Choosing Windows vs. Linux - Which One & Why & What Lies Ahead!

Posted by cyneuron on Oct 14, 2007 9:09 PM EDT
LXer Linux News; By cyneuron
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With the arrival of Windows Vista , lots of people are looking for alternatives. And Linux has emerged as the best contender. As I have used Windows XP and Linux for last 5 years, and Vista since its release. I thought why not write an article for the people who may want to know/use/switch to Linux from Windows.

Hello everyone...



With the arrival of Windows Vista , lots of people are looking for alternatives. And Linux has emerged as the best contender. As I have used Windows XP and Linux for last 5 years, and Vista since its release. I thought why not write an article for the people who may want to know/use/switch to Linux from Windows.



This article is about:



  1. Things you may want to know about Linux, being from a Windows background.
  2. A comparison between Windows & Linux.
  3. Whether you should start using Linux or not or be comfortable with Windows XP or Vista.
  4. And if yes, what you need to do for that.


I hope this article will help people in knowing about Linux and Windows. And for those who are already using Linux, I hope it will be a good read for them also.



AND YES, THIS IS NOT AN ANTI-MICROSOFT ARTICLE AS YOU MAY BE THINKING. Since most of Linux users tend to bash Microsoft when they talk about Windows. Though I have written some facts which may make Windows Lovers feel Bad.



So here it begins...



I. What is Windows?



Do I even need to answer this question ? All of us are born into a Windows world, and understand and know using computers with Windows be it 98, XP or Vista only.



II. What is Linux ?

Though this will itself take an article to tell you about this, in short:



"Richard Stallman working at the MIT AI-lab - during the time he studied for his BA in Physics from Harvard - became part of a programming group at the AI-lab. These guys were all working and sharing in a very friendly way. The arrival to the world of commercial software development and things like non-disclosure agreements basically meant the end of that era. If it wasn't for Richard Stallman, and a non-working laser printer (and a few other setbacks) in the 1980's that triggered a one-man coding spree and the creation of a completely free operating system, as in free to use and copy. Sounds familiar? It should. That's Linux...



The one-man coding spree quickly turned into a project known as GNU, pronounced as guh-noo. Richard Stallman basically wrote a complete operating system from scratch, a free Unix operating system. Luckily he had gotten quite a bit of help in his endeavors. But if it wasn't for Richard Stallman, there wouldn't be a GNU/Linux and we'd all be using Windows now. In the process of creating the GNU project, he also made a software license allowing you access to source code (the original files) and the right to copy its software and share it with your friends. This copyright license is called GPL, the GNU General Public License.



During the late 1980's and early 1990's, the GNU project set out for a kernel (the car's engine) for the operating system. The decisions that were made for this kernel were the correct ones at the time. This state-of-the-art kernel, called GNU Hurd, however proved tricky to build. So the GNU OS wasn't quite completed when Linus stepped in and created his kernel which was designed somewhat easier. And there you have it. The creation of GNU/Linux.



Many people however don't call GNU/Linux GNU/Linux. They call it Linux, totally ignoring the fact that it couldn't have been made without the GNU tools and it couldn't do anything without the GNU operating system around it. Sounds a bit unfair doesn't it? It is. To make matters worse, at one point Richard Stallman and his Free Software Foundation actually received an award for his work, and rightly so. But the award was called "The Linus Torvalds Award". Which is not only ironic, but somewhat insulting.



The Brief History of Linux: Linus invented the kernel, Richard and his Free Software Foundation invented GNU." (Taken from PCLinuxOS wiki) To know more, just Google it.



III. Why Should You Use Windows & Not Linux ?



  1. Ease of Installation & Use. An odd statement but true practically, reason being again same, "We are born in Windows World", where we see people around us installing and using Windows, so we just consider Windows as being the only way of using computers. But in fact, both Windows & Linux are equally easy to install & use.


  2. If you are so lazy enough to bring a change in the way you use computers, and consider that learning/using/switching to [L/U/S] Linux is new & difficult than you use Windows. Let me tell you [L/U/S]Linux is no doubt different from Windows, but not a bit difficult or new. Just ask yourself, "Did you know how to use Windows when you had used computers for very first time ?"


