Linux

Why would anyone choose Linux when they already have Windows?

A few days ago Jack Wallen in the Linux and Open Source blog asked why Windows. Well here's why.

I know there is a great debate taking place about which operating system is better. Jack Wallen, host of the Linux and Open Source blog, started a lengthy discussion asking the question: Why would you choose Windows over Linux? I thought that was kind of funny, because recently I have been asking myself the opposite question: Who would choose to switch to Linux?

I could go through a litany of complaints I have about Linux. I could complain about the confusing number of distributions. I could complain about the propensity of Linux proponents to cause unnecessary confusion by abbreviating or using acronyms for Linux-only functions. I could complain about the silly confusing names they give applications.

I could complain about cryptic command lines, nonexistent instructions, obscure references, and septic responses from the "open source community" to novices and their questions. I could reiterate that a multi-step process that takes an hour to work through to get Linux to put music on to my iPod is not EASY. I could point out that I receive security patch notices almost weekly for SUSE Linux, which indicates that as an operating system Linux is not anymore safe than Windows.

But all of that is not addressing the correct issue, is it?

Digging deeper

The debate about operating systems is a senseless debate about something that, in the long run, makes no difference. An operating system exists only to create an environment for applications; nothing more, nothing less. Most people sit down at a computer and just start using it without worrying about what operating system it is running.

I have no knowledge of the operating system that runs my microwave oven. I don't have to install the popcorn application -- it is already there, and it works just fine. I don't care who made it, I don't care if it is open source, and I don't spend time on PopcornRepublic discussing the merits of one popcorn application over another. It doesn't matter -- what matters is that I get a good bag of popcorn.

What matters in a personal computer is that I can run the applications that I want to run without having to worry about whether I have the correct operating system. You can argue that we are not quite there yet, but I think outside of the information technology industry, at the user and consumer level, they are there already. Consumers buy a personal computer for the applications; they know what they want a computer for. Much of the time, the operating system is Windows, but do you really think they care?

Why Windows?

Jack wanted to know why Windows and not Linux. At the base level the answer is simple: Because that is what came with my PC when I bought it and there is ABSOLUTELY NO COMPELLING REASON to go through the trouble of switching operating systems just so I can run applications that are similar (or even identical) to the applications I already have.

The whole mythology that Linux is perfectly safe and never crashes is just wishful thinking. I have seen Linux crash -- I've watched John Sheesley crash Linux over and over again. Viruses and worms exist that take advantage of Linux bugs and security lapses just like Windows. Those kinds of problems are not exclusive to any one operating system.

The real security weakness lies with users and their willingness to click on a link, any link, just to see where it leads. The nefarious among us take advantage of this aspect of human behavior -- that has nothing to do with the operating system.

Why not?

So why Windows -- why not? That is what the user knows and, so far, no one has offered any compelling reason for them to change their operating system. For the part of the population not engaged in the raging operating system debate, the question is meaningless -- they just want to run applications.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

196 comments
hafeez_nazri
hafeez_nazri

Hello..i'm new in this RTOS arena.can someone gave me details about what is diff between those RTOS?Vxworks and Linux.i am still blur on how Linux can build an application..how?

hellums
hellums

No operating system is "better" than another, be it Linux, Windows, or Mac(ux). Look at your requirements, and pick the one most suitable. Ease of use and small learning curve will lead typical users to Windows for a desktop operating system, where ubiquity and efficiency will trump cost (and even security and stability) 99% of the time. For them, Windows is "better" and they are unlikely to change/switch (if they did, they'd probably go to a Mac). As an application server in a business environment, though, deploying Linux is much more palatable, so geeks and hard core IT workers (that don't fear learning curves) will appreciate and use Linux more than the casual user. Linux is "better" for them, and they often run a mix of many OSes (unless they're a rabid zealot or pundit). There is no silver bullet OS for all users and applications. To argue the point is as useless as arguing whether Democrats are better than Republicans, or vice versa. A party is suitable and acceptable (based on ideals and tradeoffs) to a person, not "better." Ditto for American-made vs. import, and other arguments.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

A comment in another sub-thread has prompted me to start this thread to clarify a couple of points raised. One thing a lot of people get confused with is the difference between an update and a patch. Both can be very similar but have different intents behind them and are usually processed differently. Patch: This is where you identify a fault, error, vulnerability or similar problem in a section of code, part of an app or library or instruction set. For example: fix an overflow buffer problem. So you write a piece of code to either correct that section of code or make it harder to get at. Generally Linux write code correction for a patch while MS tend to just make it harder to locate and get at. ---------- Update: This is where you rewrite the whole section of code like a library, app or instruction set to improve performance or add a capability. For example: expand a library to use an extra type of input device or higher speed, like updating a USB 1 library to allow the use of USB 2. Both Linux and MS do this; however, MS tend NOT to release updates unless forced to, they tend to keep them aside to be released in the next major service pack if they feel they have to release it before the next version of the software. Linux tend to release an update as soon as they have it ready. The result is that over 90% of the extras downloaded by Linux are updates, yet the majority of extras downloaded by MS are patches. This is due to the greater need of MS to fix faulty code, and since they just patch instead of rewrite, they often need to patch, re-patch, re-patch, and re-patch time after time. -------- Linux tends to release an updated version of their OS every six or twelve months, thus ensuring it's much more current. Between releases they also release any updates they've written in between. As an example I use Kubuntu, the next release of Kubuntu is almost ready, when it comes out my updates for my current version will mean it's virtually as capable as the new release; however, the new release will have a little something extra. My current version is built around KDE3 and the new release will be built around KDE4 so it'll have some better desktop graphics that my updated current version won't have. After the new release I can continue to keep my current version up to date with updates for years to come if I don't wish to go with the new release. That's because many Linux updates will work with multiple release, something not common with MS.

jimmy.barnett
jimmy.barnett

Linux is a more stable environment for Corporate users or for servers. Less chance of a virus (none known of at this time). All the applications now support Linux as well as Windows. You can write to a Windows based hard drive. And if you actually buy a Distro from a local company then you also receive FREE tech support, and not a call by call bases or a fee upfront unlike Windows. Linux can be expanded beyond the normal capabilities and offers a better GUI (to some). I personally have been running Linux for over 10 years now and would rather have it instead of Windows. I have also learned C and C++ and have the ability to add change or modify anything in Linux which can not be done in Windows. Why would you not switch?

