A new year is upon us. For many, this is a time of change and reflection. This isn’t just a matter of adjusting what we do, but what we use.
What we use just so happens to impact what we do. That’s why it’s great to be a Linux user as we go into 2018. Whether you’re looking at using Linux in new ways or spreading the free and open source values to other aspects of your life, there are many reasons to have a FOSS-y new year.
1. Consume Less
We call the holiday season a season of giving, but that’s not the impression I get. After all the buyer’s guides, back-to-back sales, and bank account draining, this period can feel like the most consumption-heavy time of year. Many of us then enter the new year with more stuff than we had before, making our unspoken resolution a commitment to somehow incorporate these acquisitions into our lives.
Linux doesn’t cost money to download and install. Not only that, it doesn’t require a new machine. While you’re more than able to buy a computer that comes with Linux, most people install the operating system on one they already have.
Most of the software for Linux is also free, removing an entire category of purchases from your life.
2. Be Less Wasteful
Why buy when you can reuse? That’s the Linux spirit. Rather than trashing or recycling a computer with outdated software, Linux gives you the ability to continue using that computer for years to come. The right Linux operating system can make a computer that came with Windows XP feel like a new machine.
Extending the life of your hardware reduces how quickly computer components end up in a landfill. Not having to buy as many machines keeps you from wasting money as well. As they say: waste not, want not.
3. Become More Resourceful
Learning how to reuse computers can make you more resourceful overall. All of the power provided by free and open source software may encourage you to create your own solutions rather than look for a product to buy.
Do you really need to spend thousands on electronics that are designed to be replaced every other year? Create your own smart TV or game console using a Raspberry Pi or a similar chip. You could even make a business out of it.
4. Never Stop Learning
Installing Linux isn’t nearly as difficult as it used to be. If your hardware is compatible, then erasing Windows and installing Linux is about as difficult as downloading and installing a Windows application. But it still requires stepping out of your comfort zone and learning something new. That’s great!
Switching means encountering a whole world of Linux operating systems and software that you can only find in the open source ecosystem. You will discover new desktop environments and, if you’re curious, learn how to do more than you imagined from the command line.
Once you’ve learned how to extend the life of your existing hardware with Linux, you may feel emboldened to take on more projects.
This continuous learning isn’t just great for reducing your consumption and helping you repurpose what you have, it’s great for your health. It builds your sense of self worth, and it can even make you more employable.
5. Share What You Have
Commercial operating systems condition us to view software as a product. Someone else makes it, and we give them money to use what they’ve produced. In many cases, it’s illegal to share the software we’ve downloaded with others.
Linux takes a different approach. It’s built on the principle of software freedom. Code, like language, isn’t to be restricted. Programs, written in code, are free for anyone to use and share as they wish.
You can share any app you download. If you grow up in this kind of environment, maybe you will feel more inclined to share any software you make with others as well. So go ahead and give someone else that USB stick you used to install Ubuntu. Sharing is caring.
6. Get Involved
When software is a product, you can only sit back and wait for others to fix the problems to encounter. When software is free and open source, you’re empowered to make those fixes yourself. Doing so takes time and effort. It may not always go as planned. But that makes the experience no less rewarding.
You don’t have to be a programmer. You can write guides, produce art, or organize events to help and attract Linux users in person. Whatever you choose to do, you’re building skills that can help you in many other areas of your life. You may even become more willing to take action and get involved in things that have nothing to do with Linux!
7. Give Back
When you switch to Linux, the vast majority of what you use is free. It’s easy to take that for granted. Just because the software doesn’t cost you money to use, that doesn’t mean it’s free to make.
That’s why it’s great to donate money to support certain apps, interfaces, and organizations. Do you use Elementary OS? AppCenter makes this easy.
Once you start donating to Linux projects, it’s easy to make the transition to other organizations. Donate whatever you can to the things you’ve benefited from and the causes you think are doing good in the world. Allow this practice of giving back to become part of who you are.
8. Be Different
You may be the only person you know who uses Linux. That can feel uncomfortable at first. You may get unwanted comments or even insults from people who think you’ve made a weird life choice.
You may also encounter people who want to follow in your footsteps. They may think what you’ve done to your computer is the coolest thing ever.
All of these things are possible whenever you make a decision that makes you stand out. Sometimes being different isn’t a choice; it’s just something you have to deal with.
Using Linux can be a safe way to get used to going against the grain. It can help you grow comfortable enough to make other life changes that you’ve been too afraid to embrace for fear of being different.
How Has Linux Impacted Your Life?
Using Linux isn’t like other operating systems. It can change how you view software. Exposure to free and open source ideals has even lead people to think differently about other aspects of life. If you want to make a change going into the new year, this is an easy one to make.
What impact has using Linux had on you? Has the experience made you more knowledgeable? Are you more giving? Has the overall effect been negative? Share your stories in the comments below!
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