Linux is a Computer Operating System based on UNIX. Think of Windows as Linux, and DOS as UNIX. Now think of Windows 5 years ago with about 50% of the support for free. That’s Linux.
There are many “distributions” of Linux, or versions; openSUSE, Ubuntu, Fedora, to name a few of the more popular ones. Some are made by companies, Google is currently working on their own Linux Distribution, and some are made to fill specific niches, such as LinuxNepal, designed for computer compiling in the Nepali written language.
So why is this good? Why shouldn’t you just shell out the $300+ for Windows 7, and then pay (or just pirate or steal) the software you need? Good Question.
Linux improves with every new user and group of users that join the community. More Artists; better Art programs. More home users; more user friendly. While a new report shows that 75% of Linux development is done by paid programmers, that work is still part of the Open-Source general pool, for that remaining 25% to use. Many Linux-users would even say that private development is a good thing, that it proves the marketability of Linux and will only make it more competitive and the community stronger as a whole. While 75% of code comes from corporations, the biggest contribution by a single corporation is 12%, that being from Red Hat, one of the original backers of Linux and a developer of one of the many distributions for the OS.
Linux is free, free for the American Family making $70,000 per year, and free for the family in Pakistan making substantially less. It is free for Governments and Schools. It is non-centralized, it does not create giant monopolist corporations such as Microsoft and Apple.
Linux is accessible. All the code for Linux and the majority of the software available is free for anyone (programmers) to take, use, and make better. It gives a huge amount of resources to build on; for beginning developers, especially in poor third-world countries, this, in combination to the ease of Python (the guiding programming language of Linux) gives something to the developing world community that Windows and Macintosh can never give.
Linux is available on some Dell computers, and there is a company, System76, that is dedicated to making computers for use with the Linux distribution Ubuntu. System76 provides their own software updates and even has plans to partner with organizations to promote wildlife and open lands conservation.
Linux typically uses less energy to run a computer than Windows making it the Green OS. A head-to-head run of Ubuntu 9.04 and Windows 7 showed the Linux OS using 15% less energy.
For the general user, Linux performs all the daily functions needed; internet, spreadsheets and word processing, music, e-mail, etc. For the more advanced user, there may be some set backs, GIMP can give you much of what Photoshop performs for the graphic artist, there are audio and video editing programs that haven’t found the needed support to perform at the professional level, but all of this can change very quickly. The major struggle for Linux has been its accessibility to the general user, and this has been accomplished. Now is the time when the more specialized users will be getting catered to.
Here is a quick tutorial that shows the process of installing additional fonts on Ubuntu. This should give you a quick look at the OS, how the desktop works, and help you install fft fonts if you needed to.
Terminal text from video:
$ sudo apt-get install ttf-georgewilliams ttf-dustin ttf-larabie-deco ttf-larabie-straight ttf-larabie-uncommon