Tearat
Tearat

Some problems with your blog ?I could point out that I receive security patch notices almost weekly for SUSE Linux, which indicates that as an operating system Linux is not anymore safe than Windows.? No it means SUSE Linux is not anymore safe than Windows But since you do not state which version of Windows you may or may not be right Not that I would take your experience as an indicator of the security of SUSE So which versions of Windows have the most and least security flaws? Also which versions of Linux You will need the answers to those questions before you can compare Windows and Linux security By the way I hope your microwave doesn?t get a virus and microwave your hand No that would never happen Because the people who make them know better than to trust software with your safety That is why they use mechanical protection on microwaves This argument about OS choice will continue until the choice of OS is unimportant In other words When every application you can buy will run on every OS you can choose Until then no amount of twisted logic will work and the arguments will continue You should know better than to use generalisations These are generalisations Windows Linux Better More Good enough Good Bad These are not Windows Vista (SP number would be more accurate) Suse Linux(Version Number would be more accurate) Fixed Violations Unpatched Patched One, two, three and so on It is sad how IT pros have allowed things to slip to the point where good enough can be taken seriously as an argument PS I will check out Jacks Blog I may or may not comment I am getting tired of some of the mistakes people keep making in these discussions Also I am getting tired.

donran
donran

Reasons for the choise of Linux for Windows should be discussed more openly in relation to users needs and affordability. Most users would prefer to have a single OS with a high degree of security and reliabilty without having to migrate into a new OS every 2 years at a substantial cost. Linux provides both without little or any cost to the user. Over the last 10-15 years Windows have done this task at a substantial cost to all users, instead of improving security and reliability of one OS. Introduction of a new OS to do the same task every two years is not an acceptable way to go forward other than increasing the power and might of a single corporation. Linux has the support of a global community developing software to provide an ever increasing need for new applications at the same time providing the key components of an OS namely security and reliability. Introduction of Windows Vista with better security degrades the Windows XP to a level that most users have become aware of the exploitation carried out by a large corporation. This is one of the key reasons why users should choose Linux to Windows.

tinyang73
tinyang73

"Why Windows? Jack wanted to know why Windows and not Linux. At the base level the answer is simple: Because that is what came with my PC when I bought it and there is ABSOLUTELY NO COMPELLING REASON to go through the trouble of switching operating systems just so I can run applications that are similar (or even identical) to the applications I already have." Yes, this is the sheople mentality. Those consumers who will gladly let themselves get bent over the table and sacrifice their civil liberties, privacy, and other such freedoms either because they are ignorant or they just can't be bothered to be educated consumers are the masses. They don't consider that they are being violated and plied with anti-consumer technologies like DRM and having their privacy violated by licenses and actions of criminal corporations such as Microsoft (but Microsoft is by far not the only one)! Linux/OSS is free as in better than Free Beer (control of your computer, privacy, & freedoms)! "The whole mythology that Linux is perfectly safe and never crashes is just wishful thinking. I have seen Linux crash ??? I???ve watched John Sheesley crash Linux over and over again. Viruses and worms exist that take advantage of Linux bugs and security lapses just like Windows. Those kinds of problems are not exclusive to any one operating system." This is correct, but you leave out important details such as the amount of Viruses and worms that exist for linux (less) as compared to the amount that exist for Windows (more). You also leave out the consideration that Linux being an OS that follows the POSIX standards is actually built in a much more secure fashion and for a vast majority of the linux nasties out there will not get past the user profile into the kernel. The same is not necessarily true of Windows. "The real security weakness lies with users and their willingness to click on a link, any link, just to see where it leads. The nefarious among us take advantage of this aspect of human behavior ??? that has nothing to do with the operating system." Not true as stated above, it does have to do with the operating system because it matters how the operating system will handle the intrusion of nasties. "Why not? So why Windows ??? why not? That is what the user knows and, so far, no one has offered any compelling reason for them to change their operating system. For the part of the population not engaged in the raging operating system debate, the question is meaningless ??? they just want to run applications." This much at least is true, refer to the sheople reference above.

fdasdsf
fdasdsf

When I plug in a device in windows I get 3 popups saying "Found a new Device", "Installing appropriate drivers", "you can now use the hardware". My Linux OS just brings up the file browser or alerts me that I can now use the device. Same with codecs: I can't play an ogg file in windows media player. A popup comes up saying, there are no codecs installed. I can click a link which brings me to a website where I have to pick the right codec. My Linux can't play an mp4 file either. It pops up an information with the option to search for the appropriate codec and install it. If I want to install software on windows, I have to download the installer and go through the installation wizard. If I want to uninstall the software, I have to open the software-tool and click on a button, go throught the uninstallation wizard until finally the software is removed. In linux, I open the packagemanager, search for my software, check a box and hit a button. To uninstall I open the packagemanager, search for my software, uncheck a box and hit a button.

