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Linux has long had a reputation as a place for programmers and geeks. We’ve written extensively about how the operating system is great for everyone from students 5 Reasons Linux Can Help You Become a Better Student 5 Reasons Linux Can Help You Become a Better Student You might be thinking about purchasing some new software for heading back to school, but have you thought about trying a new operating system? Linux might be perfect for you — here's why. Read More to artists 6 Linux Distros Designed for Artists, Musicians and Editors 6 Linux Distros Designed for Artists, Musicians and Editors Read More , but yes, Linux is a great platform for programming. Whether you’re taking into account the open ethos or the overall ecosystem, there are many reasons to consider making Linux your home for writing code.

1. Linux is Free

It doesn’t cost you any money to download and install a Linux operating system. That’s great whether you’re a hobbyist, a student, or someone getting started on a career as a programmer Why Linux Is Great for Freelance Professionals Why Linux Is Great for Freelance Professionals I've managed to build a career writing online, using just a Linux computer. Let me show you how you can use Linux to manage your professional life, from managing finances to finding clients. Read More . You don’t have to fork over money you don’t yet have. All you need is a Linux-compatible computer, and there’s a strong likelihood that you already do.

Not only will Linux cost no money, neither will most of the software. You can grab the tools you need, whether those are for programming or creating documents, without having to worry about what’s in your bank account.

2. Linux is Easy to Install

Most people never install an operating system. They may not even have a concept of what one is. This makes the idea of installing Linux that much harder to grasp.

But you’re a programmer. You can easily figure out how to search for a Linux operating system Why It Doesn't Matter Which Linux Operating System You Use Why It Doesn't Matter Which Linux Operating System You Use There's always going to be arguments about which Linux operating system is "better". Overall, Linux provides a good experience, regardless of how you run it. Let's look at those similarities -- and celebrate them! Read More , grab an ISO, and write it to a USB drive The PC Repair Toolkit in Your Pocket: Boot CD on a USB Stick The PC Repair Toolkit in Your Pocket: Boot CD on a USB Stick Inside my technician's toolkit I keep a USB flash drive loaded with the most amazing tools on the planet: my PC repair toolkit. In this article, I share its contents. Read More . You have no problem pressing the necessary function key during boot and navigating the on-screen prompts that follow. Once you’ve booted up a live USB drive, installing Linux isn’t all that different from installing a program in Windows.


Plus if you want to keep your existing operating system, you always have the option to dual-boot 7 Reasons Why You Should (and Shouldn't) Dual Boot Linux 7 Reasons Why You Should (and Shouldn't) Dual Boot Linux Often, making the choice of installing Linux over Windows can be tricky to justify. But why not opt for both? Here are five reasons to dual boot and two reasons you shouldn't. Read More .

3. You’re Free to Tinker

Linux offers the ideal place to put your skills to the test. You can access the source code to almost any part of your operating system, from the graphical interface The Very Best Linux Desktop Environment For Programming: The Secrets Of The Pros The Very Best Linux Desktop Environment For Programming: The Secrets Of The Pros Linux is a great choice for programming, as it's easy to install support for virtually any language you can think of. Programming is simply made easier on Linux. But there's more to it. Read More down to the kernel The Linux Kernel: An Explanation In Layman's Terms The Linux Kernel: An Explanation In Layman's Terms There is only one de facto thing that Linux distributions have in common: the Linux kernel. But while it's often talked about, a lot of people don't really know exactly what it does. Read More .

Most of it won’t make sense to you, no matter how much experience you have. But having the freedom to dive in and experiment is a great way to learn, and with Linux, you don’t have to worry about running into any legal trouble when you do. The vast majority of software won’t ask you to agree to an end user license agreement 10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To 10 Ridiculous EULA Clauses That You May Have Already Agreed To Let’s be honest, no one reads EULA's (End User Licensing Agreement) - we all just scroll down to the bottom and click "I Accept". EULAs are full of confusing legalese to make them incomprehensible to... Read More . Open source licenses largely deal with using the code to make your own applications, with some stipulating that your program must also be free and open source Open Source vs. Free Software: What's the Difference and Why Does It Matter? Open Source vs. Free Software: What's the Difference and Why Does It Matter? Many assume "open source" and "free software" mean the same thing but that's not true. It's in your best interest to know what the differences are. Read More .

