Ken Hough's Website

Linux For Beginners

Why do I not hear much about Linux?

Put simply, this is because Microsoft and most providers of computer hardware have vested commercial interests in maintaining a "Windows" based monopoly on the use of PCs!

Since the days of the DOS operating system, Microsoft have maintained this monopoly. Almost all new PCs are sold with the latest version of “Windows” pre-installed. In theory, buyers can have Windows removed and can claim a refund for the cost of the Windows license. In reality, retailers are rarely co-operative in this respect so it's practically impossible to do this. To reinforce their position, Microsoft spends lots of money on advertising. This has lead the public in general to believe that PCs must run “Windows” and that this should be the latest version of Windows. For example, the latest TV adverts show PCs, then use the statement “I'm a PC” and finish with showing the Microsoft logo.

Relatively few people build their own PCs or know where to buy a Windows free PC. It's perhaps not surprising that after buying a new "Windows PC", which will be covered by various guarantee restrictions, most users will be reluctant to even consider installing another operating system.

Microsoft have a documented history of suppressing and destroying competition. They did that with the old Netscape browser so as to improve usage of their own, at the time, rather flaky Internet Explorer. In the long term, this operation failed, because the Netscape code was then released as open source software which eventually morphed into Mozilla and then into the very competent Firefox!

Some time ago Steve Balmer, the now CEO of Microsoft, publicly criticised Linux as being “a cancer”. Through their connections with SUSE Linux, Microsoft now actively contribute to the development of code for some parts of the Linux kernel. Although Microsoft are still not obviously friendly towards Linux, they seem to have realised that in the corporate world at least, Linux isn't likely to go away, and they had best ensure that they can work with it!

Providers of Linux do not have big advertising budgets and so Linux is not widely advertised. Money is made from Linux (see below) by providing support for installation and maintenance rather than on effectively imposing software licenses on computer users. Presently, the main “commercial” use of Linux is within large corporate and government organisations, and other professional bodies. However, Linux has it's roots among amateur users whose numbers continue to grow throughout the world.

There are many journals/magazines dedicated to promoting Microsoft Windows. There are some very good publications covering Linux, where you can learn more about how and where Linux is used, and how to begin to use Linux.

If you know where to look, it is possible to buy a Windows free PC, or even a PC with Linux pre-installed. If you decide to do this, let me know. I can suggest some possible suppliers.

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