GNU / Linux

Advantages Free Unix-like operating system which source code is also freely available. Developed by a wide community of volunteers throughout the Internet.
Advantages As anybody can check and fix the source code, this system is very reliable, powerful, and secure, in particular when your computer is connected to the Internet. In particular, it is more resistant to electronic viruses.
Advantages GNU/Linux runs on many kinds on hardware: PCs (Intel compatible processors), Macintosh (Power PC processors), Sun and Alpha workstations... It is also present in the new Sony Playstation II, as well as in new Internet appliances.
Advantages Updates are very frequent and can be downloaded from the Internet.
Advantages Very interesting for people who want to understand how their computer works or get familiar with Unix. In addition, it is based on public protocols and file standards.
Advantages The system is multi-user: many users can be hosted on the same computer, and they cannot alter the data of others. User data privacy is very easy to protect.
Advantages Multi-tasking is safe. Even if a user task crashes, this will not  impact the execution of other tasks. In particular, this will not make the system crash and block the computer.
Advantages GNU/Linux is now easy to install. I'm currently using the GNU/Linux-Mandrake 7.1 release. You can even try on a demo CD-ROM that doesn't install any file on your computer!
Advantages GNU/Linux can handle files from other operating systems installed on the same computer.
Drawbacks Still quite difficult to configure non standard peripherals: color printers, scanners, web cams. This is because the majority of peripheral manufacturers haven't started providing drivers for Linux yet. Most drivers are then written by volunteer developers. You can check if your hardware is supported by Linux.
Drawbacks Still not very good at running Windows programs (through an emulator).

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