Wed 24 Jan 2007
Many a times Windows users talk about what Windows can do but Linux can’t. To be fair, they also need to know what Linux can do but Windows can’t.
After Reading this article: 101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot. I decided to write 101 reasons why Linux is better than Windows.
This isn’t 101 yet, I have a long way to go. Contributions are most welcome to make that happen.
Note: This is still work in progress, so please bear with me :). Would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to this.
Core OS Features:
- It works Its not a vaporware and is available today.
- Linux doesn’t have the virus problems: Even Microsoft’s CEO Steve Balmer couldn’t clean Windows Viruses. Still not convinced? Read more on Why Linux isn’t affected by Viruses. Its not that there aren’t any viruses for Linux but Linux is more secure and less virus prone.
- No Spyware: Not just spyware but none of those funny applications that keep doing things in the background.
- Linux Doesn’t need defragging: The Linux file systems work very efficiently such that it arranges data in a way that it doesn’t require defragging. to know more, read earlier post.
- Linux doesn’t crash without any apparent reasons. In Linux the core operating system (kernel) is separate from the GUl (X-Window) from the applications (OpenOffice.org, etc). So even if the application crashes, the core operating system is not affected. In Windows (Microsoft prefers to call this tight integration) if the Browser crashes, it can take down the entire operating system.
- Linux doesn’t crash if you accidentally pulled out your USB key/pen drive. Try this a 100 times if you don’t believe me but don’t blame me if your pen drive data gets corrupt.
- Linux doesn’t require frequent re-installation: In Windows if the OS crashes, there is no easy way to recover this. Many IT support staff don’t know what to do and all they can do is re-install Windows. Which means that users applications and preferences are lost, and needs to be installed again. I haven’t seen anyone using Linux, requiring to re-install unless there is a hard drive failure. Most things in Linux can be fixed without requiring re-installation.
- You can keep your operating system from your data, its designed to actually do that very easily. The benefit of this is all the users preferences can be preserved even if the OS needs to be re-installed. This can be handled by creating a separate partition for the home directory, read more.
- Linux also doesn’t require rebooting when a new hardware device is added configured.
- Linux doesn’t require rebooting when you change any setting or re-configure your Network.
- Linux also doesn’t require rebooting when you install a new application.
- Linux doesn’t require frequent rebooting. Linux runs extremely stable, even if an application crashes, there is no need to reboot the whole system, just restart that application or service.
- Most importantly Linux doesn’t reboot on its own! I have had a situation where Windows updated the system and then rebooted on its own, without my knowledge. And worst, this was when I was updating my digital camera firmware.
- No licensing headaches: Yes Linux is free and you don’t know need to bother about the complexing licensing of per user/per PC/per server/etc. Note: Some Linux distributions charge a yearly subscription to get the updates and patches, however this is still more simpler than the proprietary world.
- Linux can read over a 100 different types of file systems. Windows is limited to its own two file systems. Well most general users may not care about this but its extremely useful is you are working in a mixed environment or you need to extract some data from a hard drive formatted on another computer.
- You have access to the source code and the right to modify or fix things if you are a programmer. Many end users think this is not necessary but they will realize how important this is when their application vendor decides to discontinue support on a older version to promote a newer one.
- Linux can install in logical partition or a second (slave hard drive as well)Windows can only be installed in a primary partition. Read this on some suggestions for partitioning.
- Linux is scalable right from the PDA/Cellphones to super computers.
- Linux is running mission critical applications including powering an Aircraft.
- Linux has less bugs than commercial software, this is one of the main reasons for its stability. Read more.
- You can also share the software with your friends and its completely legal to do so. Didn’t your teacher tell you in kindergarten that you should share things with your friends? Linux and Open Source actually encourage that while if you do that in Windows its not only considered illegal but they will call you a pirate!
- Linux costs less, cause not only the OS is free but the applications are also free. Plus since Linux doesn’t have a virus problem, you also save on the recurring cost of Anti-Virus software. Note: You may still have to pay for support/training but the over all running cost is low.
