When you say the word ‘Linux’ to a PC user, they’ll either give you a blank stare or think of tech geeks huddled over lines of computer code on a screen.

In the past, Linux was a haven for tech aficionados who wanted to customize their operating system however they wanted. Core Linux is still like that, but certain distributions have been changing the game.

In 2013, there has never been a better time to switch to Linux. Poplar ‘distros’ like Ubuntu have become nearly as user-friendly as operating systems like Windows 8. And although Linux still holds a minority slice of the OS market share, that slice has steadily grown over the past few years.

Here are a few more reasons why you should at least consider upgrading to Linux (specifically, Ubuntu) in 2013:

It’s free: Windows licenses generally cost over $100. That’s a lot of money, and in the past, people have been happy to pay it since there was never a legitimate challenger to the throne of PC operating systems. Those days are long past, and today, free operating systems like Ubuntu are changing the game. Ubuntu is 100% free to use.

All you need is a USB stick or blank DVD: You don’t have to know any coding skills or advanced tech support knowledge in order to install Ubuntu. In fact, I could give a Ubuntu disk to my grandmother and I’m sure she could figure out how to install it. The installation is very user-friendly. Just put the Ubuntu file on a USB stick or blank DVD and you’re ready to go.

Minimal system requirements: Linux’s system requirements are paltry when compared to Windows. This makes it a perfect OS for speeding up older PCs – even ones that are five to ten years old. Ubuntu has small system requirements, but it’s not even close to the smallest. For a list of Linux distros that require incredibly low levels of performance, read this article.

Swap out interfaces: If you don’t like the Windows interface, then you’re stuck with it. With Linux and Ubuntu, you can swap out entirely new interfaces. If you find an interface you like better than Unity, then feel free to switch to something completely different. Some Linux users do this every month or so in order to feel like they purchased a brand new PC.

Better security: Windows is a haven for viruses and malware. No other operating system in the world is targeted more by malware than Windows. Linux, so far, has slipped under the radar. In fact, its unique architecture makes it the go-to operating system for everything from banks to the Pentagon. And Ubuntu isn’t even the most secure Linux distro available – there are several distros that are focused on providing the highest level of security available on PCs today. Whether you’re protecting national security information or just hiding private pictures, Linux is your best bet for top-level computer security.

You can run it alongside Windows: Downloading Ubuntu isn’t an irreversible commitment. In fact, you don’t even have to replace your Windows OS and everything you love on it. Instead, Ubuntu lets users run the operating system alongside Windows.

Try it online: If you don’t want to go through the hassle of installing Ubuntu at all, you can get a taste of the operating system online here. That ‘taste’ walks you through the Ubuntu interface and familiarizes you with some of the operating system’s most popular apps and programs.

How to upgrade to Ubuntu

Instead of listing a series of complex instructions here, we’ll direct you to the Ubuntu website, where you can find out everything you could ever want to know about the fabulous open source operating system.

The website lists more reasons to upgrade to Ubuntu as well as a list of advantages for business owners and regular PC users. Once you’re ready to download Ubuntu and try it out for yourself, there are a number of download links along the bottom right corner of your screen.

Download Ubuntu for desktop PCs from this page and simply follow the steps to install it on your PC.

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