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10 fundamental differences between Linux and Windows

Before debating the relative merits and shortcomings of Linux and Windows, it helps to understand the real distinctions between them. Jack Wallen has distilled the key differences into one list.

Before debating the relative merits and shortcomings of Linux and Windows, it helps to understand the real distinctions between them. Jack Wallen has distilled the key differences into one list.


I have been around the Linux community for more than 10 years now. From the very beginning, I have known that there are basic differences between Linux and Windows that will always set them apart. This is not, in the least, to say one is better than the other. It's just to say that they are fundamentally different. Many people, looking from the view of one operating system or the other, don't quite get the differences between these two powerhouses. So I decided it might serve the public well to list 10 of the primary differences between Linux and Windows.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: Full access vs. no access

Having access to the source code is probably the single most significant difference between Linux and Windows. The fact that Linux belongs to the GNU Public License ensures that users (of all sorts) can access (and alter) the code to the very kernel that serves as the foundation of the Linux operating system. You want to peer at the Windows code? Good luck. Unless you are a member of a very select (and elite, to many) group, you will never lay eyes on code making up the Windows operating system.

You can look at this from both sides of the fence. Some say giving the public access to the code opens the operating system (and the software that runs on top of it) to malicious developers who will take advantage of any weakness they find. Others say that having full access to the code helps bring about faster improvements and bug fixes to keep those malicious developers from being able to bring the system down. I have, on occasion, dipped into the code of one Linux application or another, and when all was said and done, was happy with the results. Could I have done that with a closed-source Windows application? No.

#2: Licensing freedom vs. licensing restrictions

Along with access comes the difference between the licenses. I'm sure that every IT professional could go on and on about licensing of PC software. But let's just look at the key aspect of the licenses (without getting into legalese). With a Linux GPL-licensed operating system, you are free to modify that software and use and even republish or sell it (so long as you make the code available). Also, with the GPL, you can download a single copy of a Linux distribution (or application) and install it on as many machines as you like. With the Microsoft license, you can do none of the above. You are bound to the number of licenses you purchase, so if you purchase 10 licenses, you can legally install that operating system (or application) on only 10 machines.

#3: Online peer support vs. paid help-desk support

This is one issue where most companies turn their backs on Linux. But it's really not necessary. With Linux, you have the support of a huge community via forums, online search, and plenty of dedicated Web sites. And of course, if you feel the need, you can purchase support contracts from some of the bigger Linux companies (Red Hat and Novell for instance).

However, when you use the peer support inherent in Linux, you do fall prey to time. You could have an issue with something, send out e-mail to a mailing list or post on a forum, and within 10 minutes be flooded with suggestions. Or these suggestions could take hours of days to come in. It seems all up to chance sometimes. Still, generally speaking, most problems with Linux have been encountered and documented. So chances are good you'll find your solution fairly quickly.

On the other side of the coin is support for Windows. Yes, you can go the same route with Microsoft and depend upon your peers for solutions. There are just as many help sites/lists/forums for Windows as there are for Linux. And you can purchase support from Microsoft itself. Most corporate higher-ups easily fall victim to the safety net that having a support contract brings. But most higher-ups haven't had to depend up on said support contract. Of the various people I know who have used either a Linux paid support contract or a Microsoft paid support contract, I can't say one was more pleased than the other. This of course begs the question "Why do so many say that Microsoft support is superior to Linux paid support?"

#4: Full vs. partial hardware support

One issue that is slowly becoming nonexistent is hardware support. Years ago, if you wanted to install Linux on a machine you had to make sure you hand-picked each piece of hardware or your installation would not work 100 percent. I can remember, back in 1997-ish, trying to figure out why I couldn't get Caldera Linux or Red Hat Linux to see my modem. After much looking around, I found I was the proud owner of a Winmodem. So I had to go out and purchase a US Robotics external modem because that was the one modem I knew would work. This is not so much the case now. You can grab a PC (or laptop) and most likely get one or more Linux distributions to install and work nearly 100 percent. But there are still some exceptions. For instance, hibernate/suspend remains a problem with many laptops, although it has come a long way.

With Windows, you know that most every piece of hardware will work with the operating system. Of course, there are times (and I have experienced this over and over) when you will wind up spending much of the day searching for the correct drivers for that piece of hardware you no longer have the install disk for. But you can go out and buy that 10-cent Ethernet card and know it'll work on your machine (so long as you have, or can find, the drivers). You also can rest assured that when you purchase that insanely powerful graphics card, you will probably be able to take full advantage of its power.

#5: Command line vs. no command line

No matter how far the Linux operating system has come and how amazing the desktop environment becomes, the command line will always be an invaluable tool for administration purposes. Nothing will ever replace my favorite text-based editor, ssh, and any given command-line tool. I can't imagine administering a Linux machine without the command line. But for the end user -- not so much. You could use a Linux machine for years and never touch the command line. Same with Windows. You can still use the command line with Windows, but not nearly to the extent as with Linux. And Microsoft tends to obfuscate the command prompt from users. Without going to Run and entering cmd (or command, or whichever it is these days), the user won't even know the command-line tool exists. And if a user does get the Windows command line up and running, how useful is it really?

#6: Centralized vs. noncentralized application installation

The heading for this point might have thrown you for a loop. But let's think about this for a second. With Linux you have (with nearly every distribution) a centralized location where you can search for, add, or remove software. I'm talking about package management systems, such as Synaptic. With Synaptic, you can open up one tool, search for an application (or group of applications), and install that application without having to do any Web searching (or purchasing).

Windows has nothing like this. With Windows, you must know where to find the software you want to install, download the software (or put the CD into your machine), and run setup.exe or install.exe with a simple double-click. For many years, it was thought that installing applications on Windows was far easier than on Linux. And for many years, that thought was right on target. Not so much now. Installation under Linux is simple, painless, and centralized.

#7: Flexibility vs. rigidity

I always compare Linux (especially the desktop) and Windows to a room where the floor and ceiling are either movable or not. With Linux, you have a room where the floor and ceiling can be raised or lowered, at will, as high or low as you want to make them. With Windows, that floor and ceiling are immovable. You can't go further than Microsoft has deemed it necessary to go.