joef_z
joef_z

Users want to be able to do things, not use specific applications. They are just as happy using Firefox as IE, just as happy in Fedora as Windows, all external factors being equal. The genius of Microsoft's marketing machine was to create an environment in which all external factors are not equal. Some web pages don't display properly except in IE. Until recently no major system builder except Apple would even sell you a machine with anything but Windows on it. And so on and so forth. That's how they pounded down the superior Macintosh and Netscape, and how they became convicted antitrust violators. This is well-known history and not rocket science. So here are a few reasons why Linux and not Windows: 1. More capabilities for less (or no) money. 2. More stability. Yes, you can crash linux, but the difference in stability is still major. I use Windows at work all day and a whole IT department can't keep it running properly. My Slackware at home hasn't crashed since, well, I have no idea when the last time was. I think during the holidays two years ago when the power went out during a system upgrade. It took 10 minutes with a live CD to fix. And believe me, the IT department at work restricts me to doing little more than changing my wallpaper, while at home I do all kinds of things to my system and it just keeps going. 3. More security. As others have noted, you must have been joking about there being viruses and so forth for Linux. And the whole users clicking on a link thing is hilarious. It's true in the same sense that both motorcyclists wearing bathing suits and flip flops and Hummer drivers in full leathers have to worry about road rash. 4. More choice. I run Fluxbox with the lightest applications I can find for speed. One login later I can be running Gnome or KDE 4 with all the built-in bells and whistles just waiting for me to customize to my liking. I can compile everything myself or run my whole system from a live CD, or go with any option between those points. Windows gives you more choice than OS X, but that's saying almost nothing. And here's the big one: 5. More freedom: To MS you are a revenue stream. They sell your attention and access to you and your system to a whole host of people, because getting your continuing revenue has become the point of getting you to use the OS. They're in bed with the RIAA and anybody else who is interested in keeping your options down to paying them money forever or doing without. Now, are any of those reasons (or the many more I could add) compelling? Depends on who you are. I know people who wouldn't run Linux from a live CD even though their machines were so totally owned by hackers that they couldn't boot up without seeing so much porn they couldn't have their kids in the room. Their machines were obviously zombies being used for some prick's malicious intent, but they couldn't step outside the box. That's the crippling effect of MS's FUD and the fact that to most people computers are voodoo. That's how MS likes it because it keeps people pouring money down that big hole. It's the exact opposite of what the Open Source community (got to mention GNU) philosophy. So why Linux over Windows? So you can get off your knees. But if you like it there...

rfennimore
rfennimore

"Viruses and worms exist that take advantage of Linux bugs and security lapses just like Windows" ... You've got to be joking right? If you're not, then it is quite obvious that you haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about. I am not even going to waste my time trying to explain it to you. I'll only say this ... if one can find a Unix based operating system that runs the applications they use or need, then use it. Mac OS X would be my first preference, but if Linux can do it, then so be it. Windows is seriously flawed. XP is very high maintenance and extremely susceptible to malware. Maybe Microsoft will fix Vista's problems, but I am still sitting on the fence before I comment on that one.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Windows, Unix, Linux, and DOS are all operating systems. These are software programs that provide a way for the other software to talk to the hardware without having to get too bloated. Modern operating systems also include a number of small built-in applications to make loading of big applications easier and to assist with a number of tasks - like a clock etc. Applications are loaded on top of the operating system. Unix has been around for forty years, Linux is similar to Unix but is only going on twenty years. Windows, in it's current Windows only format is a bit over ten years old; the earlier versions loaded DOS first and then sat on DOS like an interface application. Applications are things like a word processor, a spreadsheet, a video player, etc. Linux is better written with less bugs, less access points, and less garbage than Windows; thus it runs faster and on less hardware requirements. Unlike Windows, Linux tries to maintain compatibility with all versions instead of the MS system of forcing change for change's sake.

Tearat
Tearat

But some of what you wrote is your personal experiences You and others should separate them from the non personal Also it is not wise to put yourself forward as the normal or average person in the subject you are discussing One more thing People have already stated there are viruses for Linux based OS in this discussion Your statement ?Less chance of a virus (none known of at this time).? Can be seen as saying there are no viruses that affect a Linux based OS Cheers Steve

joef_z
joef_z

This has been pointed out before, but the Linux distros send out patches for things that Microsoft never would, things like third-party graphics programs. Microsoft and its supporters like to count all those as OS security patches because they come from the OS vendor. MS, meanwhile, only counts its security patches that deal with its OS. You got a third-party word processor or browser? Fine, get you patches from them. It doesn't count against us. Suse, meanwhile, probably sends out patches on whatever they put on the DVD. That makes MS look much better, because it's providing less service. But the user is actually less safe. The other thing a lot of people don't realize is that some of these Linux security issues are things like "privilege escalation." In other words, a person using your machine might be able to hack his way into having the same admin rights most MS users have from the moment they sit down at the keyboard. Kind of like complaining that my daughter is less safe because they issued a recall on her chastity belt when your own daughter doesn't even wear panties. Another consideration is that it is standard Linux practice to only install what you need on servers or mission-critical workstations. No music players, no CD burner programs, etc. Some don't even install X, which means it's a strictly text-based machine. That means a large percentage of the security issues don't even apply to them because they haven't installed the program in question. Windows, by contrast, has a much bigger minimal install, and it includes a lot of things a Linux admin would never have to worry about. So if they issue a security patch for a program you haven't installed, does it make a sound? There are other considerations, obviously. All I'm saying is that it behooves MS to report things in a way that experienced Linux users know to be biased. But if you don't look too close, they're golden.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I really don't understand why choosing Linux over Windows or vice versa is a political statement. We are talking about operating systems, not the right to vote, bear arms, worship, or assemble. I have freedom of speech whether I use Linux or not.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

actually answered the "why switch when" question instead of the "why one is better" question =) The reasons to actively switch from windows to linux can be many; 1) The increased resistance to malware/virus is very refreshing to some (especially with kids as many have attested on this site). 2) In many cases the uptime on servers for *nix/bsd is a significant financial factor. 3) personal ethical beliefs about the MS business practices. 4) Desire to "root for the underdog" 5) Enjoy cutting edge graphical desktops 6) Refuse to pay for MS licensing 7) Prefer to support the FOSS paradigm (close to 4 and 3) 8) voices in your head told you to. 9) Friend/family member made you start, but you can quite at anytime, honest... 10) really very numerous and personal/individual to the situation.

