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Monday, October 1, 2018

Windows vs Linux : Who Win and Why?

Users who are considering making a change from Windows to Linux or Linux to Windows commonly want to know the advantages and disadvantages of each of the operating systems. Below is a chart to help illustrate the major advantages and disadvantages of each of these operating systems.

Chapter 1 : Linux Differences
Windows Vs. Linux File System

In Microsoft Windows, files are stored in folders on different data drives like C: D: E:

But, in Linux, files are ordered in a tree structure starting with the root directory.

This root directory can be considered as the start of the file system, and it further branches out various other sub-directories. The root is denoted with a forward slash '/'.

A general tree file system on your UNIX may look like this.


Types of Files

In Linux and UNIX, everything is a file. Directories are files, files are files, and devices like Printer, mouse, keyboard etc.are files.

Let's look into the File types in more detail.

General Files
General Files also called as Ordinary files. They can contain image, video, program or simply text. They can be in ASCII or a Binary format. These are the most commonly used files by Linux Users.
Directory Files

These files are a warehouse for other file types. You can have a directory file within a directory (sub-directory).You can take them as 'Folders' found in Windows operating system.

Device Files:

In MS Windows, devices like Printers, CD-ROM, and hard drives are represented as drive letters like G: H:. In Linux, there are represented as files.For example, if the first SATA hard drive had three primary partitions, they would be named and numbered as /dev/sda1, /dev/sda2 and /dev/sda3.

Note: All device files reside in the directory /dev/

All the above file types (including devices) have permissions, which allow a user to read, edit or execute (run) them. This is a powerful Linux/Unix feature. Access restrictions can be applied for different kinds of users, by changing permissions.
Windows Vs. Linux: Users

There are 3 types of users in Linux.
  • Regular
  • Administrative(root)
  • Service

Regular User

A regular user account is created for you when you install Ubuntu on your system. All your files and folders are stored in /home/ which is your home directory. As a regular user, you do not have access to directories of other users.

Root User

Other than your regular account another user account called root is created at the time of installation. The root account is a superuser who can access restricted files, install software and has administrative privileges. Whenever you want to install software, make changes to system files or perform any administrative task on Linux; you need to log in as a root user. Otherwise, for general tasks like playing music and browsing the internet, you can use your regular account.

Service user

Linux is widely used as a Server Operating System. Services such as Apache, Squid, email, etc. have their own individual service accounts. Having service accounts increases the security of your computer. Linux can allow or deny access to various resources depending on the service.

You will not see service accounts in Ubuntu Desktop version.
Regular accounts are called standard accounts in Ubuntu Deskto

In Windows, there are 4 types of user account types.
  • Administrator
  • Standard
  • Child
  • Guest

Windows Vs. Linux: File Name Convention

In Windows, you cannot have 2 files with the same name in the same folder. See below -


While in Linux, you can have 2 files with the same name in the same directory, provided they use different cases.

Windows Vs. Linux: HOME Directory

For every user in Linux, a directory is created as /home/

Consider, a regular user account "Tom". He can store his personal files and directories in the directory "/home/tom". He can't save files outside his user directory and does not have access to directories of other users. For instance, he cannot access directory "/home/jerry" of another user account"Jerry".

The concept is similar to C:\Documents and Settings in Windows.

When you boot the Linux operating system, your user directory (from the above example /home/tom) is the default working directory. Hence the directory "/home/tom is also called the Home directory which is a misnomer.

The working directory can be changed using some commands which we will learn later.
Windows Vs. Linux: Other Directories

In Windows, System and Program files are usually saved in C: drive. But, in Linux, you would find the system and program files in different directories. For example, the boot files are stored in the /boot directory, and program and software files can be found under /bin, device files in /dev. Below are important Linux Directories and a short description of what they contain.


These are most striking differences between Linux and other Operating Systems. There are more variations you will observe when switching to Linux and we will discuss them as we move along in our tutorials.

