By Brian Chidueme |Staff Writer|
In a world where Windows and Macbooks are the most popular-selling brands of computers, Linux is quietly revolutionizing the future of computer technology.
The recent release of the operating system titled ‘Linux Mint 12’ proves that Bill Gates is not the only household name in computers. In fact, this free and open source operating system is able to show the world the power of ongoing community and teamwork as the face of its development.
For CSUSB and the rising costs of its campus-wide Internet system infrastructure, this free system could save millions of dollars for the school in response to the skyrocketing tuition fees.
According to the system’s mission statement on its website, Linux Mint is striving to “produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.”
While it takes some work to set up and install, the end result is one of the most rewarding experiences that lives up to its claim.
Unlike a conventional software update system such as Windows Update or the App Store, Mint handles system updates through the Synaptic Package Manager by default. Through this, the user can not only choose which files and applications to download, but can also customize features such as desktop environments and network performance.
Installing the system requires an installation CD or you can download the software from the Linux website.
The installation process boots the user to a “live” desktop, where you are free to try out its features. If you like the system there is a disc icon called ‘Install Linux Mint,’ which will take the user through a step-by-step process to set up the software.
You can choose to use Linux Mint with Windows or Mac as a separate hard drive partition or you can replace it fully with Mint, though is not recommended for newer users unless they can follow the installation directions as closely as possible.
What’s also notable is the wide and endless selection of free applications available to download.
There are numerous programs that will stand out for being free alternatives to popular applications present on Windows 7 and Mac OS X.
If you can’t afford the popular Adobe Photoshop, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is effective because it maintains many of Photoshop’s best features such as detailed image retouching and converting images between different formats.
The program also allows the user to create original animated images in many different formats such as GIF and MPEG.
For those who are tired of spending money on Microsoft Office every year, LibreOffice is a free alternative that is superior to its Microsoft counterpart in several ways.
Though LibreOffice is related to OpenOffice as an alternative to Microsoft Office, what makes the program stand out against its Microsoft rival is its extensive support for a wide range of document formats, such as Adobe Acrobat (PDF), Word (.doc), HTML and Rich Text (.rtf) to name a few.
As well as being easy and accessible to use, LibreOffice is also powerful because of its stability and functionality.
When it comes to browsing the web, free alternatives like Chromium blow Internet Explorer out of the park.
Chromium may resemble the popular Google Chrome, but what makes this browser interesting is that Chromium is the parent project and prototype version of the popular browser because Chrome draws its source code from Chromium to create the blazing fast browser users know and love today.
The open-source version doesn’t disappoint because of how identical it feels to Google Chrome, though it lacks the final version’s auto-update feature.
If you simply want to store an extensive music collection, music players such as Rhythmbox and Banshee are available that are not only free but also support various audio codecs from MP3 to FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), which allows for a higher quality while using lesser bandwidth.
While it’s difficult to choose between one standout program, application or feature that exceeds expectations, what makes Linux Mint raise the bar on the overall computer experience is how seamless and secure the system functions all together.
From its immunity computer problems such as viruses and trojans to the Terminal feature, Linux Mint is a computer system that enforces users to pay attention to how to update and take care of the way the computer functions.
The Terminal is similar to Windows’ command prompt, but what makes it intriguing is that the function allows the user to upgrade, install and modify their entire system.
However the Terminal feature and its system architecture will turn off casual users who simply want something to check their mail and enjoy the computer’s benefits without a hassle.
Both features take a good amount of time to learn and study, but that is what makes it rewarding.
Linux is naturally not a platform for gamers that are into “World of Warcraft” or “Skyrim,” which is only a minor downside.
Overall it’s painfully easy to ignore its small flaws for the near-flawless overall picture of a hugely growing operating system that’s free, constantly in development and a daily learning experience.
Linux Mint proves that the most powerful computers aren’t always the ones with the flashiest graphics, but with the most effective use of every computer resource as an integrated whole.