j-mart
j-mart

As Windows is the common OS, with it being standard on most pre assembled machines (ignoring Macs for the moment) often no particular choosing is involved. If you build up your own machine you will choose Windows, if that's the OS you install, or you might choose Linux insted. If you remove Windows from your pre build machine and install Linux (or OSX ) you are making a definite choice. Oten no choosing is involved, if whatever OS is already on your pre built machine, if it does what you want you won't bother to change it. After all it's only software, despite what some feel it is only a small part of our lives.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Next I'll read Microsoft white papers on why I shouldn't use open source programs. Nice to know FUD exists on both sides of the debate. In short, Microsoft's business practices don't affect my decision to use their OS or applications. I just don't care.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Thank you for presenting some more persuasive arguments, but I cannot really say I am convinced. Lets look at your points: 1. How is Linux more capable - it is just an operating system? Similar applications can be run on any OS. 2. I don't agree at all - my Windows systems don't crash. 3. You mean there are no viruses or worms for Linux at all -- ever? 4. I don't care about bells and whistles and customized skins. I am a minimalist when it comes to GUIs. 5. I am a capitalist - I don't mind that Microsoft makes money. And the idea that I am a minion of the man is a little dramatic don't you think. As I keep saying, this is just an operating system.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What it does point out is what those firms are using Linux for. What it doesn't point out is how many of those functions were running under Windows before. Look at the list; many of the described functions don't exist as desktop apps under any OS. Of those organizations running Linux on desktops, the list doesn't indicate which one switched as part of regularly scheduled hardware upgrades, as opposed to replacing Windows on existing equipment. Just because a big company with a support structure uses it for oil exploration or back end infrastructure doesn't mean I should rebuild an existing functional desktop.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I don't find the argument, "because these guys switched" very persuasive. I am sure they had good reasons and I would be happy to publish them if they would like to explain.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's not that there are no viruses, worms or other malicious code for Unix like OS; it's just very difficult for those to remain successful for long because the developers see it as a flaw to be fixed not a blemish on the marketing image which needs to be denied and spun. Once you manage to get something on a Unix like system, you then have to recrack the system to break out of the user and into an account that can actually do something. Unix like OS can be configured as insecurely as any other system but it's far less common to do so. Social engineering is the real vulnerability to be aware of as it usualy takes user intervention to make anything happen on the system your trying to break into. Don't let the Apple ads fool you into thinking Unix like OS are impenetrable (especialy osX). Be aware of how they are penetrable so you can protect yourself; just like learning to look both ways before stepping into traffic.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Thanks for the reply, but I hear these arguments about Windows all the time and don't really understand them. I haven't had a malware incident in years. With automatic updates it is not very high maintenance. Now, perhaps if I was an admin I'd have a different perspective. But the point of the blog post was that the debate over which is the "better" OS is meaningless -- when it comes to starting an application, where stuff really gets done, they are all about the same.

dleippe
dleippe

Hi Steve; I have been to various parts of New Zealand. Based upon my personal experience I would highly recommend people visit New Zealand. On the other hand I wouldn't want to live there. Nothing personal, I would just prefer Australia if I wanted to live somewhere down under. I have been to "Windows" and I have been to "Linux". I am visiting in the "Windows" land because that is where the money is. I prefer Linux for myself. You can't build a Windows machine and survive on the Internet unless you spend time and money on security. I don't know of anyone who uses an anti virus product on a Linux box or Mac box. Last count there were perhaps 100 known viruses for the "nix" boxes, and I think the count for Window is well above 150,000. It is normal to see 100 or more new viruses in each Windows anti virus pattern file update, which is almost daily. That is just a fact of life in the Windows world, very non-personal. I always root for the "All Blacks", regardless. Cheers, Dave Cheers

Tearat
Tearat

I also forgot there are people who prowl these forums who just have to 1 Correct your spelling and grammar (nitpicking twits) 2 Take the issue with every other possible meaning of what you wrote (uncomprehending fools) 3 Troll (lowlife scum) I have now added this disclaimer to my reply ?Not that I would take your experience as an indicator of the security of SUSE? This part was only to illustrate a point and you did not have to answer it But mark will need to if he replys ?So which versions of Windows have the most and least security flaws? Also which versions of Linux You will need the answers to those questions before you can compare Windows and Linux security? This is the point Mark was making a generalised sweeping statement based on a personal limited experience Security has been covered in these and other forums to the point that confusion is the common result for most people Security as far as I am concerned is an absolute Any flaw means it is not secure But feel free to discuss flaws, defects, violations and the stupidity of some security companies

tinyang73
tinyang73

You must be exercising your freedom of speech in order to not address my points on OS security and DRM, as well as having complete control over your machine. ;)

joef_z
joef_z

Actually, it's "just an operating system" only until they start adding things to it. An operating system is the layer between the Hardware/BIOS and the programs. Once your OS maker mandates DRM and other control schemes it stops being just an OS and becomes a platform for other things -- which things depends on which scheme we're talking about -- but mostly control of your choices that has nothing to do with operating your hardware or your programs. Microsoft joins forces with those people because it wants to position itself to be the dominant player in the computing/entertainment world it sees emerging. To do that it needs to be able to deliver things like eyeballs and control things like behavior its partners don't like. You are a revenue stream for what can be presented to you and what you can buy. You offer small dollars and limited attention. The RIAA is a partner. It offers strategic business opportunities worth millions or billions and market share, which equals continued leverage and continued existence. Microsoft treats you and the RIAA accordingly. As long as you think it's just an operating system, you're the frog in the pan of water, not noticing the change in temperature. I know it sounds alarmist, but look at what Sony did with its root kit. Look at what the RIAA and MPAA have asked for (to look at what's on your hard drive without your permission or knowledge, to have colleges and others act as police for them). They will turn your computer into a typewriter and a radio and TV that can spy on you, and little more. If you think that's crazy, look into how radio got its start and what it is today. It's the same model. As to your other points: Linux is just an operating system, by my definition. It really isn't more capable, if what you mean is what hardware does it work with and what programs will it run. Otherwise, I think it's more capable because of numbers 2, 3 and 4. If your Windows boxes never crash, you are a lucky and no doubt diligent man. I have three machines that run Windows in the house (two dual-boot Linux) and they all suffer problems and only one of them does anything besides browse the web. There are no worms or viruses the average user has to worry about with Linux. I've heard of some in the lab, and even a few in the wild. But they're aimed at database servers, web servers and so on. I go all over the net -- all over -- and I've yet to run into a problem. when I lived in Germany (got back a year ago) I routinely went on sites the people at work wouldn't let me at because they couldn't guarantee my Windows box's safety. I was also the designated guy to give a strange file to, or forward a strange e-mail to, because I could open it fearlessly. I've been on Linux and talking with Linux people for more than 5 years, and I've never talked to one who has had a virus, Trojan horse, etc. Me either. If you're a GUI minimalist, you should move to Linux for the options you have. I run Fluxbox, but there are probably 20 or 30 window managers you can use and set up just the way you want. Openbox starts with a bare gray screen and a cursor. Right click to get a menu. That's it. You can add things to it to look like Vista, OS X, Gnome -- whatever. But you don't have to. Ratpoison is even more bare bones: you can look at one maximized program window at a time (IIRC). That's the capability of flexibility that Windows doesn't offer. I'm a capitalist, too. And just like any good capitalist I don't like leaving money on the table or paying more than I have to. You pay more for almost everything in the Windows ecosystem for psychological reasons, not for capabilities. That's the province of fear or fashion, not capitalism. There are some reasons to run Windows -- programs that are just better than their Linux counterparts (or there are no Linux counterparts). I understand personal money managers is like that. But in my life, and with web apps improving like they are, there's nothing Windows offers that I need -- especially because I have to buy into the whole ecosystem -- OS, security crap, utilities, etc. -- to run any part of it. I use both systems every day -- Windows more on workdays, because I never get 8 hours at home to be on the computer. And to me, using Windows is just a waste of time and money. And I don't get anything from that time and money, but I give up things -- like the ability to actually control my computer, instead of doing with it what companies say I can do.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

