How You Can Save Money by Using Linux

Bertel King 27-07-2017

Buying a new computer can be exciting, but not when it’s out of necessity, and definitely not when money’s tight. Who enjoys forking over hundreds of dollars for computer software? Even when we want to have fun and buy a game, the cost can be off-putting. Computing, frankly, can be pricey.


I like to save money however I can. One way I’ve saved hundreds, possibly thousands, is by using Linux. For much of the past decade, I have not had to spend money on the software I use on my laptops. But that’s only the beginning. Let’s break this down.

Free Software

The overwhelming majority of the code that runs on a Linux-powered computer is free and open source The Best Linux Software and Apps Whether you're new to Linux or you're a seasoned user, here are the best Linux software and apps you should be using today. Read More . That means you’re free to use and edit this software however you like. It’s also free. You don’t have to pull out a credit card to buy an office suite, image editor, or accounting program when you’re using Linux.

save money linux libreoffice

Unless your classes require a specific application, you can head to college without having to budget money toward computer programs. You can keep up with finances 3 Ways to Manage Your Finances Using Linux Quicken won't work on Linux, but you have several options open to you for spreadsheet and accounting app alternatives. Here's how you can use Linux to stay on top of your finances. Read More for taxes without having to add a line item for the cost of the accounting tool itself. You can edit videos The 9 Best Free Open Source Video Editors for Linux Video editing on Linux? It's easier than you think! Try these open source video editors on your Linux PC. Read More and put together slides Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? LibreOffice is the king of free office suites. It's unlikely to replace Microsoft Office in a business environment, but it's an excellent alternative for casual users. Here's what's new in LibreOffice 5.1. Read More for a presentation without having to worry about whether you already have the necessary programs. Simply open up your Linux app store 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 and search for what you need.

Free OS Updates

If you have access to a solid internet connect, you can update your Linux operating system for free. Until recently, the same wasn’t true on Windows and Mac. Mac OS X updates costed money until the release of Mavericks OS X Mavericks is Free: Here's How To Get It & Why You Want It Apple really outdid itself this time. The words "software sells hardware" never rung more true, and now that OS X Mavericks is free to all, isn't it about time you got on-board? Read More in 2013 (and people using older Macs still had to pay). New versions of Windows were more expensive than Mac OS X and didn’t always come with changes that people wanted. Windows 10 is the first version to be available as a free update Many People Refuse the Free Windows 10 Upgrade, Here's Why People like free stuff. Yet many refuse to upgrade to Windows 10. We have asked them why. Read More .


In either case, these companies can choose to change their mind and start charging again in the future. On Linux, charging for updates is antithetical to how the entire community functions. You can be sure that you won’t have to pay for the next version (which is not to say that you won’t be given the option, as you may notice when downloading Ubuntu or Elementary OS).

save money linux elementary os

The Older Your Hardware, the Better

Commercial operating systems encourage us to buy a new laptop every few years. To take advantage of the latest features, you often need a machine made within the past few years.

On Linux, the opposite is true. While Linux runs faster on newer hardware, not all new computers are able to run Linux out of the box. Developers often need time to work around restrictions, and to support for hardware that they did not have access to ahead of time. Sometimes they’re never able to get around the absence of necessary drivers. Older hardware tends to have all the kinks worked out.


This Lets You Buy Used

While you can’t head to your typical big box store and walk out with a Linux computer, you can order one online. But if you’re looking to save money, you can walk into your local thrift shop, buy whatever old machine running Windows XP for $100, and install a new version of Linux Why Upgrading from Windows XP to Linux is Easier than You Think An ideal way to give Linux a try if you're completely new to it and unwilling to invest in new hardware, is to test it out using some PCs. But how easy is it? Read More .

You Can Also Use Your Existing PC for Longer

If you already have an older laptop or two lying around, even better. Just because it couldn’t handle the update to Windows 7 doesn’t mean it’s good for nothing. There are many versions of Linux that will allow you to do much of what you used to. With enough imagination, that old machine may be good for more than you ever expected.

Create Your Own Set-Top Box or Media Center

Set-top boxes are a cheap and accessible way to replace cable. They take up less space on in a media console, are often easier to use, and will typically save you money. But as affordable as they are, there’s little reason to buy one if you have an old desktop lying around. Even if you don’t, a Raspberry Pi starts at the same price as a Chromecast and can do so much more The Best Plex Clients for Streaming Media Once you've set up your Plex sever, you'll need a device to stream your media to. Here are the best Plex clients available today. Read More .

Install Linux, hook the box up to the back of a TV, and enjoy a broader experience than you could get from Roku or an Amazon Fire Stick. Search for shows more easily using a wireless keyboard, and view all the local content you want thanks to all the storage space available to you. To get started, check out XBMC How to Use Kodi: The Complete Setup Guide Our beginner's guide shows how to install the Kodi software, how to navigate through the initial setup, and how to load add-ons. Read More or Plex.


