7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching

Difference Windows and Linux Intro   7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before SwitchingLinux has made some serious headway over the past decade, elevating itself from “that open source operating system” to “wow, this thing is actually usable!” There’s been a gentle but definite trickle of users away from Windows toward the freer option of Linux and maybe you’re thinking about making that leap. But should you?

From an objective standpoint, there are real and compelling reasons why you should switch, but I’m not here to convince you one way or the other. This article is meant for those of you who are leaning towards making the switch already. If that’s what you want, great! You should know, however, that the switch is not exactly a cakewalk.

Here are some fundamental differences between Windows and Linux. Read through them and be absolute certain that you’re willing to put up with the learning curve because there’s nothing worse than jumping headfirst into something unexpected.

File Structure

linux file system   7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching

The fundamental structure of Linux is completely different from Windows–as it should be, considering that it was developed over a separate codebase with separate developers. You won’t find a My Documents on Ubuntu, nor will you find Program Files on Fedora. There are no C: or D: drives.

Instead, there is one single file tree and your drives are mounted into that tree. Similarly, your home directory and your desktop directory, they’re both part of that single file tree. Technically, you’ll need to learn a whole new filesystem and its architecture; practically, it’s not very hard, but the difference is still there.

No Registry

linux windows registry   7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching

Have you heard of the Windows registry? If you haven’t, here’s an extremely fast crash course: it’s a master database of all the settings on your computer. It holds application information, user passwords, device information–pretty much anything you can think of. If it’s not stored as a file, it’s probably stored in the registry.

Linux doesn’t have a registry. The applications on a Linux machine store their settings on a program-by-program basis under the hierarchy of users. In this sense, Linux configurations are modular. You won’t find a centralized database that needs periodic cleaning here.

Package Manager

linux package manager   7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching

On Windows, you often need to fiddle with this thing called an installation package. You visit some website, go to their download section, and click on the link that sends you an .exe file. You run it and the program does its thing and that’s when you consider it to be “installed.” And when you want to remove programs, you have to mess with the Control Panel. Right?

With most Linux systems, you won’t have to deal with that anymore. Instead, you’ll have something called a package manager, which is essentially a center for browsing, installing, and removing program packages. Instead of visiting the Firefox website, you can just search your package manager’s repositories and download it straight.

Personally, this is one of my favorite differences between Linux and Windows.

Interchangeable Interfaces

linux interface   7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching

The Windows interface hasn’t experienced much innovation in a long, long time. Sure, there’s Aero that came with Windows Vista. Before that, XP made some small improvements over Windows Classic. But the Start Menu, Taskbar, System Tray, Windows Explorer–all of it was fundamentally the same thing.

On Linux, the interface is completely severed from the core system. You can switch up your interface environment without mucking about with reinstallations and whatnot. There’s GNOME and KDE and the more recent Unity, as well as a number of lesser-known varieties that all focus on different aspects.

Command Terminal

linux terminal   7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching

Linux has a (fading) reputation for being the operating system for geeks and that reputation mostly comes from the prevalence of the terminal. What’s a terminal, you ask? It’s that black box with traditionally green text that you can use to execute commands. In other words, it’s like Windows Command Prompt on crack.

If you’re going to switch to Linux, you must be open to learning about command structures because you will find yourself using it frequently. I’m sure there are graphical workarounds (such as opening config files in a text editor) but it’s hard to beat the power and efficiency of a terminal that does exactly what you tell it to do.

Driver Settings

Because Windows has such a widespread grasp on the PC market, driver manufacturers tend to focus their efforts on that one operating system. Which means companies like AMD and Nvidia prioritize Windows over Linux. Which means you may end up pulling out tufts of hair in frustration as you try to find the latest compatible drivers for your system.

Then again, it depends what you’re going to use while on Linux. If all you need is a word processor, a web browser, some form of instant messaging and email, then it would be passable, if not inconvenient, to have missing drivers. But if you want to play games, you may want to reconsider. (Then again, you’ll have a hard enough time playing mainstream games on Linux to begin with.)

Do-It-Yourself Attitude

All in all, the Linux environment really calls for a do-it-yourself mindset. The kind of people who would most benefit from the freedom and openness of Linux are the people–men and women alike–who enjoy exploring, learning, and experimenting with what they’re given. Every Linux computer is unique, and that uniqueness comes from having to personalize a bunch of settings to your hardware and setup.

If you made it this far in the article and still think Linux might be worth your time, then congratulations! You’ve leaped over the largest hurdle and survived. As long as you have the proper mental preparation (knowing that Linux won’t guide you by the hand) and as long as you have the will to live (knowing that you’re likely going to have to reinstall Linux once or twice  before you get the hang of it), you’ll find yourself enjoying Linux in no time.

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118 Comments -

0 votes

Herman Rogers

Although Linux doesn’t guide you by the hand and the terminal can be daunting at first, it is really important to remember the community surrounding distributions such as Ubuntu (the one I use on my programming PC and Laptop). In fact, whenever I have a question there is always a plethora of people with the exact same one whether it is installing simple software to attempting to find the right settings. So just remember that whenever you’re in the (apparent) throes of Ubuntu just ask the community. It has always helped me in the past :)

0 votes

Joel Lee

Yes, you’re right. One of the coolest things about the Linux community (and the open source community in general) is how willing they are to help people who are still learning the bells and whistles. It really is a COMMUNITY.

0 votes

Clark

IF you understand programmer speak, than this ‘help’ will be useful. I tried asking for help many times only to find that most often the advice was not something I could even understand or use. Most Linux users are computer programmers who love feeling superior and will ‘explain’ things in a strange language. They assume you know a lot about programming and will talk WAAAAAY over your head. Community my Azzz. I have read this same article on a lot of different sites and everyone says the same thing about community and ease of use. Horsehocky! What’s the point of asking for help from people who won’t explain it in a way that I can use!?

0 votes

Elmo

“Most Linux users are computer programmers…” Uhh….no they’re not. While a significant percentage of Linux users are programmers (in relation to other main OSs), most are not. Shell scripting is not considered to be a ‘real’ programming language. Neither are users of shell ‘real’ programmers. You’ll find lots of people in some more ‘hardcore’ distributions of Linux like Archlinux, Gentoo, Slackware, or whatever, often only know shell. That’s not to say they aren’t proficient at Linux – they are – they just don’t need to be programmers to be proficient.
“…who love feeling superior and will ‘explain’ things in a strange language.” I think you are a deluded, psychotic prick with a possible persecution complex. “They assume you know a lot about programming…” I think you’re one of those derps who believe anything the tiniest bit cryptic-looking to be synonymous with programming. Get your misconceptions in order, cupcake. “Community my Azzz. I have read this same article on a lot of different sites and everyone says the same thing about community and ease of use.” Did you ever think that seeing as you’re one of the only people suffering from this ‘problem’, that maybe – just maybe – the fault lies with you? Go back to playing Minecraft you brainless twelvie.

0 votes

dragonmouth

There are many sites that cater to the Linux newbies as there are many sites that cater to only advanced users. So instead of getting all huffy and pissy, go to sites like tuxfiles.org, linuxhelp.net, linuxquestions.org, linuxhowtos.org. You can always ask your Linux questions at MUOs Ask Tech Help Linux Tips.

0 votes

Dox

Don’t be a dick, Clarkie. When you ask for help, tell them right off the bat that you don’t know your ass from a pipe. I’m sure they can probably tell, but still – tell them what your knowledge level is – no matter how low – just in case you use a couple of “programmer” terms that could throw them off in a weak moment. And don’t be a cocky jerk with them.

The Community has never talked over my head and have always been respectful and helpful. More often than not, they’ll give you a command line or two to copy and paste into your terminal to fix your problem. (I’m not talking over your head, am I?)

If you’re not willing to do your part, maybe you should just stick with Windows ME. We won’t mind – honest.

0 votes

Chris

I absolutely love linux. I started using it because I was getting my degree in engineering and the department used ubuntu. So I was fortunate enough to learn the OS in a classroom instead of having to learn it on my own. Over the years I have just grown accustomed to it and feel weird using anything else. I only use windows for games since I enjoy playing pc games.

0 votes

Joel Lee

I learned Linux on my own (first with Ubuntu, then OpenSUSE) but with a background in computer science so it was easier. Intro to Linux courses would be pretty cool, I think.

0 votes

Chris

I’m glad I had to take a class on it. I never had any desire at all to learn it so I probably would have never bothered, but because of the class I was forced to and ended up loving it. Also it was really nice to have some help in the beginning. lol

0 votes

Sebastian

HAHA! Only 7 key differences?!