Windows Vs. Linux: Key Differences

1. Windows uses different data drives like C: D: E to stored files and folders. 

1. Unix/Linux uses a tree like a hierarchical file system.

2. Windows has different drives like C: D: E 

2. There are no drives in Linux

3. Hard drives, CD-ROMs, printers are considered as devices 

3. Peripherals like hard drives, CD-ROMs, printers are also considered files in Linux/Unix

4. There are 4 types of user account types 1) Administrator, 2) Standard, 3) Child, 4) Guest 

4. There are 3 types of user account types 1) Regular, 2) Root and 3) Service Account

5. Administrator user has all administrative privileges of computers. 

5. Root user is the super user and has all administrative privileges.

6. In Windows, you cannot have 2 files with the same name in the same folder 

6. Linux file naming convention is case sensitive. Thus, sample and SAMPLE are 2 different files in Linux/Unix operating system.

7. In windows, My Documents is default home directory. 

7. For every user /home/username directory is created which is called his home directory.

Chapter II : Same Questions

Windows is a much more convenient way to run Windows software; you don't need to bolt on an after-market re-implementation of the Windows API (like WINE) to run Windows software on Windows.

On the other hand, Windows doesn't run Linux software.

In general, the better OS is the one that does a better job of getting the job done.

Points in the question details:

"None of popular software are available in Linux": The most popular software is available for Linux (Chrome, followed by Firefox), as are applications for performing common tasks (spreadsheet, word processor, email client, etc.), but specific Windows-only applications do not natively run on Linux.

"do you think that LibreOffice can replace Microsoft Office.": Yes. For many corporate users, permissively licensed, free, productivity suites that support ISO standardized file formats are preferable to expensive proprietary software alternatives.

"When comes to software installation, there is no certain process to install software in Linux.": Each distribution does have its order of preferred installation methods (usually from repository, then through package manager, then via manual or custom installation). This is similar to Windows, except that installation from a repository via a system-integrated tool isn't an option on Windows, yet.

"Sometime the computer just freezes, not responding properly": If there isn't a hardware fault, the computer was probably doing exactly what it was told to do. Developers make mistakes, but the code quality of the Linux kernel is statistically better than most commercial software. If enough people experience the issue, it will probably get fixed once reported (any operating system).

"Proper drivers are not available for Many Hardware .": This is not a Linux-specific issue. Hardware vendors generally write the driver for the OS that will sell the most units. This means that many devices that are no longer sold will never be compatible with newer versions of Windows, and older version of Windows will never be supported by newer devices. In this respect, Linux actually has better hardware support than Windows 7/8.

Chapter III : Some Example

Windows vs Linux: History

The first version of Windows, 1.0, was released in 1985, two years after Bill Gates founded Microsoft. It ran from MS-DOS, which launched Program Manager to run applications.

Two years after the first version of Windows was launched, Gates rolled out the next version of the operating system, Windows 2.0, with a third iteration, Microsoft Windows/386 launching in the same year. By the time Windows 1995 launched, Windows had evolved into its own operating system, making use of a 16-bit DOS-based kernel and a 32-bit user space to make for a more robust user experience.

In fact, Windows 1995 is the basis of what Windows 10 has become, introducing many of the features we recognise today, including the Start menu, the taskbar and Windows Explorer, which has now evolved to become File Explorer. Windows ME, launched in 2000, was the final DOS-based iteration of Windows.

The platform has undergone a swift evolution since it migrated away from DOS, with some versions proving much more successful than others.

Linux was launched later than Windows, in 1991. It was created by Finnish student Linus Torvalds, who wanted to create a free operating system kernel that anyone could use. Although it's still regarded as a very bare bones operating system, without a graphical interface like Windows, it has nevertheless grown considerably, with just a few lines of source code in its original release to where it stands today, containing more than 23.3 million lines of source code.

Linux was first distributed under GNU General Public License in 1992.

Windows vs Linux: Distros

Before we begin, we need to address one of the more confusing aspects to the Linux platform. While Windows has maintained a fairly standard version structure, with updates and versions split into tiers, Linux is far more complex.

Originally designed by Finnish student Linus Torvalds, the Linux Kernel today underpins all Linux operating systems. However, as it remains open source, the system can be tweaked and modified by anyone for their own purposes.

What we have as a result are hundreds of bespoke Linux-based operating systems known as distributions, or 'distros'. This makes it incredibly difficult to choose between them, far more complicated than simply picking Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10.

Given the nature of open source software, these distros can vary wildly in functionality and sophistication, and many are constantly evolving. The choice can seem overwhelming, particularly as the differences between them aren't always immediately obvious.

