Linux: No need to be afraid of the penguin

Windows is the top dog among the operating systems for computers. Linux, despite being mostly free, open-source, more resistant to viruses and simple to use, gets a rough time. These two versions make it easy to switch.

The penguin has a hard time. Even after all these years, the mascot for the Linux operating system still struggles to make an impact against the colourful Windows symbol of Microsoft. That's because the market for operating systems on desktops and laptops is still dominated by Windows.

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According to recent statistics, almost 88% of computers worldwide run Windows while the figure for Linux is around 2%. One of the main reasons is that Windows is often preinstalled on computers and many users know the system already.

However, you can save money if you do decide to give Linux a go. The programmers of the open source project have released several Linux distributions that are just as user-friendly as Windows.

For a long time there have been competitive computers running Linux, according to Frank Termer, head of Bitkom, a software industry association in Germany.

"Many small, chic netbooks are shipped from the factory with Linux and have very high performance and are unbeatably low in price due to the absence of any licence costs," he says.

There's no one Linux but rather any number of variants, some well suited for beginners and others less so.

Operating system specialist Thorsten Leemhuis recommends either Ubuntu Desktop or Linux Mint. Both are widely used so plenty of help for them can be found online. Here's an overview of the two variants.

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