0 votes

Joel Lee

Keyword being “key”… ;)

0 votes

Knut H. Flottorp

The main difference has been dropped Joel: The file system in MacOS (Unix BSD) and Linux is a multi-user file system while Microsoft use various tools to verify that you do not violate system integrity. Well, we can all see what this leads to, with viruses and trojans exploring “security breaches”. The registry holds the security, and applications that “could not care less” are free to do what suits them.
On the MacOS and Linux, you have the notion of “User”, “Group” and “Administrator” (“root”), and every single file has their access rights set – can you see the file, you can read it. Now all run as “User” being “Joel” or “Knut’. Joel and Gideon may be in the same Group, and share files – that is not even visible to Knut. There is no registry that is consulted to monitor that Knut does not read files that is not his.

So a trojan that is downloaded by the browser runs with the user id of the user – Joel, and can access just what Joel can access. So to modify a command – “cd” – a trojan needs the system password, and make “sudo” to ‘root” to make a new variant of the command, or modify the OS.

That a file is a node, with a name and bitfile, and allows multiple names to refer to the same bitfile is another difference. Then that the underlying system to hold the “nodes” can be replaced, and actual code is completely transparent… well is a major difference somewhat related to the above. This allows most of the functionality of the “Registry” to be implemented in one place to monitor it all. This allows protection systems to be made that can monitor the use of the system, such as replicate certain files so that if one disk fails, there is still another copy around.

5 votes

Gideon Pioneer

Every time I install Linux it ends with frustration within a few days. Nowdays if you install Ubuntu it will work out of the box OK most of the time, but try to install a program not available on the package manager repos, or updating your drivers or a plethora of other things and you’ll end up pulling your hair.

You can google all you want but each time you do you’ll run into outdated information that doesn’t apply any more, or missing crucial (and sometimes basic) information, or a command doesn’t work on your PC because the guide or user didn’t mention you needed a program and now you need to google where to get the program and how to install it to get your other program to run, and then that program won’t install because it’s missing 500 dependencies and that’s when you say “screw this, I didn’t have any these issues on Windows” and just go back.

I’ve gone through this cycle at least 30 times in the past 3 years. Linux never “just works”, you ALWAYS run into issues with anything you’re trying to do.

This undoubtedly comes from how fragmented it is. Each distribution comes with different pieces of software, kernel versions, configuration settings, etc, that when a developer makes a program, he’s either forced to write many versions of it customized for many different popular distros due to lack of standards among distros, or give out a basic program and rely on the user to custimze it for their own distro.

With Windows and Mac, you have basically one operating system that developers develop for. That’s what allows the “next, next, next, finish” process to work so well and without issue, and that’s personally what I like most. If there was only one distro of Linux, it would be an amazing operating system. Argueably (very argueably and technically wrong) there is, it’s called Free-BSD, but its user base is so small that developers don’t bother developing any apps for it. As a matter of fact Adobe doesn’t even have Flash for it (crucial for me), and it’s very finiky with desktop systems (very little hardware is supported in comparison to even Linux).

Another issue to keep in mind is that Linux hate paid software (don’t think $, but think of developers putting in more effort because they get something back other than the occasional thanks which they can’t put in their wallet), so the expectation is either release it for free or don’t release it at all. And as you might imagine the programs released on Linux are a far cry from the quality of Mac and Windows programs simply because the developers do not get compenstated for their hard work and have very little motivation to put in much effort into for example spending 2 years on designing the GUI to look right and function well, or debugging for reasonable periods of time.

In the other operating systems developers release paid versions that work extremely well, look right, and function as you would expect because they have a reason to put much more effort into their programs.

Linux definitely has its place as an operating system to mess around with and with very interesting inner-workings, but it absoloutely bombs in the desktop and programs department and it should come as no surprise as to why the market share is so small. It’s perfect for a true computer nerd (and I don’t mean that in any demeaning way whatsoever). It just isn’t suitable for much else until the fragmentation stops.

Just for kicks I highly suggest people check out Haiku OS (http://www.haiku-os.org/), it’s (somewhat) based on BeOS and sounds very promising. Highly looking forward to more developments.

0 votes

SubgeniusD

Gideon unfortunately makes some very accurate points here.

I’m particularly disgusted that Linux distros can’t even agree on a common file structure and package manager system. Even small variations and you’re out of luck trying to find things or install packages.

I still listen to Distrowatch Weekly podcast but have drifted away from the Mandriva fold. With a heavily tweaked install of Win 7 Pro that is both fast and stable I have no motivation to indulge in another round of aggravation carrying out routine tasks.

I know the fanboys will start yelling about how Grandma’s been running Slackware for YEARS without a single hiccup ever even once but I don’t live in that parallel dimension.

0 votes

Joel Lee

That’s the downside to an open source community: anyone is free to do what they what (within bounds) with the source code. Even if there was a standard, the nature of open source would allow different branches to deviate from standard.

So it seems that Linux is still mostly suitable for the “Do It Yourself” people out there, which is point #7 that I made in the article. Without that sort of self-driven motivation, Linux just ends up being a pain.

0 votes

1hegame

All is right. I myself ran into issues with it and that’s why I switched back to Windows. Windows is the easiest and Linux is for technical persons. | However I’ll also say Linux jumped a big jump. A little knowledge of some “word meanings” in it and some commands and a user can still be happy with it. It has all what windows has and if not, you can install that missing windows software with Wine.

0 votes

Knut H. Flottorp

I was a manager, and my consultants decided on a bug reporting system that used Linux. They had to use Linux for safety reasons when working on sites never the less, so they tried hard to convince me.

Well, the ignited a spark that made me install a version of Ubuntu on an old, retired laptop (MS makes us buy a new one very second year..). I am no hacker, but come to that now I prefer Linux. I can also ask for help, I can find solutions, and I can usually get these solutions changed and amended to what we need, So, Windows is gone, use Mac and Linux (Mint and Xubuntu). I have project management, accounting, follow-up and can gather time-sheets by emails..

0 votes

RaMaN

I’ve also now installed Linux again :) and Yes the Help Center is really helpful. They reply quickly. For me both Windows and Linux are equal.

0 votes

Richard Steven Hack

I almost never have issues installing software unless it’s a one-person developer or software which has not enough users that someone has constructed one of the two main package systems for it.

Ninety-five percent of the time, software you need is in the repositories if you’re using any of the five main distros. The other five percent the software will install if you simply install the dependencies it tells you it needs. Only if the software is based on some script language like Python or on some obscure dependencies or libraries are you likely to find problems. Another source of frustration is anything from Adobe such as Adobe AIR because Adobe simply does not support Linux and never has adequately.

Non-power users should not use Linux distros other than the five main ones: Red Hat, openSUSE, Ubuntu, Debian, or Mandriva (and the latter is questionable given the organization’s constant financial woes.) And frankly Red Hat Fedora tends to be more power user than the others.

The statement that open source software is not as good as commercial software is simply false – and studies of quality have proven that OSS software – when it is developed by a team – is frequently superior in terms of number of bugs per lines of code .

Where open source tends to fail is where there is only one developer – and that is also true on commercial or shareware software. Where it also tends to fail is in documentation of the program. But you can find that in commercial software as well.

“Linux never “just works”, you ALWAYS run into issues with anything you’re trying to do.”

That statement is highly over-generalized and simply not true. Anyone using Windows XP for the last ten years – and someone like me who does tech support on those systems for a living – knows Windows is much more likely to match that statement than Linux does.

0 votes

Joel Lee

I agree with a lot of what you said, especially the point about software TEAMS creating better Linux-based products than a single software DEV.

It’s all about the community with Linux. If you have a community producing a single product, it will invariably be better than a product by a single person, especially because you have more manpower to handle the little details like packages and distribution and bug fixes.

0 votes

Zeta

My experience couldn’t be more different. I’ve had excellent success with various hardware, old and cutting edge. Most repository programs have been of very high quality, though of course with some, not so much, but that’s true of Mac and Windows too. The impression I get is that the software is generally written from the perspective of the end user and not the sales / marketing dept, where the end user is just a nameless wallet. I get a sense of pride. For what it’s worth, most installations of mine are Ubuntu or Mint, from Ubuntu 8.04 to current. My only complaints are the formatting errors of imported Microsoft files and the lack of Netflix.

0 votes

Timothy Liem

never had any issue with compatibility. just my luck I think. but Linuxes are basically the same. even with different kernels, system configuration, you name it, the experience never be so far away. I use Ubuntu and Fedora. Tried Mandriva, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, and they are relatively the same. no issue at all.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Just for kicks I highly suggest people check out Haiku OS (http://www.haiku-os.org/), it’s (somewhat) based on BeOS and sounds very promising. Highly looking forward to more developments.”
And you have the infernal gall to complain about FreeBSD’s small user base???!!!
Haiku OS has maybe 100 users worldwide. Do you think anybody is going to develop apps or drivers or anything for it?!