On the other hand, this also brings its own benefits. The variety of different Linux distros is so great that you're all but guaranteed to be able to find one to suit your particular tastes. Do you prefer a macOS-style user interface? You're in luck - Elementary OS is a Linux distro built to mirror the look and feel of an Apple interface. Similarly, those that yearn for the days of Windows XP can bring it back with Q4OS, which harkens back to Microsoft's fan-favourite.

There are also more specialised Linux flavours, such as distros that are designed to give ancient, low-powered computers a new lease of life, or super-secure distros that can be booted from a USB drive to keep you safe when using an unfamiliar PC. Naturally, there are also numerous Linux versions for running servers and other enterprise-grade applications.

For those new to Linux, we'd recommend Ubuntu as a good starting point. It's very user-friendly (even compared to Windows) whilst still being versatile and feature-rich enough to satisfy experienced techies. It's the closest thing Linux has to a 'default' distro – although we would urge everyone to explore the various distro options available and find their favourite.
Windows vs Linux: Installation

Still with us? Good; now we move on to looking at installation. Again, this differs a little from Windows methods, as well as varying between distros.

A common feature of Linux OS’ is the ability to ‘live’ boot them – that is, booting from a DVD or USB image without having to actually install the OS on your machine. This can be a great way to quickly test out if you like a distro without having to commit to it.

The distro can then be installed from within the live-booted OS, or simply run live for as long as you need. However, while more polished distros such as Ubuntu are a doddle to set up, some of the less user-friendly examples require a great deal more technical know-how to get up and running.

Windows installations, by contrast, while more lengthy and time consuming, are a lot simpler, requiring a minimum of user input compared to many distros.
Windows vs Linux: Software and compatibility

Most applications are tailored to be written for Windows. You will find some Linux-compatible versions, but only for very popular software. The truth, though, is that most Windows programs aren't available for Linux.

A lot of people who have a Linux system instead install a free, open source alternative. There are applications for almost every program you can think of. If this isn't the case, then programs such as WINE or a VM can run Windows software in Linux instead.

Despite this, these alternatives are more likely to be amateur efforts compared to Windows. If your business requires a certain application then it's necessary to check if Linux runs a native version or if an acceptable replacement exists.

There are also differences in how Linux software installs programs compared with Windows. In Windows you download and run an executable file (.exe). In Linux, programs are mostly installed from a software repository tied to a specific distro.

Installing on Linux is done by typing an apt-get command from the command line. A package manager handles this by layering a graphical user interface over the messy mechanics of typing in the right combination of words and commands. This is in many ways the precursor of a mobile device's app store.

Depending on the software, some won't be held in a repository and will have to be downloaded and installed from source, such as the non-open source variants of proprietary software like Skype or Steam.

In this case, the installation becomes more similar to that of Windows software. You simply download the relevant package for your distro from the company's website, and the inbuilt package installer will complete the rest.

Windows has a big advantage over Linux which is that in the software stakes, virtually every program is designed from the ground-up with Windows support in mind. In general, Windows users aren't affected by compatibility worries. As mentioned previously, set-up is also often a much simpler affair.

I'm a firm believer in finding a platform that allows the end user to accomplish their tasks with as little interference as possible. In 2018, I've found that for many people Linux on the desktop is indeed a solid option. And while some will point out that installing Linux may vex some folks, I'd counter with the fact most people don't install operating systems in the first place. Of course installing Linux would present a challenge – if it didn't come pre-installed.

Suffice it to say that the biggest challenge for most people interested in using Linux is trying to get a dual-boot setup with Windows. With UEFI being the de facto feature that comes with PCs running Windows these days, installing Linux often requires extra steps that may confuse some newcomers. Unfortunate, as this hurdle isn't even something that has anything to do with Linux in the first place.

But if you can get past those challenges, there is no question that using Linux is quite pleasant on the desktop. I ought to know, I've been doing it for well over a decade. I prefer it for my needs and have come to know the applications made available to the platform. I still support Windows users though. And despite this reality, I'll be the first to admit that the way Windows handles drivers and other elements of the desktop leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. Again, if Windows works for you, great, use what works. However if you're willing to learn something new, aren't expecting Linux to behave as Windows and understand that the experience can indeed be a positive one, I highly suggest trying out Linux using a flash drive.

Because let's face it - the one killer feature Linux has had for years is a live install that doesn't touch your hard drive. Bundle this with the fact that there are a ton of distros with different desktop experiences to try out, you might just find that Linux is the way you want to run your desktop in 2018.

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