  3. If you can't use computers without the official support and help provided by Microsoft & other companies producing Windows softwares. No doubt Windows & softwares come with really good technical support & a guarantee, but even with Linux you have extensive support and help available from forums and technical support from companies who charge for this support like Novell, Red hat, Cannonical.


  4. If you work with some software which is either available only on Windows or is the best on Windows. This is true, some softwares on Windows are really good. But there is always a good enough corresponding software available on Linux, though it may require you to make some compromises in functionality or require some learning. I won't give examples because it depends on different user.


  5. If your computer doesn't fully support Linux. What I mean here is that there may be a chance that one of your computer hardware components may not work on Linux. The most frequent culprits are Modems & Graphic cards.

    There is a reason for this:

    Since Windows occupies 90 % of desktop market and most of the hardware manufacturers make drivers for their hardware only for windows because developing drivers is a tedious and money requiring task. These manufacturers don't see the need or demand for producing drivers for Linux, but the scenario is changing:



    1. More & more hardware manufacturers have begun supporting their hardware on Linux
    2. Lots of big companies are coming out in support of Linux, recent examples being Dell, Lenovo and some big ones like IBM, Intel, HP etc.
    3. Linux developers keep on working to support most of the latest hardware available as well as the older hardware. In fact Linux is the most widely implemented Operating System on various platforms other than desktops, such as Servers, Mobile Platform, Supercomputers etc. This proves the wide applicability of Linux.


    {This should clear the misconception that the fact "Windows Supports All Hardwares Out of Box" is something not attributable to Microsoft. Rather it has been the biased attitude of hardware manufacturers, responsible for this}



  6. If you don't have an Internet connection. You must be surprised by this statement. But I will explain. Linux software installation usually requires installation of various dependencies (files required for installation for a particular piece of software). Its not like windows where you simply double click an EXE file and your software is installed. So if you are not connected to Internet, it becomes a difficult task (namely compiling) to install software on Linux, though not impossible. I feel that Linux developers should work on this and in fact, there was a discussion on this aspect in some previous Linux developers meetings & summits.


  7. If you consider Linux insecure, as there is not much discussion about anti-viruse and anti-spyware software being used on Linux then my friend, Windows is definitely your choice. (You must have got your laughter dose here.)


IV. Why Should You Choose Linux & Not Windows

  1. Free (Or technically speaking, Open Source) in contrast to Windows. (But paying for softwares does exists in the Linux world, in the form of getting official support and help from various companies, or their enterprise software, like Novell, Red Hat, Canonical etc.



    {This may not be an issue with people using PIRATED WINDOWS & SOFTWARES.}

  2. Very fast development cycles, so you remain updated with the latest, most efficient software technologies available. This is sharply in contrast to Windows, because Windows development is done only by Microsoft, while Linux development is something,done by thousands or even million of Open Source developers and support of so many companies coming on the Linux front I mentioned previously. Consequently Linux updates come on a very regular and short period, while Windows development is undoubtedly slow. And yes in Linux, the update is for whole system rather than just operating system. So you don't have to update each of your applications. One more Linux magic, whole system update doesn't require you to reboot the system (except the kernel update) unlike windows where even an application installation or update may require you to reboot system.



  3. Most of Linux operating system (or Distros, as they are called) come pre-installed with:
    1. Your hardware drivers. (unlike windows where you have to install them later from your driver CD).
    2. Open Office Suite. (Microsoft Office has to be bought separately, at a cost even higher than your Windows.)
    3. Other commonly used apps like, Video player, music player, CD/DVD Burner, Image editor, Photos manager, Email Client, Web Browser (Firefox), Messenger etc. (unlike Windows where you have to buy the software after installing Windows.)


  4. Linux comes in various forms, so called distros, which are produced by different people/companies by combining the Linux Kernel, GNU Software and their own specific software. Each distro is good and better than others on some fronts, and less good than others. Some famous ones are:




    PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Mandriva, Linspire, Knoppix etc.

    These are just the most famous ones, there are thousands more!!! You can even produce you own distro if you know how too. This is in sharp contrast to Windows where the whole world has the same thing on their computer and you can't change a thing if you find something bad or feel like adding something. So, using Linux is like attending a grand party where you can choose what to eat from various dishes or order something new (I mean make your own distro, if know how to cook the dish). While using Windows is like attending a prison where you have to eat what you are served.....