“Nowdays if you install Ubuntu it will work out of the box OK most of the time”
You have stumbled upon the dirty, dark secret of Ubuntu family of distros that no one is willing to admit – they only work when used AS INSTALLED. Once you try to configure them to your needs/wants, you run into serious problems.

0 votes

Knut H. Flottorp

OK – one word of warning where Debian distros like Ubuntu, Mint, Redhat have a problem: KDE. The Korn Development Environment is a level outside the regular shell, and use separate libraries.

A simple rule is to not install KDE components unless you use KDE – like Kubuntu. Kubuntu and KDE applications usually has a “K” somewhere to make you aware – like Koffice. There are some distros like Maemo (Nokia N900/N950) that use both, since Qt is based on KDE. The inevitable is that you end up with a full set of “usual” libaries, and a full set of Korn libraries – and which one is chosen to be linked in is something that easily goes wrong.

0 votes

Dan

Linux doesn’t have a registry per se, but they usually have an “equivalent” like GConf for Gnome users.

0 votes

Knut H. Flottorp

GConf and similar address how the screen looks – the graphical interface only well and the menus – MacOS has dropped that. But is allows you to find someone that can make your PC look and feel like Windows 8.

The mucking around with users, access rights, grants to applications is not covered. And good is that. On Linux, you can do this by making “root” the owner of the menus, and “read” access to the group of users that needs the applications, and hide them by “no access” to others. This way you can protect the novice users from “Terminal” and “X11″ and they cannot run shell scripts.

The “registry” implements Linux/MacOS(Unix BSD) security features outside the file system and OS.

0 votes

ishan

Great article.. i switched over to Linux about 2 years ago. I’t wasn’t easy, but worth it. This kind of articles helped me a lot. I hope someone reads this and find some useful facts about Linux before giving up Windows.

To Add somethings.. Linux also have very little virus threats and you won’t have the constant fear of something horrible happening every time you plugs in somebody’s flash dive. it’s a bit secure to web browsing in someways because root account is locked in most popular distros like Ubuntu and without those permission security holes in flash or java won’t be able to harm any system files.

although if you just want to use your computer and not bother about how it works or fix it when something goes wrong Linux is not your OS.

0 votes

Scutterman

Linux can get viruses, but the userbase is so small there’s no-one writing them. I’ve been arguing the same about Mac computers for the past 10 years and it’s only recently that the truth of the matter is coming out.

0 votes

Timothy Liem

Yes, you are right. Linux can get virus. but it can only infect a user compared to the infection to the whole system on Windows.

0 votes

SubgeniusD

Not the whole system?

Unix kernel level exploit research goes all the way back to 1983 and the first root kit was developed in 1990. Jailbreaking an iPhone is a sort of Unix kernel level exploit. These apply equally to Linux in principle.

That said currently there’s only a slight chance of getting a Linux infection compared to Windows. Look at how tiny the list of Linux malware is here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_malware

compared to Windows which could run for 50 pages.

0 votes

Knut H. Flottorp

Hmm – I contest you to describe HOW a virus can be planted on Linux without having the root password. What I see is Java code that executes and reads files and address books, and publish this on the net – this is a site issue, where you have to trust the sites you visit.

A virus is a piece of code that remains after you have left the site and changes your system and send sensitive information to others. However, the tcp/ip stack is complete, so the sockets are not left LINGERING as on Windows. You cannot “CONNECT” to a socket that has been closed, and cannot “BIND” long after it is gone – as on Windows. MS needs this feature to allow IPX/SPX type of functionality where you can continue where you left things off.

They could have solved this by a simple (automatic) “SignOff” application that captured that you detached from your office network, and then captured that you attached the next morning. But now they make money by selling additional virus-scanning software (“malware scanners”), and you soon need a consultant with a PhD in MS to keep abreast on “security fixes”. The first Internet malware were on Unix, and since then, ways of avoiding the nuisance has been implemented here, and inherited by Linux.

0 votes

Alan Wade

Great article, answers a few of my questions but:
I have had a temptation to try Linux for a long while now but always been put off by the total lack of understanding it. I mean if I changed over to that system do I have to buy a complete set of software to be able to use it? For example a Linux based Office system or a browser that is compatable. Is software easily available for the Linux system free or paid for?
Can I dual boot between Windows 7 and Linux or is it a case of wipe everything and go for it?
Is there software that will convert my Office files to something that can be read by a Linux based system?

A few questions that I know that I could Google the answers but interested to here what the members have to say.

0 votes

Pavan Paravasthu

I had these same questions when I wanted to start using Linux. You will have to use a completely different set of software in Linux. But most of the generic software manufacturers also make a Linux release. And most of these are free. Some are even open source. It all depends on what you want to do.

I in fact, am an obsessed gamer. So I NEEDED a Windows installation. So I just decided to dual boot Windows and Linux. But before you do this, you would want to take a look at pointers on how to install Linux alongside Windows. The community is BRILLIANT! I found most of my questions answered satisfactorily.

As for your office files, I did try to use Openoffice for a while. But did not feel it was as good as MS Office. While you can still OPEN and READ those files, I would recommend MS Office to edit them. Then again, it’s a matter of preference.

I hope you will be switching soon. Linux is a refreshingly free environment. That means you would have to learn and unlearn quite a few things. :) All the best for that!

0 votes

Richard Steven Hack

“do I have to buy a complete set of software to be able to use it?”

Fortunately you can usually find free software that will do what you want. The exceptions are in areas like video editing – none of the free video editing packages are comparable to Adobe Premiere or Final Cut.

For example a Linux based Office system or a browser that is compatable. ”

All the browsers are compatible. You can use LibreOffice which has probably eighty to ninety percent of the capability of Microsoft Office. The exception is if you have a bunch of custom VBA macros in Office. LibreOffice can’t handle them. This is the main reason corporations have not switched from Office – all the in-house developed macros and VBA programs.

“Is software easily available for the Linux system free or paid for?”

A ton of free stuff. Not as much as free stuff on Windows, but plenty. There are also commercial programs.

“Can I dual boot between Windows 7 and Linux or is it a case of wipe everything and go for it?”

Dual booting is pretty easy. Most Linux distros on install will detect a Windows installation, so you can use the partition manager to shrink down the Windows system and free up space for Linux. But a better option, if your machine is fast enough and has enough RAM, is to use a virtual machine manager like VirtualBox or VMWare.

“Is there software that will convert my Office files to something that can be read by a Linux based system?”

LibreOffice can already read the files. There may be some discrepancies in formatting which can usually be fixed. The exception, as I noted above, is macros. You’d have to redo those.

The best bet to get questions like these answered is to visit some of the Linux “newbie” forums out there and describe exactly what you use Windows for and what software you run on Windows and let people tell you what will work and what won’t on Linux and whether there are work-arounds.

I had to relearn Windows and Linux simultaneously twelve years ago and I can safely say that there really isn’t a penny’s worth of difference between them in terms of difficulty in learning how to use them. It’s just a matter of being open to the differences and being patient when getting to know something new when changing from one to the other.

0 votes

Alan Wade

Thanks very much for the advice Pavan and Richard. I am thinking of giving it a go next weekend but first a little more reading and understanding. Going to take the dual boot option so that if all else fails then I can still use MS Office in Windows.

Thanks again guys.

0 votes

Uthroc

Richard mentioned VirtualBox or VMware. IMHO, before you try a dual boot I would suggest you try his advise first if for no other reason, to make sure Linux is really something you want.
I think you’ll be satisfied but it is a lot easier to remove it from a virtual source than a dual boot. Ubuntu 12.04 is my preference.
Lots of luck and welcome.

0 votes

Pax

Richard Steven Hack already answered your questions but I recommend that If you’re going to test the system to see how it suits you, you should start with WUBI. Wubi will “install” Ubuntu just like a regular application within Windows NTFS. If you do anything at all that damages the installation, you simply reboot back into Windows and uninstall. You can repeat (install, uninstall) as often as you like.

Wubu modifies the bootup sequence, so when you turn on your computer you’ll see Windows as the default option followed by Ubuntu. Uninstalling will remove the Ubuntu option as well the directory c:\ubuntu

You probably already know this but testing your hardware with a bootable CD/DVD is probably the best way to start.

0 votes

Joel Lee

I agree with Pax. I was about to recommend using WUBI for anyone who wants their first taste of Ubuntu.

WUBI installs straight into Windows like any other program. It sets up a partition within Windows that is reserved solely for Ubuntu and you access Ubuntu through a dual-boot config that WUBI sets up for you. If you want to remove it, you uninstall it just like any other program.

