100 reasons Linux beats Windows

That's right; you heard me. Here are – count 'em – one hundred reasons why Linux beats Windows.
We can be an argumentative lot here at iTWire. Earlier this month I presented five reasons to upgrade from Windows Vista to Linux. Alex Zaharov-Reutt hit back with ten reasons to stick with Vista and forget Linux.

Sam Varghese opted for double or nothing and countered with 20 reasons to shed the Microsoft yoke and use Linux. Not to be outdone Alex responded with 40 reasons to lose Linux and vote Vista.

Where do you go from here? Well, if you’re Davey Winder you put up ONE reason why OS X is better than Vista and Linux.

Ok, enough! The month is almost over. Time for me to end it once and for all. Here are 100 reasons why Linux beats Windows. ‘nuff said.

1. You don’t have to “activate” Linux by phone or Internet.

2. If you change your hardware and re-install Linux you don’t have to call someone to justify it.

3. There’s no such thing as Linux Genuine Advantage.

4. Linux vendors, for the most part, don’t charge you a cent.

5. And they didn’t give $10m of your hard-earned cash to Jerry Seinfeld.

6. You can install Linux on as many computers as you want.

7. You can give it away to friends and family.

8. You can download it and you can burn disc after disc.

9. You don’t have to enter obscure product keys stuck onto your computer.

10. You don’t have to store product keys for safety.

11. Nobody ever sells a second-hand computer with Linux on it and then has to deal with buyers complaining they were “ripped off” because Microsoft Word isn’t installed.

12. You don’t have to explain to Linux users that “Windows 97” isn’t a product, nor is “Office 98” and that it’s not “Vista” which has the ridiculous ribbon bar.

13. Do you like the Internet? The TCP/IP protocol was built on UNIX computers. It’s natural to Linux, unlike Windows which only embraced TCP/IP as its native protocol from Windows 2000.

14. Do you like to program? The C programming language was built for UNIX.

15. Similarly, many well-known scripting languages debuted in the UNIX/Linux world.

16. If you learned PHP you’re now able to write web apps for Windows Server 2008 which supports PHP out-of-the-box – not Microsoft’s own ASP.NET. Meanwhile, Windows devs need to pick up PHP now.

17. You don’t need to defragment Linux. At all. Ever.

18. It’s not even the case you really do have to defragment it but the vendor will say it is “maintenance free” because you can schedule a task to do the defragmentation.

19. You don’t have to worry about viruses.

20. You know your computing experience will be safer and more secure because of the Linux ingrained philosophy of running processes at the lowest required level of access.

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21. Linux is the a major OS in high performance computing. The first computer to break the petaflop barrier – one quadrillion calculations per second – was an IBM supercomputer running Linux.

22. In fact, over 80% of the top 500 supercomputers in the world run Linux. Windows just doesn’t have the capability for high performance computing.

23. Linux will revitalise your old hardware, with snappy performance.

24. It’ll make better use of your modern hardware, too, delivering faster performance and better memory management than Windows.

25. There’s no such thing as having to “routinely reboot” your Linux servers.

26. If you need an office suite you can just download Open Office and get going. There’s no extra purchase involved.

27. If you need a desktop publishing package you can just download Scribus and get going. There’s no extra purchase involved.

28. The Linux check for software updates will update everything – not just the operating system or vendor-supplied apps. It will facilitate updating all your software, in one convenient spot.

29. You don’t have to lust after software you can’t afford. The software is given away.

30. You don’t have to pirate software you can’t afford. The software is given away.

31. Linux is far easier to configure. There’s no complex, obscure, registry nor are settings and configuration items hidden in a multitude of different locations.

32. By the same token, all your own personal program settings are stored in your home directory. It’s a doddle to move them to a new computer and retain your environment how you like it.

33. Linux is open. If there’s a security problem you’ll know all the details. There’s much greater transparency.

34. You don’t suffer vendor lock-in with Linux. You’re not dependent on one single body or entity to keep it going.

35. Linux is versatile. You can run the exact same distribution on a 32-bit system, a 64-bit system, a MIPS server, a Sparc workstation and other architectures. You’ll find things exactly the same, working to the best the hardware offers.

36. Linux user groups are abundant with people wanting to help solve any issues you experience as well as share tips and ideas.

37. Linux encourages you to learn more about your computer and how to make better and better use of it.

38. Linux is usable. The default interface works, but if you like you can customise it to look and act like Windows XP. Or MacOS. Or something else. In fact, it’s easier for a Windows XP user to adapt to Linux than to Windows Vista.

39. Linux is advancing at a rate that a closed development project like Microsoft Windows is unable to sustain. There is a massive quality and quantity of feedback coming in from the field, there is a short development cycle from the coders through to the end user. Independently developed open source subsystems are frequently incorporated. All this combines to give Linux quantum advances in a short time.

40. Linux doesn’t crash without any apparent reasons. A crashing web browser can’t render your system unusable.

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41. Linux doesn’t reboot by itself! Automated software updates won’t force your computer to reboot if you leave it alone for a while. Don't you hate it when you're downloading a huge file and go to bed thinking it will be done when you get up just to find Windows sitting at the login prompt again with the cheery "Your computer was rebooted to apply important updates" message?

