You don’t have to pay a penny to use it, just download it and install it. You can replace your Windows or install Linux alongside – in this case the computer will ask you which operating system you want to use when the computer is booting (starting). But the best thing about Linux (or one of the best things) is that you don’t have to install Linux on your computer, because it has the ability to boot from a CD-ROM or a Pen Drive. This is called a Live Version, and it’s very simple to use.
When you download Linux, generally you will download a virtual image (most of the times an ISO or IMG file), then you can use Windows native Image Burner to burn it into a CD. To do so, just click on the image file and you will see the option on top of your window, or right click on the file and explore the options “Open With”. To burn it into a Pen Drive you have to use a third-party program, I recommend you “Universal USB Installer”, it’s pretty much straight forward. After the process is complete, insert you CD or Pen Drive in your computer and reboot. Linux will start up just like if it was installed. When you’re done using it, just turn off your computer, remove the CD or Pen Drive, and your old Windows will boot like nothing ever happened. Keep it in mind that to use Live versions you might need to access your BIOS and change the Boot Order, but it’s a very simple process, just search the web for tutorials.
What are the advantages of using a Linux? In one word: security. Linux is way more secure than Windows or Mac Os, and I mean way more. Traditional virus do not affect Linux, and hacking this operating system is an herculean task. Which makes it perfect for managing online bank accounts, or to use your credit card on online shops. Some banks are now recommending their clients to use Linux Live CDs, because CDs are read-only devices, once they are burned no one can change its content.
Now the tricky thing, there isn’t just one Linux distribution, there are hundreds. Each one is developed with a specific purpose in mind. Some are design for old machines, some are designed for enterprise companies, others are designed for hacking, but luckely most are designed for the nowadays common user. The distribution I use for online banking is Puppy Linux, because it has a size of only 160Mb, and it’s mind blowing fast, just takes a couple of minutes to boot. But this distribution can be a bit complicated for a first time user. If you never used Linux before, I recommend you: Lubuntu or Elementary OS. They are light, fast, and simple.
If you care about online banking security, use Linux.