in Windows only works well if you have a good broadband connection and over half of the world users do NOT have access to broadband. In such a situation automatic updates is a major problem as they take up so much of your download town and bandwidth.

rfennimore
rfennimore

I see the support requests come in daily. This is an example of one that came in today: "They have their own IT department with about 5 or so staff that have not been able to resolve this issue even with XXXX (name of antivirus vendor) support. The problem is that they have the Win32/VB.DJ (This is what XXXX detects it as, but cannot find much info on this on the net.) running rampant on their network. They have scanned every single computer and the server for this virus, and cleaned them all, but the virus just returns shortly there after. They have 80+ computers and would like this virus removed once and for all" While this is just an example, they are always the same. We NEVER get this sort of request from clients using Unix/Linux. Yes, rootkits started out as a *nix thing, but Windows rootkits are far more prevalent today. And by the way, I am not aware of any Linux distros that run (or even encourage to run) as root.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

and we even use Symantec Corporate AV. As far as XP and malware are concerned, I see issues in the same 3 users, exclusively. I really think it comes down to browsing habits and common sense. Personally, my machine at home has run XP sp2 with no malware outbreak/infection (not counting tracking cookies here) in 4 years. But, I don't open attachments from unknown sources, I don't go to porn/warez sites. I avoid facebook. Basically I have about 12 sites I browse regularly, and many other occasional sites as research dictates. I am convinced that the most locked down system would eventually be compromised when being used by certain users, while the very minimal (router/firewall) is enough for people on the other end of the security aware bell curve (speaking for general daily use).

rfennimore
rfennimore

Windows XP is notorious for slowing down over time. The hard drive gets fragmented, the system registry gets easily corrupted, buggy 3rd party drivers can cause the system to blue screen or otherwise become unstable, and this is not even considering the huge malware issue. Most of the popular antivirus products out there are lucky if they detect 6 out of 10. So if you think you haven't had a malware issue, then think again. It's quite possible that you ARE infected with a rootkit and don't even know it. The security industry is loosing that war, but what do you expect with an operating system that is connected to an untrusted network (the Internet) and operating with full admin privileges? Unix based (Linux, Mac) operating systems do not slow down over time. Unix based (Linux, Mac) file systems (ext3, HFS) are not designed the same as Windows file systems (FAT32, NTFS), so unless you're beginning to get very low on hard drive space, you do not see fragmentation like you do in Windows. Unix based (Linux, Mac) operating systems do not have a system registry to get corrupted. The system registry is the most convoluted mess Microsoft ever designed. I don't even think THEY know how it works! Unix based (Linux, Mac) operating systems do not use RPC or DLL's. Two more components of Windows that cause it to often become a mess. I stopped counting the number of times I've had to wipe and reload Windows when I got into the hundreds. Yes, it is VERY high maintenance. If you use applications that will only run on the Windows platform, then I guess you're stuck with it. If you use applications that will run on another platform, then I suggest it will be much more trouble free. Most common commercial 3rd party applications today (even Microsoft applications such as Office) can run on Mac OS X. For everyday use, and for most users, this is the platform I would recommend. However, if the applications you use will run on Linux, then I would still suggest it as a better alternative to Windows because it is far more stable, and far more resistant to malware. I primarily work on Mac and Linux, but I still use Windows on a few machines. However I am a certified computer geek and sysadmin, so I am well aware of it's limitations and vulnerabilities. I also know how best to protect it and how to keep it running smoothly. Unfortunately most PC users (about 95%) do not have that luxury.

Tearat
Tearat

It?s along time since I was there last It?s a shame so many people who live here don?t even bother to tour there own country before going overseas Everything is so close to where you live The climate can be so different in regions that are side by side The Waikato can be cold and wet in winter with rain that never stops But in summer it can be dry and hot for so long Then next year its all different The Waikato is the region where I live not a state Would you believe Nelson which is at the top of the South Island is one of the warmest places in the country But on the other side of the channel at the bottom of the North Island. Wellington can be freezing cold raining and windy all in one day Yes I have thought about moving to the land of OZ (Australia) I have family there But there is family here and I don?t feel like moving away from them for now Home is where you live We have/had some very stupid politicians here that have made it very difficult in this country There are some things I would like to see if I get time before I die One is the Spynx and Pyramids I do like the arguments about OS security problems Usually started by someone who hasn?t a clue about the way the OS they are referring works They usually forget about age Version or revision of the OS Or the type of security breach and what it achieves They tend to forget that there is more than one type of crook (wow that is so stupid its in a league of its own) When you read through these discussions someone will repeat the myths they heard somewhere and someone will correct them Then just a few lines down you see someone else repeat the same myths all over again They must think if they act stupid for long enough everyone else will give up and go away Most of the time I just read and smile inside There is so much I would like to write but it seems pointless Most of it is so unimportant Some people have a very simple way of looking at things So many of them say they are professionals But you have to love the comedy But you got it right trying something is the best way to learn about it You can read and read and still know nothing about it Some advice for you and others Don?t start ranting on about an OS that you tried three years ago How long was the time between XP and ME You wouldn?t base your rant about XP on ME would you? I sometimes cheer for the All Blacks. But there are times when it seems cruel Especially if it?s the Aussies on the other side Cheers Steve