4. There’s Support for Most Programming Languages

Need to write in C, C++, CSS, Java, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, or Vala? Linux supports all of them, and the list goes on. Sure, you will hit some roadblocks. Visual Basic only supports Windows, but you can use Apple’s Swift. Generally, if a programming language isn’t limited to a specific operating system, then it likely works on Linux.

If a language that you’d like to use isn’t already installed by default, you can typically get the packages from your distribution’s repositories. Search your default package manager Linux App Stores Compared: Which One Is Right for You? Linux App Stores Compared: Which One Is Right for You? Windows users are being guided to an app store. macOS has had one for a while. Linux, meanwhile, has had an app store-style experience for years. But which one is right for you? Read More for the name of the language, and something you want should appear.

5. Pick From a Large Range of Applications

The popular image of a programmer involves sitting in front of a black computer screen filled with white or green text. You can write code that way, or you can fire up a text editor. Defualt options such as Gedit and Kate may be all you need Advanced Linux Text Editors Compared: kate vs gedit Advanced Linux Text Editors Compared: kate vs gedit Any Linux user will tell you that a good text editor is a vital component of a computer system, no matter if you're a new user or a seasoned pro. While using a Terminal text... Read More . Emacs, nano, and Vim are options you can use inside of a terminal nano vs. vim: Terminal Text Editors Compared nano vs. vim: Terminal Text Editors Compared Although Linux has become easy enough for practically anyone to use without ever having to use the Terminal, there are some of us who regularly use it or are curious about how one can control... Read More . Atom is a cross-platform option that’s as extensible as Chrome. Or you may be one of the many to fall in love with Sublime Text Making The Best Text Editor Better: 7 Great Sublime Text Packages Making The Best Text Editor Better: 7 Great Sublime Text Packages Read More .

Alternatively, you can go for full-blown integrated desktop environments Text Editors vs. IDEs: Which One Is Better For Programmers? Text Editors vs. IDEs: Which One Is Better For Programmers? Choosing between an advanced IDE and a simpler text editor can be hard. We offer some insight to help you make that decision. Read More , or IDEs.  On the extremely light side, there’s Geany, which is bound to load quickly on your machine. For something offering a fuller experience, try Eclipse Full-Featured vs. Basic Linux Code Editor: Eclipse and Geany Compared Full-Featured vs. Basic Linux Code Editor: Eclipse and Geany Compared If you're someone who writes code regularly, it's highly important that you use a code editor that you're comfortable with. Under Linux, there is a large selection of editors to choose from, each one aimed... Read More .

6. Feel the Power of Bash Scripting

If you’re just programming to get something specific accomplished but don’t care about the language, it’s time to learn Linux commands and try your hand at writing Bash scripts 5 Beginner Linux Setup Ideas For Cron Jobs & Shell Scripts 5 Beginner Linux Setup Ideas For Cron Jobs & Shell Scripts With bash scripting, you can do a complex series of tasks in one quick go so it's great for elaborate and repetitive needs. It's also a great way to get to know terminal. Read More . Many of the commands that come with Linux (or that can be installed) are so efficient and powerful that some Linux users prefer to live in the terminal.

With a Bash script, you can put commands together to create more complex combinations. For example, someone managing a mailing list can create a script that would merge lists of subscribers, extract the email addresses, remove duplicates, and add the correct formatting so that the result can be read by other programs. Sure beats doing all of that by hand.


