Why is Linux So Great? Because It’s Open Source!

Danny Stieben 24-08-2015

What can’t Linux do? Nowadays you hear Linux powering just about any device imaginable Linux Is Everywhere: 10 Things You Didn't Know Were Penguin-Powered If you think the world rests on Windows, think again. Linux plays a crucial role in keeping our world going. Read More — all the way from dime-sized computers via the Raspberry Pi Optimize The Power Of Your Raspberry Pi With Raspbian As befits a man with too much tech on his hands, I’ve been playing with my Raspberry Pi recently, configuring the device so that it works to its fullest potential. It continues to run as... Read More all the way to most of the top 100 supercomputers in the world. We interact with it Not Just for Desktops: 10 Devices You Can Install Linux On Looking for a new Linux project? These days you can install Linux on almost anything: tablet, laptop, even a router! Read More daily, whether it be on our personal computers, Android devices, Steam boxes (gaming), flight entertainment systems, web servers that power behemoths such as Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia, or more.


But what makes Linux such a great choice that it’s used in all those devices? It’s because it’s open source software What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More , which has various implications.

Inherent Security

Working with a secure operating system has become essential, and Linux fills that need well. Because it’s open source, anyone can look at the code and study it to determine whether there are any potential flaws that could pose security risks.

Companies that produce closed-source products usually approach security in two ways: security by obscurity and private security audits. While open source offers great security because many eyes have looked at the code, closed-source hides the flaws that others may find, making them unknown and thereby “more secure”. However, most people can agree that code that actually has fewer flaws in it, whether known or unknown, is the best solution.

Companies with closed-source products may also have other companies look through their code for security issues, but this is still done behind closed doors. Less eyes look at the code this way than via the open source approach.

You Can Make Modifications

Thanks to the GPL and BSD licenses (among others Open Source Software Licenses: Which Should You Use? Did you know that not all open source licenses are the same? Read More ) that most open source projects use, people are free to make their own modifications to open source software. This is a huge piece of open source magic — even with software packages freely available, everyone has different needs and configurations. People can take the code, make changes to it (whether to make it easier to integrate, add additional features, or remove unnecessary ones), and then use it.


The beauty of it all is that everyone can be happy with the software they’re running, as they’re free to make it so that it works exactly how they want it to. As you must have guessed, this all applies to Linux, where people and companies can make modifications to speed it up, support additional features, or test out new mechanisms.

Linux is Accessible

Another great benefit to Linux being open source is that it’s highly accessible. Anyone with an Internet connection (or a friend with an internet connection) can download the kernel and/or a Linux distribution. All of the code can be found online, and it’s completely free. Of course, a lot of open source advocates like to promote the fact that open source software is free as in freedom, but the monetary benefit certain doesn’t hurt either.

Take this Portable OS Anywhere

Because modifications can be made by anyone to open source projects such as Linux, the open source operating system is also extremely portable. There are tons of different processor architectures, and each type of device likely uses a different one. However, Linux is “portable”, meaning that it can run on just about any architecture out there. And if it can’t, it will sooner or later with some modifications. This is a big reason why Linux can be seen running on all sorts of devices.

Linux is a Capable OS

Finally, because they encourage people from around the world to contribute to their projects Why Do People Contribute to Open Source Projects? Open source development is the future of software. It's great for users because open source software is usually available gratis and often safer to use. But what compels developers to contribute code for free? Read More , open source projects such as Linux are extremely capable thanks to the contributions that so many people have added over time. Many open source software projects are extremely powerful, and as Linux is one such project this is why it’s a commonly used platform for all sorts of applications, from basic desktops to running web servers How to Build a Linux Web Server With an Old Computer Got an old computer taking up space? Want to use it to host a website? Here's how to set up an old PC as a Linux web server. Read More .


It Only Gets Better

Other operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS X really can’t claim much of what we’ve discussed above. They might be capable, but all five points only apply to Linux. As more people contribute or make modifications to Linux, the better it will become. It will always offer the same great security benefits that it does now. And it will always be freely available.

Plus, you can already get by pretty easily by just using open source software Can You Get By Using Purely Open Source Software? Open source software is far more common than you think, and a great philosophy to live by. Not convinced? The chances are pretty high that you can be productive with just open source software. Read More . That’s why Linux is great and why it won’t be going away anytime soon.

Why do you think Linux is great? Why do you think it’s not so great? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: academic penguin by 3Dalia via Shutterstock, Maksim Kabakou via, Daquella manera, Jo Naylor, Sergey Nivens via, DSLinux


Related topics: Linux, Open Source.

