With our economy having its, well, ups and downs lately, you might be thinking “Is now really a good time to think about purchasing a new computer?” Meanwhile, software applications that once needed robust hardware to run are now moving on to the Internet. The result is an upturn in the purchase of netbooks and low powered “Internet Appliances”, most of which cost less than a really nice new shirt (well, not really, but you get the idea).

With the onslaught of relatively inexpensive PCs coming from every major manufacturer and aimed at the new “cloud” generation, many are running one flavor or another of Linux. Why? Because Linux can be a rock-stable, slim Operating System, making it a perfect choice for these “slimmed-down” machines. In short, Linux maybe THE answer for lower-end hardware-based computers.

When it comes to the rest of the computing world, generally you only see Windows Vista or Mac OS X – but when it comes to netbooks, low requirement PC’s, and many other digital devices (routers, cell phones, televisions, PDA’s, and more), Linux is making some big headway. In short, Linux is an almost perfect fit for lower CPU and power requirements.

For those pinching pennies (and who isn’t these days?), a Linux-based PC may be the best of all worlds. Using Linux, one can resurrect a thought-to-be-obsolete desktop or laptop with an up to date, safe, and easy to use the operating system. One example – our office currently houses six PC’s being used for various tasks by our staff, all running Linux. They are all Dell GX150 PC’s with Pentium 3 CPU’s running at 933Mhz, with 256MB of ram and 20GB hard drive space each, as well as one “server” – a 2.4Ghz Compaq with 512MB of ram and two 500GB hard drives (running Linux, of course, and this is our NAS, print server, firewall/router, and more). Our entire network cost about $800. That’s less than a lot of new workstation PC’s.

The beauty of this OS is its stability, as any Linux user can attest to. Linux is stable. Like rock-solid stable. Linux machines don’t crash, they boot quickly, and are far more reliable computers than their XP and Vista counterparts. However, there are still a few folks out there who are going to go with the XP option for familiarity’s sake. Linux is new to most people, and people generally don’t like having to learn something new unless they have to. Most don’t realize all the software they’re accustomed to can (generally) be replaced by a Linux alternative, and for far less cash outlay. They don’t understand that the savings in computer repairs stemming from Windows’ vulnerabilities to viruses and malware. They haven’t been told about the huge increase in security Linux provides compared to Windows.

All that being said, the move to Linux computing is becoming more noticeable now than ever before. Without the economic crisis to factor in people’s spending decisions, people probably wouldn’t have considered the Linux option as strongly as they’re doing today. When every dollar saved counts, the decision to go Linux may be more about cost savings than anything else, but that might be what it takes to get people to try the OS computer geeks have been raving about for years. Give Linux a shot, and you might be surprised.