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Linux vs. Linux: The Battle for the Desktop

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So, you have mastered every aspect of computing (or maybe not), and you are bored with the Internet. What can you do to bring back the thrill that you had the first time you fired up the latest Windows operating system? How about downloading or purchasing Linux? Linux is an "open-source" operating system that is mainly built by a dedicated community. Even for the most literate users, experimentation into new areas of computing can be a fun and an interesting challenge; therefore, trying out one of the latest Linux distributions is an excellent way to venture into the world of Unix based operating systems.

Many Linux advocates claim that Linux is now ready for primetime, stating that even the novice users can get around in Linux without too many headaches. In the past, it could take days for a new user to figure out how to "mount" his CD drive and access it. Of course in Windows all you need to do is click on the icon and your drive is "mounted" and ready for use. Is Linux really this user friendly today? When they say Linux is ready for novice user, are they referring to someone with absolutely no experience? How do we define "novice users"? What are the qualifications and experience needed to install and use Linux?

The good news is that Linux seems to have reached a point where it can begin to compete with Microsoft Windows, to an extent. The open-source operating system offers a variety of free software that is equal to and possibly superior to some professional level software for the Windows platform. Linux can be molded and configured with your choice of GUI (Graphical User Interface) and allows you to control your system to a much higher extent than Microsoft Windows ever will. Many distributions even come with developer tools for you to develop software for the operating system. It's almost a dream come true for someone who wants no restrictions in his computing environment (including licensing fees). All of these advanced features and serious system tweaks require the knowledge of an expert user. What about those who could care less about such tools and only wants to check their e-mail, browse the Internet, do a bit of word processing and maybe use the computer for some multimedia activities?

Let us not forget that the vast majority of computer users would qualify as novices; those who know enough to accomplish the basic tasks (check e-mail, browse the Internet, etc.). These users, in most cases, don't care about how a computer works or how software and hardware are inter-related. As long as the computer works, they are fine with it, but as soon as they experience something out of the ordinary, these users are on the phone with technical support personnel or a knowledgeable friend or relative.

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