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Why Learn Linux?

As someone who has been in the IT industry for more than 20 years, I love to answer this question.


Warp Terminal

At the time of the writing of this article, I am 45 years old, 30 of those years I have had contact with computers, being MS-DOS the first OS I ever learned and used daily, BASIC the first programming language I used and an Apex Epson PC, the first computer I ever touched. Someone who is in their early 20s these days, probably never had to use the command line to run a program, and probably doesn't use the word "program" but only "app".

When you learn Linux, especially during these days, you have the opportunity to gain that knowledge and taste for what a computer really is and how it works.

Of course, learning Linux also helps you with technical job roles like sysadmin, network engineer, cloud engineer, devops. It even helps in debugging issues as a software developer. But I am discussing something else here.

Files and Folders structure

Kids these days might not understand what files and folders are. This concept comes from the early DOS days, when you even had different types of executable files, such as EXEs BATs, or COMs. This is something that forged your technical mind and helped you understand how computers worked and how to do things with these.

OK, but what does Linux give me in all of this?

When you learn how Linux works, you understand how basic it is and how keeping things simple sometimes might be seen as hard. I keep hearing people saying Linux is hard, but the reason is that they grew up only seeing Windows when it became an entire OS that simply replaced the command line entirely; yes, the command line can still be used in Windows, but not for something trivial, you use only when you are a techie and you need to do something very particular, complex or simply not something that a regular Joe does in a day to day.

Linux gives you that back, the usage of command lines to be able to communicate with the system, to understand what is going on, and to control everything on your computer. Think of Linux as driving the stick vs the automatic transmission (Windows).

How can Linux be so important?

Today, we are surrounded by everything Linux, and the only thing is that we don't see it. If you use an Android device, you use Linux; when you have a nice (or even not nice) head car audio system, you use Linux; when you use AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud to host even Windows VMs, you are using Linux, when you use an Apple machine, you are using a Unix based system which is a very close relative to Linux (who has the same Unix father). Hence, all that you know about Linux is going to help you in 90% of the things there, and the list goes on and on.

So, understanding how Linux works, even if you are not going to go into the depths of those things, still gives you an advantage, as you know how things can work and even troubleshoot issues.

I am not a programmer, so why would I need Linux?

Linux has progressed a lot, and as it is open-source and free to use, there are a lot of distributions out there that work pretty well. When you use widely used distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora, you can have a solid system that works as well as MacOS or Windows, that looks spectacular and professional and that doesn't cost a dime. Better yet, opposite to MacOS and Windows, their technical requirements don't need the latest hardware to work perfectly, in fact, sometimes it is the solution to be able to use an old computer, as old hardware can support Linux pretty well because of its simplicity.

In my case, I no longer work doing technical things, I might have to do some very light and small coding from time to time, but very rarely, I use more designing and web-based tools these days, so using a Linux OS such as Ubuntu is perfect for me, and its visual interface is as pretty as my MacOS, so I use both of them and I can even customize my Linux interface to work and look as close as possible to my Mac, so I can work with the same workflow from any of my computers and not have to do things differently when I work in one or the other.

Everyone else uses Windows out there, how can I use something different and not fail?

Since at least 5 years ago, most of the things you do (except for gaming) are web-based. This means you can be completely agnostic of the system to use, as you only need a browser and an Internet connection, however, when you use Linux in either an old or new computer, you will notice how lighter and faster will normally run the system in Linux.

Also, it is a rare scenario when you have to do things in a very specific tool that can only be found in Windows or MacOS and cannot be done in Linux. Most major providers these days provide Linux versions of their software, and for those things such as Microsoft Office, which only exists in Windows and MacOS, some alternatives work almost identically and also are 100% compatible with the Microsoft format for files, so it's entirely possible to not depend on proprietary software and solutions. Normally, the dependency comes from internal company policies, which are in place for standardization costs rather than technical limitations.

In Conclusion

In my case Linux has forged my career and has given me knowledge and understanding of computers, I think I couldn't have had the success I had of having worked in several companies without knowing Linux. I am also capable of using virtually any system: Unix, Solaris, and MacOS because I began with Linux more than 20 years ago.

Also, it has made my life fun, as I keep using it for hobby purposes when I play with my homelab, which would be almost impossible to maintain without knowing Linux.

@heldmar Montevideo, UY