Take, for instance, the desktop. Unless you are willing to pay for and install a third-party application that can alter the desktop appearance, with Windows you are stuck with what Microsoft has declared is the ideal desktop for you. With Linux, you can pretty much make your desktop look and feel exactly how you want/need. You can have as much or as little on your desktop as you want. From simple flat Fluxbox to a full-blown 3D Compiz experience, the Linux desktop is as flexible an environment as there is on a computer.

#8: Fanboys vs. corporate types

I wanted to add this because even though Linux has reached well beyond its school-project roots, Linux users tend to be soapbox-dwelling fanatics who are quick to spout off about why you should be choosing Linux over Windows. I am guilty of this on a daily basis (I try hard to recruit new fanboys/girls), and it's a badge I wear proudly. Of course, this is seen as less than professional by some. After all, why would something worthy of a corporate environment have or need cheerleaders? Shouldn't the software sell itself? Because of the open source nature of Linux, it has to make do without the help of the marketing budgets and deep pockets of Microsoft. With that comes the need for fans to help spread the word. And word of mouth is the best friend of Linux.

Some see the fanaticism as the same college-level hoorah that keeps Linux in the basements for LUG meetings and science projects. But I beg to differ. Another company, thanks to the phenomenon of a simple music player and phone, has fallen into the same fanboy fanaticism, and yet that company's image has not been besmirched because of that fanaticism. Windows does not have these same fans. Instead, Windows has a league of paper-certified administrators who believe the hype when they hear the misrepresented market share numbers reassuring them they will be employable until the end of time.

#9: Automated vs. nonautomated removable media

I remember the days of old when you had to mount your floppy to use it and unmount it to remove it. Well, those times are drawing to a close -- but not completely. One issue that plagues new Linux users is how removable media is used. The idea of having to manually "mount" a CD drive to access the contents of a CD is completely foreign to new users. There is a reason this is the way it is. Because Linux has always been a multiuser platform, it was thought that forcing a user to mount a media to use it would keep the user's files from being overwritten by another user. Think about it: On a multiuser system, if everyone had instant access to a disk that had been inserted, what would stop them from deleting or overwriting a file you had just added to the media? Things have now evolved to the point where Linux subsystems are set up so that you can use a removable device in the same way you use them in Windows. But it's not the norm. And besides, who doesn't want to manually edit the /etc/fstab fle?

#10: Multilayered run levels vs. a single-layered run level

I couldn't figure out how best to title this point, so I went with a description. What I'm talking about is Linux' inherent ability to stop at different run levels. With this, you can work from either the command line (run level 3) or the GUI (run level 5). This can really save your socks when X Windows is fubared and you need to figure out the problem. You can do this by booting into run level 3, logging in as root, and finding/fixing the problem.

With Windows, you're lucky to get to a command line via safe mode -- and then you may or may not have the tools you need to fix the problem. In Linux, even in run level 3, you can still get and install a tool to help you out (hello apt-get install APPLICATION via the command line). Having different run levels is helpful in another way. Say the machine in question is a Web or mail server. You want to give it all the memory you have, so you don't want the machine to boot into run level 5. However, there are times when you do want the GUI for administrative purposes (even though you can fully administer a Linux server from the command line). Because you can run the startx command from the command line at run level 3, you can still start up X Windows and have your GUI as well. With Windows, you are stuck at the Graphical run level unless you hit a serious problem.

Your call...

Those are 10 fundamental differences between Linux and Windows. You can decide for yourself whether you think those differences give the advantage to one operating system or the other. Me? Well I think my reputation (and opinion) precedes me, so I probably don't need to say I feel strongly that the advantage leans toward Linux.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

233 comments
johnny tremain
johnny tremain

can someone redirect me to a kindergarten Q & A forum ? i just searched for 

linux comparison articles and joined this blog. I have tons of data to convert from word and photoshop and need to know if it will be an easy transition . Thanks

johnny tremain
johnny tremain

if i switch to linux how do i convert all my word documents ? can i copy and paste them into a similar program and is the software free ?

johnny tremain
johnny tremain

i am considering going to linux and dumping the whole corporate monopoly BS. I am an artist and musician and need to run adobe photoshop, illustrator , dreamweaver and I need a multi track music recording program and video editor. Is the software free ?

johnny tremain
johnny tremain

i use ADOBE  illustrator and photoshop, dreamweaver AND  i need to record multi track music and create and edit music videos, how will this fare compared to windows, is the linux software superior, is it all free ?

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

So are you saying there are no paper certified Linux administratiors? Are you saying that paper certified is therefore bad in some way? Paper Envy - those people who never took the time or had the planning of career to get any paper certification. Most bemoan the fact they find it hard to get a foot in the door as they can't really prove their foundation skill set. Every other 'professional subject' requires a grounding based on a paper certification but for some reason these 'Paper Envy' people think they should be above this rhetoric.

dsmith1984uk
dsmith1984uk

This is rubbish. The person writing it seems to have little knowledge of windows. And it's not a list of the 10 differences between the two OS systems its a list of 10 things he thinks Linux have over windows (by the way you can do a lot from a windows command prompt). Where are the advantages Windows has over Linux??? Because there are plenty. This is just a page of propaganda. The desktops at my company are all windows however a lot of our servers are linux. As a result I have experience with both and I have to say Windows rules.

Wolvenmoon
Wolvenmoon

A number of your points could be interpreted either way. Let's see your linux box go from being a fully functioning web server to a gaming machine to a CGI workstation to an HTPC. My windows box can switch between them in two seconds each, and installing it was instant. Yes, you have to install third party apps to change the windows desktop. Yes, you have to use MANY third party apps with windows. Do you mean to tell me that everything in synaptic package manager is written and vetted by every linux distribution that it runs on's development team? Windows has an even bigger online community than linux. What are you talking about? The linux community, most problems they tell you to google it unless you're a vet with over a thousand posts. In fact, I have not yet had a problem with linux that when I googled it I didn't come into a forum telling the user to google it. Ironic, isn't it? However, when I ask a question about windows I have an answer almost instantly, even if it's something stupid. If you want to test this, try asking a stupid windows question on a windows forum, like, 'how do I log in as administrator?' and then do it on a linux forum 'how do I log in as root?'