42. Linux can read well over a hundred different types of file system. You can use the FAT and NTFS standards that Windows uses but you can also choose a totally different file system which is far more efficient for your purposes. This shouldn’t be mocked as irrelevant; don’t forget Microsoft wanted to implement a new database-oriented file system in Windows Vista but it wasn’t ready for launch.

43. You have all the source code at your fingertips and you have the right to modify anything if you have the ability. Sure, this advantage probably isn’t used by the vast majority of users but there’s certainly no such thing as an abandoned Linux application. You won’t be stuck with legacy apps where the developer has closed down and nobody can update them.

44. Linux will happily install itself on any logical disk partition. You’re not restricted to primary partitions.

45. Linux can run from a CD without even having to affect what’s already on the hard disk of the computer.

46. You can use a live Linux CD for safe online banking without fear of virus or Trojan or spyware or malware problems.

47. You can use a live Linux CD to give Linux a complete test out on your hardware without having to worry at all about what to do if things don’t work. By contrast, if you’ve started upgrading to Windows Vista the process isn’t easily reversed in case of problem. There is absolutely no Windows equivalent to the Live CD concept.

48. Linux, and its UNIX heritage, is the most document operating system. These documents are well-written and explain computing concepts also.

49. Linux has excellent package management tools that make it dead simple to install and upgrade (and even remove) applications.

50. Linux has some truly excellent Linux-only games. Now, this may not be a huge selling point but the argument of Windows-only games arises often. Let’s note that it cuts both ways. There are games for Linux which you can’t get on Windows.

51. This includes educational games too. If you have pre-schoolers or primary school children you’ll really find GCompris to be a truly wonderful package. Under Linux you get a terrific suite with loads and loads of educational games. The Windows version isn’t as developed, and requires a license.

52. If you want, you can play Windows games under Linux too.

53. Linux has a highly usable 3D desktop environment. It’s easy to switch on and it lets you view multiple simultaneous desktops. It gives lots of eye candy too. Yet, it runs better and on less powerful hardware than the Vista Aero environment necessitates.

54. Total cost of ownership (TCO) is a major buzzword with corporate. Yet Linux beats Windows hands down despite the FUD rhetoric to the contrary. Maybe a decade ago Linux was more arcane. Today you could roll it out to users and many would be hard-pressed to know the difference. Plus all your licensing costs have plummeted – desktop operating system, office suite, anti-virus product, server-side client-access licenses are all diminished.

55. Linux interoperates with everyone. It’ll talk to Windows, MacOS, other Linux distros, UNIX systems, OS/2 ... even Playstations! Without the help of third-party software Windows often just talks to, well ... Windows!

56. Also contrary to rumour, Linux supports a whole mess of hardware out-of-the-box. There are more drivers bundled with Linux than Windows. You don’t have to resort to finding the vendor’s site or using Windows Update to make things work.

57. Linux is simply easier to install. Here’s a nice blog entry where the number of steps required to install Windows XP, Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux have been documented in the form of side-by-side screenshots using all the default settings. Windows XP took 20 steps, Windows Vista 14 and Ubuntu 10. Of course, both Windows variants also needed an office suite installed afterwards – another seven steps for Microsoft Office. And then you have to add an anti-virus product too.

58. Speaking of anti-virus, Linux does come with a couple of free anti-virus products. There’s no subscription fee. However, the only reason you’d install anti-virus on Linux anyway is to help out your Windows friends.

59. You can make your own Linux distro if you want. Imagine “MyLinux” to give to all your friends and family for uber-geek street-cred? You can’t legally distribute your own customised version of Windows.

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60. Linux provides unparalleled security tools. You can diagnose and manage your network for free, but tools to perform the same amount of functionality under Windows cost huge amounts of money.

61. Sure, some of these Linux tools are available for Windows, but they’re often crippled. That’s not by design from the authors but because Windows’ TCP/IP stack has limitations that Linux does not.

62. Linux brought about the entire Netbook subnotebook market. The Netbook wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it weren’t for a license-free operating system and suite of applications to help slash the price.

63. In a similar vein, the One Laptop Per Child project also would have suffered if it were restricted to proprietary operating systems and applications.

64. Linux can help you eradicate spam without cost. In fact, Spam Assassin – one of the most popular open source anti-spam systems – is the basis of many a commercial anti-spam product. By contrast a product like Symantec Mail Security is around $30/mailbox. A service like MessageLabs also costs per mailbox.

65. The open source philosophy protects you from malice due to the inordinate amount of peer review it offers. You wouldn’t have the G-Archiver Trojan stealing Gmail passwords if it were open source, for instance.

66. Nor for that matter would Apple’s dirty Safari installer have happened in open source where unwitting iTunes users installed the Safari web browser onto their computers.

67. Schools worldwide have reported that their costs have gone down when using Linux for their school computing environment over proprietary operating systems. And in every case the schools reported the children had no problems whatsoever using the Linux environment.

