"'Free software' is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of "free" as in 'free speech,' not as in 'free beer.'"
We all grew up using one Operating System, and I am pretty sure that the new blood still does. Maybe not all of us, but at least in my generation, at least 99.8% grew up using one Operating System. And yes, I am referring to Microsoft Windows.
Personally, I do not have any problem with Microsoft Windows. I grew up using it and Macintosh, but I've only used Macintosh in my early years, as far as I remember, when I was still in Grade 2. It was a lot easier to use as compared to Windows, for it uses a lot of graphics, unlike Windows which tends to focus on words and phrases. Windows offers clear explanation for each, though nothing beats that power of imagery and intuitive icons. If I am not mistaken, Macintosh has first introduced the Graphical User Interface or the GUI, for I remember my mom back in the days using Windows 3.1. It uses Command Line Interface and I remember using a Mac computer then which already has a black and white GUI.
You might be wondering by now why I am talking about these two Operating Systems when I should be explaining why I switched over to a new one which only a few people knows that such OS exists. Well these two OS are the most popular and people find it peculiar why I switched over to a "not-so-popular" OS, at least on where I live. Most reaction I get from people is a smirk, followed by "Is it easy to use Linux? Some people said they had a hard time using it" and such, and some people even look at it as inferior as compared to Microsoft and Macintosh and they are really skeptical when it comes to performance. Well, here's my defense.
The notion that Linux is hard to use is like 20 summers ago. Some people still refer to Linux as a pure Command Line Interface OS, and does not have a good GUI like the two popular OS I have mentioned above. If you are still under that impression, you might be living under a rock for decades! I could say that Linux has better GUI than any OS I have used because it gives you choices. What do I mean? Instead of the usual taskbar with Start menu with icons on the desktop or the clean desktop with a familiar dock, in Linux, there are several Desktop Environments that you could choose from, each of them has an array of features that is suited to your preference or hardware. For instance, there is the traditional GNOME desktop environment which is common on most Linux distributions. There is also the K Desktop Environment or KDE which is targeted to new Linux users who are well accustomed in using Microsoft Windows. Plus there is also the XFCE desktop environment which is becoming popular in the past few months. It is an extremely lightweight desktop environment which could bring an old computer to life, for the applications that are bundled with it uses less memory consumption and requires less processing speed. There are endless customizations that could be done on each of the desktop environments I have mentioned and you won't get bored; you can get the look that you want and need. And, you won't ever have to go into suspicious sites again looking for cracks and or syndicated Serial Numbers for your software since everything is free in Linux. Well, almost all are free, only a few programmers charge for their programs and they come real cheap if they does.
Speaking of cracks, well in Linux, you don't need them so no need to bother. I know some of us ( and I should say a lot of us here ) have used pirated software, pirated OS and all things that are not that legal and I should say I grew tired of it. It's like this: Why would I use such commercial OS when I cannot really afford it? I mean how much is OS X or Vista these days? That's only the core OS, how about additional productivity software, which are sold separately? Being street smart, we could always manage to get some "cracked" or "stripped" or worst "pirated" versions, but come on, show the programmers some respect. They certainly need the money that's why they chose to work there. And why count on them if there are ones out there who are willing to make authentic software for all of us to enjoy for free? All they need is support. And they are going to support us back.
Another thing that made me switch to Linux is speed. I know, this statement of mine might trigger a lot of grunts and "Come on"s from a lot of people since they believe that the computer's hardware is responsible for that, meaning that if you have a great specs, then it would be great with any OS and vice versa. Well that might be true, but I am sure that a new Windows box would run like a charm the first few days and then after a week or so, it will start to lag and faster boot times might then be noticeable. It is caused by the fact that there are thousands of viruses and worms known in Microsoft, while there are only around 400 known viruses in Linux and Mac OS. That's just a rough estimate.
Add all those useless services (programs that run in the background) that came installed in Windows XP and you'll get a boot time close to five minutes.
The Support system of Linux is really interesting. Instead of calling a number and paying for Tech Support Representatives, all you have to do to get support is to have an internet connection. In Linux, you get support from the user community and not from hired technical people. You just need to register in your distribution's community forum and fire your questions their. Help would be there in 1-2 hours time, and in several week's time, you'll see yourself gaining familiarity with the Linux distribution that you have chosen and you'll see yourself hanging out in the community forums, helping newcomers out.
There are a lot of great things I could mention about Linux, but let me clarify things out: Linux is just the kernel used, and not the OS. A kernel together with the bundled software makes a so called distribution. Those distributions that uses the Linux kernel are Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Debian, OpenSUSE and etc. Among the most famous are Ubuntu, as they said it is the most user friendly and I have to admit that it has a great community. Personally, I use Fedora, not because Linus Torvalds himself and all the computers at NASA uses it, but I guess I just got used at using it and I feel uncomfortable using any other distributions.
Linux and Open Source OS and applications seems to be more popular now than ever due to the sudden boom of netbooks and other low priced portable devices that comes with Linux pre-installed.
To end this post, I would say that GNU/Linux would be the future of computing, it does not solely give us free software, it also gives everyone an idea of how everything works inside the box.