Let us first revise the various advantages that Linux has before entering into a comparative study between this robust operating system and Microsoft Windows. Some of the advantages of using Linux are summarized below:
- Cost effective OS with free or economical variants and utilities
- High performance on workstations and on networks
- Network friendliness
- Flexibility for server applications, desktop applications, and embedded systems.
- Compatibility to run on all common Unix software packages • Choice of numerous Linux distributions
- Quick, easy and user-friendly installation
- Full use of hard disk
- Open Source
Let us now evaluate both Windows and Linux on a few broad parameters that typically define our buying decision:
- Price: If you wish to buy a licensed copy of Microsoft Windows, you might have to shell out anywhere between $ 50 and $ 500. However, when it comes to buying Linux, a majority of its variants are available for free or at extremely low prices compared to MS Windows variants. Thus, when it comes to the price-tag, Linux definitely seems to be a better option.
- Reliability: When it comes to choosing which of the two operating systems is more reliable, users vouch for Linux and not for Windows. The reason behind this preferred choice is quite simple. The variants of Linux are quite reliable and are known to run for years, even months, without needing to get rebooted. This is not the case with Microsoft Windows though. Although the latter has made several advancements to improve its reliability, it has not been able to match up to the reputation of Linux at least in this category.
- Software variety and cost: Although Linux has a great range of software programs, games and utilities, the spectrum of Windows software programs is much broader, giving users the options to pick and choose utilities as per their specific requirements. However, Linux mostly offers freeware or open source software programs and utilities such as ‘Gimp’, ‘OpenOffice’, ‘StarOffice’ and ‘wine’, which are all available either for free or at a much reduced cost. In the case of Windows most of the software programs, utilities and games need to be bought by paying anywhere between $20 and $200 per licensed copy.
- Hardware: Several Linux companies have manufactured a good range of hardware support for Linux users with the result that in the present day Linux supports most hardware devices. However, these companies and hardware manufacturers still do not provide drivers or support for their Linux hardware. With Windows the case is quite the opposite. Owing to the large number of Microsoft Windows operating systems users around the globe and their diverse needs, Windows offers a wider driver support and support for hardware devices. Windows products manufacturer ensure that their products are supported in Microsoft Windows.
- Support: This is one area where both Linux and Windows are on the same pedestal. Although Linux has been in use for a very limited period of time as compared to Windows and chances of Linux users knowing all its variants thoroughly are rare, there is a fair amount f online documentation, books, support and help that can be availed or referred to in order to operate on Linux based systems. Microsoft Windows too has its own help section as well as online tutorials, documentation and reference material on each of its variants that can be referred to by the Windows users.
- Security: When compared to Windows, Linux has always been found to be a much more secure operating system. However, it is not completely immune to occasional attacks. Windows on the other hand continues to be vulnerable to virus and other attacks, despite Microsoft’s endeavors to develop more secure versions that will be lesser prone to such threats.
- Open Source: The ruling feature of Linux is perhaps the fact that many of its variants and programs are open source. This means Linux users can customize or modify the Linux codes to suit their specific requirements. This advantage is not available to Windows users since the concept of open source programs does not exists in MS Windows.
The comparative study made above clearly gives Linux an ace up its sleeve so users can give this new Operating System a try and benefit from the multiple advantages that it renders over Microsoft Windows. While Windows, which has now existed for decades, serves the purpose of computing, it takes a real enthusiast to understand the different variants and programs that Linux has to offer and make the most of this robust operating system.
About the Author:This article by Frank Johnson is in continuation of his series on ‘Linux Insider’. Frank is a regular editorial contributor on technology products and services that help small to mid size businesses. To know more about Linux as an operating system, you may interact with him here