The way people respond to computers' operating systems is eerily similar to how people approach ice cream flavors: Most opt for plain vanilla or chocolate, even when pistachio or buttered pecan is there for the taking, simply because they are afraid to be disappointed with a new taste. Windows and Mac OS X are absurdly popular operating systems, commanding more than 98 percent of the market, and yet there is a supremely delicious alternative, Linux, waiting in the wings.

Linux boasts all of the advantages of these operating systems and more, and it generally provides few of the downsides. However, that 98 percent of computer users is unlikely to ever make the switch to what is unequivocally the best OS because of all the rumors surrounding this mysterious service. Instead of worrying about the fictions, you should learn more about Linux and all its benefits by busting these myths you've believed for too long.

1. Only for Experts

As tech-savvy as most computer users pretend to be, most don't know the difference between a command line and a search bar. Fortunately, computer users really don't need any extra tech knowledge to run Linux comfortably. Ten years ago or so, experts may have been the only computer users qualified to use Linux, but today the OS boasts attractive graphical interfaces just like Windows and Apple. Of course, complex computing tasks will require some adaptation from one OS to another, but common actions — finding files, running applications, etc. — should be familiar.

2. Immune to Viruses

This is a myth that most OS developers love to hear — because it makes their product seem more attractive — but the truth is that every OS has some susceptibilities to malware. However, the overabundance of Windows computers simply makes that OS more appealing to hackers. Linux (and OS X, for that matter) is generally better protected against typical viruses because of the types of files it employs.

Still, it is impossible to retain a connection to any network, including the Internet, without some vulnerability, so having reliable Internet security measures is a must, even using Linux.

3. Against the Law

Because the concept of intellectual property is so ingrained in our culture, many people have difficulty accepting Linux's policy of being open source and public domain. Linux is absolutely free with no license limitations, so some computer users stay away, fearing potential litigation. However, it is this exact freedom to download and experiment with Linux's code that makes the OS so desirable; millions of users are working every day — free of charge — to make Linux better.

4. Lacking Customer Service

No matter how useless the tech support for other operating systems may be — yes, the cord is plugged in; yes, the machine is on — many people are wary about venturing into a new OS without a customer service safety net. True, Linux doesn't have a single helpline for new and confused users to call, but that is simply because there are thousands of online sites a user can go to for aid. Almost every question about Linux has been asked and answered in one forum or another, so there is no need to fear isolation with this OS.

5. Unstable and Unreliable

Freezing, crashing, slow loading, and other frustratingly lengthy symptoms of an unstable machine are actually only problems on Windows and Mac. Not only are these operating systems more susceptible to malware that can impact their performance, but they include fundamental flaws in the code that cause all sorts of downtime problems. Linux, on the other hand, has largely been scoured of such code imperfections, which means it hardly ever goes down.

6. Expensive to Run

Linux is free to download — but like any OS, it isn't necessarily free to run. Any computer network will have a total cost of ownership (TCO), which integrates OS training, applications, and possible paid support. Many businesses rightly fear that switching to Linux will cost them more than they bargained for. Yet, most studies have found that Linux does provide a sizable financial advantage over other established operating systems as long as the business fully commits to running Linux through and through.

Linux is far from the remote, impenetrable, and utterly terrifying OS that many computer users make it out to be. With a little experimentation, you might even grow to love Linux — after all, everyone else who tried it did.

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