Tearat
Tearat

Think about a topic from someone else?s point of view It does not affect me is not an excuse in any situation DRM may not be important to you Your reasons for that can be many But they better be more that ?I don?t care it doesn?t affect me? If you don?t get that you are a hopeless case But this may help Just think about censorship Does it matter what is being censored Or is how and why it is being censored the most important But this is off track It is not really about Windows or Linux

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. until it's a paved over parking lot. And, if you try and point out the lovely space before it's paved over; your just a crazy tree hugging hippie. (or, a criminal railing against corporate rights in the case of DRM.) Tiffany Strauchs Rad had it dead on when she said that legislators and judges need only ask the experts what implications making such laws blindly will lead too ("Hackers" in her words; she's a professor of law and proud Hacker).

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...they don't purchase music and movies to use on their computers. I don't, and I know very few people who do. In fact, I'd bet that only a very small percentage of people outside of the 14-35 demographic, in fact, do purchase such media for use on their computers. They either don't know how, or don't care.

tinyang73
tinyang73

That if people such as yourself do not use copyrighted material, then the copyright protections will have little to no direct effect on you. However, it would seem that most people purchase/access music, movies, TV shows and other copyrighted material on their computers, so people like you are probably in the minority. Also, you are not completely immune from the effects of DRM if you use Windows because types of DRM are inherent to the Windows OS itself (such as WPA/WGAN).

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

is that MS is counting on consumers to not care about "ownership" and data integrity until its to late, and MS controls all data access (via protocol changes and format changes). Seems they are drawing a parallel between computer freedom and freedom of speech. From this point of view, your statement "some users don't care about DRM because that's not how we use a computer" would be the "same" as saying, "I dont care if they censor a newspaper, I just line by bird cage with them." At least that's how I read it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

My point was that some users don't care about DRM because that's not how we use a computer, and by extension why we don't see that as a reason to leave Windows. Was that your point too? If not, then I missed it. Would you mind elaborating, please?

tinyang73
tinyang73

I'll agree with your first point that Windows can be made just as secure, it just takes more time and effort. Users often neglect to spend this time and effort which effects everyone connected to the internet and that sucks. As to your DRM response, you simply prove my point by making the response you made.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I have never had a security problem on any of my three home systems running Windows 3.1, 98 SE, or XP Home. With all the free anti-malware applications available these days, the cost of third-party software is no longer an issue. A Windows system can be secure.Yes, Windows requires more initial attention to secure but it's no more difficult than configuring a Linux system to use a wireless card. As to your DRM point, some of us just don't care. While I have been wondering about digital media, I currently do nothing except download a couple of radio program podcasts. DRM may matter to plenty of other people, but it's not an reason for me to abandon Windows.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"But Windows is still bad for most users. I will stipulate that most of it is not Microsoft's fault." I agree completely that MS owns the lion's share of the blame. Regarding those users, if you're going to buy a car you should research how much maintenance it requires, what type of gas it uses, and how much the taxes and insurance are going to run. If you don't, it's your fault when you buy the first thing the salesman shows you.

joef_z
joef_z

I will grant you that Windows is much more reliable than it used to be. But both of you who have brought up the reliability of your machines as an example of Windows' stability are pros. One's a tech writer and the other runs servers. Sorry, you are atypical. So, I guess, am I -- Linux has been my hobby for 5 or 6 years and I spent 15 years as a Mac user (after starting out on an Apple //c) and have been using MS DOS/Windows at work for probably 20 years or more (first machine at work: Wang. Second: Xerox). I hate to think about it. But Windows is still bad for most users. I will stipulate that most of it is not Microsoft's fault. It's downloaded eye candy like cursors, poorly written drivers, bugs in third-party programs, viruses, etc. But the fact of the matter is Windows is structurally more vulnerable because of legacy support, active X, etc., and so on and so forth. Apple has made a couple of severe breaks from the past in the last 10 years or so, but MS refuses and pays the price. I see why, but it's still a price the user has to pay so MS can have a business "advantage." Vista should have been the break OS X was, and with virtualization being what it is, Windows 7 should be. I'm guessing it won't be, but it'll still be praised as a Lexus by people who are actually riding a bus.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I too am getting really tired of people saying Windows crashes all the time. Yes, Windows used to crash like a rookie NASCAR driver at Bristol. Linux used to be hard to install and require skills the average user didn't have. I have Windows servers that run for months without crashing. No, that's not particularly long but some MS patches require reboots. That's still a justifiable argument against Windows, but it isn't 'crashing'.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My erro was not catching the sarcasm amongs the saturation of X vs Y exchanges that the last few weeks have been. It read more as an unwarranted slap out of the blue when I got too it after going through some other forums first. "So I have a poor sense of humour." I'd say a good sense of humour and I'd have caught it if talking in person. The trouble with text is that it's natural neutral and read in the context of the viewer. Like stage acting, it takes a little over acting to get the emotion across correctly. My home town was one of the last in the area to get a digital switch box in the CO and only because it was hand-me-down from the next town over and our calling area was the closest worth upgrading. The phreaks in town had some words to say when they lost that lovely old rotary switch but for me it meant better dial-up. I can still tell the connection speed by the handshake noise having lived through 14.4 into 54. When I went to the big city for school, it was highspeed and has been ever sinse. I sure picted up some interesting and usless skills waiting for 1 to 10 meg file downloads. The farm folk back home are still stuck on rusty copper and modems unless they go with a dish at the cost of a first born child each month. I have one specific friend still waiting for the local cable company to expand the service area. And boy howdy does his facebook experience suck with pages usually crapping out without being able to download the lazy developer's flash and other active crap. I don't envy anyone who's choice of ISP is limited to slow dialup or barely faster expensive dish.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

