Linux is a free (as in libre, not always as in gratis) kernel that, together with tools from the GNU project, forms a stable, high-performance, multi-user operating system.

Its advantages over Windows are mainly ideological; it's free, usually in both of the above senses of the word, and the license, the GNU GPL, prevents proprietary implementations from screwing you over (Linux "companies" sell support, not Linux itself, for this reason).

It's also much more stable than Windows, owing to its stricter memory management, access controls, and hardware abstraction policy, and its networking performance is better since it's really meant more for servers than for desktop usage. Linux has finer-grained access control at the user and device level, though to be fair, Windows has had Unix-style file permissions since NT. Reboot times for Linux, however, are measured in months, and the only reason you should ever need to reboot Linux is if you installed a new kernel.

The disadvantages of Linux compared to Windows are mainly issues of ease of use. Linux is hard compared to Windows, mostly because it tends not to detect certain devices. This is a circular problem, because the drivers tend to be written only for Windows to begin with. It also, despite what the makers claim, *does* require some work at the terminal in most cases, and this will scare away most Windows users who never worked with Dos and the 9x series. It shouldn't, because the terminal is much more powerful and easier to use than Dos ever was, but it does.

The other main issue is that, while there are a few hundred different flavors, referred to as "distros," most of them suck. There are a few big, well-supported distros, and many are based on them: RedHat, which is popular in the corporate world, Debian, which is minimalistic and tough by itself but forms the base for the popular Ubuntu, and Slackware, which is the oldest maintained distro and is closest to the "original" Linux philosophy. There are also a few oddballs like Gentoo, which is for experts only (forces you to compile *everything* but does the annoying work for you and gives you incredible performance), and Arch, which is a minimalist hybrid of Gentoo and Slackware.

Save yourself headaches: newbies should use Ubuntu, experts should use Gentoo or Slackware, purists should use Debian, and no one should use RedHat or any RedHat based distro unless you're corporate and need it, in which case you want CentOS (RedHat for free with no tech support). Just be prepared to get your hands a little dirty, and to search the web and your distro's forums for help. There is always, always an issue that pops up that will never be in the manual or installation docs.

Most of all, remember that Linux won't insult your intelligence, but it won't hold your hand either. You can't always breeze through a Linux install like you can with Windows (though Ubuntu and friends are changing that), but you will get a solid, stable, and working system. Linux rewards effort and inquisitiveness, and punishes laziness.
Linux is about choice. That means you're free to use it, or not to use it, but it will always be here for you.
by Hazuki April 22, 2007
1) An awesome operating system that PWNS the windows for sure.
2) Using Linux makes you l33t.If you don't agree, then you are wrong. STFU n00b.
3) Totally, the most configurable system ever!(except you are using the system that you wrote and done by yourself)
4) You cost nothing to get Linux. And windows costs $200.
5) Linux IS l33t itself, undoubtedly.
When I use Linux and running console with beryl on the background...
Me: So this is Linux, see?
Classmate 1: Oh, (Chinese) so that's l33t?
Me: Of course!
Classmate 2: Then what's the reasons that we should use Linux?
Me: Using Linux makes you l33t! And Linux can't be infected by any virus!
Classmate 1: Can I play my online-game "MapleStory" on Linux?
Me: Probably no.
Classmate 2: Linux SUX.
Me: STFU n00b. _/00 _/|_|5+ 4|_|_ /\/00|35, 455|-|0|_3! |_1/\/|_|X P\/\//\/5 _/00 4|_|_!!!
by Roger W. January 30, 2008
The BEST OS I've used in a long time, that piece of crap made by Microsoft (let's face it, all things Microsoft are crap, it's a good thing there is a way to run Linux on an XBox, assuming anyone would want to which they probaby would) was as unstable as hell. Linux is free, stable, can be used for home computing though not many people do as they think. Also, Linux is ideal for server applications though most college IT admins use Windows server instead because they are lame arses. My advice, go and get some blank cds and download Linux, you have nothing to lose
Windows: Piece of crap made by that crap software company called Microsoft (who stick product keys on the software)

Linux: Unix-type OS that is free, stable, and works 24/7
by Pika_Pikachu July 20, 2005
An operating system made for open-source software. While more stable and dependent, it is harder to learn, which confuses the poor illiterate moronic rednecks putting up spam. They are confused by an OS that wont come with everything to make life easy for them, hence the misplaced anger.
Seriously, all you anti-linux posters, just because your iq isnt above 2, doesn't mean that you can post crap.
Linux rules.
"uhh.......linux.....pedo....dork.........what was i saying?......lets go have a little backyard wrestling and then go rape some sheep!"
by Anonymous June 10, 2003
Linux is one of three major operating sysems (windows,mac, linux)
Linux is Free opposed to the others making pre installed laptops much much cheaper.
Linux also has no known viruses, is much cheaper, works MUCH FASTER and is barely exposed to crashes.
However it involves using other versions of everything such as MSN, Word and excel.
Many debate it bad and many debate it better.
YOU: ew why can't you nudge on msn?!
ME: *rolls eyes* linux version of msn...
by tamara10 February 16, 2009
Linux is NOT an OS (Operating System). Linux is the actual kernel from which the platformed distribution runs and obtains directions. The Linux kernel is an open source system which falls under the GNU General Public license. In essence, Linux is a compressed, open source platform of UNIX. The actual OS's (distributions or flavors) are gentoo, red hat, unbuntu, slackware (Although very similar to straight UNIX), mandrake, arch, debian, mandriva, etc.

The Linux kernel was designed and constructed by Linus Torvalds to provide a free, open source kernel for all computer lovers.
i.e. Microsoft XP is an OS. Microsoft also has a kernel which makes it run. Linux is the actual kernel for distributions like S.u.S.E. etc.

1. Hey, do you use Linux?
- What?

2. Hey, do you use Linux?
- I love that OS
You're stupid.

3. Hey, do you use Linux?
- Yes, why yes I do.
Righto, Chap. Well done.
by MeK 1 November 16, 2005
The term Linux by itself refers to the kernel, not the operating system. It is based off of UNIX. The popular mobile phone operating system Android runs off of the Linux kernel. Also, OS X is based of of UNIX.
Linux is by far the best operating system for advanced users, though it is mainly up to personal preference
by Bhamilton0347 November 15, 2014
Linux is a free operating system like free UNIXes. The most popular is Ubuntu(still), yet the even more stable Memphis Linux is what you really should have. The Russians and Chinese prefer Linux over Windows all the time. Most servers is either Ubuntu Server or CentOS. The WWW runs 60% Linux servers, because less viruses.

The most stable Linux ever created is usually always Slackware, yet no one heard of it (distro created back in 1994)

UNIX is obsolete in comparison.

Easier to operate than 2 years ago.
Person 1: I run Ubuntu Linux Server for my web server
Person 2: I run Cent OS, because its a free Red Hat Enterprise Linux OS.
Person 3: I'm a hardcore Linux user and I run Memphis Linux
by hellads2 November 09, 2010
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