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Not that many people use Linux. True or false?

False.

I’ll admit, it’s hard to gauge how many users exist. Linux is free to download, and no single company has control. There are no sales figures to go by. TV and print ads aren’t shaping your perception.

Yet even if most of the people you know may not use Linux, there may be one who does. And many more will have no idea they interact with Linux every single day.

As it turns out, Linux has millions of users. Know what else it has? Other misconceptions that continue to give people a false idea of what Linux is like.

Let’s debunk a few, one by one.

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1. Linux Is for Neckbeards

You may have heard that only a particular type of person uses Linux. Free and open source software is an area of interest only for neckbearded individuals. Behind this assertion is the implication that Linux is only for nerdy white men.

LinuxMisconceptionsDebunked-Neckbeard

I’ve been using Linux for years, and I’m black. Yes, I’m a young man, and I do have geeky interests — but I also like exploring nature, yoga, and other physical pursuits. None of this has diminished my interest in open source ideals.

But that’s just one personal anecdote. Let’s also consider parts of the world where Linux is seeing growth. The GNOME Project named its latest release after the capital of India, home of this year’s GNOME.Asia Summit.

LinuxMisconceptionsDebunked-GNOMEAsia

Prior years placed the conference in Beijing (China), HoChiMinh City (Vietnam), Seoul (South Korea), Depok (Indonesia), and elsewhere. Fedora held last year’s FUDcon in Pune (India). It was in Managua (Nicaragua) the year before that.

Yes, the open source community does have a diversity problem. It could benefit from having more users and developers who are women. There could be more people of various gender, social, and ethnic backgrounds entering the fold.

Fortunately we already have initiatives such as Outreachy attempting to address this issue. In the meantime, let’s not forget the non-neckbearded people with a deep appreciation for Linux.

2. Linux Is Made by Dudes in Their Bedrooms

LinuxMisconceptionsDebunked-Programmer

Linux was born when Finnish (now Finnish American) developer Linus Torvalds started tinkering with the idea of making a free operating system while a student at the University of Helsinki. In a Usenet announcement, Torvalds described Linux as “just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu.”

Linux has since grown into a hobby for some and a profession for others. Red Hat is a $2 billion company that creates a Linux distribution for corporate use. It also pays some of the developers who contribute to GNOME and other open source projects.

Linux powers most of the top 500 supercomputers, traffic control systems, self-driving cars, and the Large Hadron Collider Linux Is Everywhere: 10 Things You Didn't Know Were Penguin-Powered Linux Is Everywhere: 10 Things You Didn't Know Were Penguin-Powered Read More .

There are still many lone developers writing patches and contributing code from their bedrooms. But countless companies have adapted Linux to meet their needs, and many of them are also investing in its future.

As for Torvards, the Linux Foundation now pays him to continue work on the Linux kernel. Hobby?

3. Linux Is Difficult to Use

LinuxMisconceptionsDebunked-Linux-Difficult

Linux has a reputation of being for computer programmers and sysadmins. Part of this stems from the operating system’s early days. What people ran shortly after that post on a mailing list was hardly ready for mainstream use. And while Linux is still gaining a foothold on desktops, it already powers the machines that run much of the Internet.

But you need zero coding skills to install or use Linux. Installation consists of downloading a file, installing it on a flash drive Install Ubuntu On Your Computer Using a USB Flash Drive Install Ubuntu On Your Computer Using a USB Flash Drive Want to install Ubuntu but don't have a spare blank DVD? Don't worry! After downloadin the ISO file, you can use a highly-reusable USB flash drive to get the job done. Read More , restarting your computer, and following on-screen prompts. People who find this intimidating can buy a laptop with Linux pre-installed from companies such as System76 and ZaReason.