The fact you had to wait for the provider to move the connection shows you now have DSL or some other broadband and I was being a bit sarcastic about it, that's all. So I have a poor sense of humour. Where I lived and could only get 33.6 kbps on a good day was due to the crappy ancient copper cable, part of the first ground phone cabling in the area - I think it was installed by Noah's grandson. I had a few choices. Pay thousands to lay five kilometres of new cable. Pay thousands to have a sat dish with two way sat Internet. Or move house. Eventually I moved house and now have ADSL, and that was a bugger of a job - the moving that is.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

never good enough to stand up to the compression checking etc, always failed. Glad to be off that but I lived there for four years.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I think the comment belongs one branch further up the tree in response to our discussion of dial-up speeds. DE, I can indeed sympathize.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If I was gloating, you?d know it. I don?t think I wrote anywhere; ?na, na.. my connection?s better than yours.. na.. na..? You may notice my last paragraph discussing and commiserating about ?joy? that low baud connections where. I remember the modem, BBs, and dial-up internet days very clearly. WGA grief is a whole other issue outside of bandwidth. Even Microsoft admits that it does nothing to even slow piracy but they make no apologies for the fact that it?s not going away even as ineffective as it is. Not really important over all though. Your a smart guy so figuring out a way to work around your slow connection shouldn't be an issue.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

On the occasions I could only get 48, I'd just break the connection. I could usually get 52 after reconnecting. I only went to DSL about six months ago when I was able to get what I considered a competitive rate ($24 for DSL vs. $16 for dial-up.)

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

assume that you can see what my problems were when i was on that damn slow dial up. Via a custom update I only ever got the super critical security ones - that meant about 3 or 4 % of those available. Once I got too many updates not applied WGA had a hernia about it. I don't know why, none of the MS techs down here (as in Australia) I spoke to knew why, but it happened with systems built from three discs - an early XP Pro disc, a later XP Pro with SP 1 disc, and an XP Pro SP 1 Update only disc bought through an academic discount program direct from MS Australia (I updated from Win 2K). All three machines had the same problem and the discs were all genuine MS discs with valid codes and stickers - heck one came direct from MS Australia. In the end I gave up on MS.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

There are few things as frustraiting as that week when one moves into a new home and has to wait for the internet connection to be moved by the provider if you forget to schedual ahead. I still stick with manual updates for my needs. Windows get's a manual visit to Windows Update and a "custom update" so I can see what Microsoft thinks I want and uncheck the crap that doesn't apply. I've had "updated" drivers chew my system more than a few times too. On *nix machines, the first time I log in each day get's a urpmi --auto-update or apt-get update and such. Since my machines always log in to a cli leaving X optional, it takes only a second to enter the command or run it in a terminal once I'm into X. I remember the modem days though. Small updates where ok but major service packs where always done by disk. What fun it was in the shop the day our win98 service pack disks arried making the previous disks coasters. If I remember correctly, your dealing about a meg per five minutes between 14.4 and 33.6. 54 wasn't much better but that was still primarily the modem and low bandwidth internet days for me. Thank goodness for zmodem and resuming partial downloads.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Just turn off the update all together and disable the nag under the system health utility that only wathes for a firewall, av and auto updates utilities running. That's my solution anyhow; manual from start to finish, when I (the user) choose to do the update. I did have a similar gaming issue though. My firewall kept popping up taskbar spawned notice messages usually blowing me out of whatever game was running. The GPU drivers didn't usually like that so it meant either getting back into the game after flipping between desktop and game a few times or doing my best to close the game and rerun it if it hadn't crashed out initially. Now I remember to drop my firewall into "game mode" when I start up. (If I could get stable sound out of Assassin's Creed, I might be doing more gaming though if only to finish the damn game.)

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

the process of picking and choosing which to do is much easier than with XP. For starters I get an auto sort that gives me a list of only those for packages I'm using (I didn't have .NET working on my machine but MS always wanted to give me the latest .NET updates, arrgh) and then I can give them a quick review faster than i could get the lists under Windows.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

was bad and all I could get was 33.6 kbps and my dial up ISP had an auto cut out after being on line for 6 hours, so that often meant a reload of something. I got fed up early in the piece when i reviewed all the 'MS required updates' to find about 70% were for things I did NOT use - used FireFox so who care about the MSIE updates and the .NET stuff I didn't use either and similar type stuff. I started doing a pick and choose - but that wasn't good enough for the old WGA when it came on strong. Anyway, I'm much better now off now with Kubuntu.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

the default is auto updates and it's OK to say schedule it for your downtimes, but when that also means scheduling extra dial in due to timed connectivity, it can be a hassle. I found it a lot easier to log in manually (after having spent time turning all the default autos off when I set the machine up) review the updates and only download the ones I need - most of which I didn't. Then set those to run while I went and had a bath or cooked a meal etc. With my Kubuntu box I manually run a package update once a week or any other time I'm doing nothing else on the net. One time with XP I set it to calculate how long it would take to do all the updates it wanted me to get - on the 33.6 kbps dial up it was going to take 3 days - and that did NOT include any extra time for downloads having to be redone when they got cut after the mandatory 6 hour time limit in one go.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Too often Windows has decided to automatically update in the middle of a dungeon and cause my characters untimely death. I have it set to to notify me updates are available and then I can decide when I have a few minutes to let the process run.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The first thing I do on a new Windows isntall is shutdown the callhome-and-nagware. In the modem days ended around win98 for me though so I'm lucky that way but updates where always done manually. WinXP is still a manual update by habit the first time I log on each week. On the *nix side, I mirror interesting repositories locally so multiple machines within the LAN can update without multiple downloads from outside the LAN. With a modem, I'd just cron it to run the rsync script in the wee hours of the morning. I can see how the larger updates would tie up a modem connection but users can schedual Windows Update to check at specific times then download the updates and hold them until the user chooses to install them. I wouldn't run fully automated updates regardless of bandwidth though.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

And I've often advocated the same position regarding Linux application repositories. However, I ran XP on dial-up for over five years and had minimal problems with updates. I'd start them before I went to bed on a Friday and they'd always be done when I got up Saturday. The only exceptions were service packs for XP and Office; I downloaded those at work and burned them to a CD.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have a few accounting clients still using dial-up connections and updating Windows, especially large patches like SP3 requires that I visit with a CD. Of course there are patches for Linux too - I still get notices about new patches for SUSE from time to time.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