    No Choice for Windows user, Poor Fella !!!

  5. In Linux you cannot use any anti-viruse or anti-spyware software, whatsoever. Reasons for this:

    1. There are very few anti-virus or anti-spyware programs available for Linux.
    2. There are no viruses against Linux in the first place, the reason for above point.

    So you don't have to buy (or crack) Norton or Mac-fee or AVG anti-virus or anti-spyware programs or COMPLETE PROTECTION SUITES. This also helps by saving you money and system memory for other work rather than nurturing these memory hogs.



  6. As I talked of various distros, even on a single distro, you can use different Desktop Environments (DE) /Desktop Manager (the whole graphical interface you interact use to use your computer), unlike Windows which has never changed since Windows 95 to Vista even today. Different DE's serve different purposes.

    For example:
    KDE is meant for all round, highly configurable, powerful and has a flashy (like a Mac) interface.
    GNOME is meant for simplicity, beauty, usability, but still powerful.
    XFCE and Fluxbox are meant for low end configurations computers.


  7. And finally, 3-d Desktop. (You must have been stunned hearing and seeing the too hyped "THE AERO" Interface and "LIVE THUMBNAILS " of Windows Vista. Then just wait for the lethal dose of Linux.)



    Linux has the whole 3-d desktop available for you. Called, Beryl and Compiz, (& now two merged as Compiz Fusion), you have you whole desktop working in 3-d with such stunning and awesome effects that above said GREAT Vista features are literally nothing, NOTHING, in front of these.



    Here is more. To run these GREAT Vista 3-d feature, you need 2 GB RAM, and a Separate Graphic card. Did you hear that !!! 2 GB RAM.... I mean how many people have that. And even if you have or buy, what do you get, these two kiddish effects. And Linux 3-d desktop, on my own old Laptop, with total 512 MB RAM, with 128 MB Shared Graphic Memory (Intel 915 chipset) runs like killing any vista 3d effects.....



    Just check out some videos on you-tube, by searching for Beryl, Compiz or Compiz Fusion. (Now Don't blame me, if you already bought Vista....)

  8. You may say Vista is highly Stable and Secure.

    1. I agree on this Stability point, specially when you compare it with XP. In Vista, Microsoft has introduced clear-cut distinction between services and processes. An now when you kill some hanged process or service via Ctrl-Alt-Del, it doesn't cause your system to crash unlike Windows XP. But Linux had this thing right from origin. Linux doesn't crash if you kill some task. It has never done so......
    2. About security, no doubt Vista is more secure, BUT more than XP, not than Linux. What Microsoft has done in Vista today, has been in Linux right from its very conception. User Access Control Rights(or something like that, i am not sure), in Vista is a feature ripped from Linux, and in trying to make it look like a new innovation, Microsoft has implemented it in such a way that it becomes an annoyance rather than of comfort. You are confronted with this to do even very small things in Vista.
    What more, you still have to use an Anti-virus or Anti-spyware.... Microsoft still recommends to use these security softwares to its users...... Now that's called confidence in ones security....... {I want to share one more major innovation By Microsoft in Vista. Vista claims to have system wide search feature in vista, in which you can search for anything on your desktop, or web, from vista search menu. Guys this is a feature ripped from Mac OS X. Mac has this feature, from last 3 or 4 years. But Microsoft has done innovation, & that is , instead of putting search menu on top right like Mac, they have put it on bottom left. Wow !!!} {Did you know Mac OS X is a Unix Like OS like Linux. Just for your knowledge.}


V. Then Why Has Windows 90 % Share In Desktop Market If Linux Is So Superior ?



Good question. Well only few reasons I see:



  1. Very Aggressive Marketing Strategy: Microsoft right from start, has been marketing its product on a very big scale using every medium, be it newspapers or television or Internet lately, while Linux marketing has traditionally been by means of User to User spread. Microsoft, has great earnings from its softwares right from start, whose very little fraction is enough to market any product deep down the brains of people of this world, while Linux developers were not charging for their products. They were developing these softwares, just for the spirit of humanity, the spirit of Open Source. They were not businessmen like Microsoft or Apple guys. So they didn't give attention to marketing strategies, neither they had money & resources to do that. This was one of the major stumbling block in Linux adoption.