DONC314
DONC314

What in the heck does: "And besides, who doesn???t want to manually edit the /etc/fstab fle?" Mean? I will probably be switching over to Linux when my XP becomes unusable however geekese like this is a turn off to most new users.

JV711
JV711

In today's blog, we will try not to break out laughing when we compare a BFG-9000 (Linux) vs a Colt .45 (Windows). When the fiery imp demons come streaming through the doorway, Which would you rather have in the datacenter?

MikeInMexico
MikeInMexico

A little different perspective ... On Point#3, it was good to see that the author acknowledged that both paid and peer support are available for both Windows and Linux. The wide range of peer support for Linux has always been promoted as one of it's big advantages, but it can also be it's "Achilles heel". There are so many distros in so many versions that although one may be almost overwhelmed by the help and number of different solutions to a given problem offered by the peer support system, the time required to sift through and find if any of them actually fix the problem in your system is almost prohibitive for most of us. Plus the fact that almost all solutions are offered in the form of arcane command line sequences (see below). I have actually found that the peer support for Windows has been much more productive for me. On Point#5, it's hard to see how the use of command line can be viewed as an advantage by anyone except the deeply technically involved. It involves learning an arcane, non-intuitive language (which we all used to do years ago, but those days are gone ...). The "average" computer user will never accede to this, and the "average" computer user must be the growth target for the Linux future. At our local LUG, one of our members tried (as an experiment) to switch his wife (a fairly knowledgeable Windows user) over to Ubuntu without any use of the command line. Failed miserably and finally gave up.

fabianmejia
fabianmejia

Well, I agree with many of the differences (although some of them seem to be in favor of Linux). Linux is great but it depends which kind of user you are. If you are average Joe, (Some excel, word, ppt music, etc) then I don't find any difference, they are exactly the same. If want something out of the normal (ie. Different users having access to the same device) then Linux can be better ... but who does it! Also, you forgot to mention the quality and variety of the products in both OS as another difference. I personally think that Applications under windows are better built and there's a huge diversity. Right now I have both installed. I use Windows for gaming, Office, etc and Ubuntu for other applications which are really expensive in Windows like Gimp, LMMS, DVD creation and Blender (although most of them can be installed in windows). So I encourage everybody to install both and play with them! Fabian Mejia fabianmejia.blogspot.com

TX Old Sarge
TX Old Sarge

This is getting somewhat funny. It is like a Ford versus Chevy argument. In my family, if you bought a Ford you were out of the family, yet I have had lemons in both brands and good ones as well. Dudes, if you are MS fans then rock on and if you a Linux Love or Mac Manic then chill and enjoy. I call Macs Crapintoshs and joke with my friends and users that have them but man it is a good thing we aren't on the dueling fields here or there would a lot more outsourcing due to loss of personnel.

Joe Cement Mason
Joe Cement Mason

It's quite apparent that you are biased in favor of Linux and less than truthful about the aspects of Windows. This makes your opinions worthless.

manu
manu

I have used Linux and for many years now used FreeBSD Unix for all my servers and Desktops. The licence is different and the design of the base install VS Linux kernel is more flexible. freebsd.org welcomes new sysadmins and has world wide support even for newbies. Al Plant ... Honolulu, HI USA

eddyrox1
eddyrox1

what kind of article was this??? great article but shouldn't the title be "10 reasons why Linux is better than Windows"?? fine these were differences but when pointing out differences you don't say "vs" in the first place. that means you are comparing trying to figure out which is better. leave english aside. what's up with this #1: Full access vs. no access and the last line of that one "I have, on occasion, dipped into the code of one Linux application or another, and when all was said and done, was happy with the results. Could I have done that with a closed-source Windows application? No" seriously this entire post was more of a showcase on the benefits of linux. there's nothing wrong with showcasing those benefits but please rephrase the title of the post. edit --> Fundamental differences mean that you point out pros and cons of both sides

Scott
Scott

This is the "single most significant difference between Linux and Windows"? Seriously? If you think that statement is true, then it's obvious why Linux remains relegated to the realm of self-proclaimed "fanboys" and propeller-heads. The very LAST thing that John Q. Public wants to do after taking his brand new laptop home from Best Buy is go look at the OS source code. In fact, I'll wager that 99% of your average users will simply dump linux long before they ever even consider trying to look at source code. If you were trying to make the point that Linux is "safer" because it is open-source, then why not point to some studies on the subject? There are plenty to choose from. And, of course, you can choose whichever study you want depending on which OS you want to be "more reliable". Also, how is #3 a difference? There are at least as many peer-support options for Windows (if not more) than for Linux. And, as you said, you can get paid support for Linux too. Were you just struggling to find 10 things because it's a "10 Things" list? #5 Command-line support: Again, this is a non-issue for 99% of computer users. In fact, I'll wager that those 99% of computer users view having to use a "command prompt" to accomplish some task as a *failure* of the OS, not a *benefit*. #6 I didn't know what Synaptic was, so I Googled it. Here's the top link on Google: http://www.nongnu.org/synaptic/ Read that link from a non-tech perspective and you will see, once again, why Linux completely fails to make in-roads into the home computer market. Heck, I'm pretty tech-savvy and I have no idea what Synaptic is after reading that page. #8 So am I to believe that all of those home users who are running some flavor of Windows are "corporate types"? #11 You failed to mention the VAST disparity in number of applications that run on Windows vs Linux. I would almost be willing to take the time to put Linux and/or Mac OS on one of my machines just to see how it works for myself, but almost none of the software that I use every day runs on it. How can I justify installing an OS that doesn't run the software I need? #12 Network Support - Two programmers in our office spent weeks installing various linux distros on a laptop trying to get it to join our Windows domain. Maybe they didn't know what they were doing, I don't know. What I do know is that getting a windows machine onto a Windows domain is cake. The last time I took a hard look at linx was 1997, so I won't make any disparaging remarks about it. I had a lot of hardware troubles, but I'll take your word for it that hardware support is better now. But even the most fanatical "fanboy" has to admit that Linux has yet to achieve a signficant market share in the OS market (either home or corporate). According to this link, you've got less than 1%! Heck, the iPhone is threatening to gain more market share then linux! http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=8 Windows certainly has its short-comings. But if it really "sucks" as bad as many linux evangelists say it does, then that doesn't say much for Linux's ability to overtake it. There is SOMETHING holding linux back. I don't claim to know what it is (though I'm willing to bet it's "ease-of-use" followed closely by "Windows compatability"). Maybe those of you who are most familiar with linux have a better idea. But whatever it is, until you admit it - then fix it - you'll continue to be a novelty.