1 point for you :) Part of my assumption is "aware" meant avoiding those sites... but I can see that's my assumption and not a very good one at that. thanks for bringing that up.... "Know enough to be dangerous..."

jdclyde
jdclyde

A security aware person that goes to the warez sites is a bigger risk than the zero level user who stays on-topic with work related browsing. Having so many security products available that all claim will save the day, it also gives people that false sense of security, thinking they are actually protected.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. I'm right there with you over all though I think some of the details could be inspected a little closer. ?Windows XP is notorious for slowing down over time. ? ? So true; if the system is not maintained. My Windows systems don?t have this same issue but they are used for only a few win32 requiring tasks and they are updated and maintained; me being the geek that I am. Defrag is really not an issue these days unless you have a freakishly huge storage cluster highly fragmented or older/slower drives highly fragmented. Anything in the computer shops now doesn?t care though. The home user?s drive is not big enough or slow enough to care. The hardware and bus speeds more than compensate for what little hit fragmentation causes. I say that fully admitting that I can?t give up the habit myself either but it?s really not doing much more than watching the pretty graph get cleaner and consolidating blocks of empty space for more data to be stored on. Using a registry cleaner weekly is not recommended but clearing temp files and other crap that builds up keeps the system running. I save installing/uninstalling programs for a VM where I can look at whatever program I take interest in then just restore to the last save point; no registry mess an I get to decide if it touches my live install or not. ?Most of the popular antivirus products ? ? It?s recommended to use a few. Use a good quality access scanner for general defense with a weekly full system scan then use a secondary AV offering for regular full system scans. No AV will catch all the nasties but you usually do ok by overlapping them. Just don?t run two access scanner AV at the same time or they?l fight and freeze your system. Rootkits are much more of a Unix thing that viruses or worms these days. The latter two generally demonstrait a problem the developers fix quickly so they have a short lifespan (the same exploit does not work over and over like on Windows). Rootkits though, that?s more popular for Unix like OS; if you manage to get in, drop your rootkit so you can get back in later. The server market is weighted towards the Unix like OS after all and a rooted server is more use than a rooted workstation. Some of the Linux distrobutions are slipping closer to ?always admin? operation also which is rather sad but there are lots of good ones to chose from too so it?s a non-issue after you?ve gotten comfortable with Ubuntu or some such thing. I?m not a Windows fan by any stretch of the imagination but I also thing that premoting myths towards any fan camp is unproductive. To quicly skim the rest of your points: - I?ve also not seen my Mandriva or other installed distros slow down over time. I also run my VM exclusively under a Linux based host OS for the more efficient use of hardware. (I tested the same VM image under both platforms originally.) - Ext and most of the other file systems defrag automatically. Your ext3 is defraging, it just doesn?t take a third party program and schedualling to do it. Hfs/zfs probably do the same though I haven?t looked into it as I don?t use either. On flash media, I use ext2 so the journalling (ext3) does not eat the limited read/write cycles of the flash chips. - I have no real love of the registry either though I?ve also not seen one currupted in a long while; my systems are clean and I have a limited number of other Windows systems to care for though. - Don?t use DLL? Oh use they do. What do you think all those ?.o? files and dependencies are? The DLL is a compiled library that other programs pull functions from as needed. The various libraries (.o ending normally) are also compiled libraries that other programs pull functions from as needed. The difference is that the Windows libraries are very tightly integrated into the entire OS and given easy access to the kernel; on Unix like os, they are integrated into only what depends on them and are not easily handed direct access to the kernel space. - A whipe and reinstall is usually the prescribed solution for a Windows machine when issues arrise; it?s just faster and more time effective. Usually people who know what they are doing will take an image to restore from using Ghost or similar programs though. Unix like OS don?t need a whipe and rebuild as often unless something goes really wrong. All OS require a whipe and reinstall after a breach though. It doesn?t matter what your using; if you get broken into, you can never trust that instal again so it?s time to format and reimage or reinstall from scratch. (I?m a little ill in that I prefer the latter option just to fine tune the system based on updated needs or see what else is available). - The next point is really the most important in your entire post; use what platform supports what your doing. I don?t use command.com, I use programs that require Dos on top of Dos. I don?t use win.com, I use the programs that require the win32 platform. I don?t use Linux, I use all the other programs that make up the userspace on top of the Linux kernel. If a function is supported across different platforms, I choose the best fit for the task. If a function is only provided by a program running on a specific platform, I use that platform. (games in my case) - If a closed source program for the consumer market is going to support more than one platform is is usualy Windows and osX it?ll support if not only one or the other. I?d love to be given an Apple macbook pro but primarily because I could then run any OS I desired and probably all at the same time (osX is harder to get running without the Apple hardware; not impossible though). If I had to pay for it myself, I?d be looking to Lenovo?s thinkbooks since I have other machines running osX and don?t really need to support it outside the home. All the OS give me there own BSOD though. Windows crashes. osX beachballs. Though rarely, programs on my other installs disapear; I do like that a ?crash? takes out the problem program not the rest of the system though. I can?t fault you in the least for your preferences but it would be worth clearing away some of the myths about all the platforms.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

"Windows XP is notorious for slowing down over time. The hard drive gets fragmented, the system registry gets easily corrupted, buggy 3rd party drivers can cause the system to blue screen or otherwise become unstable," Not sure what your doing wrong then, as we have none of those issues here. As a general rule, we put a machine in service and run it until the hardware fails. As for malware, we have some of that, but as I have stated before, its limited (and getting to be much less of a problem, clean for ~1 year now) to 3 users (browsing habits FTL). "It's quite possible that you ARE infected with a rootkit and don't even know it." Very true, but there are ways of providing a reasonable doubt. Also, do not forget that "rootkits" started on the *nix platform. Blindly assuming your *nix box is not rootkit-able is just plain bad policy. And while you did not implicitly say this, it was heavily implied in your post 9at least to me). "but what do you expect with an operating system that is connected to an untrusted network (the Internet) and operating with full admin privileges?" True, which is why people with a minimum of security knowledge do not do this. (which I admit is not enough in the general home userland.) The UAC in vista is a nod to this "install flaw" in XP and earlier.