My Only Entry on Windows vs. Linux
Ever since ’06, I have had a copy of GNU/Linux on my computer, and within weeks, I was using it as my default operating system. Ever since then, I have been reading more and more articles on what MS has been doing to “secure” their market, especially with Vista and MS Office 2007’s recent release. If you are a windows user (most of you all are), I suggest you read this to find out more about the company that you are supporting.
Since most of this entry is going to point out Microsoft’s flaws, I will start off by saying how Windows XP is better than the current GNU/Linux releases. Windows is currently more user friendly, and let me explain why. Both operating systems have come a long way, and both are pretty user friendly for every day use. The reason why I am giving Windows the point here is because Windows has a GUI solution for just about everything including configurations, and Linux does not. For example, when I set up dual display on my WinXP machine, I go to the display properties, click on the picture of the second monitor, and click “Extend my desktop to this monitor”, click Apply, and I’m golden. For my Ubuntu Installation, I have to fire up a terminal window, edit my /etc/X11/xorg.conf file, restart X server, realize I messed something up, edit the file again, restart the X server…you get the point. Getting dual head to work on my Linux box was one of the barriers that I had to overcome to get this working.
So that’s one point for Microsoft. Now let’s see why I like Linux better. I’m going to start with the practical solutions first and then get in depth on why I like one company more than the other.
Most popular versions of Linux have a repository system that makes it extremely easy to manage your software installation. These systems have package managers that download and install software for you. If you were looking for software for Windows, you would have to search the web for it, find a downloading site, maybe pay for it, install it, and possibly reboot your computer.
Even if the software you would want to install is on a CD, using the package manager is still more convenient. For example, let’s compare installing MS Office XP on Windows to OpenOffice.org on Linux.
- Find your CD(s)
- Find your license key
- Insert your CD and open the installation program
- Input your license key (repeat as needed if inputted incorrectly)
- Select installation options
- Go take a vacation until the installation is completed
- Reboot your computer
- Activate the software which requires an Internet connection or phone call
- Open the Add/Remove Applications program from the Applications Menu (Ubuntu/Debian systems)
- Find OpenOffice under the Office category
- Click Apply
- Wait for the packages to download and install
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of all of my software CDs. Using the package managers release me from the problems of hunting down software CDs, and since the software is free, you will never have to input another license key again. If you do not have a broadband connection, you can download the packages on a computer that does have a faster Internet connection and take them over to your computer on a CD.
This is one of those “duh” reasons why Microsoft loses the point on this one. The new version of Windows Vista will ding you $500+, and the business version of MS Office will dent you $700+. The newest version of Ubuntu Linux (coming out in April ’07) will leave you exactly $0 lighter, and all the software that comes with it including OpenOffice, will add only $0 to your total cost.
There are several desktops available to your Linux distribution. If you are using Ubuntu, you are most likely using the Gnome desktop. If you want to try out the KDE Desktop, all you have to do is fire up a terminal and type “sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop”, watch it download all the necessary packages, and restart the X Server. Since the operating system packages are written by the community, there are many options out there to choose from.
Spyware, Viruses, Etc.
Yes, all Windows users know (or should) about the risk of viruses, security updates and whatnot. You know that if you don’t keep your computer up to date, you will be facing some serious trouble in the near future. Guess what…I’ll admit that as I’m typing this article, I have no anti-virus software running, and I haven’t scanned my computer…ever. Furthermore, when I see a warning of a virus spreading, I ignore it. Why? Because they all target Windows users. Install Linux on your computer and never have to worry about a virus again…ever. We don’t have to worry about them for a couple reasons. 1) Linux users are less than 5% of the total computer market, so we are not targeted any more then the Macs are. 2) The Linux operating system (and the file system) has been designed so that viruses won’t be able to do any damage beyond the user’s home folder, so even if point 1 was no longer true, Linux is way more secure and viruses don’t have a chance.
Let me give an example on point number 2. (This is hypothetical, and you probably don’t want to really carry out these steps) If you are in Windows, fire up an explorer window, and go to c:\WIndows\Program Files. Then select any program folder and delete it (don’t really do it). The point is that the computer would let you delete it unless you are running as a guest user. That is what makes Windows vulnerable. It gives the average user access to critical files on the hard drive that the user has no business modifying. Linux doesn’t let the user outside their home folder. That’s why any virus at worst will only blow away the home folder, unless the user was dumb enough to run the malicious code as root.
To put it simply, Linux has fewer security problems because more eyes see the code. You yourself can see the source code and see exactly how it works. Microsoft doesn’t release their source code, so the security holes are impossible for anyone to find but the company itself, and only they can fix it. See also point 2 on the section above.
Now, I don’t like Microsoft as a company either. They do provide a pretty good product. I am not here to tell you that Windows sucks and you should avoid it at all costs. You do need to be aware that there are other options, and that Windows is your only choice. Microsoft wants you to believe that there is no alternative. How else do you think they try to get away with selling software for $500+? I think we are pretty aware of the monopolistic practices that the company have been engaging in, and because of that history, I really don’t feel like supporting them in any way. If you want a better idea of what I’m talking about, Google search “microsoft monopoly”. I would elaborate, but I’m done typing for the day.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 at 2:37 am and is filed under Linux, Windows. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.