- Both Linux and Windows has shell environment Windows (know as command prompt). The shell environments in Linux (such as bash) are more powerful and you can write entire programs using the scripting language. This is extremely useful to automate repetitive tasks such as backup.
- Linux can run from a CD or can be installed on the hard drive. Windows by default doesn’t have any such option. Using live CDs such as Ubuntu/Knoppix, users can try out Linux by booting from the CD, without the need to install the operating system.
- Linux is also extremely portable, it can also run off usb pen drives/portable hardrives/thumb drives and more.
- Did you know that in Windows, there is built in back-door entry so US government can see you data as and when they like? Yes the US NSA has the key build into every copy of Windows. In Linux there is no such thing possible as the operating system is open source and can easily be detected and disabled. Read how this was done.
- Linux has built in virtualization(XEN/KVM/VirtualBox/etc.) so you can run multiple copies of Linux or Windows simultaneously.
- The Linux kernel comes shipped with large number of hardware drivers. 3000 Printers, 1000 Digital Cameras and 200 webcams were supported by Ubuntu. On Windows, a lot of hardware doesn’t work until you install the driver, this problem is worse with Vista as Microsoft doesn’t allow drivers to be installed which are not supported/certified by Microsoft. On Linux, a huge percentage of today’s common hardware works perfectly out-of-the-box.
- Vendor independence: With proprietary operating system, you are dependent on the vendor who developed the operating system. With Linux you have a choice of vendors, so even if the vendor fails to give you support, you can always move to another vendor. Choice of vendors also means more competition, which means better value for money for the customer.
- It won’t die or get killed like what happened with other fantastic but proprietary operating system such as OS/2, BeOS. Reason being, its open source and someone will maintain it and today there are many big companies behind and have bet huge money on Linux.
- Unlike Windows, Linux doesn’t use registry. Most of the configuration is stored in plain text files, which are easy to manage/backup and transfer between systems. Registry is a pain to manage, very complex and your system configuration is stored in a proprietary format which needs special tools to open. The biggest pain with registry is when it gets corrupted, this problem is eliminated in Linux because it doesn’t use registry.
- Linux is the most documented operating systems and most of these documentations are available for free. These documents are well written and explain computing concepts too.
- Linux has more wider support from online forums, articles and most importantly the community. There are Linux Users groups is almost every country, city and small towns as well.
- Linux community is cool they provide unconditional support and help you get started. Once you get involved into it, its like one huge family.
- Linux runs on older hardware too, you don’t need to the latest and the greatest hardware. Even if you can’t run all the latest applications on your old hardware, using Linux, you can always put it to some good use.
- No more hardware upgrades: Linux runs happily on older hardware and the hardware requirements don’t increase with every new version. If you have really old computers like Pentium I/III, you can still convert them to thin clients using LTSP and still use them. If you compare the hardware requirements between Ubuntu and Windows, you would notice that Ubuntu’s hardware requirements hasn’t changed for many versions.
- Completely localized: As there is a strong community and the source code is available, Linux is localized into almost every language in the world. You can further customize it for your needs, you can easily do that.
- Excellent package management: Linux has excellent package management tools which makes it easy to install and upgrade applications.
- Easy upgrade: Most Linux distributions makes it very easy to upgrade from one version to another.
- Excellent Development platform: If you are a developer, you will like Linux. Linux has all the development tools, libraries and compilers built in. If you are Java developer or a Web developer using PHP/Perl/Rub or doing C,C++ development, you will feel at home.
- Linux gives you the Freedom: Linux follows the Free Software philosophy and hence gives its users the Freedom to modify, copy and share Linux.
- One cick upgrade: Most distributions can easily be upgraded from one version to another in just a few clicks. And most importantly you don’t need to spend a fortune to buy the upgrade.
- No Hidden APIs. Windows many hidden or undocumented APIs which is used for unfair advantage to Microsoft. In Linux all APIs are completely open and documented. For example Microsoft specifies that everyone writing Internet application should use the Winsock API while Microsoft Internet Explorer doesn’t use the Winsock API, it uses an undocumented API allowing Internet Explorer to run faster than other browsers.