    But the scene is changing now. With the entry of big companies on Linux front, Linux is gaining popularity.


  2. Microsoft's alliance with computer manufacturers, to persuade them sell computers and pre-install Windows. This resulted in most people having their first experience with using computer on windows. And I believe, this also somehow resulted in a "chain reaction" of people telling others about Windows, and thus creation of a "Windows World", being supplemented by the fact that Linux Developers were not telling people about their operating system by marketing their products.



    This is also changing now. Dell, no. 1 Computer manufacturer in US, has decided to sell computers pre-installed with Ubuntu. Lenovo, the Chinese computer manufacturer has also joined the line. More are coming. HP already officially supports Linux developments. Acer has been selling command line versions of Linux.



  3. Microsoft aggressive strategies to weed out the competitor from market. Microsoft has always adopted vigorous competition policies, sometime forcing closure of its rival business. Very famous example, include, introduction of Internet Explorer with every Windows since 98, to weed out Netscape, Other are Windows Media Player against Real Player. Such strategies have gained Microsoft many anti-trust cases in US courts and other European countries. Similar things have been started by Microsoft, seeing the prominent arrival of Linux against Windows. Recently, Microsoft claimed that Linux violates Microsoft's 235 patents, without giving any detail of such violation. This was intended to frighten people and companies who are considering or have started adopting Linux. When asked by Open Source developers about details of patent violation, so that they may correct if any whatsoever, Microsoft denied giving any details, saying it will disclose details directly with companies ready to make agreements with Microsoft. Thus fulfilled its target of shoving away people from Linux.



  4. Microsoft Agreements With Various Governments. Microsoft makes agreements with various countries governments to encourage adoption of Microsoft Windows & softwares in govt. infrastructure, thus promoting its products in the whole country. While there is no such one agency to support and make such agreements in case of Linux. There do exists Open Source developer groups and promoters, but they are scattered.


  5. Microsoft uses its influence to implements its document formats as World standard. There is a very recent example of this. Microsoft is pushing hard to make its Open XML document as second standard beside Open Document format which already is there. Microsoft is influencing smaller countries to make them vote in its favor. No other company has software to deal with this format, and if this gets adopted as standard, people who use it (& they will have to use at sometime, being this standard), will have to buy Microsoft softwares.


VI. Conclusion



Vista arrival has opened new avenues for Linux. As most users find themselves unable or unwilling to switch to Vista, for reasons outlined above, they want to change, (and they will have to, as Microsoft & Windows Software developers will stop supporting Windows XP Within 1 or 2 years. And there has been no better time for Linux than today. More and more companies are coming in support of Linux, list of Linux developers keeps getting long, resulting in an extremely fast acceleration of Linux development. Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu Founder) decision of distributing free Linux Cd's to whole world and increase in broadband connectivity, and no. of Linux vendors is giving a major thrust to wide spread adoption of Linux across the globe.



VII. So Should You Use Linux & If Yes How ?



Well definitely you should start using Linux, except if you have any one of reason i gave above in "To Use Windows & Not Use Linux".

To start, i will suggest, you should install Linux along with Windows (so called dual-boot), because:



  1. It will make the process of learning/using/switching Linux gradual thus comfortable. If you completely replace Windows with Linux all of a sudden, you will have problems, which may make you dis-believe in power of Linux & Open Source.


  2. It will allow you to use Windows for some of purposes which may not be served by Linux. (depending on individual case, like Internet connectivity, any specific software or other reasons i discussed).


You may find good tutorials on Internet describing "How to Install & Use Linux" for new users. Simply search on Google, and read carefully. Or best way is to ask from someone who is already using Linux, be your friend, brother, relative.



VII. Which Linux Distro To Use & How to Get Installation Cd



For a new user, i will suggest PCLinuxOS 2007 or Kubuntu. You can download it from an Internet. (Google "PCLinuxOS 2007 Download" or Kubuntu Download). Or you may find it in one of Computer magazine.

If you can't do above two things, then you can use Ubuntu/Kubuntu. You will get it freely delivered at your home.(For this, search in google, "Ubuntu/Kubuntu Free CD Shipit")



Final Words



Hope you liked this article. And will benefit from the things i wrote.

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