can search for the solution on the Internet, but in some really rare cases there will not be a driver at all. Another super feature of the system is that when you search for the application you need, there is a high chance you can download it from the pop-shop system application, which is similar to Google Play, the app store for the Android operating system.

One thing to remember: downloading a file and installing a program manually should be only considered as a last option. Downloading software and updating all of it directly from the system’s shop (all apps there are free, as far as I know) ensures that you are safe from malware and viruses. In my opinion, the great thing is that Linux does not require any antivirus, because, in order to infect your system, in most cases you have to manually allow the virus to do it.

Any new installation of a program and any action that can be dangerous will be blocked by the system, and wait for the user to either accept it with a password, or to reject it. That feature is implemented in a system, because it is also frequently used as a server and by large companies. On the other hand, not everything is perfect; some programs are made with Windows in mind, and are either hard to run on Linux, or impossible to run at all. Before you try to switch, I recommend you make a list of programs you use and find out if they are availability on Linux.

There you have it. Yes, sometimes our computer age can be weird and crazy, and a downright headache, but there are some great solutions out there. And sometimes the price is right, no price at all.

Here are some links to learn more and help you get started.  – PopOS manufacturer site, where you also get the system itself. – YouTube videos and podcasts about Linux. – Background on Linux and Windows, comparisons, and tutorials.