The same PC can also serve as your media center all over the house. Share files over LAN that other PCs, mobile devices, and even some set-top boxes can access. You can also make that content available over the web and cancel your cloud storage plan.

Game on the Cheap

People may associate PC gaming with Windows, but there’s plenty of fun to be had on Linux. Sure, the library isn’t as big (which may be a perk where saving money’s concerned). That said, you can find great games on and Steam. These distributors always have a sale going on, allowing you to build a sizable collection 10+ Windows Games You Could Be Playing on Linux with Steam If you've been holding onto Windows simply to play your favorite games, let go. Installing SteamOS is now a viable option and the following collection of titles illustrate just what the situation is in 2016. Read More without spending much. Your money can go even further if you wait around for Humble Bundles.

Whichever route you go, make sure the game supports Linux before jumping on a deal. And don’t forget to grab your favorite controller 6 Tips to Get Your Game Controllers Working on Linux Linux boasts several means to play old DOS and Windows games, either via native support, or from key mappers. But occasionally issues pop up. Game controllers not working on Linux? Try these tips! Read More if you’re not a keyboard and mouse fan.

Depending on what your interests are, you may not have to spend a dime. There are quite a few quality free and open source games out there 10 Great Games Hiding in Your Linux App Store Linux gamers have some real gems available - if you know where to look! These 10 games aren't new, but if you're a Linux newcomer, they'll offer some great, free gaming experiences. Read More . Alternatively, you can play all the old Windows and DOS games you want 7 Ways to Play Old Windows & DOS Games on Linux Gaming on Linux is on the rise, but if you don't want to turn your PC into a game server then the answer is with old games, retro classics from the Windows platform. Read More With the direction modern gaming has taken, these options might be what your heart yearns for.


Linux uses don’t stop with the games themselves. You can turn your computer in a game server Everything You Need to Build a Game Server on Linux Building a DIY Linux game server for Steam games, Minecraft, etc? Here's how to build a game server with Ubuntu Linux. Read More  and invite others to play.

You Don’t Have to Replace Your Current OS

If you’re not already a Linux user, you don’t have to switch to enjoy the above perks. As long as you have a second computer lying around, a world of possibilities remain open to you Even If You're A Windows User: Top 5 Uses For A Linux Box Despite advances made by other operating systems, Windows still stands as the most used operating system in the world. And, as a Linux user, I respect your decision to stick with it as it does... Read More . But after you grow comfortable with Linux, you may see little reason to buy another Windows PC or MacBook once your current one grows outdated. Linux will bring it back to life and keep the good times rolling!

$1,000 saved, right there.

What ways have you saved money using Linux? What areas have still cost you an arm and a leg? Any advice you would like to share for people looking to save money with Linux? Hit up the comments below!

Image Credit: Visual Generation via Shutterstock

Related topics: Linux, Save Money.

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  1. Gazoo
    August 1, 2017 at 12:08 am

    I'll add: If time is money, I no longer spend untold hours researching/tweaking my desktop to improve security and privacy. I boot, I work, I play. It's liberating!

    Honestly, I don't even think it's possible to tweak a system for privacy on most commercial OSes these days. Those who try, I believe, are met with a false sense of protection.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      August 1, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      A great point! I feel the same way.

  2. KT
    July 28, 2017 at 5:00 am

    You are spot on. I kept an old Compaq Pressario pc as my workhorse until 2010! I'm a die hard "last gen' tech guy. I put an AMD FX-60 in it for $80. They were over $1000 when launched. Four gigs of old DDR-400 RAM and a Geforce 850gt powered two 21" crt monitors. Linux mint 7-13 made that possible. Of coarse I've moved on since then to a bigger/better system built from scratch, but Linux is the work horse, windows 7 is for Steam only. I hate modern MOBO's! Setting up dual boot Linux/Doze is a pain. I'll stick to used for cheap and Linux.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      August 2, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks for sharing! I haven't done something like this myself yet, but I'm taking notes.

  3. William Vasquez
    July 28, 2017 at 1:18 am

    I recently bought an old Dell Optiplex 960 duo core 64 bit computer from Goodwill that only cost me $35.00. I go to the Goodwill that specializes in computers because they have semi-professionals in the back room that take most of the old computers that are in good condition and repair or upgrade with more memory and a bigger hard drive. But sometimes they just put a sticker on one that says "parts only" because they have removed memory and hard drive from them, but have tested them and wrote down POSTS on the sticker (meaning it past the Power On Self Test). i have read about these models being made for businesses when they were new and sold for $1200 because they are more robust. They also use a 'toolless upgradable' feature where no screwdriver is needed because everything is removeable with a push button; slide in adapter; or click on fastener. What a great buy! So good is this computer, that I use it as my main unit for everything. Even has 6 USB's :eSATA and Display Port connectors.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      August 2, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      I'm considering doing something like this myself. I could use a desktop, and it doesn't make much financial sense to spend $1000 on a Linux-friendly machine that I will only use for writing and syncing files.

      It's encouraging to hear your experience buying thrift store hardware went so well!