jdschmutz
jdschmutz

I agree with most of your points. I'd say that #9, however is a bit of excuse-making. On a PC, there is no such thing as a multi-user system in the sense LINUX is designed to support. It is fundamentally a single user environment, one user logs off, and another may log in. That means that the media is a new issue for each new user, and properly belongs to the log-on, log-off event. There is really no excuse for any distribution not automatically mounting removable media in a PC.

O & G IT Guy
O & G IT Guy

Well, all this article made me do is look for some way to blacklist an Author so I don't have to read editorials in the place of factual articles. I was hoping that this would actually be an article about 10 fundamental differences between Linux and Windows, not 10 biased opinions on areas where the author thinks that Linux is better than Windows.

juntunen
juntunen

I don't see this as the 10 differences. It looks like an add for Linux.

zaifmand
zaifmand

Do a comperison between Apple and Windows. You will then really see how Apple locks you down with the way they force you to get a service contract or each call will cost you a certain amount of money or how they lock you down with only "approved applications" where you are limited in what you can do with your apple in terms of applications on the market or how you need to buy the hardware from Apple or an approved Apple vendor as you have no other options. On windows machine if your hardware craps our you can go to your local Staples and buy a hard drive even if your system was made by Dell. You have options with windows. Stop compering Linux to Windows as it's two different OS. One made by the open source community and one made by a group of professionals. Linux should be compared to different Linux OS versions. You want to be fair, compare Apple OS to Windows and lets see who really is an open OS vs. a locked down OS. I am sure you will see that Apple really locks you down where Windows is the open OS.

mikejkemp
mikejkemp

Whilst I am no great fan of MS. applications - I grew up with Lotus 123 etc (after becoming familiar with VisiCalc and VisiFile) and still prefer the flexibility and power of the Lotus successors - I've yet to be convinced that Linux can offer the 'transparency' of the Windows OS. I switch on my Laptop, select the relevant application, then I use it; sticking discs in the appropriate slots as necessary, printing results if I need and then shut down or close the lid as and when I want. I do that day after day, often without even considering whether I'm running Win XP, Win 2K, Win 98, MSDOS, or occasionally Vista. If a problem arises with an application I sort it and, yes, that sometimes means waking up the Command Window. In difference number 9 Jack asks "And besides, who doesn't want to manually edit the /etc/fstab fle?" Well, I don't! I just want a stable OS that will accept a wide variety of applications that turn this lump of mixed materials into an immensely useful tool. I have tried Linux (Suse 9.x I think): running on an old Toshiba 4000CDT. My impressions, visually, were pretty good; the installation wasn't too onerous; but the performance - with just the GUI running - was absolute CRAP compared with the Win 2K that the machine normally runs while it behaves as a 'practice' Domino Server and a whole raft of other Apps: none of which, of course, would run on Linux; even if Linux could be persuaded to get above crawling pace! I know the Application area is getting better but, until a Linux 'user machine' can be built that is as flexible and transparent as my current MS Windows system, I shall not be switching - except to occasionally try to see if it has got anywhere yet. I can be a geek - but I don't want to have to be every day! Mike Kemp Lotus Notes Specialist

ScarF
ScarF

This was really uncalled. And rude, to say the least. I continue to be disappointed by the transformation of Linux into an institutionalized religion - you are like me or against me. I am a proud MCSE since 1997 as well as a proud RHCE since 2003. I work for a non-IT company because I dislike working for the guys considering themselves the belly button of the Galaxy - the IT companies. I support Windows and Linux servers and Windows workstations and I consider that each platform is better suited for a certain role depending on the scope. I have such a bitter taste into my mouth because of the comments from #8 that I don't have enough words to tell my opinion about the Linux's priests like the author. Mr. Wallen, sir, I expect public excuses for your comments. This response was intended to be more caustic but, sincerely, I am bored with all these flames generated by the Linux "fans". They don't even realize how much bad they are doing to the open source world with all the comments. And, btw, as IT support, why the heck should I need in my network 100 workstations with 100 different looks and feels? On the other hand, the point #3 proves the superiority of the Windows admins who, without much support, are still able to keep the systems working against all the odds - viruses, bugs, attacks a.s.o. And, a final word. The companies are where the money comes from and, using arguments like "you are stupid because you use MS products" is not a good start for a discussion regarding the superiority of another solution.

cory4times
cory4times

Hi, I have Knoppix as a friend suggested it to me. I put it in my Dell once to try it out and was lost. I feel that I am representative of the end users. I want to try out Linux, but it seems like it will take a very long time to learn. I have a friend that studied it for a month and seemed to get it, but still, he seemed only to be able to use a word processor and the internet browser. The learning curve for Linux is longer than the curve for Windows, no? Does anyone agree with this?

estcst
estcst

It seems like the article conveniently 'forgets' a lot of things about Windows abilities. Or maybe it's just a matter of the Jack Wallen being far too inexperienced with Windows to know that all of these tools and options do exist with Windows. For example, Jack goes on about all the ways to repair Linux vs. Windows in tip 10 "you're lucky to get a command line in safe mode"?!?!? If I said something this ignorant on a Linux form about Linux I'd get dismissed as a fanboi and a n00b. Rightly so and so should Jack for not knowing that Windows has many tools, some even native to Windows without involving a 3rd party, to work on system issues such as heavy hitters like Winternals or BartPE and the extremely simple repair console. There are a ton of options open to the user. And what's up with the user support jabber? Both have free and paid support. Is he trying to claim that Windows free support is lacking compared to Linux? I'd love to see him back that up. Microsoft Technet alone is better than any dozen Linux community support forums I've ever been to combined. No, folks, this article is purely meant to lead users astray. It's also sad that he has to bash Windows professionals as "paper certified". Does he really think there is no talent and enthusiasm behind Windows? Both OSs have their places and there could have been a legitimate discussion of what fits the end users needs best but instead we have a clearly biased article instead. I can't believe such fanboism has risen to a featured article here. What is this place? Digg? Slashdot? I use to think this was a respectable tech community but I can already see that it's going to fall to flamewars and trolling.

