Linux vs. Windows: The key differences

Linux vs. Windows: The key differences

August 7

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Windows and Linux differences. Die-hard Linux fans say the operating system is superior due to open-source access and better manageability. Windows dominated the market for several years, and Windows users like the graphical interface and ease of hardware installation. Both of these operating systems have advantages and disadvantages, and some of these differences are more hype than important features.

Open-Source versus Closed-Source

Microsoft has long protected the company’s operating system source code. The problem with keeping source code closed is that only Microsoft can add to the operating system’s functionality. This includes finding security flaws or issues with the code. With open-source, any coder can add to the operating system and customize it to how he wants. Security flaws can be found by anyone who wants to hack away at the system. The end result is a more secure operating system.

Command Line Access

Linux has always been considered the command line operating system while Microsoft makes its user interface for a mouse. Microsoft tries to make the interface more new user friendly while Linux requires some knowledge of the command line to configure software and hardware. Overall, Linux caters to people who are more familiar with command line configurations, and there are more options with the command line for network administrators to take advantage of.

Community versus Paid Support

Linux is free, open-source software with dozens of community support forums. However, not having that paid support turns many companies away. Linux still has plenty of supporters, but companies lean towards an operating system with phone support from a professional. Some Linux packages offer paid support, but Microsoft also has tech support teams you call and pay for support. Again, this goes back to having a better understanding of computers and hardware. Linux administrators can usually find answers from the community. Microsoft also has a support forum, but administrators can call Microsoft and get support from the company.

Licensing Freedom

Microsoft has a strict policy about altering source code or attempting to reverse engineer the operating system code. Any changes to the operating system void out any agreement, and Microsoft might not help with support. Since Linux is open-source, you have support for issues regardless of changes. Again, support might be on a forum, but there is support and you aren’t breaking any laws when you change the operating system code.

Corporate Integration versus Personal Computers

Although some backend network processes use Linux or Unix, most corporations prefer Windows, because users know Windows. Linux fans would argue that Linux is as easy to use, but Windows still dominates the market, and it’s easier for users to acclimate to their new computers with Windows.

While these five reasons don’t encompass all of the differences and hype, they cover what’s commonly considered especially in the corporate world when choosing an operating system.

photo credit: Esterab via Wikimedia Commons