Opinion: It's 2024 and Linux Isn't Just for Nerds Anymore

Linux was once, and to some extent, still is, considered an operating system meant only for tech-savvy individuals and computer enthusiasts. But, the truth is, Linux is now more user-friendly and easy to use than ever, and there are plenty of reasons you might want to replace Windows with an alternative operating system.

The Rise of User-Friendly Linux Distributions

An incredible amount of effort has gone towards making Linux easy to use for everyone, even beginners who aren't comfortable using the terminal or command line interfaces. Fedora, Mint, Manjaro, and Pop!_OS (my personal go-to recommendation) are just a few of many examples of such distributions. Pop!_OS comes with the Pop! Shop, a graphical software "store" (nearly all of the software there is free) from which you can install much of the software that basic users might need, without ever touching the command line.

It's 2024 and today it's completely reasonable to use Linux without ever touching the terminal or any command line interface.

Gaming on Linux: A Massive Leap Forward

In just the past few years, Valve's development of Proton has made incredible progress for making gaming on Linux incredibly seamless. Simply enable Steam Play in the Steam client for Linux, and tens or hundreds of thousands of titles will "just work" on Linux.

Anecdotally, I've been gaming on Linux exclusively, both on desktop and Steam Deck (the world's greatest portable gaming device) for several years now, and I can probably count on one hand the number of games I wanted to play that I couldn't get working on Linux.

A Friendlier Alternative to Microsoft's Windows

It seems like almost a weekly occurance now that I see some tech news article about a new place that Microsoft has managed to shove ads into the Windows interface; the start menu, system notifications, even full screen popup ads on your desktop!

With this knowledge, it will probably come as no surprise that Windows is spying on you in order to serve you these targeted ads; by default, Windows reports any time you launch an app to Microsoft via a "feature" called "Windows Activity History". In fact, there is so much of this type of spyware in Windows (what Microsoft calls "telemetry") that privacy tools like NextDNS, a privacy and security enhancing DNS server, offer native Windows tracker blocking functionality.

NextDNS Windows Tracker Blocking

The Free Software Foundation even has a page dedicated to all the pieces of malware Microsoft has introduced as "features" to Windows over the years.

"If you do want to clean your computer of malware, the first software to delete is Windows." - The Free Software Foundation

Most Linux distrubutions, by contrast, give the user full freedom and control over their system; it doesn't abuse the user, doesn't spam them with ads on the desktop of their own computer, and doesn't share your app activity with Microsoft. It's important to note, however, that not all Linux distributions are created equal.

For example, I highly recommend against using Ubuntu, as the developer, Canonical, has lost user trust by behaving in a similar manner to Microsoft; the most infamous incident is a "feature" called Amazon Lens that, by default, sends what you type into the system launcher (basically like Linux's version of the start menu) to Amazon. While I used to recommend Ubuntu as the best beginner-friendly Linux distribution, over the years I've changed my recommendation to Pop!_OS.

It's clear that as we enter 2024 and beyond, Linux isn't just a niche operating system for nerds anymore. Today, there are plenty of beginner-friendly, very easy to use graphical Linux distributions to choose from to take back your freedom and privacy from Microsoft. You don't have to tolerate their abuse anymore; using Linux is easy, even for beginners.

It's time to end your abusive relationship with Microsoft.