Don't want to change to Windows™ 8 or 10. Worried about support for Windows™ XP™

Apple™ is not the only alternative. Millions of people use Linux instead, despite the fact that is ignored by 'The media'.

Open Standards

The Government has chosen Open Document Format (ODF) for sharing or collaborating on government documents. This is the native format of LibreOffice and OpenOffice the leading free office software.

Android

Android (which is based on Linux) dominated the smartphone market with an 85% share in 2017 Q1.

Government

As local governments come under pressure from institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, some have turned to Linux and other Free Software as an affordable, legal alternative to both pirated software and expensive proprietary computer products from Microsoft, Apple and other commercial companies. Many governmental institutions (in public and military sectors) from North America and European Union make the transition to Linux due to its superior stability and openness of the source code.

Free Software News

(Aug 2016) Italy's Ministry of Defence has announced that it will transition 150,000 PCs to LibreOffice, following a law passed in 2012 which states that free and open source software should be the default option in the country's public administration bodies.

[Spring 2016] The new HMRC digital tax platform makes use of modern open source software, including Scala, Play and MongoDB. They support the open source community, contributing to products and publishing their coding whenever possible.

The French police are migrating 37,000 PCs to Linux.

The City of Munich has begun to implement LibreOffice for its word processing and spreadsheets.

The Australian Government has chosen Open Document Format (ODF) for government documents. ODF is the native format of LibreOffice and OpenOffice.

The International Space Station now uses Linux on all its laptop computers.

All primary and secondary public schools in the Swiss Canton of Geneva, have switched to using Ubuntu for the PCs used by teachers and students in 2013-14. The switch has been completed by all of the 170 primary public schools and over 2,000 computers. The migration of the canton's 20 secondary schools is planned for the school year 2014-15.

Iceland has announced in March 2012, that it wishes to migrate to open-source software in public institutions. Schools have already migrated from Windows to Ubuntu Linux.

In July 2010, Malaysia had switched 703 of the state's 724 agencies to free and open-source software with a Linux-based operating system used.

Brazil has 35 million students in over 50,000 schools using 523,400 computer stations all running Linux.

The Chinese government is buying 1.5 million Linux PCs as part of its plans to support its domestic industry.

The Indian state of Tamil Nadu has issued a directive to local government departments asking them to switch over to open-source software, in the wake of Microsoft's decision to end support for Windows XP.

Supercomputers

As of November 2017, every single one of the world's top 500 supercomputers runs Linux.

Free Software Q&A

Q.What is software ?
A.Software is the stuff that transforms a computer from a lump of metal into a useful tool.

Q.What is free software ?
A.Software that you can copy and give to your friends without breaking any laws.

Q.Does that mean I don't have to part with any cash ?
A.Not necessarily; you can buy a CD or DVD of free software, but you are only paying for the cost of the disc and the time of the person who made the copy. Most people 'download' it over the Internet if they have a fast Internet connection.

Q.My neighbour uses Microsoft Windows XP™, Microsoft Word™, Excel™ and some games. Can I get a free copy of these ?
A.No, but you can get free software of the same quality (or better) to perform the same functions.

Q.Where do I get it from ?
A.There are many sources for free software (see the links at the end of this page). You may know someone who is already using free software. There are magazines devoted to the subject and lots of information on the Internet.

Q.What is the difference between the 'World Wide Web' and the Internet ?
A.The Internet is the infrastructure. The World Wide Web (or web for short) is the vast store of information that is organized in such a way that you can access it through software known as a 'web browser'.

Q.What is a web browser ?
A.A piece of software that allows you to display information stored in 'web sites'. Many people use Microsoft Internet Explorer™ which although it costs nothing is not free software (see link to definition of free software). Firefox is the most popular 'free' browser and will run on Microsoft Windows™ and Gnu/Linux

Q.I have an old computer that is not powerful enough to run Windows 7™ or Windows 8™, can I get free software to run on it ?
A.Almost certainly yes. There are many variants of Gnu/Linux and software packages that are designed to provide a modern interface on old hardware.

Q.Surely this free software cannot be much good if it is given away, is it ?
A.Most free software goes through rigorous testing and it is supported by a small army of professionals, some paid, some giving their time for free. Many large corporations provide infrastructure and developers. Examples are IBM, HP, Google, CERN, Intel, Texas Instruments and many governments and most educational institutions.

Q.If I get this free software and have problems with it, how do I get help ?
A.You can get help over the Internet using your browser or email. Businesses using free software may prefer to use a paid support service.

Q.Is there a linux equivalent of an app store ?
A.Each version of linux is known as a distribution (or distro for short) and has a repository which is another name for an app store, but of course the apps are free.

Popular Free Software

The above software come as part of a complete system on a single DVD or can be downloaded individually from the Internet.

Definition of Free Software

The GNU project

Free Gnu/linux operating system

Desktops

If you use a proprietary operating system you have no choice in how it operates. Every time Microsoft brings about a new version of its Windows OS, the user is forced into a new 'look and feel'. OK you can change a few options but can you have the familiar XP desktop on Windows 10 ?. With Linux you can choose from many desktop designs. You can have your PC look like XP or an Apple Mac or a smartphone or many other carefully crafted choices. It's like having your car customised for free.

