Even If You’re A Windows User: Top 5 Uses For A Linux Box

Danny Stieben 31-01-2013

uses for linux boxDespite 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 have a large ecosystem that both businesses and consumers seem to agree on.


But just because you use Windows as your daily driver does not mean that you can’t experiment with other operating systems for any of your computing needs. In this case, Linux systems are the most flexible and least expensive to build, plus I’m sure you’re not going to experiment with other operating systems by getting an expensive Mac. But, as a Windows user, what exactly can you do with Linux boxes that will still benefit you and your Windows setup?

Second Desktop/Laptop

uses for linux box
First, we’ll need to get the obvious option out of the way. You can install Linux on any of your computers, either alongside Windows or as the sole operating system. When installed on your main system, it will be a great way to try out Linux and everything you can do with it. As some people have been disappointed with the direction Microsoft is taking with Windows 8, now is one of the best times to check out Linux as your future operating system as you are offered plenty of choices and low costs if any. When installed on any other computer, especially an older one, it can give it a few more years of life before it really is time for it to hit the dump. Linux can be used for plenty of daily computing tasks where it won’t disturb your affair with Windows.

Home Server

best uses for linux
Linux has also been an operating system of choice when it comes to the creation of home servers. The OS and any tools needed to share files are all free and relatively easy to configure, so any household without too many complicated needs will find Linux to be highly beneficial and cost efficient. Users also have the choice of combining all the tools that they want to use themselves, or rather use a package that combines many different technologies together such as Amahi How To Set Up A Home Server With Amahi [Linux] Read More .

Media Center

best uses for linux
Besides sharing files among your home network or across the globe, your Linux box can also be used as a media center. There are many possible interpretations of this, where it can act like a home server and stream media across your network, be a box that sits near your TV and is connected via an HDMI cable, or a combination of both. There is plenty of software out there which can be used as visually-pleasing media centers, such as XBMC. Plenty of streaming sites also support Linux, such as Hulu or Netflix (unofficially).


While Linux doesn’t have a lot of software that many businesses rely on as the developers of such software know that most businesses run Windows, there are still plenty of Linux software 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 applications which address certain tasks. For example, with software that is freely available for Linux, you can run your own weather station, play around with ham radio, mix music for DJ purposes, and much more. While I’m sure that there is free software available for Windows to do all of these things as well, why not do it on Linux and save yourself from buying another Windows license!



uses for linux box
Finally, the last top use of a Linux box — gaming. Yes, I said gaming. While it isn’t a very convincing point at the time of writing, it certainly will be a few years down the road. The push for games on Linux is starting to get on a roll as Steam is making great progress with their client and the porting of games. Before you’ll know it, most games offered via Steam will be playable on Linux as well, making the platform a much greater force in gaming. Even while we wait, there are a handful of great games available; just not quite as many.


Of course, there are plenty of other great benefits of trying out Linux or using it for certain tasks. It’s free, frequently updated, virus-free, and easier than ever to use. Linux is also becoming an increasingly common technology as everywhere you turn you hear about more Linux adoption. Therefore, whether you are interested in trying out Linux or just want a cheap box to do what you need, look no further!

As a Windows/Mac user, what Linux boxes do you have sitting around and what do they do? How well does this setup work for you? What prevents you from using Linux as your daily driver? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Pablo BD


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  1. John Berger
    February 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I use mine as a multi-purpose server. Ubuntu runs beautifully on a dual-core Atom processor (less than 45 watts of power with three drives). I have mirrored 1.5 TB drives that act as the file repository for the house via Samba as well as a Plex media server to stream to my Roku 2 and any DLNA devices. It's a rock-solid box.

  2. Anonymous
    February 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    good start for beginers

  3. Bob
    February 2, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I have experimented with Linux in the past and still use Puppy Linux burnt to a disk to recover essential files from corrupt windows systems. Certainly saved my friends marriage when he thought he had lost all his kids photos!

  4. Dr.Samuel Chandra Kumar
    February 1, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I double boot windows 7 and Linux [salix OS, now], I found that Linux works well for windows recovery and troubleshooting, esp when someone hands their flash drive or a USB HDD saying that it ain't working or was infected with a virus. I also have a copy of parted magic in my computer tool box for all my partitioning needs, the list goes on.....