filitino
filitino

@tear_star@yahoo.com Jack Wallen posted this in 2008; Hadeel Tariq Al-Rayes published hers in 2012.  In fact, if you look at her list of references, #2 is THIS article.  How did you determine Hadeel Tariq Al-Rayes is the original author?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Well, it's actually the mount points that your drives are currently on. While it is handy to be able to edit the fstab file and have the applicable storage pop into existance, it's not a requirnment. You can happily compute away leaving the Distribution to manage the fstab on it's own.

TX Old Sarge
TX Old Sarge

I'm an old cowboy and will take the Colt 45 anyday. I like to see what I am shooting at and look it in the eye as it dies. LOL!!!!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

That's the best way to think of it. Debian and Ubuntu are very closely related but not the same OS. They are built from the same parts though. Mandriva and Debian are even further removed from each other though they both use the Linux kernel to build on. Generally, I'll start with a searh like "[distro] [error]" or "[distro] [issue]" or even "[program] [error]". Normally, this search starts at the Debian, Ubuntu or Mandriva forums first then search engines second. While a Ubuntu forum may have a fix for a Debian question and similarly, a Ubuntu forum may provide the answer to a Mandriva question; I still expect the dials and nobs to be in slightly different locations. Calling them all "Linux" and lumping them all together to cause confusion only help the political detractors. I prefer to refer to each OS branding separately and avoid the confusion to be more helpful to an end user. For point 5.. a regular user can still benefit from the command line even if they never touch it. The overall program design is to provide a cli based program with various GUI front ends. The power of the tools is available by command line while the user or distribution maintainer can choose the GUI front end that best fits the need. Another benefit is that a user can stick to the GUI and I can go in through ssh to the command line to make requested adjustments quickly and easily. I can even run GUI programs from there machine displaying on my local screen if required. All the while, user separation is maintained. The end user has just benefited in two ways from the power of the command line without every being aware that it existed. In a business environment, I can build a server with no GUI component at all making far better use of the hardware my employer paid good money for. More money for better hardware, less expense for overpriced software licenses. Less software on the server for potential exploitation also. The employer just benefited without ever touching the machine, let along the command line. I do agree that end users could do with less confusion and need for DIY installation but that topic is a seporate long conversation with many variables outside of the technology's own attributes.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

telling a road safety expert promoting slower speed limits that they're biased against driving at a reasonable speed and therefor their opinions are worthless; or like telling a car design expert who says they shouldn't allow the use of a new car made of too thin a shell and with poor brakes has a worthless opinion because they object to it on safety grounds. Being biased doesn't remove the validity of the statements. Windows is a badly designed operating system with a huge number of faults, many of which are designed in as part of the MS predatory marketing process and these cause problems. Hell MS Windows hasn't had a good new idea since before it was conceived - the GUI was stolen, as was the everything else in it, bad copies of other companies well set out ideas. But don't worry, unlike MS, no one is using economic pressure to force you to spend money on Linux so you can do as you want.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. if the article had shown bias towards Windows while being "less than truthful about aspects of" Linux based OS, would the opinion be equally as worthless? Also, what specific points did you feel where less than truthful about windows?

extremejm
extremejm

He's talking about the access to the source code. There is NO ACCESS to source code for Windows. There is FULL ACCESS to the source code for Linux. The article started out fairly unbiased but did seemingly change to be more Linux.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Give Ubuntu or Mandriva Microsof't budget and marketing department then we'll really see competition on a balanced playing field. Heck, show me Microsoft competing purely on product quality and design with the same smaller marketing and legal budgets of other companies and we'll see competition on a balanced playing field. Microsoft's innovation in marketing and hostile business strategy does not equate to a Better platform that simply hasn't been overtaken because other platforms are not as good. There are far more variables involved than simple market share or simple product quality; unfortunately.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

1. Huge bucks spent on marketing - remember with enough money in an advertising program you can sell anything to anyone anywhere - just look at the political campaigns. 2. Predatory marketing practices that forces companies to put Windows on systems for retail sale. 3. The average user (99+%) who barley know enough to turn a computer on don't give a stuff about what OS or apps are on the computer or who's selling, just how much, can I get the Internet, can I use my IM, can I use Skype, can I use Google Earth, can it play music, can I get my mail, and can I write a document. Give them a range of Linux machines or Windows machines side by side and the main deciding factors will be the cost or how pretty it looks. ---- MS have been making rubbish for years but selling it well. Look at all the hype for how great Windows Vista is, yet the actual performance factors are less than XP and you need better hardware to run it. Also, the few extra capabilities and extras loaded into Vista over XP are things Linux systems have been doing for about four years. Yet most people think MS just invented them because they pay big money to sell the MS BS. It's as simple as that. Get a major distibutor like Walmart to put preset up linux systems on the shelf instead of Windows systems and they'd sell just as well as the average user wouldn't know or care.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I don't see multi-user as concurrent session but seporation of user "home" spaces. I had family watching my house while away. I added a new user to the system and set it to start into a graphic desktop after login; my house sitter was all set. They had there own storage space and could make any changes to there graphic layout they wished. That account was completely seporate from the system it was contained in and my own user account. I knew I'd come home to a working desktop with my own "home" space waiting patiently for me. My wife and I have our own user accounts on various machines as will my children when they are old enough to require access. That is true multi-user and you can't get that with Windows unless you add a full AD back end or some Admin magic in the local configuration on a standalone workstation. For concurrent sessions, I regularily log into my workstation directly then additionally log in through ssh from other machines around the house. That right there is multi-user concurrent access. I can go into my wife's machine if I need something while she's happily working in her own session and not bother her at all. At the same time, I run my messaging clients off my PDA through the nice pretty GUI while at the same time, I'm going into it through the network from my workstation to sync files or use various network tools installed on it; more benefits to true multi-user concurrent sessions. With VMs, I may have two or more ssh sessions logged into one machine while drafting specialized builds for various needs along with a few concurrent sessions into the workstation hosting the VM software. Yesterday, I had one session displaying the message log while I was in through a second session making confuration changes and confirming that the new program was working correctly (Monit.. what a wonderful little utility that is). On a personal computer, there is very much such a thing as multi-user. We're long past the days of Dos and a single user platforms. "There is really no excuse " - for the size of the anti-malware industries - for poor design - for single user platforms in a multi-user home And, KDE recognizes, asks and then mounts removable media perfectly. Since anyone who's going to be threatened by the idea of mounting there media manually will be using a graphic desktop anyhow, it's a non-issue.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

