In the 1990s, Microsoft Windows dominated the market for desktop computers. Linux, however, is becoming a competitor for desktop operating systems. The main difference between Windows and open-source software is that the code for Windows is highly secret where its competitor’s distribution is an open-source operating system that allows anyone to download it, change it, and contribute to the internal kernel.
Advantages of Open-Source
Linux was one of the first open-source technologies, but many programmers have contributed and added software that’s completely open-source for any user. This means that you can download the source code and change it any way you like. Some developers have restrictions on how you can distribute the code. For instance, some developers allow you to change the code, but you cannot distribute it for money.
One main advantage of open-source technologies such as Linux is the wide range of options available to users and the increased security. With Linux being open-source, several distributions are available to the end-user. Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and Mint are just a few of the distributions available to end users, and these distributions are completely free to download.
Security is the other main advantage. Several whitehat hackers have contributed to the overall security of Linux, and by making the source available to anyone, security experts can help identify any main security flaws in the operating system. The advantage over operating systems such as Windows is that security flaws are caught before they become an issue for the public.
Disadvantages of Open-Source
Because Linux does not dominate the market like Windows, there are some disadvantages to using the operating system. First, it’s more difficult to find applications to support your needs. This is an issue for mostly businesses, but more programmers are developing applications that are supported by Linux. Many more applications are available for the working world compared to what was available a decade ago.
One main issue with Linux is drivers. Before you can install any hardware component in your computer, you must make sure the hardware has drivers available. Hardware manufacturers usually write drivers for Windows, but not all brands write drivers for Linux. This means that some of your hardware might not be compatible with Linux if you decide to switch.
Support for open-source can also be an issue. While there are plenty of Windows support people, Linux is not supported out-of-the-box. The way Linux distribution companies make money is through their support channels. This means that companies must pay fees for support, if they cannot solve an issue. However, there are plenty of forums and blogs that support Linux issues. If your company has a good Linux administrator, the administrator can typically find answers through one of these free channels without paying for support.
Before you decide on open-source technology, make sure you have the resources and personnel to support the software.
Interested in Linux? Check out the key differences between Linux and Windows.