7. Linux Expertise is a Desirable Skill

Are you learning how to program in order to land a job? The fact that you’re using Linux is a marketable skill. Whether you’re managing a company’s server or helping to build the cloud services that clients increasingly rely on, employers want people that know how to use Linux.

Even if you’re just tinkering around for now, putting Linux on your system and doing some programming on it will quickly give you some familiarity with the operating system that can give you a competitive advantage later on.

Why Would You Use Anything Else?

There’s a reason so many developers choose to make Linux their home. While some would say that Linux has a shortage of user-friendly desktop programs, that isn’t the case with software aimed at programmers. You could go so far as to say that they’ve traditionally been Linux’s target audience.

Even if you already have a development environment going, it can’t hurt to reevaluate it to see whether Linux better fits your needs. You might learn a lot and save some money by making the switch!

If you use Linux for programming, what are some other reasons why people should consider it? What’s your favorite programming feature or tool on Linux? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Arch Enemy
    May 19, 2017 at 8:08 am

    If you are having problems with Linux, you are using it wrong way.

    Linux is a kernel, which has nothing to do with Mac or Windows. They are far beyond my understanding.

    Nothing comes close to Arch or Gentoo in terms of customization and simplicity.

    Problem with Linux is that it was not made for everyone, it was an experiment to be portable and fast Execution and not perfect, but fast, (it's like viruses?) which is damn successful for sure, but it was not intended to be today's Ubuntu, or even arch.

    The community tried to make it usable to somewhat common people which resulted Ubuntu, Fedora typical disros.

    That's it. :)

  2. i have no name
    January 27, 2017 at 9:24 am

    linux is bad

  3. Victor
    October 1, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    1. Linux has problem with modern driver. Graphics adapters, switchable graphics. Some wifi adapters have very old drivers for Linux.
    2. Firmware development, EDA, SCADA, Hardware development - only Windows.
    3. Do you know Photoshop analog for Windows? Gimp???? Really???

    In other worlds. Linux is good for web-development (excluding java) and as an embedded system only.

    • Doc
      May 4, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      I know GIMP very well. I use it on Windows 10 just fine.

  4. Martin
    August 9, 2016 at 12:54 am

    @Daniel: Well, that blame goes to Adobe, not Linux. They are free to release a native linux version of Adobe CC...

  5. Tony
    March 31, 2015 at 4:56 am

    Linux is a Unix OS and so is the Mac OS. Now, I would like to ask you a question. Why would you prefer a free operating system slapped together by a bunch of guys over the world, to the same free OS, however carefully and securely made by professionals from Apple? Especially when there is a such variety of different applications for all needs.

    Linux is nice and all, however Mac OS it is for me now, especially with its new flat, frosted glass UI. <3

    • marko djukic
      June 30, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      Because i don't want to pay 2000$ for mac

    • Barry Smith
      September 6, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      So what you're basically asking is: Would I prefer a highly efficient OS that has code that has been bug-tested and peer-reviewed by many thousands of professional software developers from across the globe to make sure it as efficient and bug-free as possible, or would I want one designed simply 'to look good'? (Actually, I'd argue newer Linux Desktop Environments look way better than OSX from a design perspective too).

      Linux is fast, secure, and highly compatible. Its open-source development model means that it has code integrated by many thousands of software development groups, and it is peer-reviewed by many to make sure it is free from bugs and security issues.

      Also, it has many features that Windows and MacOSX simply couldn't have by design. Multiple Desktop Environments means that Linux can look and feel exactly as you want it to.

      So many reasons to use. And its increasing popularity means more people are developing software for it. Virtually all mainstream software now has a Linux build, and those that do not often have open-source alternatives with either the same or better features.

      • Giang Hai
        September 25, 2015 at 1:56 pm

        Seriously bro? you mean a peer-reviewed perfected, perfected-by-thousands, open-source Linux against the shady, incomplete, weak and expensive Mac? You have got to be kidding me.

      • Brendon King (BK)
        October 12, 2015 at 5:22 pm

        Oh dear God another Mac enthusiast... when will the insanity end???????

