Why Linux?

I started messing with computers in the later '90's, starting with Windows 3.1 and somewhat learning my way around MS-DOS. Then I got slightly newer computers, with Windows 95 and then 98. I got a brand new laptop computer in 2005 with Windows XP, and ended up working that thing to death about five years later, hosting multi-participant audio calls and streaming them to internet radio shows that usually had few listeners, but we had alot of usually quite intoxicated fun.

You may have noticed I managed to skip Windows ME, which I ended up being happy about. I also happened to skip Windows Vista, and my next laptop (again a new one) had Windows 7, which I ended up really liking.

I still have that laptop, although it no longer has Windows on it. By the time support for Windows 7 was dropped, I was married and my wife was using that laptop mostly to stream shows. I had started my move to (Ubuntu) Linux, but had updated my Windows computer to Windows 10, which was working reasonably well, so I updated my wife's laptop to Windows 10 as well. This started a series of issues, the most annoying of which was Windows 10 not properly activating the wifi card on initial startup. Only a reboot (not shutting down and starting back up, but a restart) would get the wifi working. After confirming that the latest drivers were installed, and there were no more Windows updates, I installed Ubuntu Linux beside Windows 10. I probably don't have to tell you that after everything was set up, everything worked consistently. So eventually Windows 10 ended up being wiped from even that computer. It now runs Debian Buster (Bullseye was just too slow on the older hardware), and is the laptop I take with me when I leave home for more than a day.

So, why Linux? Well, after trying Ubuntu for a little while, I switched to Debian. Debian tends to not have the most recent software, but it is very stable, and they do their best to patch security issues as quickly as possible. Also, most Linux distributions don't force you to update like Windows does, and on top of that, they don't force you to do a lengthy reboot to "finish installing updates", like Windows does. Some updates still only take effect after a reboot, although it's done when you decide, and it's usually just a normal reboot.

Debian has three different levels of releases: Testing, known as "Sid" (aka from Toy Story), has brand new updates and can be unstable, or break things; Stable, currently known as "Bookworm", is the current, well, stable release; and Old-Stable, currently known as "Bullseye", is the previous stable version which is still supported with updates for typically about two years. When people use the Testing release, they take the chance of having issues, and when they do have an issue they file a "bug report" to describe what happened. The bug report is used to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again, so eventually all the bugs are worked out and the Testing release is stable enough to be switched to Stable, with a new Testing release started.
Stable is what the average person might use for their personal computer, and it is the release that is commonly used for servers. I'm using the current Stable release, Bookworm, on my main system, and it's been solid so far.

Linux has many distributions, aka there are many companies and groups who make their own version of it. On top of that, there are many types of user interface (UI), from the simple command line (CLI), to a basic window manager (WM, which I haven't messed with), to a variety of different desktop environments (DE).
Each UI has different benefits and downsides. I like the command line for almost any system maintenance and quite often file transfers, and many times it is the only method. Those who use window managers typically like them because they are very light on system resources and very customizable, but they do have a steep learning curve if you don't know them. Desktop environments are usually built on top of window managers, and are what the average computer user is used to: a graphical interface where they can point and click where they need to. There are a number of different DE's, and from what I've seen, each Linux distribution has its own version of a number of DE's. For example, Gnome DE is completely different between current Ubuntu and current Debian.

Different distributions are set up for different end uses, and I'm not going to go through the multiple distributions and their uses in this post. (I may attempt that in another post.) Some internet searches for "linux distributions" should get you started; DistroWatch.com has alot of information.

When it comes down to it, Linux allows the user to make decisions about how they use their system. From the distribution they start with, the user interface they choose, to the drivers and software they install on it.