Afterward, you’ll find plenty of applications to choose from 10 Awesome GNOME Apps that Didn't Come With Your Distro 10 Awesome GNOME Apps that Didn't Come With Your Distro The GNOME desktop is one of the most complete and accessible desktop environments in the Linux ecosystem, but the apps don't come preinstalled. Here's a list of several great GNOME apps to install. Read More . Many are more straightforward than their commercial counterparts. Without the effects of planned obsolescence Planned Obsolescence: Why We Can't Have Nice Things Planned Obsolescence: Why We Can't Have Nice Things How much money are you wasting due to "planned obsolescence"? In this article, we explain what that is, why it should concern you, and what you might be able to do about it. Read More driving developers to make big design changes every few years, applications rarely undergo drastic redesigns forcing you to relearn how to do everything.

In many ways, Linux is more welcoming to first-time computer users than Windows 6 Ways Linux Is More Welcoming Than Windows for Newcomers 6 Ways Linux Is More Welcoming Than Windows for Newcomers If you recently installed Windows 10, you may have experienced a rather cold piece of automation. Contrast this with installing Linux, which is warm and informative - just two of many reasons to choose Linux... Read More .

4. Linux Is Inherently Secure

You may have heard that Linux is safe because all of its code is open source. Having more eyes on code does increase the likelihood that someone will spot vulnerabilities, but this doesn’t mean someone always will or that security risks don’t exist on Linux. They do Is Linux Really as Secure as You Think It Is? Is Linux Really as Secure as You Think It Is? Linux is often touted as the most secure operating system you can get your hands onto, but is this really the case? Let's take a look at different aspects of Linux computer security. Read More . Some vulnerabilities can go undiscovered for decades Worse Than Heartbleed? Meet ShellShock: A New Security Threat For OS X and Linux Worse Than Heartbleed? Meet ShellShock: A New Security Threat For OS X and Linux Read More .

Part of this perception comes from the nature of the exploits that target Linux machines. Since Linux has such a small slice of desktop market share, hardly any malware exists for the platform. But that number isn’t zero, which shows that the operating system isn’t impenetrable.

Linux sees wider use by companies and governments. Attacks against these institutions won’t lead to a virus on your computer, but it could result in someone acquiring your passwords or data from other parties. Heartbleed was an example Heartbleed – What Can You Do To Stay Safe? Heartbleed – What Can You Do To Stay Safe? Read More .

Sometimes the servers that distribute system updates get compromised. Occasionally a piece of software may get fixed, but a distribution has yet to package the update. Slip-ups happen.

Linux may be a relatively secure operating system that benefits from being open source, but that does not make it bullet-proof. If it were, there wouldn’t be a reason to make specialized distributions for the most paranoid among us Linux Distros For The Paranoid: What Are The Most Secure Distros? Linux Distros For The Paranoid: What Are The Most Secure Distros? If you're a Linux user, security was probably one of the benefits that made you switch from whatever operating system you were using before. Linux has a great reputation for being one tough nut to... Read More .

5. Linux Is Ugly

Since Linux isn’t a commercial product, its designers haven’t had to focus on making software visually enticing. That’s good, because Linux products typically have fewer resources to work with.

In the early days, Linux desktop environments were rough around the edges. Many of them still are today. But many projects are focused on making open source desktops easier on the eyes.

The modern GNOME desktop environment provides a polished and simple interface with animations. KDE is shinier and more customizable, with themes and options to get your computer just the way you like it. Elementary OS takes the polish of a MacBook but adds some open source flair Looking For A Beautiful, Easy To Use Linux Distro? Try Elementary OS Luna Looking For A Beautiful, Easy To Use Linux Distro? Try Elementary OS Luna Elementary OS Luna is a lot more than Ubuntu with some tweaks and a nice theme. Here's what to expect. Read More .

What looks beautiful to some is garish to others. Many people can do without the pomp and circumstance of Windows 10 and Mac OS X. For them, basic (and perhaps dated-looking) options still exist such as XFCE and LXDE. Developers who love the terminal can use the likes of XMONAD and the Awesome Window Manager. Either one will make you look like that hacker in some movie you saw.

With so many interfaces to choose from It's Your Choice: The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments It's Your Choice: The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments From Gnome to KDE, from MATE to Unity, there's a lot of choice out there. Where should you start? Overwhelmed? Start here. Read More , there’s a good chance one will appeal to you.