  5. Nevzat Akkaya
    February 1, 2013 at 7:20 am

    I've used Linux for Windows recovery, file recovery, disk/partition management, even for anti-virus!. Long live Linux.

  6. Terafall
    February 1, 2013 at 2:31 am

    Another good use of Linux is to use it as a live cd/usb

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Yeah! But I think this article is aimed at regular users who need compelling reasons to switch. Live USB isn't exactly a layman term, and Danny had written about Linux Live CD/USB over and over again.

  7. Seppe
    January 31, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Steam on linux still has a very long way to go, 99% of my steam library is unplayable on linux. You're saying they are making great progress, I think that they still have a very long way to go.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 10:55 pm

      They are making progress. The entire platform is essentially ready to go; the only thing left to do is porting games over. Of course, this is going to take the most amount of time out of the entire project, but it can and will happen.

  8. Mihovil Pletikos
    January 31, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    unfortunatelly netflix under linux isn't good enough, and if you have a netflix subscription linux media center won't do....
    and in gaming, performance is still not good enough....

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you on this. While there isn't a Netflix plugin for any media center available on Linux, there are tricks to get Netflix running. Therefore, while not ideal, it's definitely possible.

      Additionally, performance is pretty good. Even Steam titles are running better on Linux than on Windows. You may just have to install the proprietary drivers for your graphics card rather than sticking to the open source version.

      • Gideon Waxfarb
        February 1, 2013 at 8:27 am

        When you say 'there are tricks to get Netflix running', what I'm guessing you mean is that there is some janky workaround that probably requires a bit of voodoo and software gymnastics. From my experience, there's a way to get just about anything running in Linux, but usually isn't worth the headache involved, especially when most of that stuff just works in other operating systems.

        If people are disgusted with Windows 8, they're probably going to migrate over to OSX, or just use a tablet if their needs are very basic. Usually the only people that bother with Linux are total n00bs that had it set up for them, or the 'free love' people who are politically motivated to do so. About the only thing I would consider Linux for in this list is a home server. But then again, that's what Linux (the OS, not the kernel) is best at... being a server, and where it should stay. And don't give me the 'there is no Linux OS' bullshit. You would just be proving my point :)

        • Alberto Lerma
          February 1, 2013 at 8:45 am

          "Usually the only people that bother with Linux are total n00bs that had it set up for them"

          You my friend just went full retarded.

        • devodude
          April 29, 2013 at 3:07 am

          Let Waxfarb live in his delusional world. In the meantime, the knowledgeable ones will continue using the most stable, secure and fast OS in use today.

          You just can't fix stupid.

        • Miggs
          February 1, 2013 at 10:46 am

          If people are disgusted with Windows 8, they're probably going to migrate over to OSX? No shit. People don't use Windows because they like it, they use it either because it came preinstalled or because they need it to run some software only available for it.
          Show a man a MacBook Air and a laptop with Windows and ask: "which one do you like better?". Then you will see people dislike Windows. But 90% won't buy a mac because it's expensive as shit. If you'd suddenly stop software pirating (including os's) millions of Windows users would switch to Linux, not mac.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          February 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm

          Umm, actually getting Netflix running isn't as hard as you make it to be. You only require a third party app. That's it. Then again, it's not exactly fair to say 'just works' in other operating system. It's given because the softwares are specifically made for that operating system.
          I'm a neutral user and will be happy playing with any OS you give me, but this sentence is the oddest opinion on Linux I've ever seen:
          "Usually the only people that bother with Linux are total n00bs that had it set up for them"

  9. Richard Steven Hack
    January 31, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Another use that should be a top use: online banking. Because Linux is much less susceptible to banking trojans, a Linux box - either installed or even better a live CD (because it can't be infected with anything) - should be used to do all online banking. For further security, the box or CD should be kept off the Internet entirely until it's needed for banking - except for updates in the case of an installed system.

    • Danny Stieben
      January 31, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      That's a pretty good recommendation. The only downside to this is that if people rely on banking applications and not their online websites, Linux doesn't have a lot of good options. However, if you mainly use the bank's website, then Linux should definitely work in this scenario.

    • dragonmouth
      February 1, 2013 at 12:35 am

      While your end may be secure by using Linux, you still have to worry about the security of the bank's server. Chances are that it is secure but there have been enough breaches and stolen credit card data to make one wary.