    • Pasterke
      December 10, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      Linux is not a Unix system ! It's a unix like. The linux kernel has nothing in common with a unix kernel. BSD's are unix systems. Linux users who start with a bsd, has problems to fins their way in the beginning :)

    • An Vu
      January 5, 2016 at 8:11 am

      MacOS is not free. When you buy a mac, the fee is included with the product.

    • omkar
      March 5, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      My friend, Mac is based on original unix kernel. Linux is a completely different kernel but it is inspired from Ideas of original unix OS. But currently both are very different because linux has merged the support of almost all platforms, file systems and other things.

      Mac came in about 1984 with Unix license from AT&T, but linux is developed by linus torvalds initially, as a hobby, because he wanted to use a free OS, but as community of linux developer grew, it became what it is today.

      • Doc
        May 4, 2017 at 2:34 pm

        Sorry, "classic" Mac OS (1-9) has no UNIX in it at all. OS X was built on the NextSTEP OS, which was based on BSD Unix, Mach, and other free software.

        • Omkar Kumar
          May 5, 2017 at 2:48 am

          Yup, you are right. Mac is based on BSD, that helped Apple to keep source code closed.

    • James
      June 22, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      Where have you been the last 30 years my friend? The Linux kernel carries one of the largest software support communities in the technology industry, not to mention the scores of dirivites and variations that this magicial piece of ever evolving code has managed to spawn in its lifespan. There is one variation of Mac OS X that is up to date and available for public use at any given time. Currently that version is El Capitan (which was a dumb name, I'm just throwing that in there... I can think of 500 other places in California that would've probably been a better option to go with... Thats just my opinion).... Ill give credit where it's due, OS X is a phenomenal operating system. It works very well 90% of the time, for the average users demands and is always complimented wonderfully by the asthetically pleasing hardware that its designed alongside. I dont think anyone would argue with with me when I say that Apple has created the most popular and userfriendly operating system (for personal use) in existance today. There are arguements that can be made left and right as to the overall usefullness of any operating system when compared to another, but when you say, and I quote " Why would you prefer a free operating system slapped together by a bunch of guys over the world, to the same free OS, however carefully and securely made by professionals from Apple? It really is evident that you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. I say this for a few reasons.... 1.) OS X is probably the most locked down operating system in existence. Getting it to do anything outside of what Apple wants it to do (like customizing the interface beyond the 2 options Apple provides) is like pulling teeth! Anything can be done with enough time but its a hassle... Unless you're making music, or editing video, the amount of tools you have at you disposle for something like developing Software for Android devices, doesnt even come close to whats available for Linux users. Not to mention the cost of those tools on OS X compared the software available to Linux users that the OS X variations will do and some. Why? That brings me to number 2.) Purpose... OS X was designed to be a mechanism by which a very successfull company generates even more revenue. It is extremely useful, but at the end of the day it does not have any blaring feature which makes it BETTER than any Linux distro in terms of its use as a tool for developing X Y and Z.... Linux is FREE along with 99% of the software that runs on it. I equate it to people who buy $3 bottles of water when they can use their sink for free. You can say its a safer operating system, but thats really only relevant to people who dont know alot about computers and software development. Thats why they buy a Mac becuase they work, and they dont have alot of the issues that Windows PCs expierence. If you are developing software then chances are you have a pretty good understanding of computers, and how to keep them running clean and without issue. Most likely across multiple operating systems. Which brings me to number 3.) The "highly trained professionals at Apple".... Appearently the 12,000 software engineers that Apple employs, have the collective brainpower of a supernaturl being, this is why theyre consistantly capeable of pushing out cutting edge software that no other group of people in existence can make better, nor can they break through the security provided with said software..... Oh wait, I forgot to mention George Hotz.... The 14 YEAR OLD KID THAT UNLOCKED THE FIRST iPHONE IN 2007. Think abut that, Apple had an exclusive aggreement with ATT at that time, thats why it was locked in the first place. Im sure those engineers worked very hard to lock that device down. And yet 14 year old Georgy managed to make that device his b*tch and spawned the popular jailbreaking community you see amongst a large number of iphone users today. Apple creats some securty measure and the community finds a way around it. Its never ending game and I guarentee you that whatever security measures Apple engineers create, the hacking community will find a way around. They always do. You know what Apple does in response?? They hire as many of those quality hackers as they possibly can. .... My point is this... Mac is a great system, with a large userbase but doesnt come close to Linux as it pertainst to practicality and overall usefullness. Apple is a status symbol... Their products are useful, but the purpose behind them is so Apple can make more money. Where as Linux is a product that was given to the world and has been insturmental in the advancement of software developemnt in general for the past 30 years. It is a tool that has been utilized behind the scenes and has contributed far more to the advancement of the human race than anything that has ever come out of Cupertino California.