much bigger than the change learning curve from Win 98 or XP to Kubuntu. A lot depends upon what you use the system for. I recently had to rebuild a computer for a person who is a total 'I don't know' user. they couldn't find their original XP Home disc or the serial number sheet so I loaded Kubuntu on it. All they used was Firefox, Skype, and Google Earth. They had it two weeks before they realised it wasn't Windows and that was because their daughter couldn't get this new Windows music download software program she wanted to use to run as the .exe file wouldn't work. They had no issues using Open Office as they never did anything much so as long as it opened, they typed something and it saved, that's all they needed - I'd set default document to word .doc format for compatibility with others they sent documents to. Learning curve was five minutes. The switch from MS to Linux will vary for people. If they already use Firefox and Open Office and that's all they use, it's no different regardless of the OS. The difference comes in with the technicians working on the systems and setting up other hardware and applications. The the push and discussion on use Internet Cloud technologies and applications, the actual OS is going to become less relevant as all the end user will need is a web browser. Regarding your problem with Knoppix, try Kubuntu as it has a very Win 98 feel to it.

tech10171968
tech10171968

No, I don't entirely agree. The issue here is that people have been fed a steady diet of Microsoft throughout their computing careers; Windows only _seems_ easier because it's what you're most familiar with. But most folks tend to forget that they didn't exactly come from the womb being able to navigate Windows; there is a learning curve with that OS, too. You just didn't notice it.

tech10171968
tech10171968

I was going to ask the very same thing but looks as if you've beat me to the punch.

Ou Jipi je
Ou Jipi je

The fact remains that this is not much of a difference from the following perspective: Yes, you can get full access to the source code of Linux kernel and no you don't have an access to source code of Windows. Most of the Linux guys though (especially those who are proud of the fact that the code is indeed available), have absolutely no skills to use that fact to their advantage. I mentioned this some time ago, but I'll do it again. If a Linux geek provides you with such an argument, next time when there is a serious problem with your (for example) Apache server (that seem like a bug in the code) - ask him to fix it. Than you will know what I mean. Of course, difference exists from the perspective of programmers - having said that - such is muss less of a problem these days as coding of applications, either for Linux or Windows does not require entire OS/Kernel source code. All that said, I do understand the argument - I am merely pointing out that this argument seem to be too often used from little bit generic perspective and may even be a little bit overrated (and definitely borring).

Scott
Scott

As I mentioned in my other reply, I don't believe that marketing alone can sustain decades of overwhelming market share. Marketing is certainly a powerful force and it definitely improves market share. But you can't consistently market crap. People eventually figure out that it's crap and move to something else. Although I like Vista just fine, you can see market share moving away from MS due to the many problems people have had with Vista - in spite of the huge marketing push behind it. The main point of my previous post, however, is that some of the "advantages" of linux espoused in this article are not "advantages" at all. (And let's be honest, this article was trying to lay out advantages of linux over windows.) They can be seen as advantages by techies, but most of the people on this planet are not techies.

Scott
Scott

There's no question that MS has more marketing muscle than most (okay, all) linux distros. But I'm not buying the fact that pure marketing of an inferior product can drive 90+% market share. Are you really trying to convince yourself that pure marketing can out-perform a superior OS that is also FREE? Why doesn't Wal-Mart and/or Best Buy offer machines pre-loaded with some linux distro? Seems like they did at one time. I honestly don't recall, but it seems I saw some machines at Best Buy a long time ago. If Wal-Mart could offer the same machine for less money (by putting a FREE OS on it), why wouldn't they? Not only that, a FREE OS that is (supposedly) more secure, more reliable, and more feature-rich than Windows. Seems like a no-brainer. The idea that all of these (supposed) advantages that linux enjoys over Windows are all negated by a marketing campaign sounds a bit far-fetched to me. As for Vista, that's a great example of how hype and marketing did NOT convince anyone to upgrade. As you say, there was plenty of marketing surrounding it, but for some reason the technical difficulties and bad reviews are keeping people away in droves. It seems more likely to me that linux has an image problem. Let's do a little work association: Apple/Mac --> Elegant, Artsy, Elitist Windows --> Sucks, Mainstream, Corporate Unix --> Mainframe, Corporate Linux --> Propellerhead, Geeky, Obscure Linux may or may not offer technical advantages over windows, but one thing is for sure - it has an image problem. People think it's difficult to use and incompatible with the software they want to use.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

However, it does mean you can quickly and easily check for back doors, hooks, malware and anything else you may not want to be in it. That's the big risk I see in the way MS deal with their proprietary code, they can, and do, put in anything they like and you have no way of knowing what it is, and when you do, you can't be sure it's been deactivated when you use their process to deactivate it. Simply put, not being able to check the code, be it the kernel or any part of the OS, means you can be sure it's safe and has no extras that can bite you. For many people this isn't a problem, for some it is.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Unless Linus re-licensed the kernel later on, he didn't write the license. He simply chose Richard Stallman's GPL as the best fit for his software when he released it. It's not a huge point now some fifteen or more years later but some will get bent up over it. Also, while the GPL'd code specifically must remain available to future developers to build on, there is nothing that says a company can not sell add on software along side there services and publications. Mandriva Poweruser and Red Hat Enterprise both use the no cost community base distribution which include at cost programs in addition also. Hardware is also a product rather than service or publication though a Linux kernel may be ticking away at its core. The development model does continue to prove itself though. Self motivated and interested programmers choosing to work on software for the end goal of quality code versus employed programmers assigned a project for the end goal of getting through to the next pay cheque and remaining within assigned budget constraints (no more quality than makes the sale happen); just look at the rate of evolution and quality versus pretty makeup on crappy code. (edit): Spelling, and to add that this was to clarify the points for new readers and detractors.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

