GNU/Linux, more commonly known simply as Linux, is a free operating system and gateway into a dimension comprised almost entirely of brain-rape and penguins.
While Microsoft and Apple were started by nerds whose eyes had been replaced by cartoonish dollar signs, the Linux kernel is the fruit of one commie grad student's hobby in the early 90s. Originally designed as a clone of Unix to run on the creator's personal machine, Linus Torvalds released Linux (see what he did there?) to the then youthful Interwebs under the GPL (an Open Source license allowing software to be freely modified and distributed).
In the years since, this has spawned innumerable related projects, distributions and a cult-like fanbase. Hell, they even have a Chuck Norris-esque Linus Torvalds facts sheet.
Fact: Linus Torvalds can touch MC Hammer.
Bill Gates and his evil minions at Microsoft have gone to great lengths to undermine Torvalds's pet project, including sabotaging both the GPL in general and Linux in particular. It's hard to determine exactly how this cheap fuckery has effected the open source community, but it's safe to assume they didn't escape completely unscathed. When a dick the size of Bill Gates has his way with you, you feel it afterwards.
Vista Home Service Pack 3
Unlike Apple's Mac OS, GNU/Linux operating systems can come in a huge variety of flavors, many of which more or less contain the same software, leading one to wonder if these people are really just fucking with you.
We chose not to include Microsoft in this comparison because one company pushing out 70 different versions of the same operating system is just fucking annoying.
Software choices aside, the distributions do tend to differ in scope, ease of use and optimizations. They run the gambit from nerd-centric fare like Gentoo - which requires the user to optimize and compile his or her own kernel at install (also watch out for the new Gentoo Mindfuck Edition, which somehow manages to make this process even more tedious and cumbersome), to easier to use - one might say modernized - options such as Ubuntu and Fedora. Also included are specialty distros for science, engineering and porn. Sadly, that last one was made up.
Ever had one of those dreams where the monster is chasing you and you happen to have like a massive chaingun or something, but no matter how hard you try you can't get the thing to shoot? And then the monster catches you? And then you wake up screaming with a boner?
Jesus, that was terrifying.
That's what Linux is like when you first cross over from Windows.
You can make Linux do just about anything you want it to outside of fellatio, and we're pretty sure even that is being coded somewhere. The problem most people have is that they're preconditioned to expect things to work right out of the box. Linux doesn't work that way, since its various developers take it as a foregone conclusion that you're not completely rock-fuck stupid. Was that an incorrect assumption?
Take Ubuntu, for example. Ubuntu, and all of its incarnations, is touted as being Linux for everyday people. Of course, that's like saying that heroin is for people who aren't comfortable taking aspirin, but you know. Whatever.
Anyway, Ubuntu, even as simple and relatively straightforward as it is, can still be incredibly frustrating if you go in expecting pure awesomeness with no assembly required. That makes a certain amount of sense, especially when you consider that almost everything Americans consume is prepared for them in some way. You don't have to install the wipers and tires on that brand-new Altima you just bought, do you? Of course not, that would be stupid. So why do you need to update Ubuntu almost as soon as you install it?
2010 Nissan Altima. Some assembly required.
Simple: efficiency. Not efficient in the sense that you can just jump online and work the fields in Farmville with all your old high school hambeast friends, although you can actually do that. Rather, it's the sense of the word that implies you don't necessarily need all the incredible amounts of useless shit that comes on other operating systems. Because of that efficiency, Ubuntu is slim enough that you can install it inside of Windows. That's right - you can actually have a fully functional, surprisingly powerful OS completely contained within the pale bloated mass that is Windows Vista.
That's like being married to Rosie O'Donnell, but having the freedom to climb inside her vast aircraft hanger interior to bone Hayden Panettiere whenever the hell you feel like it.
Any. Damn. Time.
Forgetting for the moment the slobbering, eternal Mac vs Windows fanboy slap-fight, Mac has a surprising amount of similarities in common with Linux. They're both built on the old Unix operating system, both are slick-looking and fairly lean, and both are virtually invulnerable to most viruses. So what's the biggest difference?
Well, for one thing, Linux allows you to actually change things within the operating system to your own personal preference. And by "change things" we mean important things, not just your background image or how many icons you can cram into your fucking Dock.
See, penguins love retarded fruit.
And another, perhaps more relevant difference: a new Macbook will cost you in the neighborhood of $1000, and you're pretty much stuck with what you buy. And Linux? Oh, Linux is free. Did we not mention that?
So, if you have a bare-bones PC with a hard-drive you don't feel like weighing down with Windows, or you don't have parents who'll buy you a sweet pink Air to slap Sparklehorse stickers on and take with you to Starbucks, go with Linux.
Look at that fucking hipster.
Is it easy? No, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Does it work? Damn right it does.
Plus, penguins are awesome. Just sayin'.