It’s almost time to go back to school, meaning high school and college students around the world are probably groaning at the thought of studying hard and going to class every day. However, you don’t have to go through school alone! We’ve covered plenty of ways technology can help students, from the best Android apps for college-goers to Google Drive features that are tailor-made for students.
While apps are great for assisting your college life, have you ever thought about an operating system (OS) change as a step to make you a better student? Whether you’ve stuck with Windows all your life or are a big fan of Mac OS X, using Linux this school year can make you a better student in a variety of ways. Let’s take a look at how adding Linux to your life can make your year awesome.
Save Money on a New OS or Laptop
While computers are affordable for most people, they aren’t a small expense. A low-end Windows machine still costs a few hundred dollars, and of course you’d be putting out nearly $1,000 for the cheapest current MacBook.
Linux, being 100% free, can save you a lot of money in this department, no matter your current situation. if you’re short on cash and need a new machine, you can build your own PC or buy something cheap without an OS installed and put Linux on it yourself.
If you missed the free Windows 10 upgrade and want to jump to a modern OS, you can replace whatever version of Windows you’re using with Linux at no cost.
Despite today being the final day to take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10, you can upgrade to #Linux for free at anytime! ?
— Rucio Donkey (@RucioDonk) July 29, 2016
Linux gives you a fully-functional OS for free; add plenty of free alternatives to common software and you’ve got a heck of a deal. Sure, Chromebooks are cheap (and great for specific markets), but if you need traditional software and more than the basics that Chrome OS offers, you’re going to be out of luck.
Spending less money on a computer, OS, and apps means more money to spend on the essentials like books (and pizza!).
It’s Easy to Use
At first glance, Linux doesn’t have the image of being user-friendly, but that’s only for people who believe the lie that Linux is all about the command line. In fact, you don’t ever have to touch the terminal in daily use if you don’t want to, and a lot of Linux distributions rival Windows and OS X in visual appeal and user-friendliness. If you just want to install some basic software like LibreOffice and browse the Web, you won’t have many issues at all with Linux.
Plus, being on Linux means you don’t have to deal with annoying Windows issues. We all know about the issues plaguing Windows 10 and it’s annoying when you have to troubleshoot problems with Windows Update. Your time as a student is valuable; you don’t have to waste it fixing stupid OS problems on Linux.
If you’re concerned about picking the best flavor of Linux, check out the best distros for users coming from other OSes.
Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills
Though you probably won’t spend much time fixing issues on Linux, there will be an initial learning curve — just like switching from Mac to Windows. You’ll probably have to spend some time Googling queries like “how do I do X on Linux?” — doing this will not only improve your Google skills, but also help you with phrasing specific questions and finding relevant help online.
Perfect skills for new students to have!
If you want to dig a little deeper into Linux, you’ll probably stumble and fall a bit in the beginning — that’s okay! Learning how the OS works and how its features compare to the other big operating systems will make you a more well-rounded computer user, which will benefit you in school and life.
So ask questions, like what do those folders in your root Linux directory mean, and become a more educated computer user outside the classroom!
Add to Your Geek Credentials
There’s a whole lot to learn about Windows, but if you’re looking to become a certified geek, it’s a great idea to learn Linux. Even if you’re not in a computer-related major, spending some time with Linux in your free moments can really increase your computer credentials and make you more appealing to employers.
The most useful thing my father taught me was how to work with a Linux computer
— Nat Buckley (@thatnatbuckley) February 11, 2016
Linux runs more devices in the world than you think, and it’s been around for a long time (Linux itself is a branch of Unix, which was created even earlier), so in learning about it you’re learning about a lot of early computing itself. There’s a massive online community to help you learn about Linux, so you’re never alone when you have questions.
Part of learning Linux is gaining experience with the terminal. While at first clunky, it’s an awesome feeling to be able to zip through a bunch of operations using the command line — just be sure to avoid deadly commands.
Linux has taught me one very important life lesson
"If unsure, say no"
— Big Master Fry (@Boigazu) February 22, 2016
With a bit of practice, you’ll be creating files and folders, installing software, and running system tools with just a few keystrokes. That’s an education not often taught inside the classroom these days.
Customize it to Your Needs
No matter what you’re studying, Linux is completely customizable to reflect your needs. Starting with the distribution you choose, you have complete control over how Linux looks and feels.
You’ve probably run into issues where Windows won’t let you change some setting you think should be mutable, and Apple has been reducing OS X’s customizing potential recently, so Linux is the place to be if you need to tweak your OS to be just a certain way.
With the specific settings, software, and setup you need, your computer becomes a tool to help you succeed in school instead of a hassle holding you back from getting work done. If you don’t like how Linux does something out of the box, you can change it — and learn something in the process!
Students Love Linux
We’ve taken a look at just a few reasons why Linux is great for students. While other OSes aren’t necessarily bad for students (maybe you have to run Windows to use specific software for classes, although you can still run Windows in a virtual machine on Linux), if you want to keep costs down, learn while you’re using your computer, and set everything to be the way you want it, Linux is for you.
Looking for the perfect flavor of Linux for heading back to school? Check out our comparison of the best educational Linux distributions. Be sure to also read up on debunked Linux misconceptions if you’re still not sure about the platform.
What are other reasons that Linux is perfect for students? Add to the list below with a comment and let us know what OS you’re using to return to school this year!
Image Credits:student using laptop by Dean Drobot via Shutterstock