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The 16 Most Googled Questions About Linux -- And Some Answers

Updated: 18-Jul-2015
Google, why is...?

As you type words into the Google search engine, it provides auto suggestions base on the most frequently typed search terms entered by its users. Type a few words, then pause and see what appears in the list. It can be fun and enlightening to see what answers people are seeking. For example, if you type, "why is windows 8" you find that the most burning questions about Microsoft’s latest operating system are:

why is windows 8 bad
why is windows 8 so slow
why is windows 8 so bad
why is windows 8 so hard to use

This is a sad commentary on the state of Windows today, and is an indicator of why Windows is losing market share to OSX and Linux.

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The Most Googled Questions About Linux - A Linux FAQ

We thought we'd try a few searches about our favorite operating system to reveal today's burning questions about Linux. Then we thought we’d answer them for you. We typed these four phrases into Google and waited for the suggestions to pop up. (All questions from August 17, 2014.)

Answers to the first four queries when you enter: "why is linux" into Google.
  1. why is linux better
    The most popular versions of Linux available today can be described in this way. Linux is a modern computer operating system, with an attractive user interface. Its update manager keeps not only the operating system, but all of its installed applications up to the current release. The operating system is more secure, and better supported than the operating system pre-installed on most home computer hardware today.

    Using Linux provides you with the freedom to run a complete, full-featured operating system, pre-configured with most, if not all, of the applications you will need for your daily computing - or to change anything about the way it looks, the way it works, or the applications it runs to suit your taste. You can run Linux on almost any hardware from the prettiest Macbook to the cheapest netbook, from the newest Chromebook to some very old machines designed for Windows, and from the most powerful Internet servers to the smallest smart thermostat.
  2. why is linux more secure
    Linux users are not administrators by default. Administrator accounts (a.k.a. root) on any OS have access to do anything they want, including damaging the system. Even if Linux is compromised, the intruder can do limited damage. Typically, only the user's local files would be affected.

    When you double-click a file in some other operating systems, the system looks at the file extension (.jpeg, .exe, .pdf, etc.) to determine which program it should use to open the file. Linux opens a file for what it is, not what its file extension says. Let's say you received a file that ends in .jpg or .pdf. If the file is actually a virus installer program and not a picture or a document as the file extension would indicate, when you open the file Linux will know that it is an installer program, tell you that you are about to run a program, and ask you if you want to proceed. It will also prompt you for your password. Remember that if you enter your password and click OK at this point, then you have just given permission for the infection to try to install itself on your system. If it's a Windows virus, either the installation will fail, or it will not be able to infect anything other than the programs you run using Wine. (More on Wine later.)
  3. why is linux free
    Although you will find some versions (distributions) of Linux for purchase, the vast majority are provided free of charge. Linux is licensed in a way that allows anyone to give it away for free, no strings attached. The license gives any member of the Linux user community the freedom to use Linux for any purpose, to distribute, modify, redistribute, or even sell the operating system. If you do modify and then redistribute Linux with your modifications, you are required by the license to submit your modifications for possible inclusion into future versions. There is no guarantee that this will ever happen, but if you have made it better, then your changes just might be included in the next release of the distribution you chose in the first place.

    This is how Linux can continually improve and grow without having to charge its users money. Many of the users of Linux are corporations that use the operating system to run their businesses, or include it within their products. (Google Android phones and Chromebooks, Samsung televisions, etc.) (The oddest places you'll find Linux.) Many of these corporations provide fixes and new features for Linux as they use it in their businesses. These improvements are given back to the Linux distribution and the software improves. Whether you are a home user of Linux, a Linux software or application developer, or an employee of a company that uses Linux, you are a member of the Linux community.