The original and core kernel was produced under an Open License and all subsequent versions are tied to that license in various ways - that license says the operating system MUST be given away free. now you may wonder why that is, but you have to remember the circumstances and times in which Linux first came to be. UNIX was a program developed for use by universities and many people were allowed to use it free, but it had a normal copyright. Many years later the people in charge of Unix changed their minds about letting people have ti free and it started to get sold at a price, making it hard for many people to afford. The original code for graphics user interfaces and web browsers were first allowed out free but had no specific copyright protection; so it got stolen and charged for as MSIE and Windows, etc. Linus, the developer of Linux, wanted to ensure it stayed free and wrote his license that way. The only way to make money from Linux (except as a tech) is to write and sell books or sell support services. This means the majority of Linux distribution people do NOT have the big money backing to go with the world wide multi million dollar advertising campaigns that MS runs, so what is spent is concentrated where they see the best value returns, usually conventions and magazines. But the use of Linux is fast growing much faster than MS would prefer and at a higher rate than most of the surveys would have us believe.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

?No advertising. No mention on hardware boxes. No pre-installs on new computers.? Dell, Asus, IBM, Novell, Mandriva, Red Hat, Nokia, HiVision, LG, Tangent, Zonbu, Shuttle, Emtec, Raon Digital. This list could be longer if I hit distrowatch.org and grabbed a list of the ?for a fee? distributions. I really don?t think it?s a lack of companies offering the products or even advertising by some of the companies though some are more obscure. Things like Best Buy?s mandate to not sell non-Windows with the token exception of the Apple corner do help keep distribution channels monopolized by one company. IBM, Novell, they are advertising. Mandriva isn?t unheard of nor is Red Hat though the later doesn?t generall target consumer products. You could have true AI written into your OS purely functioning towards end user benefits and you?d still be pretty screwed against the marketing department over in Redmond there. For the monopoly share ?business partners? generally mean people contractually required to only sell Microsoft platforms. Dell is one of the few OEM that could eventually do that without the full ire of the monopoly leader; and in that case, keeping the alternative options more hidden on the website is probably part of that. It?s still the market share myth though. Microsoft and Apples figures will always be overstated though Apple much less overstated due to selling a complete unit not software component of a unit. The various Linux based distribution vendors will always have understated figures simply because the retail channels are such a small part of all the legal distribution channels. I think looking at Linux based os in regards to why market share is not improving is like wondering why the tooth-fairy hasn?t visited recently; both are myth and fantasy completely outside of the reality. It is an uphill fight for anyone profiting off there ?for fee? distribution but I believe that fight is much more synthetically imposed by market abuse. Heck, if you cut MS market share out of the metrics you end up with a much more balanced and realistic spread more representative of product quality since no two Linux distros are ?Linux? but something different build on top of a common core. I'd say that in a healthy market our outside of a monopoly possition, a company can not consistantly market crap. In the current abused market place monopolies enjoy the ability to market crap consistantly and still remain ahead due to the momentom built up over time through questionable practices.

Scott
Scott

I see where you are coming from and agree to an extent. MS currently enjoys several non-technical advantages over competing OSes, but as you say, they aren't just marketing advantages. As Ernest mentions, many (most?) hardware and software vendors target the Windows platform and ignore linux. And who can blame them? Just yesterday I was in Best Buy looking at portable USB drives. Printed on the box they had Windows and Mac system requirements. I assume that any of them would work with linux, but none of them even mentioned it. Can it really be that hard to get a little "Linux Compatible" label on these things? There aren't *that* many hardware mfgs out there. But back to my original point - you can't consistently market crap. Apple has seen huge gains (relatively speaking) recently, I believe due to the unpopularity of Vista. Has any linux distro enjoyed similar gains? Apple has been running negative advertising campaigns targeting Windows to help capitalize on Vista's problems. I haven't seen anything yet from the linux crowd. No advertising. No mention on hardware boxes. No pre-installs on new computers. If MS is a case study for how to successfully market and promote a product, linux has to be the case study for how *not* to. Maybe it's great having a free operating system, but it apparently leaves absolutely no money for other critical business functions - including marketing and business partnerships with hardware manufacturers. Maybe "free" is actually what's holding linux back? I realize that I'm probably coming off as a MS apologist, and maybe I am. However, I think we probably agree more than we disagree. I think we both agree that linux is a fine OS, but that it suffers from an image problem. We both agree that MS has much more money to throw at marketing and business partnerships. I think where we disagree is that I contend that it's incorrect to blame MS for having these advantages. The correct thing to do is look at linux and ask *why* it isn't improving its market share. If the answer is "lack of money" then one has to question the viability of giving away software for free.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

MS deliberately design their software NOT to use a number of industry standards and then pressure software and hardware companies to design their systems around the MS standards so they'll have 'out of the box Windows compatibility.' Where the companies have ignored the MS pressure and built their hardware or software so as to need special Windows add ins (often called drivers if hardware) to be able to operate with Windows, they work out of the box with Linux and the early versions of Windows. Many people have business critical or preferred software applications that have been designed to work with specific versions of Windows, if they can't get a copy of that to work with Linux they'll stay with Windows, even if it means buying a new copy of the software when they change Windows operating systems. When the hardware and software companies stop kowtowing to MS and cease tailoring their products to be Windows only, then we'll see a much bigger movement. For years MS had the same lock on the office software market with Word / Excel etc, now people and companies are moving to open Office in ever increasing numbers to get away from the need to buy new licences every few years. MS Internet Explorer comes free with each OS, yet the number of people and companies switching to Firefox is increasing daily as they want the better performance and capabilities it offers. MSIE has sort of kept pace, but only by quickly copying and offering what FF has put out before them. In time the people will shift, but the MS marketing steam roller will keep rolling over people for some time. And don't forget the MS software and business management is so good that they've had to increase prices to cover billions of dollars expended in fines and legal costs fighting court cases over their improper business practices. Maybe the US supreme court will finally get pissed enough to break them up.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