      • Doc
        May 4, 2017 at 2:35 pm

        "Where have you been the last 30 years my friend? The Linux kernel..." Since the first Linux kernel was released in 1991, you must have been time traveling (2017-1991 = 26, not 30).

    • Doc
      May 4, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Linux is not UNIX. The Linux kernel was developed because AT&T had a copyright on the UNIX kernel, and any flavor of Linux uses the GNU utilities (any command-line binaries that were copyrighted under UNIX were replaced by the free GNU utils). There are a few important differences between GNU/Linux and any non-free (and many free) flavors of UNIX.

  6. Alex
    February 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    If u want something like C# or VB use Qt, it's free and can compile for Linux, Windows, Mac plus Android, WindowsPhone...

    Don't forget Kate, much better than Geany

  7. Cedric Wehrum
    November 23, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    A big thing is missing:
    If you use Linux technologies it's often easier to port the program to other platforms afterwards. Many libraries and programs that are commonly used in Linux were ported to other platforms as well.

  8. Jon Green
    October 30, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Even Objective-C is available under Linux - in fact, the GnuStep environment ( uses it as its principal development language.

  9. Daniel Rosca
    October 29, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I have been using Linux for years while being a web back-end developer. Unfortunately, I couldn't continue with it anylonger due to the fact that I joined also the front-end side; the main issue, from my point of view, is that there isn't native support for Adobe CC and the wine workaround decrease a lot the performances of Adobe CC apps(illustrator).

    • Martin
      August 9, 2016 at 12:56 am

      @Daniel: Well, that blame goes to Adobe, not Linux. They are free to release a native linux version of Adobe CC...

  10. Zhong
    October 29, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Is there any other type of productive activities you could do with Linux?

    • James Bruce
      November 1, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Sure - you can get so frustrated with the general usability and interface that you go outside and do some work in the garden to de-stress. That’s pretty productive, for growing vegetables at least.

    • Zhong
      November 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      I don't think growing a garden has do with Linux. I'm referring inside the system itself. Hobbies that might interest other linux enthusiast.

    • Really
      May 8, 2017 at 12:00 am

      Please direct that question directly to Google, Facebook and Amazon. Perhaps they can answer.

    • Paul Girardin
      May 16, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      You could collide large hadrons: CERN uses Linux on their systems.
      You could kill people with drones: US military use Linux to control thier UAVs,after the original windows system was compromised.
      You could make CGI movies: Weta Workshop (Avatar etc) use Linux on their super computer.

  11. NotoriousZeus
    October 29, 2014 at 12:14 am

    One of the reasons to choose Linux is the use of programming terminology throughout and thin line between user friendliness and madness, serving as dive-start platform if you want to get in deep and get rid of your programming fears.

  12. Erik
    October 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    There is actually Visual Basic for Linux as well, sort of. Gambas which is inspired by VB, but not a clone. It is also my preferred language and IDE for Linux software development!

    (Will comments with hyperlinks be removed?)

