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Compatibility and Software Availability

Linux distributions have increasingly become viable for use as a primary workstation for both personal and professional use. The key developments that have enabled this transition include robust methods to run Windows applications on Linux and a rich ecosystem of Linux native applications that rival their Windows counterparts.
Running Windows Applications
Linux users can now run Windows applications through compatibility layers and virtualization. Wine is a popular compatibility layer that translates Windows system calls into Linux equivalents, allowing users to run Windows software directly on their Linux systems. The list below provides insights into Wine’s reach.
⦁ Compatibility: Broad support for many Windows applications and games
⦁ User Experience: Seamless GUI integration, making the applications feel native
Another solution is using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which allows Windows applications to run on Linux-based servers or cloud environments. This integration enhances the versatility of Linux workstations in a Windows-dominated workspace.
⦁ WSL1 vs WSL2: WSL2 provides a full Linux kernel, improved performance and supports GUI apps
Linux Alternatives to Common Windows Apps
Linux offers a plethora of applications that serve as alternatives to those traditionally found on Windows. Users no longer have to sacrifice functionality when transitioning to a Linux environment. The table below showcases some common Linux alternatives to Windows apps.
Windows App Linux Alternative Description
Microsoft Office LibreOffice A powerful office suite that offers similar functions for document, spreadsheet, and presentation editing.
Adobe Photoshop GIMP An advanced image editor that caters to graphics needs from simple photo editing to complex digital art.
Internet Explorer Firefox/Chrome Web browsers that provide fast, secure, and reliable access to the internet, with extensive plugin support.
Additionally, cloud services further improve compatibility regardless of the underlying OS, and platforms like Steam provide a vast library of games, many of which are now native to Linux or run via Proton, Steam’s own compatibility layer. For developers, the availability of a wide range of command line and shell tools on Linux is unparalleled, allowing for a highly efficient and flexible workflow.

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