    Unlike Windows, OSX and ChromeOS, Linux is not created and supported by just one company. It is supported by Intel, Redhat, Linaro, Samsung, IBM, SUSE, Texas Instruments, Google, Canonical, Oracle, AMD, and Microsoft. Over 4,000 developers contributed to Linux over the last 15 years.
  4. why is linux better than windows
    See the previous 3 questions and answers.
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Answers to the first four queries when you enter: "can linux" into Google.
  1. can linux read ntfs
    Yes. Most Linux distributions come with this capability pre-installed. If yours doesn't, just search for "ntfs-3g" in the software manager that came with your Linux, and install NTFS support within seconds.
  2. can linux run windows games
    Yes... and no. Windows games don't run natively under Linux. Let's face it. They were designed to run on Windows. There is a wide variety of games and other software that is commonly run on Windows that have versions that also run on Linux. The Firefox and Chrome web browsers are two examples. There are also alternative games and applications that provide the same game play or software features, but in a different package. LibreOffice is an example of a full-featured office suite that is pre-installed on most Linux distributions today. Many Window games and other applications run on Linux using a program called Wine. Wine allows many Windows games and applications (like Photoshop) to run in a Windows-like walled garden inside of Linux. Today, many games and applications run in the cloud. That means that it doesn't matter whether you are using a Linux, Chrome, OSX or Windows machine, the software runs in your browser.
  3. can linux read exfat
    Yes. What the heck is exFat anyway? I had to Google for this one. Introduced in the days of Windows CE, exFat is a proprietary and patented file format from Microsoft that is optimized for flash drives. It is used to get over the limitations of Microsoft's FAT32 and NTFS file formats when used on thumb drives and SD cards.
  4. can linux get viruses
    Yes... but it doesn't. There is some excellent antivirus software for Linux (http://goinglinux.com/articles/AntivirusonLinux_en.htm). Whether or not you want to install it is up to you. In theory, Linux can get viruses and other infections. However, despite Linux Journal's link bait article Linux Security Threats Rise, that states there is an increase in threats for Linux because of its increasing size and ever-growing popularity, there are very few, if any threats to Linux that persist in the wild. In reality, there has been at least one "public" infection in the last 10 years. That one is no longer a threat to anyone installing or using a modern Linux distribution today. Linux is designed to be difficult for viruses, root kits and other malware to be installed and run without conscious intervention by the user. Even if you do invite in an infection, chances are it's designed to attack Windows and won't do much, if any damage to Linux. For additional details, read the section above on why Linux is more secure.
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Answers to the first four queries when you enter: "does linux" into Google.
  1. does minecraft work on linux
    Yes. See this article for more information. How To Install Minecraft for Ubuntu
  2. does itunes work on linux
    No. This is one of those programs that is specifically designed by Apple NOT to run on Linux. Although Mac OSX has its roots in the same UNIX operating system as Linux, OSX is not the same as Linux and applications written for Apple's operating system do not automatically run on Linux. There are, however plenty of alternative media players that will play music, create play lists, sync with mobile devices, and retrieve, manage and play podcasts. Amarok and Banshee are two of the most popular.
  3. does netflix work on linux
    Yes. When we first asked this question in August of 2014, you needed to add some plugins to your browser to make it work. In October of 2014, it became easy to watch Netflix on Linux. Thanks to the efforts of Netflix and the team at Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, beginning with the Chrome browser version 37, Netflix "just works" under Linux.Watch Netflix in Ubuntu today
  4. does steam work on linux
    Yes. Here is a 2014 article: New Steam Client Update Now Available Here is a more recent update: Installing Steam for Linux Client
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Answers to the first four queries when you enter: "will linux" into Google.
  1. will linux overtake windows
    It already has. Well, maybe not on the desktop... or in all countries. Linux is, however, reported to be running 60% of servers, 70% of Web servers and 95% of supercomputers. The Linux-based Android mobile device operating system is on the vast majority of smart phone and tablets in use today.

    On the computer desktop, it is difficult to quantify what percentage of computers run Linux. Since Linux is free, there is no financial motive for anyone to track "sales" like there is with other operating systems. It is also difficult to compare the number of Linux installations with other operating systems because, since Linux can be installed simultaneously, on the same computer as other operating systems. These dual- and triple-boot systems are likely counted only once - as a sale for the operating system that came pre-installed on the hardware.
  2. will linux run on mac
    Yes. The Apple Mac computer, unlike many cheap Windows computers, use some very high-end hardware components from selected manufacturers. As a result, Linux support for Apple hardware is relatively easy to accomplish. In the past, Apple's method of booting their machines (EFI instead of BIOS) required the installation of special software to allow Linux to be installed along side of OSX, but that is no longer the case. Today's modern Linux distributions can be installed on a Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, iMac or Mac Mini as easily as it can on any other hardware. It installs easily and it runs beautifully. Some Macbook users report that their computers run better using Linux than they do running the native operating system.
  3. will linux run on my computer
    Most likely, yes. From Acer and Apple, through HP and Lenovo to System76 and ZaReason, Linux is designed to run on any computer hardware. Of course Linux runs particularly well on the newest, fastest hardware, but it also runs well on almost any vintage of machine. In fact, an older computer designed during the Windows XP era, can easily be outfitted with a new, modern and fully-supported Linux distribution and it will likely run better than it did with the previously installed OS.
  4. will linux run windows games
    Yes... and no. See the answer to the question "can linux run windows games" above.

In the end, what we ended up with is a list of the 16 most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Linux. Well, the questions most frequently asked of Google. Want to know more? Do your own search using your favorite search engine. Or you could browse through our "Other Reading" section, below.

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Other Reading

The oddest places you'll find Linux: http://goinglinux.com/shownotes.html#glp199
Antivirus on Linux: http://goinglinux.com/articles/AntivirusonLinux_en.htm
Can Ubuntu: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/08/ubuntu-can-play-games-replace-windows-questions
Why arguing that Windows is better... makes you look silly: http://www.linux.com/news/software/applications/768257-why-arguing-that-windows-is-better-than-linux-makes-you-look-silly/
exFAT (Microsoft proprietary file system for flash drives): http://askubuntu.com/questions/370398/how-to-get-a-drive-formatted-with-exfat-working
Netflix: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/08/netflix-linux-html5-support-plugins
- Update: Watch Netflix in Ubuntu today
Steam: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/08/steam-linux-client-new-look-update
- Update: Installing Steam for Linux Client
Linux Enterprise Support: (Oracle, Red Hat, Suse) https://www.google.com/search?btnG=1&pws=0&q=linux+enterprise+support
- Update: Who Writes Linux? http://www.linuxfoundation.org/news-media/infographics/who-writes-linux-2015
Wine App Database: https://appdb.winehq.org/
Minecraft on Linux: http://www.everydaylinuxuser.com/2013/12/how-to-install-minecraft-for-ubuntu.html
Linux Journal's link bait: http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/linux-security-threats-rise

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