An Intro to Linux

Since we brought up Linux yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to do a little intro to the operating system. But rather than bore you with details you can find on the Wikipedia entry for Linux, I thought it might be more fun to do some reviews on Linux systems. So here’s the plan: I will be testing one new Linux per week for the next 5 weeks. Why five? Because that gives me a good number of operating systems to review without overwhelming anyone with the number of options. It also allows me a good sixth-week cleanup article that should post right before Thanksgiving week, where I can switch my tech focus to stuff small businesses might want to know over the holidays.

As I test each of these Linux variants, I will be reviewing them on some basic areas that are important for small businesses. All of the variants that I will test will be variants that don’t rely on command-line interfaces (like the old DOS format), but instead have great Graphical User Interfaces that make life simple for just about any user. With help, I will rate each area from 1 to 5 thumbs up (), then offer the variant an overall rating in the same way. I’ll also lay out the reasons why a small business should consider running that variant of Linux. The areas I will be rating are:

  • Aesthetics – Aesthetics plays a big role in the daily useability of an operating system. When things are ugly to look at, they are also often difficult to read and use. I’ll let you know how pretty each variant is.
  • Responsiveness – Your operating system has to be quick. Because we’ll be testing all of these variants on a mid-range machine, they should perform with relative speed. If they don’t, they won’t be worth switching to.
  • Intuitiveness – How difficult will it be to switch from a familiar operating system like Windows or OSX to the variant? That’s going to play a big role in integrating that operating system in to your business. A good OS should be familiar.
  • Software – Each Linux variant has a different way of getting software. We want to know what’s readily available and how difficult it is to add new software. With the understanding that many programs for Windows and OSX are not available on Linux, we’ll be checking out how to find suitable replacements.

The Linux variants that we’ll be testing are the following ones:

  • Ubuntu – This is the most widely used, maintained, and known variant of Linux available for personal use. Download here.
  • Fedora – The foundation of Red Hat, which underpins many web servers. Download here.
  • Mint – A lighter weight variant of Linux that runs similar to Ubuntu, but without as many bells and whistles. Download here.
  • Bodhi – A very small Linux variant designed to run on much older systems with lots of usability. Download here.
  • MacPup – A variant of Linux designed for very small or underpowered systems that runs on a Mac-like desktop. Download here (link on right).

If there are any specific questions you’d like us to answer as we test these Linux variants, or if you have any thoughts on this series, let us know in the comments below. Have an awesome weekend!

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.