6. Linux Is Not for Gamers

Most PC games run on Windows. A smaller number are available for Mac. Even fewer make their way to Linux.

But let’s be honest, that still leaves plenty of options to keep gamers satisfied 5 Games That Prove Linux Is Now a Serious Gaming Platform 5 Games That Prove Linux Is Now a Serious Gaming Platform Big-budget games are coming to Linux, thanks to graphic driver improvements and the arrival of SteamOS. Here are five, top-tier games which undeniably demonstrate the potential of Linux as a platform for gaming. Read More .

Things have changed in recent years. Linux graphic drivers have come a long way Open Source AMD Graphics Are Now Awesome, Here's How To Get Them Open Source AMD Graphics Are Now Awesome, Here's How To Get Them The AMD proprietary driver on Linux is fast but buggy, and the open source driver has now become awesome Read More . Steam is easy to install How to Install Steam and Start Gaming on Linux How to Install Steam and Start Gaming on Linux Installing Steam on Linux computers is straightforward, and the result is usually the same seamless gaming experience you had on Windows. Read More , and there are several other distribution platforms that offer Linux titles Where to Download the Best Linux Games Without Any Hassle Where to Download the Best Linux Games Without Any Hassle Not even a decade ago, native gaming on Linux was limited to open source, cross-platform games. Today, the "no games on Linux" myth is dead. But where do you find compatible games? Read More . On computers that you use primarily for gaming, you can run versions of Linux built for gaming Not All About SteamOS: Other Great Linux Distros for Gamers Not All About SteamOS: Other Great Linux Distros for Gamers SteamOS certainly isn't a requirement for Linux gaming, as games can be played on virtually any distribution. But what SteamOS alternatives are out there, ready to download and install? Read More . Some of them come with many free and open source titles pre-installed.

Will you be able to play every AAA title that gets announced for PC? No. But gamers who adjust their expections are having plenty of fun on their Linux these days.

7. You Get What You Pay For

This is literally not true. I have Linux on my computer. I did not buy it.

Kidding aside, this notion implies that Linux is inferior because it doesn’t cost anything. The software is supposedly not as good as commercial alternatives. Sometimes this is true, but it’s not always the case.

Many people choose to use open source applications instead of paid options 14 Free & Open Source Alternatives For Paid Software 14 Free & Open Source Alternatives For Paid Software Don't waste money on software for personal use! Not only do free alternatives exist, they most likely offer all the features you need and may be easier and safer to use. Read More , even on Windows and Mac OS X. Cost isn’t always the factor. VLC can play seemingly any video. GIMP is a great way to edit pictures. Firefox remains one of the best browsers around.

Microsoft makes software that powers servers, but companies have adopted Linux because they view it as the better tool for the job. Some programmers feel the same way 6 Superb Reasons Why You Should Use Linux For Programming 6 Superb Reasons Why You Should Use Linux For Programming Linux is a fantastic platform for programmers. Here are several reasons why this is the case, and why you should keep Linux in your considerations. Read More .

Commercial operating systems do come with an extra layer of polish, but Windows isn’t better put together than Chrome OS and Android. Those latter two are both based on Linux, and they’re free.

Some distributions are better than others. Ultimately, Linux is what you make it.

Linux Is Not for Me

Or is it? I’m willing to bet that with the right introduction, you could get by using Linux. You may even fall in love 7 Warning Signs That You're Meant to Switch to Linux 7 Warning Signs That You're Meant to Switch to Linux I was a Windows user for years, but was doing things that have taught me I'm a Linux user at heart. Wondering if you're a secret Linux user? Here are the warning signs. Read More . The situation is rarely what it seems on the surface. The same may be true in this case too.

What fallacies have you heard about Linux or other open source desktops? What questions do you have yourself? This is a safe space. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Image credit: Strange suspicious businessman, GNOME.Asia Summit 2016, Back view of modern programmer sitting and writing code in dark roomschoolboy behind his computer

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