WUBI makes it easy to get your hands dirty with Linux without having to risk anything.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“I was about to recommend using WUBI for anyone who wants their first taste of Ubuntu.”
What if he wants to use a flavor of Linux other than Ubuntu? After all, the Linux world does start and end with Ubuntu. There are hundreds of Linux distributions available for download from sites like Distrowatch.com. Having said that, Ubuntu is the best choice for those newly switching from Windows because it gives the closest approximation of the Windows experience. In fact, Mark Shuttleworth has made it his life’s work to make Ubuntu into the Windows of the Linux world.

0 votes

Timothy Liem

I never suggest the installation through WUBI due to its lack of performance compared to installation on its own partition. I always suggest to install Linux on its partition so you can get the best performance with Linux.

0 votes

Clark

This is a perfect example of just how tangled up Linux system administration is. NOW you need to learn how to partition your drive, including finding partitioning software and learning to use it (all at a command line, using the proper syntax for your shell and flavor of Linux). There is about a full year of intense computer training you must learn in order to do these things. People seem to assume that the common user knows all of these programming skills. These are NOT skills the common user posses! Stop expecting people to have the equivalent of a programmer’s education. They don’t and shouldn’t be expected to. I hate sys admin work. I have a computer to use it, not to have to constantly tweek it. GOD how I HATE Linux! I will never touch it again unless I have a computer guru to do it for me.

0 votes

Mr Eli

Full year of intensive training? Are you stoned? You must be talking about Gentoo or Slackware or LFS or something – Ubuntu and Fedora and all those Debian-style distributions provide graphical tools for things like partitioning. In fact, now there are even GUIs for package managers!

A full year? Geez, you must be high. It took me all of a few seconds to figure out how yum worked when I was new to Linux (on Fedora), a few days to get the hang of bash, and a few weeks to make some useful scripts in it. Partitioning was handled by the graphical installation, but 6 months after, having migrated to Gentoo, it took me all of about ten minutes to get my head around fdisk.

Now, considering that most Linux users will be using something 50 times more user friendly, I can’t see a 12 month intensive course coming out of that. I can only conclude one of three things:

1) You don’t have enough the intellectual capacity to realise that, either:
a) Slackware is NOT meant for newbies or
b) Trolling is not cool

2) Microsoft hired you for lols

3) You’re just a random dick who likes being a pain in the ass

4) You’re a brain dead little turd

I think 3.

In conclusion, go screw yourself.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“do I have to buy a complete set of software to be able to use it?”
Unlike in the Windows world you will not have to buy any application software once you install a Linux distribution. Everyday application software is installed along with the O/S. There are exceptions but they are few and far between. Most of them are enterprise-grade programs.

There are at least 4 or 5 popular Linux Office suites and they will read 99.9% of files created by Windows-based programs. Of the top of my head one format that there are no Linux readers for is WebEx file (.wrf). Also, MS Office will not work in Linux. You will have to re-write them using the macro language of the Linux Office suite that you will use.

“Can I dual boot between Windows 7 and Linux or is it a case of wipe everything and go for it?”
You certainly can dual-boot windows and Linux. However, there is one immutable condition. You MUST install Windows BEFORE Linux. Linux is perfectly willing to coexist with other Operating Systems and recognizes any that were previously installed, whereas Windows is very proprietary and will not tolerate any previously installed O/S. Windows Installer recognizes only Windows as an O/S.

0 votes

Knut H. Flottorp

Consultants recently compared compatibility between MS Office and LibreOffice / OpenOffice and found that there were 10 discrepancies (out of thousands of tests). MS used the ten discrepancies to their advantage, claiming that the alternative could not be used.

The problem was however, that all the 10 discrepancies were well documented by Microsoft, and both LibreOffice and OpenOffice performed as documented, MS Office did not. The moment existence of bugs and shortcomings becomes a part of the compatibility dispute we have a problem. It is incredibly difficult to repeat other’s mitakes when you know how to do it right.

(The survey was conducted for Norwegian municipalities, to allow OpenOffice and LibreOffice being offered by local consultants. It is only published in Norwegian.)

0 votes

1hegame

I switched to it in excitement but find out hard to deal with it so I switched back to XP. Everywhere you got problem. Always you’ve to post problem in forums and they say you to use terminal. Things are hard there.

0 votes

Timothy Liem

no really. all you have to do is type the command and hit enter. that’s easy, dude.

0 votes

Clark

That has not been my experience. I typed the command as given to me in a book or from a person online and it usually didn’t work as I was told it would. How does one follow instructions when the result is different? This is something that happened to me consistently. No, it is NOT easy. That is my main complaint about Linux users; they keep saying how easy it is, but it just never, never, EVER is easy.

0 votes

Elmo

You are one annoying little —. Again with the, “OMG, LINUX IS LIKE, SO HARD. I HATE IT!” Did you ever consider that if so many ordinary folk managed to get the hang of it, maybe that means you might be – just might be – an ignorant, whiny little pleb.
Idiots like you expect Linux to be as easy to learn as Windows or OS X. It’s not. It takes effort, and it takes persistence. Nevertheless, it’s not ridiculously hard. You just have to have the right mindset. And you do reap the rewards. The more skilled you are at bash, etc, the more productive you can be, the more you can tweak the system to your liking. Windows doesn’t really have that – they have sacrificed ease of usage for ease of learning. I guess it must have atrophied your brain.

0 votes

Clark

or maybe I’m the over 40 crowd. Um, ‘ordinary folks’? I don’t think so little boy. Go play with your video games and leave civil discussion to the adults, you troll. I apologize for wining. I’m all done. You are welcome to abuse the nice adults on this board until you either grow up or a moderator comes along and scraps your rude shit off of this board. so, in the like of this particular discussion and how it shows just how useless the Linux community really really is, I’ll go away and leave it to you young PROGRAMMERS. (if I loved Wind, would I spend 6 months trying Linux? We are ALL random ‘turds’. How exactly am I being a pain in your ass? So sorry to have bothered you with my participation. Do plz have mercy on me Your Highness. Yes, it would be a year if you went to a local Comm College to cover this material. You’re OBVIOUSLY very young so I’ll just move along and leave you to your tantrum.)

0 votes

Elmo

Right off the bat, I must apologize for being overly rude in my previous response. Nevertheless, I will respond to your claims as many of them are erroneous and misleading.
First of, you make quite a lot of assumptions. I understand more mature internet users often pull the “little boy” card when confronted with such a reply as mine was, perhaps to keep their pride intact (“after all, Elmo’s only a little boy, which means I don’t have to consider anything he said”). I am not ‘a little boy’. I am not ‘young’. I have never played a video game in my life, and I am most definitely not a troll. I am not here to abuse any nice adults, and your statement about how my reply shows the uselessness of the Linux community is unfounded as I have never contributed to or made significant use of the Linux community. Furthermore, I am NOT a programmer.
Having addressed those assumptions, I’ll now address some other parts of your reply.

Now, look, I can imagine an ‘over 40′ year old struggling with Linux, and if you were simply railing about how difficult Linux was for older users, than you would have been completely justified in making such a claim. However, you did not make this claim. You claimed multiple times that Linux was only for programmers, which is blatantly false. I guess you can’t comprehend normal people being able to come to grips with Linux when you yourself have not. And YES, there are many people (even the over 40s crowd, though I dare say they make up a much smaller percentage overall) who use Linux who DO NOT have a background in computer technology. Before you start yelling, “NO, NO, LIES! LINUX USERS ARE ALL PROGRAMMERS,” I will explain to you Linux distributions – I suspect you may have used a distribution far beyond your capabilities, and blame Linux and its community as a result (hey, it’s an easy mistake to make, just as long as your ignorance can be rectified).

DISCLAIMER: Linux gurus out there, I know you would want to flay me alive for such an inadequate explanation that I am about to embark upon, but please understand that I am just trying to simplify everything for dear, over-forty-years-old Clarkie.
Let’s begin.
In any Operating System (I assume you know what an Operating System is), there is a mysterious thing called a ‘kernel.’ You vented dislike for ‘Linuxers’ using complex terminology, so let me explain what a ‘kernel’ is. A kernel is pretty much the core of the OS ( ‘OS’ is an abbreviation for Operating System). It makes all the hardware (the physical components of your computer) work.
Windows’ kernel is called ‘DOS’ and Apple’s kernel is called ‘Darwin’. Linux is just a kernel. Certain people and organisations took the Linux kernel and made it usable by adding extra functionality – for instance, adding GUIs (GUI stands for Graphical User Interface) and desktops and etc. Different groups made different bundle of extra functionality, and these bundles are called ‘Distributions.’ Some Distributions don’t add much extra functionality themselves, but allow their users freedom to add any functionality they want – these are hard distros to learn (‘distros’ is Linux slang for distributions). Some groups added lots and lots of extra functionality and made everything quite easy to use – these are easy distros to learn. Having got that out of the way, the only distro I can imagine which would take a year-long course to cover at a community college would be some hard distros like Gentoo, Slackware, etc. I suspect you may have used one of these, perhaps, armed only with your $300 pile of books. From this point of view, I can completely understand how you would come to the opinion that Linux is only or programmers – Gentoo/Slackware/LFS/etc are REALLY hard distributions. And posting extremely newbie questions, as you must have done (since you were new to Linux) in such hard distros is a sure fire way to get flamed, which must have therefore promoted in your mind the idea that the Linux community is a bunch of supercilious programmers. I am sorry for your bad experience, but perhaps an easier distribution more fitting to your abilities may help to erase the horrific memories of Slackware going into a kernel panic after you made a single keystroke error.

