There are economic good times and economic bad times. When times get tough and money is tight, it’s good to have Linux on your PC. It’s like driving an electric car when gas prices shoot through the roof. You are not completely unaffected, but you have much less stress. Why do you ask?
1. OS and apps are free
When money doesn’t come through the door fast enough, luxury spending is the first to go. If your job doesn’t require you to buy new software, it can be hard to justify buying a new app. And even if new software can help you with work or study, you may not be able to afford to make the investment.
On Linux, for the most part, finances are not part of the equation. Almost all Linux distros are free to download and come with free, continuous software updates. The same applies to the vast majority of programs. Whether you want to download a new office suite, take the time to learn LaTex, play with astronomy software, or switch your video editing workflow to a new program, you can do it for free.
You could say that time is money. Even if you look at life this way, this is not a weakness of Linux. Whether you’re switching from one operating system to another, or one app to another, there’s a learning curve.
If you’re juggling multiple jobs, you might not have room in your schedule for something like this. But if you’re unemployed and struggling to find a place to work, Linux gives you free software to develop a new skill set to market to employers or perhaps use to start your own business.
2. Your current PC will run longer
Linux is not something that comes pre-installed on computers in big stores. Sure, there are many places to buy a Linux PC online, but many people use Linux by installing it on a PC they already have. In the process, they usually extend the life of their machine.
Running Linux means you can expect to use your computer for as long as you want. Instead of running into the artificial limitation of a company declaring your machine end-of-life and unsupported, you know you’ll receive free updates until your computer physically falls apart or becomes too underpowered to do so you need it for.
This makes every PC purchase a more reliable investment. And if times are tough, you can put off hardware upgrades longer.
3. You can revitalize an old PC if you need to
Linux’s lower system requirements and lack of product licensing means you can breathe new life into older machines. This opens up a world of options. If your current laptop breaks, instead of rushing to buy a new one, buy yourself some time by reviving an old one.
In many parts of the world, PCs are not the luxury product they once were. Many of us may have used one computer in high school, another computer in college, and a third computer when we got our first job. We are now on our fifth or sixth machine.
But with Linux, you can put each of these machines to good use using lightweight Linux distros, provided you still have them and they’re not broken.
You might be surprised how well a 10-year-old PC can run the latest versions of Linux. If you can upgrade your hard drive to an SSD and add more RAM, you may find you have all the power you need. Such a computer can be especially good for younger children who don’t need a brand new machine to watch videos or play light games.
4. Used PCs are becoming more appealing
If you don’t have a working old PC lying around, you can buy one. eBay and other retailers are filled with used PCs available for purchase. These machines are available for significantly less than a brand new one.
Older PCs come with the advantage of being more likely to have mature, stable Linux support. This means you can wipe the previous operating system from your machine with greater confidence that you won’t encounter any kinks, such as sound not working or the inability to wake your PC from sleep after putting it in your bag .
That said, there are no guarantees. Check Linux support for the model you are considering. In addition, there are other things to keep in mind when buying a used PC regardless of the operating system.
5. You don’t have to pay more for features
Many apps require you to pay a fee to unlock the full set of features. Some require you to pay an ongoing subscription. The former may be a one-time setback that you squirrel away money for, but the latter will become a permanent part of your budget.
On desktop Linux, you are free from having to deal with this at all. When you download an app, you usually receive the full set of features at once. Some have other plug-ins or extensions you can add to increase functionality, but these tend to be free as well.
When you try out a program, you can explore the full range of functionality to see if it’s right for you. And if you find one that suits your needs, you don’t have to pay anything to keep access to it (although it’s great to donate when you can, even if that’s when money is less tight),
6. Protection against companies going bankrupt
Many programs have disappeared when the company that originally developed them went out of business. Some have undergone radical redesigns, or injected unwanted ads and tracking, as a result of an acquisition.
To understand the state of software, you almost have to understand the market. Who is competing against whom? Who is doing well, and who may go underwater in a few years?
Linux offers a lot of isolation from the market. Open source software rarely disappears, as someone can discard the source code and continue the project even if the original developer passes away.
Some projects remain unmaintained when no one is invested in continuing their development, but these programs still exist for you to install from a Linux distro’s repositories or to compile the source code yourself.
Consider Canonical and Ubuntu. When Canonical deemed Unity and Ubuntu Touch non-viable, they abandoned both projects. But all these years later, if you want, you can still use Unity as your desktop environment. And if you want to use a phone running Ubuntu Touch, you can do that too.
7. Linux encourages you to keep your data local
Many apps have moved from living on the desktop to living on someone else’s server. These web apps are easy to charge a subscription for. And they integrate better with cloud storage than local storage, another service you pay extra for.
While Linux servers technically power most of these web apps, the Linux desktop follows a different trend. Most Linux programs run on your local machine. They interact with files you store on a local drive.
Although various cloud services may not offer a Linux client, it is easy to freely back up your files locally in a number of ways. Whether you use a flash drive, a local hard drive or a dedicated home server.
Physical storage has fallen in price significantly, and prices continue to fall. The cost of a single year of Dropbox can buy you a hard drive that will store your files for years. So if the time comes to tighten your budget, you know you have continuous access to all your files and the ability to back them up, without owing anyone anything.
Linux makes good financial sense
Linux is what we call a good investment. It is free to acquire and free to maintain. It gives you access to other free programs that can help you make more money. And you have access to all this software, even when you don’t have a penny to spare.