According to the anti-Iraqi war people it was marketing to the general US public that got the support for Bush to go in. Other companies have put out much better cars than Holden or Ford ever did but the better car companies are gone as they could never match the marketing power of Holden and Ford. tell me how great Verizon is as an ISP, yet they're still around due to marketing getting new people in. Marketing is the third greatest power in the world. Only the Sun and Religious fervor beat it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Yet.. Microsoft chugs on with the same old strategies and quality of product. By the time there was a something else to consider, MS already had the distribution channels sealed tight. The contractual requirement for OEMs to not sell anything but MS platforms was a big help in that. Convincing the US courts that any machine sold without an OS was just going to be used to pirate MS products there by defending the contractual obligation and monopoly position was also a big help. Granted, until the mid to late 90s, there was no Linux in a competitive position and until osX, Apple was still spiraling quickly into irrelevance. For many years, MS enjoyed a lack of competition that really helped to cement the position they now enjoy. One can?t blame MS for the time during which no viable alternative existed at all but that time is long past; only it?s legacy of myth remains. My response was basically over this last point you made: ?Windows certainly has its short-comings. But if it really "sucks" as bad as many linux evangelists say it does, then that doesn't say much for Linux's ability to overtake it. There is SOMETHING holding linux back. I don't claim to know what it is (though I'm willing to bet it's "ease-of-use" followed closely by "Windows compatability"). Maybe those of you who are most familiar with linux have a better idea. But whatever it is, until you admit it - then fix it - you'll continue to be a novelty.? You ask why Linux (I assume meaning desktop focused distributions specifically) has not overtaken other platform options if the others ?sucks as bad as many linux evangelists say it does?. I simply answered; give Mandriva, Connonical or the folks behind PCLinuxOS the marketing budget and supply channels that Microsoft has or restrict Microsoft to the budgets and supply channels the other?s have and you?ll have a better chance of seeing the better platform win in a truly consumer driven capitalist market. Why hasn?t one of these distribution backers overtaken Microsoft?s market share? They have to contend with many synthetic forces outside of basic results from educated consumers making educated decisions based on a products actual quality and empowerment of the end user. There is no technological reason that any of these desktop focuses distributions couldn?t be polished up, given full hardware and game support and seen as a viable alternative on an even playing field. Basically, the way the game is played now; MS get?s to cloth it?s team in full football armour and run it?s cleats across the oposing teams feet before the game starts while the oposing team is forced to only wear shorts, gersy tops and slick bottom shoes. It?s not the quality of the oposing athletes, it?s the pre-oranged external stuff they have to overcome. I do realize why MS is a case study for every business student and the wet dream of each as they graduate. That doesn't benefit the end user though; it's far too shareholder focused. Return shareholder dividends at any and every cost. Any time improving quality takes away from the shareholder profit margin, quality will become secondary. Windows AD support.. tried Suse?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Adolph Hitler and Stalin sold huge lies to millions through propaganda, which is the fancy name for free political advertising. I remember reading once where a USA beer company ad from the 1960s was along the lines of Vote 'X' no 1.' It hit Mexico with a huge ad campaign in all media at the same time as the election for the mayor in a city down there - the voting was done by writing the name down, yep 60% of the people elected the beer as mayor. The situation we have today in general user computer sales is that average Mr and Mrs Public goes into a store like Walmart or a department store to buy a computer. Those stores do NOT hire techs to sit around and put computers together, and one time in the past they used to to, but not now. The retail stores buy pre-made systems fully loaded from people like HP, Compaq, Toshiba, Dell, IBM, etc. So when MS pressure these companies the lot available to Mr and Mrs General Public is limited. this will only change when some company starts selling good range of system pre-loaded with Linux. Now down here in Australia Dell is one of the biggest sellers of pre-built systems through the retail network. I just checked the Dell web site, for home and small business use your choices of operating system are limited to a few variants of Windows Vista, no Linux or XP in sight. Interestingly many of the systems have 64 bit boards and processors but are being sold with 32 bit copies of Vista, hmm. Some of the systems available to big business enterprises do offer a choice of Red Hat Linux instead of Vista, but the prices are available only upon application at that level. One tech at another forum priced the cost of computers offered by Dell in the UK several months back. A couple of models were available with Linux. yet the cost of the Linux loaded system were dearer than the Vista loaded ones or were slightly less capable and cheaper components. When they chased the costing details up through Dell UK they got told the difference was due to money Dell got paid by companies to put their spyware and trial software on the system. Later a Dell staffer added the real reason was the Dell contract with MS required them to pay MS a Vista licence for every machine they sold as that was the way the contract was written, so MS still get paid for a basic Vista licence when Dell sell a Linux system, then you have to pay for a Dell tech to wipe Vista and load Linux before it's shipped. I don't know if this is true but it's in line with the way MS operate. the only way people get Linux is when they buy a system from a small supplier who doesn't buy massed produced units like Dell or HP or they get Linux themselves. This also applies to the corporate world. one thing you may wish to think about is this - If Linux is so not yet ready for the business environment or the real world, why are so many governments and major companies outside the USA moving towards it and why are some major US government agencies and departments developing programs to switch to Linux? I heard that a blanket instruction has gone out to many government organisations in the USA that they are NOT to buy and Vista systems at all, no matter what. If that's the case, where else do they go for their desktop services? Anyway, Linux is so bad that all the new features in Vista are ones being offered by Linux four years ago or longer. It's so bad that MS has to copy the Linux / Unix security (even if they do do it badly), the Glass 3D desktop, etc. the only real difference in the retails market is the marketing and pressure on retail manufacturers. Money speaks.