Distributions like Ubuntu or Mint, on the other hand, are extremely easy to learn how to use. Installation of Ubuntu, for instance, is considerably EASIER than installing Windows. Here are their websites: http://www.ubuntu.com/ and http://www.linuxmint.com/. I myself put Ubuntu on my Mum’s (who is 68) computer, and after telling her “Click this to go to the internet, click that to go to your emails, click that to open files…”, it’s been pretty much smooth sailing. If you have tried before to use these distros and failed, the only possibility I can conceive is that you have some weird hardware, in which case you can stick to Windows. If some other thing happened, I encourage you to post what screwed up, and maybe we can help.

Yours Sincerely,
Not-young, not-a-programmer, not-a-troll, Elmo.

0 votes

Richard Steven Hack

“you will find yourself using it frequently.”

Not really. I use the terminal mostly for three things: to run top to see why the system is slow on occasion (I seem to have some issues with openSUSE 12.1 and the X system every once in a while for no known reason yet, to convert HTML files to PDF using a command, and occasionally some administrative work.

Most non-power users won’t use the terminal more than every few months, if that. The one time they might use it is if following instructions from someone on a forum to fix an issue.

The driver issue these days is really limited – really, as it always has been – to proprietary parts on laptops such as trackpads, and really NEW hardware such as printers where the available open source drivers might not yet support every feature. Considering that Windows printers tend to come with several hundred megabytes of software no one needs, that’s not much of a problem.

The main issue with Linux these days is sound. There are too many different sound subsystems, and frequently sound does not work entirely correctly after a clean install. And it can be a bear to resolve it – you really need to go to the forums for your distro to fix it since it usually entails running forum-developed scripts to find out what sound system actually is running.

All in all, for most Windows users, switching to Linux is relatively painless these days, as long as they grasp the file structure and the different way of handling software installation.

And having no Registry is the number one reason why Linux is far more stable than Windows (at least Windows XP). Windows 7 is much more stable than Windows XP – but that’s because Microsoft put the five years or more of developing Vista and the couple more years developing 7 into 7…nearly ten years of work to fix XP, which was utter crap. Whereas Linux has been stable (with minor bugs for the two main desktops) for the last twelve years or more.

If you ever have a problem with Linux, it’s most likely going to be a desktop issue, not a driver or kernel issue.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“All in all, for most Windows users, switching to Linux is relatively painless these days, as long as they grasp the file structure and the different way of handling software installation.”

The biggest problem in switching from Windows to Linux is unlearn “the Windows way” of doing things. Many people who switch expect Linux to be exactly like Windows but with a different name.

To be fair, someone who knows only Linux will find switching to Windows hard but only because of having to unlearn “the Linux way”.

None of us were born knowing a particular O/S, be it O/S X, Linux, Windows, Unix or MVS. We all had to learn from scratch.

0 votes

salim benhouhou

i do like ubuntu distro but i love windows 7 and Mac OS

0 votes

GrrGrrr

Thanks Joel, nice article.
I’ll stay with WIndows

0 votes

Shakirah Faleh Lai

That was among the reasons why I got started with linux.

0 votes

Scutterman

Thank you for your refreshingly honest article.

I have to admit that I get a bit fed up with hearing about how many people’s grandmothers use linux. My grandmother uses her computer for a minimal amount of surfing and emails, and I’m willing to bet I could set her up with a llinux build and she wouldn’t even notice. The fact is that she doesn’t represent a standard user base, since never installing or changing anything will ensure that the system remains stable.

0 votes

Joel Lee

I appreciate your kind words. You’re right, though: anyone who doesn’t plan on changing anything in their computer setup (like installing new software) won’t have to deal with problems–but that’s true of any operating system anywhere.

Linux is definitely a hard system to learn. Even with Ubuntu and Unity, it’s still a pretty niche market. We’ll see where it goes in the next 5-10 years.

0 votes

Scutterman

If Linux wants to get popular, there’s one quick way for it to do it. Go the way of Macintosh and create a distribution which is tested working perfectly on a single set of hardware.
The distribution could then be polished and stabilised, and a deal could be created with a manufacturer to ship Linux boxes.
This way, the user gets the hassle-free, stable, and works-out-of-the-box environment they’re used to with Windows, the distribution developers get an initial support contract, the manufacturers get a new market, and the Linux community gets new members who are eased in slowly.
It would take an enormous amount of work, but with just a single hardware configuration to worry about it would be more than possible.
It even opens the doors for a handful of hardware configurations, aimed at different markets (netbook, laptop, desktop, gaming rig, ultrabook, etc.) while still keeping the stabilisation work to a minimum.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“If Linux wants to get popular, there’s one quick way for it to do it. Go the way of Macintosh and create a distribution which is tested working perfectly on a single set of hardware.”
You have overlooked one minor fact and that is Macintosh is only one hardware platformn for which Apple controls the software, hardware, distribution and development and users pay dearly for that. The “ubiquitous” Windows runs on only three or four platforms. Linux runs on most, if not all, the hardware platforms in the IT world; from embedded systems to Raspeberry-Pi to PCs to mini-computers to mainframes. There are even distros designed specifically to run on Macintosh hardware.

0 votes

Scutterman

That’s why I suggested making a specific distro for a specific hardware configuration. It wouldn’t prevent it from being used on other hardware but the hardware it was designed for would be much more likely to be stable, and stable hardware makes things more appealing to both users and distributors.

Mac users pay dearly partly because Apple likes money, and partly because they are always trying to be on the bleeding edge. Getting hardware smaller, or shinier, or any number of a dozen things. In the past this was largely because Steve Jobs would accept nothing less, I’m not sure whether there’s the same emphasis with Tim Cooke at the helm.

0 votes

Scutterman

I’ve recently found (through MUO) that there is someone doing this – System 76 https://www.system76.com/

If I was going to try Linux again, I’d definitely look to them. It’s good to know for sure that hardware issues would be minimal an support readily available.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Linux is definitely a hard system to learn.”
You wrote an unbiased article but that statement is pure FUD. We first need to define our terms. If used as installed, Linux is no harder to learn than Windows. Even if you are talking about system administration, Linux is no harder to learn than Windows. To properly administer either a Windows system or a Linux system one needs to know Command Line which does present a learning curve. The only time your statement is true is when a long time Windows GUI user tries to learn Linux command language.

BTW – since Linux has no Registry, system administration is that much easier.

0 votes

Scutterman

Over the past couple of years I’ve picked up a small amount of knowledge about the linux command line. I know enough to manage the server at work but installing software, even popular package using Yum, is still hard work. Some aspects of Linux are hard to learn.

0 votes

dragonmouth

Actually there is a specific distro for a specific hardware configuration – it is called OSX.

OK, so OSX is based on BSD which is closer to Linux than to Windows or ProDOS or the original MacOS.

0 votes

Knut H. Flottorp

MacOS is Unix BSD.

Apple keeps all OS parts in “OS parts’ of the file system, and install complete application as binary “images”, ready linked except for OS libraries. At “system” level, all non-OS files are either in “/library” and “/user” – then for user files “$HOME” – you find another “/library” with all the application files. Then it comes with some pre-installed directories in $HOME such as “Documents”, “Music”, “Pictures” and “Videos” – and then provided some simple applications that use this structure.

The Linux “apt-get” is used by most “Application Managers”, and will link the application code to the libraries found and pull down what is needed. So there is just one “qtlib” – all Qt applications will link to this by default (you can override). Now, install a new application that requires and updated version of the Qt libraries, and all applications will suddenly get a new variant of the library installed.

Apple use a “.dmg” package, where all components must be included, except for the core libraries supplied by Apple. So, for each Qt application, there are a complete set of Qt libraries – unless Apple approves of these as a “system component”.

Linux use an old Unix “make” way. Apple have elected to use disk space and an increased working set giving less efficient computers.

