Linux Emerging As a Haven for Those Weary of AI

Generative AI is all the rage, but users are increasingly becoming weary of the hype. For those users, Linux is proving to be a safe haven....
Linux Emerging As a Haven for Those Weary of AI
Written by Matt Milano
  • Generative AI is all the rage, but users are increasingly becoming weary of the hype. For those users, Linux is proving to be a safe haven.

    Tech companies like OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, Anthropic, Amazon, and others are rushing to develop and deploy generative AI in as many ways as possible. Despite companies investing billions in the tech, many users and tech workers remain unconvinced.

    According to a study done in late 2023, 85% of consumers said they were not interested in using AI for purchases. Even more telling, 60% said an AI recommendation would not make them more likely to purchase the product in question.

    Similarly, another report revealed that 51.6% of tech workers believe AI is overrated. Much of the concern centers around AI’s well-known tendency to hallucinate and provide blatantly false information. As a result, many tech workers don’t believe they can trust AI to help them reliably do their job.

    Microsoft’s Headlong Push Forward

    Despite the concerns, Microsoft is pushing to adopt AI across its entire range of products, with Windows being the latest target. The company recently unveiled Recall, a feature that uses AI to constantly take screenshots of everything a user is doing, giving them the ability to go back and view the snapshots to remember relevant information.

    While Microsoft says the feature will only work on computers with a neural processing unit (NPU), the tech has already been hacked to run on machines lacking an NPU. Likewise, while Microsoft says all screenshotting will be handled locally, experts have warned that having a visual record of everything a person has ever done on their computer represents a massive attack vector for bad actors to exploit.

    While Microsoft says the current incarnation of Recall is designed to be stored locally, there’s nothing to prevent Microsoft from moving Recall storage to the cloud, either for its own reasons or at the behest of a government that wants easy access to people’s data.

    The growing concern over Microsoft’s push to include AI-driven features

    Linux Is Emerging As An Anti-AI Haven

    Linux has been growing in popularity in recent years, crossing 4% market share in February 2024. While that pales in comparison to Windows or macOS, it marks a major acceleration in adoption. Linux crossed 3% market share in June 2023, taking nearly 32 years to cross that milestone, underscoring how impressive it is that the open source operating system gained another point in just eight months.

    There are a number of reasons Linux has been thriving, including support from Steam, the fact that it is free and open source, and the control it gives users to theme and customize as much as they want. Increasingly, however, Linux is emerging as the last bastion for those who are reluctant to embrace AI with open arms.

    Unlike Windows and macOS, which are monolithic operating systems controlled by a single vendor, Linux has many different distributions (distros), maintained by various companies, organizations, communities, and individuals. Each distro bundles the Linux kernel, a desktop environment (the GUI users interact with), and the software the maintainers think their target users will get the most use from.

    As a general rule, the maintainers behind most distros have shown little to no interest in adopting AI. In fact, some distros have even gone as far as to ban AI-generated code, with Gentoo being one of the foremost to adopt such a stance. In fact, Red Hat and its upstream Fedora are two of the biggest distros adopting AI, but even they are primarily focusing on providing a distro ideally suited for AI development, not anything even remotely duplicating Microsoft’s privacy nightmare.

    Because Linux covers a range of different distros, all with different goals and targeting different audiences, there will always be distros that take a very conservative approach to AI—if they support it at all.

    Even Apple will soon stop being an AI-free zone, with the company moving to catch up to its Big Tech rivals. The company is even reportedly preparing to sign a deal with either OpenAI or Google to incorporate generative AI across its products.

    As a result, Linux is quickly becoming the best option for individuals who are leery of having AI looking over their shoulder while they work and play.

    How to Get Started

    In our Linux Distro Reviews series, WPN looked at a number of the most popular distros available. In our experience, Linux Mint is the best option for those coming from macOS or Windows. This writer was a Mac user for over 20 years before switching full-time to Linux, and Linux Mint was the first and only distro that offered the kind of cohesive, integrated, and well-rounded experience that a user would find on macOS or Windows.

    Linux Mint comes in two flavors: One based on Ubuntu and one based on Debian (LMDE). Both are outstanding choices and give users the freedom and flexibility that are increasingly endangered in both Apple and Microsoft’s products.

    To get started, go to Best of all, whichever option you choose, there’s not an AI in sight.

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