For those who don't know linux is a free, open source operating system - like windows, or Apple OS proprietary operating systems. Open source means that the programming source code is freely available for anyone who programs to noodle about with it also means that linux has been developed completely by a world wide community of programmers. Linux has been around for a long time, and has always had the reputation as only being used (or usable) by serious computer nerds. I've dabbled with it several times over the years, but I've never been quite nerdy enough to really embrace it.
That has changed - linux has become much easier for the casual computer user to implement and use. You still have to be willing to use a command prompt every once in a while, and the user has to do a bit more configuration. But that also means that user CAN do more configuration. Anyway, it's not for everyone yet, but if you can remember what autoexec.bat and config.sys were and were able to do that, then you can do linux.
I took the dive, because my 10 year old windows XP computer finally gave up the ghost (main board) in a way that I could no longer repair without buying a new operating system. And honestly I'm fed up with Microsoft - the constant push "security upgrades" and the corporate bloatware that they cram into every installation - not to mention that they seem to consider their loyal customers to be thieves. My wife's aging HP laptop came with a piece of corporate malware called "Vongo" that apparently can't be exorcised without a team of priests - not MS, but still corporate malfeasance. With all the bloatware, and the antivirus programs, and the "Please wait while windows does something that is way more important than what you want to do" I was ready to give linux a fair trial.
So I ordered a bare bones kit (MB, CPU, RAM in a case) and downloaded Ubuntu Linux (Linux comes in several flavors - distributions - Ubuntu is probably the most main stream) and burned it onto a DVD. When the hardware came I installed my hard drive (an SSD - great upgrade to any system BTW) booted to the Linux DVD, copied all of my data to an external drive, rebooted, and did a fresh install allowing Linux to format and over-write the internal hard drive. Really painless - Easier than the last time I installed Windows.
All of my hardware worked - WiFi, Bluetooth, mouse, monitor, audio, everything - without any fiddling about - seriously that has Never been the case with a new Windows install. All of the software that I use also works, although that did require a little bit of fiddling. Even windows software (picasa FE) runs great on linux using an emulator like program called WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator.) Chrome - which I probably use more than anything - is identical on Linux, which means that gmail, youtube, etc, everything you do online is the exact same experience. No learning curve at all.
Also there are lots of high quality native Linux programs - office suites, graphics, games, etc - that are freely available. However if you try it and use it, it's pretty cool to make a donation. Anyway you could set up everything you need for a student or small business computer without paying a cent for perfectly good software.
And malware on Linux is almost a trivial threat (not completely non-existent, but rare) for various reasons. So no anti virus program hogging up your processor. No bloatware, no "buy this" push software. So Linux is fast. My machine boots up in about 10 seconds - ready to work (or goof off like I am now,) not just ready to scan for viruses and check for updates.
So far I give it 2 thumbs up.