Magazines and Information Sources


Did you know ? Google and Amazon run almost their whole operation using free software.

The best Linux distros of 2018

By Andrew Williams May 15, 2018

See the full article here.

If you can’t stand the lackluster security of a Windows computer, but Apple is much too expensive, allow us to introduce you to Linux. It is, quite simply, the ultimate in open source software. It has since found its way into everything from Android phones to Google Chromebooks.

Linux is based on the Unix family of operating systems and turned into various 'distributions' or 'distros'. All of the top Linux distros use the Linux kernel, which can be thought of as the heart and soul of the operating system. The various desktop environments for these distros is then built around it. The desktop environment is what you see and interact with. Each version of the Windows operating system comes with its own 'take it or leave it' desktop environment. With Linux you have a choice.

1. Elementary OS

If you’re after a distro that gets you as far away as possible from the image of a nerdy hacker type bashing away at a terminal interface, Elementary OS is what you need. It’s probably the most attractive distro around, with a style similar to that of macOS. This operating system’s superb desktop environment is known as Pantheon.

Elementary OS comes bundled with a browser, an email client and a few basic ‘tool’ apps. You may need to add more programs, but this is easy to do using the integrated AppCenter, which contains paid programs designed specifically for the OS such as Quilter for budding writers or Spice-Up for composing presentations. The inconvenience of buying and downloading additional apps is balanced by the elegance of Elementary OS.

2. Linux Mint

Linux Mint is a great distro for new Linux users, as it comes with a lot of the software you’ll need when switching from Mac or Windows, such as LibreOffice, the favoured productivity suite with a word processor, spreadsheet, database etc. It also has better support for proprietary media formats, allowing you to play videos, DVDs and MP3 music files out of the box.

You can download four main starter flavours of Mint 18.3, each of which uses a different desktop environment. Cinnamon is currently the most popular, but you can also choose the more basic MATE, or Xfce.

There's also a KDE version of Linux Mint 18.3 which uses the Plasma desktop environment. The latest version comes with a revamped Software Manager with 'featured apps' such as Spotify, Skype and WhatsApp.

Feel free to download a few and boot as Live CD prior to installing to see which works best

3. Arch Linux

If you’re willing to try a slightly less user-friendly distro, Arch Linux is one of the most popular choices around. It’s particularly handy for developers and those with older machines who may not want unnecessary packages taking up space.

There’s even a more user-friendly of Arch Linux, named Antergos. Antergos comes with more drivers, more applications and a load of desktop environments to let you change the look of the system.

Antergos’ graphical installer can guide you through the setup process and boot you to the Gnome 3 desktop environment. It can also use the Cinammon, MATE, KDE and Xfce environments if you prefer. You can install an office suite and other programs via the delightfully named Arch package manager ‘pacman’.

4. Ubuntu

Ubuntu is one of the most popular flavours of Linux and along with Mint is strongly recommended for Linux newbies, as it's extremely accessible.

New versions of Ubuntu are released every six months. Every other year the developer Canonical releases an LTS (long term support) version of Ubuntu. These guarantee five years of security and general maintenance updates, so you can carry on using your machine without the hassle of running a full upgrade every few months.

There are variations of Ubuntu which employ different environments such as Lubuntu, which uses a minimal desktop environment based on LXDE and a selection of fast, lightweight applications. This places far less strain on system resources.

5. Tails

Tails is a privacy-oriented Linux distro which has the aim of concealing your location and identity as much as possible. Even Edward Snowden used it.

The OS routes all its internet traffic through the anonymising Tor network, which is designed to prevent data from being intercepted and analysed. Underneath all the security measures, it’s based on Debian Linux and uses the Gnome desktop so the interface is still clear and user-friendly.

Tails isn’t for everyone, but this niche OS does give you some peace of mind if you’ve been fretting about all the worrying privacy-trampling legislation being passed these days.

6. CentOS 7

CentOS 7 is a community offshoot of the Enterprise version of Red Hat Linux, and its focus is on stability rather than constant updates. Like Red Hat, security and maintenance updates for CentOS are pushed out up to 10 years from the initial release of each version.

CentOS is designed to be super-reliable, which is why it’s a great choice for a server. It's not quite such a good bet for someone looking for a new OS for daily use on their desktop PC or laptop.

On the plus side, you can enjoy the pleasure of having something for nothing – packages compiled for the commercial version of Red Hat Linux are fully compatible with CentOS, so you can use them free of charge.

7. Ubuntu Studio

If you want a home music recording studio or a video production workstation without spending the thousands of pounds involved with industry standard software, consider installing Ubuntu Studio.

This officially recognised flavour of Ubuntu Linux has been designed for audio and video production, as an alternative to paid software such as Pro Tools. Support for audio plug-ins and MIDI input is built in and a virtual patch bay comes preinstalled.

Ubuntu Studio’s repositories have access to the packages in the main Ubuntu OS as well as a few digital audio sequencers. Its main strength is in audio recording through tools like the JACK Audio Connection Kit.