    • James Bruce
      November 1, 2014 at 10:02 am

      They are moderated and approved once checked, yes.

    • Erik
      November 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      I am sorry I was sort of "spamming" here... My comment never appeared so I kept reposting, and then I thougt perhaps the link was the issue. Then later I realised all of them came through :O Again, sorry about that!

  13. Erik
    October 28, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    There is actually Visual Basic for Linux! Sort of at least :) Gambas (see is inspired by VB, but not a clone. It is also my preferred language and IDE for Linux software development!

  14. Erik
    October 28, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    My comment disappeared, but what I said is that there is actually Visual Basic for Linux as well, sort of. Gambas at is inspired by VB, but not a clone. It is also my preferred language and IDE for Linux software development!

  15. Erik
    October 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    There actually is Visual Basic for Linux - sort of. Gambas! (

    • Anonymous
      October 29, 2014 at 7:11 am

      .net framework runs vb. Mono is the linux software needed to run vb on linux :)

  16. Doc
    October 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Several good reasons NOT to: Few people actually run Linux, so the programs you write will have a very small target audience. Although OpenOffice/LibreOffice is great and only getting better, despite some inroads being made by Open Source in Europe, Microsoft still rules in the office, as well as in PC gaming.

    • Anonymous
      October 29, 2014 at 7:08 am

      'Few people actually run linux' hmm... not vry well researched. The majority of servers on the internet run a version of linux/BSD which both have their roots in UNIX. Pretty much everything Google does run on their own variation on linux. Can you imagine Google paying MS licence fees for all their millions of computers. Don't think so. Tech support in the server room used for the Internet will have more jobs with linux skills In preference to Windows.

    • Doc
      October 30, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      @Anonymous: Yes, lots of servers run Linux (upward of 60%, the last time I checked.) However, servers are not people; Linux on the desktop, outside of European ministries that have mandated open source, is still pretty scarce, so unless you're writing Bash or PHP scripts with an intention to get a job in IT, using Linux on the desktop is going to be a pretty obscure niche (and I say this as a Web designer with some experience). I've been learning Symfony, Magento, PHP, CSS, HTML, and JavaScript for the past 8 years, and I still use Windows on the desktop and only have to SSH in to run a PHP script from the command line once in a while.

      • Martin
        August 9, 2016 at 1:00 am

        If you'd watch the Netwrok protocols, you'd even find, that even microsoft uses in some case Linux as web a server. Ain't that funny ??

    • ed
      October 30, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Just because you use Linux to program in, does not mean you are building applications that only run in Linux.

      You can use Linux to program in HTML, CSS, javascript, Java, python, PHP, Ruby, C++, etc... All these languages can be used to write code for other operating systems like Android, Windows, iOS, Mac OS X, for the web, for mobile, and Linux.

  17. dragonmouth
    October 28, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    "One of the questions that needs to be considered is which operating system to use for programming."
    If you are freelancing and can pick your O/S, Linux is not a bad choice. However, if you are working in a cube hive, the employer determines the O/S and that most often will be Windows. If the employer uses mainframes, chances are very good that the O/S will NOT be Linux.

    • Doc
      October 31, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      @Dragonmouth: Exactly. I was issued a laptop that is exactly the same as my boss's, so I could compare between his and mine if something went wrong. What OS did both ship with? Windows 7 Home Premium.

  18. Alejandro Tapia
    October 28, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    The majority of servers are running some GNU Linux distribution , so, if you work with linux on a daily basis you may have lesser difficulties to configure and troubleshoot a Web Server

  19. Anonymous
    October 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Why does makeuseof keep asking for my location? My decision of not allowing it the first time hasn't changed and probably won't ever.

    • Anonymous
      October 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Maybe you disabled cookies, maybe that's why it doesn't remember that you've not allowed it to use location.

  20. Ziaur Rahman
    October 28, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    For both Professional & non-professional Linux is best platform for programming.