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  1. Anonymous
    August 29, 2015 at 5:04 pm


    Version 9-64, but as I'm traveling, I can only test at the end of next week. I went to get more information this distro and I have the impression that I seek. Only after installation I can confirm.

    • Anonymous
      August 30, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Okay! So Zorin OS uses the Ubuntu installer which millions of people have tried and it is very well polished and you probably wont encounter any errors. Once you've installed the distro it should sort of look like Windows 7. You can change that with the Zorin Look Changer, click on the 'Z' in the bottom on the left corner of the dock and search for 'Look Changer'. Once you open the app you can change between many looks including Windows XP and Gnome 2. There is also a theme changer. In Zorin OS 9 it lets you change between a light and dark theme, theese themes are called GTK and you can find more of them on But if you want to change the theme to something which you got on the internet you have install the app Gnome Tweek Tool. This tool lets you change the Icons, GTK and general look of your OS. One important thing is that if you are looking for support online then instead of saying 'how to ______ in Zorin OS' say "how to ____ in Ubunutu. Zorin OS is just a much easier to use and better looking Ubunutu.

      • Anonymous
        August 30, 2015 at 6:13 pm

        Notepad saved your guidelines. . . Thank you for your class. Once it is installed with it, I will report you.

      • Anonymous
        September 2, 2015 at 9:05 pm

        Zorin 9 installed on Dell Inspiron N4030, 3 GB RAM. Very light and fast wheel, as butter ..
        A bit odd the question of sharply using the command prompt, but that's about getting used to. For the new, change of paradigms.
        Yes, research is broad when considering Ubuntu

        Thank you and all the best

        • Anonymous
          September 4, 2015 at 12:10 am

          OK! Glad to see it is going well! So for the command line there are many commands of course. The ones I teach first are the following:

          Sudo apt-get install ______ (where underscore is your package name)

          That one installs a package, for example, to install Audacity you could say:

          sudo apt-get install audacity

          Or to remove that package go

          sudo apt-get remove audacity

          or to update your programs go

          sudo apt-get upgrade

          It is also good to update all of the sources so whenever you install something you know it is the newest version. It is good to run this command every few weeks.

          sudo apt-get update

          All of those are for installing and removing programs, though...
          There is a great Codecademy course on the other ones though so you can do that here:

        • Anonymous
          September 4, 2015 at 12:10 am

          Sorry for the late response by the way

        • Anonymous
          September 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm

          What is this Armaan. . . do not worry, has been collaborating on a lot for my access to Linux. . . Respond when and if you want. . .

          In windows there are tools to improve performance, fix corrupted files, etc. . .

          How does it work on Linux and possible tools to use?

          Eset antivirus installed. . .

          As you work with this safety issue?

          Other suggestions for a beginner in Linux.

          Grateful for the attention!

  2. Anonymous
    August 28, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Hi everyone!

    English is not my official language. . .

    I'm interested in learning more about Linux. . . Beginner to someone which of the distros has functionality closer to the usability of the Windows OS?


    • Anonymous
      August 28, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      If I understand your question right then you are looking for a distro that is like windows. I would recommend trying out Zorin OS. It is one of the most user-friendly distros I have tried and is easy to make it look like whatever you want. is there website.

      • Anonymous
        August 29, 2015 at 10:42 am

        OK Armaan!

        I'm with the available ISO images ... Now just make room in the HDD and create new partition and test it, since I have Windows 7 and 10 on the equipment.

        Thanks for your attentionl!

        • Anonymous
          August 29, 2015 at 2:35 pm

          No problem! What distro are you trying?

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 30, 2015 at 5:55 am

          Hey Armaan, brandaher has another update for you at the top of this comments thread (I think brandaher forgot to hit Reply and just posted a new comment). Thought I'd draw your eye to it, since you won't get a notification for it :)

        • Anonymous
          August 30, 2015 at 2:14 pm

          Thanks Mihir! I probably wouldn't have seen it without you!

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 30, 2015 at 2:25 pm

          Anytime :)

        • Anonymous
          September 24, 2015 at 8:16 pm

          Thanks Mihir!

          I'm really enjoying this distro!

  3. Anonymous
    August 26, 2015 at 5:29 am

    Linux was recently proven not to be 100% secure.
    This is due to The Human Factor not being 100% perfect and/or flawless, and "If there is a new mountain, humans have a need to conquer it."

    • Anonymous
      August 26, 2015 at 11:49 pm

      "Linux was recently proven not to be 100% secure."
      And that is news??? Nobody ever said Linux is/was/will be 100% secure. No O/S is.

      The only PC that is 100% secure is one that is not plugged in and locked in a vault so nobody can use it.

