What about anti-virus apps? On going #IndieOS with Linux

14 June 2024

As I wrote a few days ago, I’m in the process of trying out Linux operating systems, specifically Linux Mint. With the release of Windows 11, I think Microsoft has (finally) jumped the shark. Others will probably argue that happened long before Win 11 came along. They’re likely right.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Mint, and what apps I might need to run the OS as smoothly as possible. Inevitably, the question of anti-virus (AV) software came up, something I posed to my search engine. I was quite surprised to read that anti-virus software isn’t (necessarily) needed on Linux OS’s.

Needless to say, I did a double take when I saw that. Isn’t going without an AV app foolhardy in this day and age? Well, yes in general, but in regards to Linux, possibly. That’s because there are a few factors at play. For one, devices with Linux OS’s are only present in relatively small numbers. As such, they’re not worth the effort for most writers of malicious code.

Targeting Linux wouldn’t cause enough disruption for them apparently. I’d say there though, disruption to even one person’s computer would be devastation in spades. But let’s hold to the hope that writing Linux viruses is, for the most part, a waste of time.

Then there’s the difficulty of running malicious code, on account of the permissions setting structure of Linux. Someone would almost knowingly need to install a virus file for one to take hold. I’ve only been using Mint a few days so far, but each time I install an app, I’ve needed to enter a password.

That might present a huddle when it comes to executing a virus. Another point is just about every Linux app is only available by way of an app store. And only vetted, safe apps, are included in the store. If apps are sourced solely through Linux stores, supposedly a system will remain safe.

I have no doubt that viruses present far less of a threat to Linux computers, but still feel nervous about being without some sort of AV protection, as useless as some Linux users claim it to be. So I’ll see how I go. But it made me wonder. Is the whole AV industry a by-product of the vulnerabilities in one family of operating systems?

Malicious code presents a problem for all platforms, so that’s unlikely to be the case, even if it might be fun to think as much. On the other hand, it seems to me the family of operating systems in question, is the virus itself, in so much as it now seeks to dominate, and control, its users.

While the jury may be out — in my mind at least — as to the question of AV apps for Linux, I’m sure that taking this step into the realm of what I’m calling #IndieOS, is the right one. And why not?

If #IndieWeb represents a move away from an internet under the control of large corporate entities, to one where individuals have more sway, then migrating to Linux is adopting an OS that likewise gives individuals similar control. #IndieOS? Yep, that’ll do me.


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