Just as there’s three different types of ice cream there are three major types ice cream cone by ElinorD Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5of Operating Systems. First there’s soft serve. At some point in your life, you’ve had it. Every place under the sun has it and it shows up every where. Even here in Libya. It’s what everyone knows, so it’s the default if you’re not sure what to get. Usually you don’t get a lot of choice on flavors, but there’s vanilla and chocolate and almost everyone can decide on one of those two. Soft serve? Is Windows. It’s the comfy familiar.

 

Then you have frozen yogurt. It’s trendy, it’s cool. It’s what you get when Frozen Yogurt by Oxytousc CC sharealike lic.2.5you’re trying to lose weight or just be environmentally friendly. It’s the hip and cool thing. Might have flavors, might not and you can’t always find it everywhere. Which is part of the fun right? It’s a bit more expensive but you’re always happy with the product. That my friends? Is Mac. More expensive but worth the money and hey, it’s the in thing right now.

 

Finally we come to frozen custard. No one’s heard of it or if you have, you have no idea what it is. Is it even ice cream? The name itself brings confusion sounds like something those weirdos up in Wisconsin would like. Something you have to have grown up with to understand. An in joke, possibly. Not frozen Custard by stu_spivack CC lic 2.0something normal people could try. You can’t find it everywhere, and yet it pops up in the strangest places. It comes in so many different flavors when you do find it, you’re just flummoxed and flabbergasted at what to choose so you end up going back to what you know, soft serve or frozen yogurt. Here’s the rub, the part that no one tells you. Once you’ve had frozen custard? You never want to go back. It’s just that damn good. And that my friends, is Linux.

 

So what is Linux? Linux is an operating system, much like Windows and Mac. It’s built to run on most PCs. The main difference between Windows and Linux is that it’s free. Legally free for home users and not only is the operating system free but over 40,000 different applications that you could use are also free. There’s also one other main difference. It’s open source.

 

 

Open Source software means that no only do you get the finished product, but you get all the code that comes with it. Why is this a big deal? Because if there are bugs in the software, and there’s always bugs in the software, even in Linux, anybody that can read and write code can help to fix it. This means that generally the software is more stable, because you have many many eyes looking at the code than just the people that originally worked on it. Think of the Linux operating system as a town. Now, in this town, because everyone gets to use the same streets and the same firehouse, no one has to do things that they’re bad at simply because no one will share. (Yes, Microsoft and Apple I’m looking at you) So Amanda the locksmith can do her locksmith work, and Tony the butcher can be a butcher and Carmen can do her most excellent best at being the fireman. Because they’ve all got their expertise and can share the underlying infrastructure.

 

Now you’re saying, ok, well, this might be for me, but man there are like a bajillion of different types of Linux. Where do I even start? The answer is, you have to play around. Know what you want out of your computer. Even if you’re not sure what you want out of your computer there are three main flavors. Just like our ice cream analogy. Those are Fedora Core, Ubuntu, OpenSuse. Ubuntu is probably the more user friendly with a ton a great websites designed to help the most basic user get on and get started. The rest of the flavors are all tailored for different uses. Puppy and Peanut Linux are designed for much older machines that don’t have large hard drives or a lot of RAM. Eeebuntu was specifically designed for the Asus eeepcs. There are a million different flavors, and just like with ice cream sometimes you have to try a few before you find your favorite.

 

Where do you find these flavors? Well, if you don’t want to go to the big Tux the Linux penguin Open Source Mascotthree, or even if you do, a great place to go is here. Distro Watch takes care of finding almost all the different flavors of Linux and brings them to one spot. Their site, complete with descriptions and download links, is a one stop shop. Sort of like the Baskin Robbins of the Linux world. Try a few out, see which ones you like and which you don’t. Or maybe you don’t like frozen custard at all. And that’s ok. At least you know what it is. 

 

Oh and the Penguin? That’s Tux. He’s the mascot.

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