    • Anonymous
      August 27, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      What do you have to "coquer"? LOL

  4. Anonymous
    August 25, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    While I don't want to dump on your affection for linux, the argument that it's more secure because "anyone can look at the code", and that "people can change it" are effectively fantasy. Only programmers can do this. And I never bought the "more eyes have checked it" claim either. You'd have to know how many people actually bothered, vs the number of programmers on the MS or Apple team devoted to their OS's.

    • Anonymous
      August 25, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      You are forgetting that Linux source is examined not only by users but also by professional programming staffs at companies such as Oracle, Red Hat, SUSE, Canonical and other commercial Linux developers. The programming staffs at those companies probably outnumber the combined staffs of MS and Apple. When to that number you add all the development staffs of public distros, the total number of people looking at Linux source dwarfs that of programmers at MS and Apple. You also have thousands, if not more, nosy Linux users who don't want anybody sneaking anything past them.

      As of yesterday, 8/24/2015, DistroWatch shows 281 distributions that are actively being worked on. It shows another 231 distributions under active development that are waiting to be listed in that database. That is over 510 distros and a lot of people looking at the Linux source on a daily basis.

      Your only valid point is that it takes someone with programming experience to make changes. However, even if one is a programmer, one CANNOT make any changes to Windows source; one cannot even take a look at Windows source code.

  5. Anonymous
    August 25, 2015 at 3:19 am

    I'd say Linux is just as good if you're a developer and know how to modify a source code, otherwise other people will just need to know the ends and outs. If there's something missing in your system - in my case - a battery notification in Gnome 3, you need to modify the source code to get the feature back which is awkward as this feature is implemented previously.

  6. Anonymous
    August 24, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Not only that the US Navy and a host of other militaries around the world use Linux. For example on the Zumwalt class destroyer, it is powered by Linux and even the US Navy nuclear submarine fleet runs on Linux. The US Army uses Linux and even the Northrup-Grumman MQ8B Fire Scout uses Linux. So if you know how to use, install and program Linux, the Dept of Defense may want to hire you.

    • Anonymous
      August 26, 2015 at 5:24 am

      Then tell us why the US Navy are paying Microsoft millions of dollars every year to continue support for Windows XP which they continue to use.

      • Anonymous
        August 27, 2015 at 11:20 pm

        They have a lot of legacy gadgets which had no provisions for upgrading. I hope they've learned their lesson.

  7. Anonymous
    August 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Curious, can Linux be made to run on a rooted Android device? If so, which Linux flavor/version?

    • Anonymous
      August 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

      Android IS Linux, or rather, it is a unix-like OS using the Linux kernel. "Android" is the touch aware UI that you interact with and it's applications are java-based (customized by Google), but the underlying "guts" you don't see are Linux.

      However, If by "linux" you mean a standard desktop environment like Unity or Gnome, then no, you can't, because the Android system doesn't include an X server (xorg) or GNU libs. You can, however, use terminal and, if you're rooted (and have busybox installed), use most unix cli commands.

      As an aside, Chromebooks are built on Gentoo Linux. Google definitely embraces open source (and contributes back to it).

      • Anonymous
        August 25, 2015 at 2:56 pm

        I think Read and Share would like to know whether the native Android O/S can be complete REPLACED by a full blown Linux distro, in the same manner as Windows can be replaced by Linux on a PC. If it can, the lack of X Server or GNU libs in Android is no problem. Any Linux distro, other than the Core ones, install X Server and necessary GNU libs by default.

        • Anonymous
          August 28, 2015 at 3:02 am

          My mistake. When he said "rooted Android" I assumed he meant Android with root access, in which case the answer is no. If you blow away the OS entirely and just use the hardware, that's a different case (no longer a "rooted android" because android is no longer installed).

    • Anonymous
      August 27, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      First of all, sorry for my late response. I was travelling without my laptop and my phone would not let me sign in. But using apps like Complete Linux Installer ( you can. I have not tried this myself, but apparently it works quite well! I believe you can install a wide variety of distros with that app in particular.

      • Anonymous
        August 27, 2015 at 11:47 pm

        Looks like there are a bunch of Linux installers. I haven't tried this yet, and I wonder if there's a tutorial or article that compares the apps. I only have a cheap tablet that's Android.... but google thinks my Linux Mint laptop is compatible. Interesting.

        • Anonymous
          August 28, 2015 at 12:15 am

          As long as you have a laptop made since 2002 (Or something like that) It should be fine. This is a little chart I made on the topic.

        • Anonymous
          August 28, 2015 at 12:16 am

          Topic of distros for you that is.