Even if you’re a Windows (or Mac) user, knowing how to use Linux is a valuable skill, and it can run a bunch of awesome things in your home—even if it isn’t your main desktop OS. Here are 10 ways you can use Linux even if you’re not ready to go full Ubuntu.
Run a Home Server for Backup, Streaming, Torrenting, and More
If you don’t want to leave your computer on 24/7 just to share files or download torrents, a tiny dedicated Linux box might be a better solution. With an old computer or a cheap new one, you can put together a home server that stores your backups, streams movies and musics, seeds torrents, or performs any number of other tasks quietly in the corner. You can put one together with Nas4Free, FreeNAS, or even Ubuntu—though our favorite solution is the Linux-based Amahi. (Yes, we know FreeNAS and NAS4Free are technically FreeBSD—but we’re going to lump them in with Linux for practical purposes
Create a Dedicated Media Center or Video Game Machine
If you have a computer that won’t even use the desktop—like a media center or dedicated emulation machine—why not just set it up with a Linux backend? It’s free and easy to do. XBMC works great on Linux, whether you’re running on a Raspberry Pi or just a low-powered PC, and you can turn just about any PC into an all-in-one retro video game console. The Raspberry Pi works well for older games, but you’d want something more powerful to play newer stuff. Heck, you could even use it to create a retro arcade coffee table.
Brush Up on Your Hacking and Security
Some Linux distributions, like BackTrack or Kali, are security-focused distros for testing security systems. That means you can use them to learn how to, say, hack WEP or WPA Wi-Fi passwords, which is a great way to learn a bit more about your own network security and how to protect yourself from similar attacks. Of course, we don’t recommend using these powers for evil—but knowing evil’s tricks gives you a good path to preventing them.
Revive an Old or Slow PC
And so we come to one of the most obvious and common uses for Linux—and still one of the best. If you have a PC that’s seen better days, Windows is far from the ideal OS. install a lightweight Linux distribution on it (like Lubuntu or, if you’re a bit more savvy, Archbang) and it’ll feel like a new machine again. It may not be able to do everything your powerful Windows machine can do, but it’s better than having a non-functional computer, and works perfectly for basic tasks.