0 votes

Corien

My mothers neighbour is working part time and averaging $9000 a month. I’m a single mum and just got my first paycheck for $6546! I still can’t believe it. I tried it out cause I got really desperate and now I couldn’t be happier. Heres what I do, Be84.com

0 votes

md javed

i like it

0 votes

Dominic

Nice article. I became sick and tired of people writing Linux vs. Windows articles being biased against Linux. Sure our OS isn’t for everyone and if you like Windows, it’s your God given right to do so. If you have nothing good to say, GTFO.

0 votes

Joel Lee

I’m probably one of the few people who really likes both Windows and Linux, so I find it somewhat easier to keep an unbiased view when comparing the two. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the acknowledgment. :)

0 votes

Timothy Liem

I second your opinion IF ONLY they buy the license (we’re not owning our operating system? silly one, IMHO). but in fact, there are a lot of people using cracked Windows. that’s what I hate. and recently, MS got a bad move with Windows 8. I’ll never leave Ubuntu, Fedora, and Windows 7.

0 votes

James Bruce

You make it sound like the package manager fixes all your woes; rarely, I’ve found that to be the case. Nearly anything i’ve ever tried to install required editing the sources list first, then updating the repos, then blah blah; thats if you’re lucky. If not, you’re stuck with downloading a deb and installing that (just like an .exe). And if that doesnt work, then good luck learning about makefiles and compiling all that yourself. Nothing is EVER easy on linux.

0 votes

Amine LaSking

For me i like linux but the thing that is stopping me from going fully linux is my love for games , but i hear valve is trying to port popular games to linux and they are working on there one distro!!! so who knows.

0 votes

Keith Swartz

Thanks! I really needed this article. I’ve been thinking about making the switch. Now I know that the switch will only be about 20%! I likes my Windows!

0 votes

Knut H. Flottorp

Take a USB stick and copy and instance of Mint on this and make it bootable – read the documentation on the site. You need a 2GB stick.

First avoid applications that need “KDE” – like “PlasmaOne”. This looks cool but it can introduce some serious problems.

When you have boot your PC from the USB “all the time”, it is time to do a switch. You will never regret it. You can learn Linux, and understand, fix and things behave as you expect.

What Linux should have (and all OS, Windows and MacOS) is a reverse verification of the consistency of what you install, like a “sandbox” installation first. It should then be impossible to pull down updated libraries without verifying existing dependencies – the new library will be pull down to the “sandbox” only and in Linux/MacOS it can be made available with a simple “link”. It is so easy to make, but nobody has made it!

0 votes

Alex Madjarov

The only drivers I’ve needed to download are for nVidia, which I’ve had to do with Windows too. What I love about Linux when it comes to drivers is that you don’t need to install the basic stuff like XP and Vista requires: SM Bus controller, Sound driver, LAN driver (!!!), Standard VGA adapter, and a few others. That’s much more tedious than just needing the single driver for third-party graphics card, which you don’t even need to search for – as soon as you install Ubuntu and it’s online, the system prompts you if you want to install a non-open driver and you say yes and Robert’s your father’s brother.

0 votes

Alex Madjarov

The only drivers I’ve needed to download are for nVidia, which I’ve had to do with Windows too. What I love about Linux when it comes to drivers is that you don’t need to install the basic stuff like XP and Vista requires: SM Bus controller, Sound driver, LAN driver (!!!), Standard VGA adapter, and a few others. That’s much more tedious than just needing the single driver for third-party graphics card, which you don’t even need to search for – as soon as you install Ubuntu and it’s online, the system prompts you if you want to install a non-open driver and you say yes and Robert’s your father’s brother.

One downside of Linux that often goes unmentioned is that if you’re a tinkerer and don’t fully know what you’re doing (like me), it’s very likely that you’ll mess up your system at some point or another. Windows treats you like a toddler and won’t let you near its important bits, whereas Linux’s “sudo” can make you mad with power and destroy your OS.

0 votes

druv vb

Nice articles to sort out differences between Windows And Linux. This will be good infos for newbies. Linux is definitely something else. Sure it has its perks and cons, but in the end, companies are working to make their products better. And lets keep in mind that these companies are making Debian and Ubuntu available to us for free…

0 votes

Freecycle Me

I would say that a key difference between Windows and Linux is that 99% of the time, Windows is pre-installed and so the majority of windows users have never installed their OS. I wonder if both were pre-installed on PCs which would have the longer term uptake!

0 votes

dragonmouth

“I would say that a key difference between Windows and Linux is that 99% of the time, Windows is pre-installed”
Dell and HP both sold PCs with Linux pre-installed for a short period of time. Microsoft did not appreciate that told them in no uncertain terms that if they did not cease and desist forthwith, Dell and HP will lose any discounts on bulk purchases of Windows CDs and would have to pay retail prices for each copy. After a bunch of legal posturing from all parties involved, Microsoft magnanimously allowed Dell and HP to sell servers with Linux pre-installed.

0 votes

Clark

I have installed many different versions of Linux and Windows. Windows is tedious b/c of all the crap you must do BUT, it is reasonable for the average user. Not so with Linux. I have successfully installed all versions of Windows up to the one after Vista. I have tried installing about 6 or 7 diff vers of Linux and NEVER had a completely successful install. There was ALWAYS something broken and about half of the software (that came with the OS) was broken!! I spent well over 200 hrs trying to learn and operate Linux. I tried again about 10 yrs later and had the exact same problems. Good luck to you!

0 votes

Elmo

There you are again, you little turd. Do you have a life, or do you just spend all your days and nights slandering Linux? To be honest, if anyone spent 200 hours trying to learn Linux, and still utterly failed, they must be either unfathomably unintelligent, or have some weird hardware that’s screwing with their install. I personally think that you’re unfathomably unintelligent. A psychotic grandma suffering from dementia could probably manage to install Ubuntu.

0 votes

Faysal Faruk

Linux is for the geeks. And for some serious use, not really friendly for home entertainment pc. So most of the common users may not like Linux distros, Ubuntu is trying to become one though. But I can tell one thing, playing with Linux is really fun if you know real computing.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Linux is for geeks”
Not really. There are at least 10 or 15 distros that can be used by an average user out of the box, just like Windows. OTOH, real serious use of Windows is also for geeks.

“not really friendly for home entertainment pc”
There are 3 or 4 Linux distributions specifically designed for that purpose, such as Sabayon with XBMC, SuperOS, Ubuntu Studio, Vortex Box, PCLinuxOS “Full Monty”

0 votes

Joel Lee

The average user can barely choose between IE, Firefox, and Chrome. Most have never heard of Opera. If browser choice is difficult, good luck getting them to properly choose a Linux distro.

You have been mindlessly defending Linux all throughout the comments and you really have no idea how much more difficult Linux is than Windows. Just because you’ve gotten used to it and know what there is to know does not mean it’s easy.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“The average user can barely choose between IE, Firefox, and Chrome. Most have never heard of Opera.”

“Average User” is a mythical entity that we use to bolster our arguments. :-)

From my experience the “average user” mindlessly uses Windows, installing such wonderful applications as Bonzi Buddy and WeatherBug, never clearing out his/her Cookies and Temporary Internet Files folders. An “average user” does even know that those folders exist. An “averge user” opens up any and all emails that they receive and click on any links contained in those emails. When their computer slows down to a crawl, they throw it out and buy a new one. I have a couple of “average users” in my family. I have also worked for over 15 years in Customer Support of a company with close to 10,000 “average Windows users”. An “average user” thinks that the CD/DVD tray is a cup holder. And you expect the “average user” to know about Linux, let alone install it? The audience for your article, in spite of your intent, is a user who can think for themselves, not the “average user.”

“You have been mindlessly defending Linux all throughout the comments and you really have no idea how much more difficult Linux is than Windows.”
I agree that for the “average Windows user” described above, Linux is a cast iron b*tch to learn. Especially if you expect them to become fluent in command line. However, most of the people who read your article will not have much problems learning Linux. BTW – have you thought how hard Windows is to learn when one has spent their entire life using Unix or MVS or OS1100? Do you think everybody is born knowing Windows? And no, I have not “been mindlessly defending Linux”. I have been trying to combat Window bias and FUD with some facts.

As to Windows being “easy” (as opposed to Linux being “hard”), I have just spent over 3 hours fixing Windows XP on a client’s computer. There were hundreds of thousands of cookies and TIFs. There were files left over from uninstalled applications. Every app the guy ever used was started at bootup. It literally took 10 minutes for the PC to finish booting. And I still have not looked into the Registry for obsolete and unnecessary keys left over from past unistalls. I suspect there will be at least a few thousand of those to delete.

0 votes

Joel Lee

The commenters on this very article have proven you wrong. People ranging from complete newbies to veteran CS majors have all read and responded.

