GWoS.org is a longtime and fervent supporter of the FOSS, or Free and Open Source Software, movement. It’s because of this that we are constantly asked to provide comparisons and difference between two major types of operating systems: Linux and Windows. Both operating systems definitely have their places, but the most fair thing to do would be to give them both a very subjective look, especially if it will help a business owner choose between one or the other.
When it comes to upgrading operating systems, this kind of thing can often come very slowly. Windows 98, which came out three years after Windows 3.11, was actually released in 1999. Win2K was released in 2001, and so forth. It’s the same kind of process with other systems as well. On the other hand, however, Linux releases all of its major updates approximately every six months or so.
In terms of minor upgrades, these can also take longer to both acknowledge and fix, especially in systems that are more commercial in nature. When it comes to dealing with minor bugs and fixes, releases barely ever come fast enough due to a lot of time being needed for patching, which will generally come in the form of a Service Pack or Critical Update, at least with Microsoft. In regards to Linux, this is something that users of this operating system do not experience due to all of the updates being performed in such a manner that allows the release patterns to be quick.
HIGH COST VARIATION
Operating systems, especially if they are commercial in nature, can cost quite a bit of money. For example, the Windows 2003 Server can cost approximately over $400 just for a single copy and user licenses that are limited in number. User licenses themselves can cost upwards of approximately $25 or more. Windows XP can run at around approximately $200, which can actually be a problem for individuals who live in developing countries around the world. This can also be a big problem for students. However, on the other hand, when you purchase a Linux operating system, you will get C, C++, FORTRAN, and many other developmental tools at absolutely no cost to you.
Additionally a number of businesses find it useful to have several dedicated or virtual servers running at any given time. If you’re familiar with Linux, you have a leg up because typically these less expensive servers run on Linux. However, there are a number of cheap private server options for windows as well.
Regardless of the commercial system you decide to go with, these companies expect their customers to depend on them when it comes to needing technical support. However, most of the time, when individuals are experiencing a problem and attempt to contact technical support, they are often forced to wait on hold for an indeterminate amount of time. This is oftentimes the case with Microsoft; however, Linux makes it much easier to get help with issues in the form of numerous online forums, local support developers, and even paid support services.
When it comes to using these operating systems on older hardware, Windows and Linux definitely have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, while it is actually possible to run Windows 2000 on a 300mhz/128Mgs RAM machine, it’s definitely not an experience that anyone would want to take the opportunity to deal with. Another major issue that can come into play regarding this is cost, especially since not everyone will have the right amount of money to be able to upgrade their older system. For instance, a new system can cost approximately $1,000. In terms of a Pentium 2 processor, that will become a very expensive paperweight unless it has a great platform to run on. Linux can actually provide that platform, as it runs on a vast variety of older systems with the same kind of energy that a newer system will run Windows.
VIRUSES AND MALWARE
Two of the biggest issues with any kind of system are the issues of viruses and malware, which can infect or even destroy different things with the system itself. Linux is a system that will be much more secure to use than Windows when it comes to this. It is widely known that Windows is responsible, whether it be directly or indirectly, for all of the viruses and malware currently in existence, whereas Linux does not have to suffer these kinds of vulnerabilities thanks to being much more secure.
Linux as a whole was developed by many different network engineers and administrators. The end result was the system being able to function in a more network-friendly environment. What does this mean? Well, it means that Linux will function with virtually any network, including Windows, Unix, Novell, Apple, and many others.
LINUX IS “FREE”
The Linux software is “free,” but only in two different senses. The first is that the individual is free to modify the system in any way that they see fit. The second is that Linux technically does not require any kind of cash outlay. TCO is kept to an extremely low roar because of this. The math, therefore, is simple: Linux will cost you $0 per copy, while Windows will cost you $200 per copy. Which sounds like the better deal?
LINUX IS RELIABLE
Linux is best known for being one of the more stable and reliable operating systems in existence today, due largely in part to the system being written by programmers who weren’t writing for the corporate system, but rather for other different programmers. These same programmers were also the ones solely responsible for deciding exactly what went into the system. In practical terms, this means that the only reason a Linux system would need to be turned off would be to add new hardware or a new boot from a completely different kernel. This also means that whoever uses Linux can rest assured that day-in and day-out, the operating system will work consistently no matter what.