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Fact or fiction? The top 8 Linux myths debunked

By Katherine Noyes
September 9, 2010 03:19 PM ET

PC World - If the idea of using Linux in your business is one that makes you nervous, chances are you've fallen prey to one or more of the many myths out there that are frequently disseminated by competing vendors such as Microsoft. After all, each Linux user means one less sale for such companies, so they have a powerful motivation to spread such FUD.

In fact, the ranks of businesses and government organizations using Linux grows every day, and for good reason: It's simply a good business choice. Let's take a look, then, at some of the top anxiety-causing myths and dispel them once and for all.

1. "It's hard to install"

Today, installing Linux is actually easier than installing Windows. Of course, most people don't install Windows themselves -- rather, it comes preinstalled on their hardware, and that's an option with Linux too, if you're in the market for a new machine anyway.

If not, however, the best thing to do is first try out the distribution you're interested in via a Live CD or Live USB. Then, once you decide you like it, you can either install it in dual-boot fashion, so that both Linux and Windows are available to you all the time, or you can install Linux instead of Windows.

Either way, installation has become extremely simple over the years, particularly on distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint and openSUSE. Most include a step-by-step wizard and very easy-to-understand graphical tools; they also typically offer a way to automate the process. A full installation will probably take no more than 30 minutes, including basic apps.

2. "It's just for experts"

That Linux is more difficult to use than Windows and Macs is probably one of the most enduring and yet unjustified myths in existence today. It certainly used to be true -- say, 10 years ago. Today, however, the inclusion of attractive graphical user interfaces and other usability improvements in many distributions means that even elementary school children can use Linux easily.

Now, server usage is a different story -- just as it is under Windows, for example. And Linux won't be exactly the same as a Mac or Windows machine. But on the desktop, if you're used to the GUI of Windows or Mac OS X, you should have no trouble getting used to Linux. It's that simple.

3. "It's free, so it must be pirated"

Despite the growing use of free and open-source software in government and other organizations, some people still believe that any software that's free must be illegally copied. Fortunately, that's completely false. The notion of "taking" software off the Internet and then "tampering with it" for your own ends can strike litigation fears into the hearts of those unfamiliar with the concept, but fear not! Free and open-source software is designed from the start to be free in cost as well as open to modification and improvement. That's how it works and gets better.

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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