Furthermore, whether you like to admit it or not, Windows is the standard in the world of home PC use. When something is so engrained into culture that it becomes the standard in almost every facet of life (office, school, home, etc.) then yes, anything that ISN’T standard (e.g., Linux) is inherently difficult to learn. Hypothetically speaking, if Linux was the standard, Windows would be hard to learn. Realistically speaking, that’s not the case.

And there are Windows tools that could’ve cleaned up a dirty Windows PC, including the registry, in less than an hour–even on a slow machine. Hey, what do you know: another benefit of Windows being a standard machine for which developers like to develop. Many of those free tools can be picked up for free here at MUO.

I don’t really know the point that you’re trying to argue anymore because it seems to me that you were originally saying that Linux is just as easy as Windows, yet all of your responses in this thread are arrogant, condescending, and boast in the fact that Linux is indeed tougher to learn.

0 votes

dusty

joel has removed the reply button for his patient and understanding response(sarcasm), so i will respond to you.
you are right. and, so is everyone else’s response i have read on this thread.
as invariably happens, the discussion evolves to one of philosophy and psychology.
as that late, great american once said: “can’t we all just get along?”

0 votes

James Franklin

I don’t know why I’m suddenly a “geek” just because I use Linux. That’s like saying kool-aid is for blacks. Just because something is popular within a certain crowd doesn’t mean it’s only for them…

0 votes

AP

Very often one has to deal with hardware compatibility and getting right kind of drivers that’s the major problem with Linux . Why don’t all the different developers of open source software agrees on somewhat similar interface and apps and develops a common platform for software and drivers download, in my opinion it could really give a great thrust to Linux.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Very often one has to deal with hardware compatibility and getting right kind of drivers that’s the major problem with Linux .”

Are you speaking from personal experience or are you just mindlessly repeating what you have read on the Internet? In over ten years of using Linux the only serious problem I’ve had was wwith nVidia video drivers. From what I understand Window users had similar problems with those drivers.

0 votes

AP

Well eight years ago I had used Redhat and the experience cannot categories as great one.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Well eight years ago I had used Redhat and the experience cannot categories as great one.”

Have you tried RedHat lately? A lot has changed in eight years. May I suggest you try the latest Fedora, which is a desktop respin of RedHat.

SInce 2003 RedHat Corp. has maintained two separate products, RedHat Enterprise Linux for corporate/business use and Fedora for personal use. Fedora is more user friendly that RedHat Enterprise.

0 votes

AP

Thanks for this information I was not aware about this.

0 votes

Moz

I saw a BBC programme about Linux 10 years ago and wanted to try it. I asked for advice from ‘computer literate’ friends who warned me off… Then one day, in 1995, I came across Ubuntu ‘live’ distro (o.s. runs from a cd or dvd) and was smitten. I installed it and have used it ever since. Computer games bore me and I’ve never needed to install them. Synaptic and apt-get command line package managers download and install software from trusted repositories and I’ve never been unable to find what I need. The extra time need to become acquainted with the o.s. was time saved from no more downloading of dodgy Windows applications. Yes, there is a learning curve but it’s getting easier all the time and I would not consider installing Windows again or using a Mac. The online community support is excellent. Ubuntu has a very extensive forum in which a pervasive spirit of altruism reflects the Linux multi layered, international, cooperative endeavour I have heard described, elsewhere, as the ‘Great Western Railway of the electronic age.’
Unfortunately, I can’t get away from Windows at work.
I also have a 10 yr old PC running ‘Puppy’, a very small and nimble o.s., for my 6 yr old son. He has no complaints.

0 votes

Edward Bellair

For all the complaints on here I have this to say. I changed a harddrive in a friends laptop for her kids, no windows disks could be found, I installed Ubuntu for them. I told them it is a little different and be patient. Bookmarked the help page for them and so far not one complaint. The mom is using this as a learning time for all of them. I for one am glad that they are willing to try and use something and be able to make it work for them.

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Joel Lee

That’s awesome! Another score for an everyday-mom-and-kids who were able to learn Linux without a hitch. I’m betting that the fact you bookmarked the help page was a huge factor in easing the learning curve.

Good on them for being open-minded and trying it.

0 votes

Edward Bellair

Yes, I am happy that they took to it so well. I was told the the boys have been learning to use the work arounds for their music and vids. They have also discovered some game they really enjoy, All in all they seem quite happy with it.

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Sadden

Great article, Joel. This comment shows how kids will respond when you get their interest. I have a computer here with BSoD which is waiting to turn to Ubuntu, just to see what it is all about. It will keep me alert, I hope. At 85 I need something interesting.

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James West

My dad told me that when istalling the old linux you needed to splash the holy water and perform a sacrifice. And even then it might not work

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Tina Sieber

Clearly, your dad is a comedian. So did it work?

0 votes

Aviendah

Great article and lively comments! Thank you all!

In February 2011, I switched to Ubuntu Linux because Windows crashed (for the 100th time, I think) when I was in the final stages of a very important legal document I was helping a friend with. A lot of work was lost (even with the autosave set to 10 minutes), and it took several hours to get the laptop back up and functioning, which caused a critical legal filing issue to almost become DOA. We managed to file on time, but it was insane.

Windows and various Windows apps have cost me huge amounts of time and aggravation in lost work and lost productivity due to searching for solutions to intermittent errors, catastrophic failures, software and hardware incompatibilities, and various other problems over the years (it’s always something with Windows). Of course, I can’t get away from Windows at work (@$%^&!), but I know I won’t have to pull any hair out when I do my own work on my Ubuntu machine at home.
:-)

I love Ubuntu! It works! The OS and all the apps I use are free! They are all powerful, professional-grade, mostly very intuitive, and work well together. It took two tries to get a useable Linux distro that worked (the CD that came with the Ubuntu Linux guide book was 9.something and it stopped booting after a few days). I’m still using 10.04, and it’s great, but there are newer stable versions available, so I’ll upgrade the next time I’m at a WiFi hotspot.

If anyone can crash a computer, it’s me: my asynchronous, visual-spacial learning & working style typically involves having 5 or 6 applications open simultaneously. Linux handles it all with few complaints and no catastrophes. Many thanks to everyone in the Linux community!

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Scott Reyes

Linux was really just a hobby for me seeing how much I could take before ramming the off button with a sword. Fourtunatly I havent come too close seeing as the online community has loads of documentation.

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Declan Lopez

and those are the reasons i prefer linux to windows

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owais nauman

Thanks for clarifying the differences between linux and windows operating system.owais nauman

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Ihtisham ul haq haq

I am a new computer geek and love to master each and everything about computer.Linux….(so much commands to learn….?)

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Adrian

Linux sounds like a lot of work and learning before one can be productive at last on a Linux machine (at least according this article). I just want an OS that works for ME instead of the other way around. For me, so far, Windows does this trick.

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Elmo

Have you tried Ubuntu? You can pretty much use it from the get-go, with very little learning involved. To be honest, you could probably just download, install and use it without any documentation or help at all (though some will be useful to get the most out of your machine).

0 votes

Austen Gause

i think linux is great for computers and really highlights customability in android smartphones

0 votes

Puzzled Penguin

Yes, it’s true that there is a large Linux community out there that tries to be helpful. Here ‘tries’ being the key word. Many times I’ve gone to a forum for help only to be frustrated by the results. Many of the archived posts are 10 years old and completely useless. The guy who claims he knows how to fix your problem may not be good at explaining the solution. Or he may assume you know more than you do and therefore leave out steps. For whatever reason, many times I’ve carefully followed a forum’s advice with no positive results. Then I’m left wondering what damage I’ve done to my system and how do I get back to the starting point?

I’ve been tinkering with Linux off and on for almost 15 years. I have to admit that it has gotten much, much easier to use. But I still don’t think it is at a state where it can completely replace Mac or Windows. There are still some things you simply can’t do yet with Linux. I think probably the best solution is to dual boot Linux and Windows.

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Declan Lopez

i love using linux, it is more fun to use and more customizable than windows

0 votes

RandJ

What a lively discussion on an excellent article.

If I may share my real life experiences with those who are thinking of Linux vs Windows.

I am not a geek but I do learn and remember things that can make a computer work better. I have explored Linux several times in the past and really liked Mint and found it to be very problem free. But it couldn’t run the big games. The other thing that kept me from Linux was VLC player. Nothing else can do what VLC does.

I am now here in Indonesia to help kids (and adults) learn. Because I have some computer knowledge, I am the local computer expert here at the school. Every week I repair or re-install W7 in someone’s computer. (They all want to use facebook and that is where the 247 viruses come from that crash the computers, according to my Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scans.) It takes 4 days to install and update W7. With the new Microsoft Security Essential (free from Microsoft) most all virus’ would be detected and taken care of. But, as I remind all the students and staff here, Windows must be kept updated weekly. As the internet here is slower than time, and is very expensive, people will not update. (BTW most all the Windows systems here are pirated.)