- Faster patches: Linux is more secure because its patches in hours not days. Microsoft took 200 days to provide a critical patch.
- No Execute by default: By default if you download any file, it doesn’t have the execute permission, making your system more secure. The app cannot execute unless you go and change the permissions.
- No write access to applications: By default users cannot install applications unless they change their permission or login as a supervisor. This ensures that any virus or malicious code cannot go and write to your application folder.
- No open ports: By default most Linux distributions have all their incoming ports blocked, thereby making their Operating more secure from network attacks.
- Centralised repository of applications ensures that you are downloading your applications/patches only from a known source only. The repository is digitally signed which ensures that only the right application and code can be downloaded and installed on your computer.
- Centralised patching of all applications: Since your applications are installed from a centralised source, they are also patched from a single application, so each application doesn’t patch on its own. This ensures that your system is always up to date.
- Faster release cycle: Many Linux distributions have a fixed release cycle of 6 months which makes it easy for them to incorporate all the latest applications, bug fixes, improvement and support for newer hardware. Windows release cycle is not predictable. takes a few years and is often delayed.
- Finding the difference between 2 text files is easy! using commands such as diff
- Your hard disk drive will have a longer life by not having the heads travel all over the disk doing virtual memory swaps because Linux uses far less RAM than Windows.
- You are in total control. You don’t have applications that suddenly and start updating without your permission!
- While both Linux and Windows have a GUI, Windows has only one default GUI. Linux is all about choice and has a option to use different type of GUIs or Window Managers as they are know as in Linux. Users can choose from something that looks like their favorite Operating System or they can choose something that’s simple and fast. Popular ones are Gnome and KDE.
- Most Linux distributions come bundled with whole lot of applications such as Office Suite, Photo Editing, etc. You not only get the OS for free but you also don’t have to pay for the applications. Yes many of these open source applications such as OpenOffice.org also run on Windows but you need to find, download and install them where as there are available in most Linux distros by default.
- Expanding on the previous point, many Linux distributions bundle thousands of applications (Upto 22,000 depending on which one you choose) where as Windows doesn’t bundle basic applications such a decent text editor, oh yeah there is Notepad if you consider that decent . Point is on Windows spend the time in finding them, downloading them, installing them and then trying them out or just get them along with your Linux CD/DVD.
- Appstore included: Ubuntu today has a built in App store where you can download 1000’s of applications with a single click.
- Linux bundles OpenOffice.org as the office suite which has built in capabilities to write documents as PDFs and Presentations as Flash. Windows requires purchasing/downloading additional software.
- Mozilla Firefox browser bundled with Linux has excellent features such as blocking of unwanted ads/pop up and supports tab browsing which makes it easy to open another browser windows. Read the 101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot.
- Faster Browsing: Browsing is not only better but faster too! The networking on Linux is faster and the browser has an option to block all the unwanted ads/pop up, there by saving on bandwidth considerably. Read this to block all the ads.
- Linux saves bandwidth cost. The volume of Updates that Windows, Antivirus and similar applications do, is much more as compared the updated in Linux. So if you are paying for every MB that you download, its a big consideration.
- No automatic updates: Windows Vista it setup to automatically update your system by default. In Linux it will alert you for an update but you have to choice to click and apply the update. You can setup to automatic update if you like. So you can update when you like and not when your operating system decides to update.
- Linux has games too! there are some really nice games which many of the Linux distributions bundle. You may not have all the games in the world but you definitely have a huge collection of free games. Here is a list of top 100 games.
- Empathy/Kopete popular IM clients on Linux are single clients that can connect to all the protocols – Facbook Chat, Google Talk, Yahoo, MSN, Jabber, ICQ, AOL and more.
- Twitter/Facebook broadcast from the desktop. With Gwibber client, you can view your social network status right from your desktop or update your status to all your accounts without logging onto each of them separately.
- Cut and paste is simpler, just select and middle click on the target window and your data gets pasted. Its far quicker and easier than the way Windows does Cut and Paste. Of-course the Windows CTRL-C/CTRL-V still works on Linux for people who are new to Linux.
