linux terminal output jed download via wgetSo, I’m both a creative and a gamer. When it comes to computing, those two communities have very strict definitions of what constitutes a good system.

If you spend any time in creative communities, you’re going to be told how the switch to an Apple product was the greatest choice somebody ever made. Less than a year ago, it seemed like every writer I knew was switching the Macbook Air. All well and good, but I could never get past the cost of the system.

In gaming, the answer is always Windows, and usually with hardware to make even the most laymen tech-geek drool. Part of that is history, of course, but Windows is still the OS of choice when it comes to game companies.

For a long time, I stuck to the gaming side. I wanted my machine to handle the games I wanted to play. Also, I really, really liked Microsoft Office.

Then my laptop died. Then the replacement’s hard drive fragged. It was a bad year.

For a while, I used a Chromebook as part of the public testing of that system. ChromeOS was a neat idea, but it couldn’t quite do everything I wanted it to.

Then last year, I got my first taste of (full-featured) Linux. My networking professor had us use Kubuntu (A form of Ubuntu) to learn the networking process in something other than Windows. I got the bright idea to Frankenstein my laptops and install a Linux variant as a stop-gap until I could go back to Windows.

The thing is, I quickly grew to like Linux. I started with Ubuntu (Often called ‘Linux for normal people’) and got used to installing software, adjusting configurations, and tinkering with things to make my OS work for me. It was a real paradigm shift.

No Cost

The start of my Linux love affair was how much of the software is zero cost. I downloaded and installed the OS for nothing, and most of my applications were zero cost as well. My current distribution is LinuxMint 13, and it had GIMP, LibreOffice, and 4 different media players on installation. And if I need more there’s an entire repository of software that costs nothing to install.

All Your Own

After enjoying the financial benefit of Linux, I discovered that it’s very easy to customize. Don’t like the way the desktop environment functions? Download a new one. It takes minutes on the long end. Then, depending on your environment, you can tweak all sorts of things to be just the way you like it. The panel (Windows Task bar) can be adjusted and customized with only a few clicks. Mine currently has quick launch buttons for Chromium, my terminal, and my file system. (Open Source Chrome, the command line, and My Computer for Windows users.)

Learning To Love The Command Line

The terminal though. That thing is subversive. It’s the thing that scared me the most when I started, but as I get used to it and learn to speak its language, I’ve come to prefer it. Get quick answers when troubleshooting. Explore your files and folders with a few keystrokes. Launch anything without digging for a program. And aliases. You can alias in any OS, and it’s been the thing that really makes my terminal mine. Use something often enough, and you can reduce the command by applying an alias. Right now, I use them for Minecraft and Torchlight due to the complex options I apply to both, but there’s tips for aliasing a bunch of common commands.

After using Linux for a year, I don’t think I can go back to Windows (Except for occasional jaunts to play League of Legends), and my iPad has convinced me that the Apple OSes are too locked down for my tastes. So here’s a third option for those of you agonizing over what OS to use. (Actually, it’s more like dozens of more options!)

I mentioned it before, but I’m currently using LinuxMint 13, which is the third distribution I’ve tried, if you don’t count different versions of the same distribution. So far, it’s my favorite, as much because the graphical options are really easy to use and modify, and the back end is Ubuntu which I’ve learned I prefer over at least one alternative. If you want to give Linux a shot, most versions can be booted from a DVD or flash drive without actually installing them. Give it a shot.

Got any specific Linux questions, ask in the comments! I might not be able to answer them all, but I’ll do my best.