Linux and Homesteading

Linux, graphic featuring Linux

Being into self sufficient living I personally prefer to grow much of my own food, make my own bread (with my own sourdough), shave with a straight razor and… compute with Linux. Linux and homesteading are a natural combination, though one doesn’t often hear them mentioned together.

What is Linux anyway?

Linux is an operating system to run computers. Android, the operating system of the majority of the world’s cell phones, is a form of Linux and yet most people don’t realize that Linux is also a viable option for running their laptop or desktop computers.

Why should one consider Linux?

There are some good reasons to use Linux:

  • Linux can be easy to use.
  • This kind of operating system is secure. There are virtually no viruses that infect Linux operating systems.
  • Linux is free.
  • There are a ton of programs made for this operating system and most are free.
  • Linux is a great way to learn more about computers.
  • Many Linux systems can revive old hardware.

Linux can be easy to use.

A lot of people think that only “geeks” can figure out stuff like this, but Linux is generally not hard to use. There are “distros” (versions of Linux) which actually  mimic either Mac or Windows, making it easier for the new user to use them. Furthermore, some versions (distros) have fantastic support for new users. Ubuntu is perhaps the most popular Linux distro. A quick internet search about almost any Linux question will certainly contain answers, especially for Ubuntu. Linux Mint, is closely related to Ubunto and has wonderful support.

LinuxFX mimics Windows 10 and purportedly can even run Windows programs.

Ubuntu, Ubuntu Linux, Free operating system, Linux and homesteading
Ubuntu is probably the most popular of all free operating systems.

Personally I use the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint, which is especially user friendly for those who liked Windows XP or Windows 7. Perhaps the easiest Linux distro for the new user is Linux Lite. Linux Lite’s organization and menu items are set up for super simplicity and, this particular distro goes very light on system resources, meaning it will often run on a computer that  can’t handle Windows anymore. It ran well for me on a laptop which couldn’t even handle Windows XP with the third service pack installed.

Desktop Linux Lite, Linux Lite desktop
There are many crisp, clean, light versions of Linux. Linux Lite is perhaps the epitome of this quality in an operating system.

Linux and Homesteading Fit Together Like “Peas and Carrots.”

In homesteading there are tasks for which a computer greatly helps.

  • Record keeping (Finances, life in general, livestock records and garden notes)
  • Communication (correspondence, e-mail and Internet)
  • Scanning photos and documents
  • Keeping abreast of news and weather
  • Entertainment

All these things care be accomplished with a free Linux operating system, and oftentimes, a really cheap computer. I even do almost all my Bible study with Linux. If interested, ask me how.

Want to connect a printer or scanner to a Linux computer? Plug it in. Most of the time, that’s all you have to do!

How Can I Get Started Using Linux?

Getting started is probably the biggest hurdle for most people Here are a couple of suggestions.

  1.  Most forms of Linux are available for download and can be put on a DVD or flash drive. Not only is this how one usually installs it on a computer, but also, most are set up so that one can boot from the external drive (or DVD) and run the operating system without touching the computer’s hard drive. This can be a good way to try Linux with no risk.
  2. Many Linux installations give the option for installing  the system alongside whatever other operating system (OS) is on the hard drive. This produces a dual boot arrangement which allows one to choose the  OS at start up. I’ve done this but I have to say that one could mess up their computer if they made a mistake. Also, once I had a dual boot arrangement, I pretty much stopped using Windows because Linux was a lot more fun.
  3. If you want to play around with Virtualbox, you can install Linux and run it from within your existing OS. I’ve done this and again, I have to say that this is not for the technically challenged.
  4. Find an old computer and install a light weight Linux system onto it, using this computer as a “Linux playground.” This, in my opinion, is the best way to start. You may even have an old laptop in your closet, ready to go! Here’s a good article on Linux systems which are good for use on old computers.

Linux vs. Windows Programs

While it is true that some popular Windows programs are extremely difficult or impossible to run in Linux, it is also true that the average person can be very content with the FREE Linux programs available.  That’s right. There are thousands of programs for use in Linux and more than 99% of them are free. In fact, most Linux installations already include an office suite which is quite comparable to MS Windows. LibreOffice is available, for free, even for MS Windows. There are open source programs for just about every need and most Linux distributions come with such an array of them that the average user hardly needs to install anything themselves!

laptop in need of repair, sick laptop computer
Next time you have an old computer available, consider installing Linux. Homesteading and Linux go hand in hand because of frugality, ingenuity and the desire to learn.


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