- Multiple cut and pastes: Klipper application (default under KDE) maintains a history of your clipboard and you can use it to paste text/etc which you had cut/copied earlier. Gnome users can use Glipper.
- Easy to setup a Media Center like PC. You don’t need to purchase additional software or re-install a different operating system. Read this on how to convert your existing Linux into a Media Center like PC.
- Linux already has a usable 3D Desktop – Compiz. This makes it easy to switch and view multiple desktops simultaneously. It also add a nice eye candy to Linux. If you still believe Linux is only for geeks, this feature will definitely change your mind. This doesn’t require you to purchase expensive graphic cards, it very comfortably works with on board graphic card.
- Graphic view of how much space your data is using. In Konqueror File Manager tool bar, there is an option to get file size view which gives you a graphical view of how much space your directories and the files within are consuming. Or in gnome you can use Disk Usage Analyzer Baobab. This is an excellent way to know where all your disk space has disappeared and makes cleanup easy.
- No annoying messages like Vista keeps telling you that xyz application is trying to access your system. Vista confuses the user, Either the user will always click allow or don’t know what to do.
- Easy to dual boot: Linux makes it easy for it to exist with any other operating system. If you install Linux on a system which already has Windows, Linux will not mess your Windows. Windows on the other hand messes up your Linux partition, if it finds one.
- Linux Works fine if you multiple partitions, operating systems and devices. Windows gets confused with ‘extraneous’ partitions used by other operating systems and allocate drive letters to them which cannot be freed. If you have, say, 8 partitions in your hard drive, Windows will associate 8 drive letters to these partitions, reducing the number of drive letter you can use. This also limits the number of drive letters you can have to 26. In Linux you don’t have a concept of drive letters, each drive is mounted as /home, /windows.. etc.. thereby not having any limitations.
- Customise your shortcut: On Linux you can associate applications to whatever shortcut you choose. On Windows, you cannot associate your beloved Firefox to key combination Win+F, for instance, because it is already associated to ‘Find’ functionality provided by Windows Explorer which you can’t change.
- Linux is more accessible: Most distributions such as Ubuntu include Orca, which is a screen reader. This can be enabled before installation. With this a visually challenged person can install Linux and also use Linux on his own. In Windows, the accessibility support is limited and not available during installation. It has to be purchased and installed separately costing over US$1000 and the visually challenged person requires an assistant to install Windows and the software before he/she can use.
- Cool integration between Calendar application and Desktop calendar. For example if you add an appointment into Evolution, it will show up in your Desktop Calendar in Gnome as well when you click on time.
- You can have multiple work-spaces, its like having multiple desktops. Instead of having all your applications on one desktop, you can have them sorted on multiple desktop workspaces and easily switch between them. For example you can make one workspace for work, one for music, one for emails, one for browsing and so on. This can be in a grid or linearly organised.
- You don’t need to create a Microsoft Live account and remember another stinking password just because you wanted to play Solitare.
- Encoding compressed video files is a dream once you get ffmpeg compiled. In windows normally it costs money to get a program to encode video and often the encoded files don’t play on the device.
- games made natively for Linux run faster than the same game on Windows.
Server Side features:
- Linux has bundled Databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL which are extremely powerful and used in production environments. Customer doesn’t need to purchase expensive databases.
- Linux is been used for super computing clusters, most of top super computers in the World use Linux. Windows just can’t scale to that level.
- File system scalability: while NTFS file system can scale upto 16TB, XFS on Linux can scale upto 18 million TB! yes that bigger than what you would ever need.
- Processor scalability: Linux can scale to Unlimited processors. It is already running on a single system with 2048 CPUs. Windows can’t even claim to come anywhere near that number.
- You have commands to check the systems Serial Number and other hardware information. to get serial number type:
dmidecode | grep “Serial Number” | head -n1 | sed -e ‘s/tSerial Number: //g’
or type dmidecode for all hardware info Read More. You can easily use this feature to extract data quickly and even write some scripts to do that.