Now, being tired of working so hard, and someone from another institution asked for my help in educating children, I decided to look into Linux again. I decided to try Edubuntu for two different reasons: First because of all the free educational software (the people here like free), and secondly for the free LTSP package (I can afford free). I downloaded the ISO and put it on a USB to load into the netbooks that most everyone has and it worked flawlessly. To add updates took no more than two hours. I plugged in my cel phone as the modem and it connected without any issues or extra software. (With W7 I have to use Nokia PC Suite which has to be reloaded occasionally because of power outages.) After the updates I made a new install disk with all the recent updates on it, and now install the latest Edubuntu with updates. Can’t do that with W7. But with W7 I make a restore image for each computer in case it crashes. (Takes up most of my external 2TB drive.)

Edubuntu installs and works in the old computers that we have that can handle no more than 512 Mb of memory, allowing the use of 11 more systems. LTSP allows for using computers with no hard drives or nonworking USB ports.

Networking on Linux is just as easy as W7, but there is much more functionality because you can easily share desktops in a classroom or network, and the internet connection between all of them simply works. I have been trying to get W7 Internet Connection Sharing to work for more than three months now.

The only computer I could not get Linux to work in was my desktop. Come to find out that it is because I have an nVidia card installed (for my games). Remove card and Edubunto installs easily.

For developing countries, Linux is the only way to go (IMHO). However, I still use W7 because I am addicted to my games. When Steam gets Portal 2 for Linux, there will be little use for W7, except to fix other peoples computers. Even VLC player is working excellently now in Edubuntu.

to Scutterman – using Linux on old hardware is one of the best reasons for switching. If people here had to purchase a new computer. then it will probably be with W7.

to dragonmouth – to a “non-regular” use like myself, Linux is about the same to use because I have to search for fixes for W7 as much as for Linux. For the people that are new to computers, Linux should be the first choice to learn (IMHO). And for the “regular” Windoze users, moving over is really not an issue other than MS Office.

to Joel – thanks for a good honest article. Each system has its good and bad points, and you showed no bias for either one. Well done.

to everyone else – try it on a USB stick without installing and see if it has the features that you want. No harm done and you can always use the USB stick for something else. I think you will be pleasantly suprized.

0 votes

Anonymous

The last key difference:
Linux Rocks.

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Richard L

For me I gave up on linux when Win7 became to frustrating to use.
One example was trying to get a wi-fi printer to work after after my friend changed the router. You would think all you would have to do is open the printer control panel and type in the new IP. Well 35 minutes later the printer works as well as it did on the old router.
For the fun of it, on my Mint machine, I opened the printer management and pressed “Add new printer”. In way less than a second it came back with HPXX.
I hit yes 30 seconds later it was printing!
My boss knows where the on switch is of his computer, had window problems, I set him up with Linux until I could find the time to fix his problems. Linux works so smoothly for him that he won’t let me near his Pc.

0 votes

Clark

Linux is ONLY for programmers. Do not be fooled by comments of how easy it is to learn. I spent 6 months and $300 on books trying about 5 or 6 different ‘flavors’ of Linux. ALL of them use different syntax and require you to be very familiar with command line usage. Each shell uses a different set of commands (like learning a different language for each and every shell). Because each flavor is different, each one will work with some programs, each with something call dependencies. Each package has it’s own dependencies and conflicts. This means that the more you install on your Linux OS, the more likely there will be conflicts with other packages. I have been unable to get most programs to even function properly. It’s a TOTAL headache/nightmare! I hate Linux almost as much as I hate the Federal Government. I cannot stress enough how utterly impossible Linux is for the average user to operate. DON’T DO IT! You WILL be sorry!

0 votes

Elmo

You are just so stupid! Can’t you just shut the hell up? The only different syntax is in the package manager – EVERYTHING ELSE IS THE SAME. Each shell is the Bourne Shell. Dependencies and conflicts? What are you using, freaking Slackware? Anyway, aside from that, you are one idiotic dick for spending $300 on Linux books (which I don’t believe for one second you stupid liar) when there are hundreds of free, up-to-date eBooks that could help just as much. You are one idiot troll. At least TRY to be realistic. When there are thousands of average Joe users switching to Ubuntu all the time with no problems, comments like yours are just so in-congruent so as to be utterly laughable.

0 votes

dragonmouth

TROLL!!!

0 votes

WB7ODYFred

WINDOWS users want to give Linux a try on a USB Flash Disk Driver? Two windows utilities to help you.
Check out Linux Live USB a free Windows Program to install a Linux Distributions to a USB Flash Drive. There are more than 360 choices, one of them being PuppyLinux 528 150Mbytes! Others distros Mint Linux, MACPUP 529 188 mybytes, Zorin 6.0 Lite, Sabayon, Solous, Bodhi. Read up and pick one.
http://www.linuxliveusb.com LinuxLive USB Creator Powerful yet easy-to-use
Then boot from the USB drive and now you can have secure banking at home and play with Linux programs.

Download a Linux Distribution .ISO file from http://www.distrowatch.com
Use this free utility to burn an .ISO file to either a CD burner or to a DVD burner on a WIN7, Vista, or XP machine.
http://alexfeinman.com/isorecorder.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_Recorder_Power_Toy

I read though this website recommended below “6 light weight distributions” Puppy is mentioned there. I have used puppy linux for about 6 years now and like it very much. I have used Puppylinux on 128MB computers with 500Mhz Pentium III CPUs or K6 cpus. Last night I used the latest PuppyLinux 5.5beta on a dual core i3 Intel CPU with a radeon graphics, very fast. I used the application “Frisbee” to connect to wireless internet with WEP security password. WPA2 is supported also. So TROLL CLARK January 25 2013 comment, I say, “Use it average JOE 6pack User! No need for $300 of books! Just a $8 USB Flash disk drive or a 25 cent CD-R disk ” Thanks ELMO for fighting against WINDOWS FUD from a TROLL. Clark listed above is windows 32 Tools that does everything for you, with the click of a GUI button. Now go ahead and make your own choice of a linux distro installed to a USB Flash Drive. Boot it and then tell us how hard it was to use over windows, with a real list of problems, not made up generalities. You might learn something new and that would be a good thing in life.

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-lightweight-linux-distributions-give-pc-lease-life/
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/making-linux-a-genuine-windows-replacement/

http:/www.puppylinux.org Main Web site for PuppyLinux
http://puppylinux.org/main/Download%20Latest%20Release.htm Download here.
http:/www.puppylinux.com
http:/www.puppylinux.info

http://puppylinux.org/wikka/Puppy53 Slacko PuppyLinux version
Slacko 5.4 Slackware 14 based repositories/
Download site for Slacko PuppyLinux http://01micko.com/download.html

http://www.linuxmint.com/ Really Like Linux Mint
http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php

What is relevant to this Office thread is an puppylinux application YASSM “yet another Samba shares mount” which allowed my to create a “Shared Folder” on a WIN7 computer and then transfer files from my Desktop PuppyLinux computer to that Shared Folder. So a puppylinux computer could fit in a Windows network environment.
Wine on PuppyLinux can be used to run Windowss programs, So this might be the way to
have a newer OS that supports Windows XP business programs for business customers.

For senior citizens with older hardware, PuppyLinux brings new life to their existing hardware. Browsing, media playing, writing, secure online banking, games.

http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=37198 Keepassx 0.4.3 for keeping track of passwords for multiple websites.
http://www.itnews.com.au/News/157767,nsw-police-dont-use-windows-for-internet-banking.aspx

Secure Your Online Banking With A Linux Live CD: I’d rather be safe than sorry – I’m into an ounce of prevention.. banking online through a Linux Live CD is my ounce of prevention.
- Bill Mullins

Another use that should be a top use: online banking. Because Linux is much less susceptible to banking trojans, a Linux box – either installed or even better a live CD (because it can’t be infected with anything) – should be used to do all online banking. For further security, the box or CD should be kept off the Internet entirely until it’s needed for banking – except for updates in the case of an installed system.
- Richard Steven Hack

I hope you try out PuppyLinux either on a live CD or on a USB flash disk and see if it helps you in your computer repair business to create satisfied customer.
Double Post to make this one look better.

0 votes

harley

I’m not an computer expert by any means, but I didn’t have a great deal of trouble navigating Linux. Trial and error, Google AND most of all the Linux forums & community were my best friends. My son (and computer geek, IT, general fixer) said “Mom, don’t be afraid to play with it”. I took his advice & have used system restore with Windows many times & spent hours playing with Linux.