68. According to a survey by Waugh Partners open source developers earn more than their Windows counterparts, and they are combating trade deficit too.

69. You can even be sponsored by Google to contribute to open source projects during their annual summer of code.

70. Microsoft Windows Vista places a heftier burden on your hardware than does Linux. As does Internet Explorer over Firefox and Microsoft Office over Open Office. Get better performance out of your new hardware by using Linux and open source apps!

71. Linux gives companies a much greater server environment than Microsoft’s Small Business Server (SBS). You don’t have to suffer the limitations of SBS when you can have it all with Linux.

72. The dog that is Windows Vista is actively turning people to Linux.

73. Open source software offers a better version of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server than Microsoft do. In fact, SharePoint proves the folly in the claim that Microsoft applications are graphical and friendly compared to Linux equivalents.

74. Linux is released when it is ready. The software is free so there is no pressure to release it before it is ready just to achieve sales targets.

75. Additionally, the personal reputation of the developer is attached to every release. This too helps ensure the quality and robustness of the software.

76. Linux is a multi-user system and has always been so. You can have many hundreds of Linux users all working off the one system. Sure, Windows offers Terminal Services but it’s not the default, and there’s an extra license per user.

77. Linux lets you spread the file system over as many different hard drives and partitions as you want but still appear like a seamless whole. The /home directory is always /home no matter if it is moved to its own disk. Under Windows even if you choose to relocate the (say) Documents folder under a user account you’ll still find dumb-ass apps which try to write directly to c:\users\...\Documents.

78. By the same token, if your C:\Program Files directory gets too big you have to uninstall and reinstall apps to move them onto a different hard drive. Once again, with Linux you just plug in the new drive and make a few symbolic links. The file system hierarchy can be tweaked and twiddled as much as you like with no confusion.

79. Linux has immensely powerful scripting languages which give great power to systems administrators as well as allowing any user to automate routine tasks.

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80. The Linux command line lets you recall historical commands from long ago; Windows’ command prompt only lets you recall commands from the beginning of the current session.

81. Linux lets you stick an important window above everything else. You can’t force this for any Windows app without registry hacks.

82. I’ve talked about security already, but let’s make sure the message is clear. Project Honeypot found that an unpatched Linux server can sit on the Internet for months before it is compromised while patched Windows’ servers are busted within a few hours. Yep, even without patches, Linux is still better than Windows.

83. Windows types argue Linux admins cost more money. Maybe so, but a Linux admin can run many more servers than a Windows admin – because Linux systems are much more versatile. You can control them in a much tighter fashion via automated scripts than the fabled Windows reliance on point-and-click.

84. An out-of-the-box Linux system can be used for a far greater variety of purposes than an out-of-the-box Windows system. It will be your mail server, web server, database server, file-and-print server, intranet server, remote access server, VPN server, FTP server – whatever you want, really.

85. You can give Linux to your parents and grandparents and know they’ll have no problems. It will boot fine, let them check e-mail, browse the web, share photos, print and write letters without fear of their online safety or software crashes.

86. You won’t have your father calling you to ask why RUNDLL32.EXE is crashing and expecting a quick answer as to precisely what the problem is.

87. And speaking of your parents, you get a load more card games bundled with Linux.

88. Tux is the cutest mascot ever. What does Windows have going for it? A bunch of four-coloured flying Windows? What sort of mascot is that? Oh yeah, there’s Clippy but he annoys everyone.

89. Think of the planet. How much paper and plastic is used to create and distribute all the box sets of Microsoft products? Linux is freely downloadable from the Internet. Those items aren’t needed and you don’t have to dispose of them later.

90. As the hardware requirements for Windows get higher and higher a lot of older computers are made obsolete and must be disposed of. The current versions of Linux still run fine on very old machines allowing them to be recycled for various purposes. You could make a headless storage system for instance.

91. Linux lets you be more productive; you can set up four (or more) totally separate workspaces at the one time. Each workspace is a fresh desktop. You can run your e-mail in one, web browsers in another, office application in another and swiftly switch between them. There’s no need to go through all your windows and tabs to try and find something – just switch to the appropriate workspace and there it is!

92. Linux is more user friendly than Windows. This is going to get some readers up in arms. Let’s think about it. What’s “user friendly” mean? If it means the environment is comparable to what you’re already used to then some might argue Linux is not user friendly because it differs from Windows. Yet, that’s not strictly true. Linux can look like Windows if you want. However, I take user friendly to mean the software can be used to a reasonable level of competence by a user with no previous experience of the software. And here’s where Linux does shine, as evidenced by – for one example – the litany of schools who have switched to Linux and where the students readily embraced it even if teachers had problems.

93. Linux is designed by people who genuinely seek to maximise performance, not maximise profits. The overall speed and experience is monumental.

94. Some hardware vendors like ASUS are looking at embedding Linux on silicon to make the next generation of computers start even faster. You couldn’t do this with Windows, and if it were possible it’d come with a price hike due to licensing.

95. Linux is here forever. Unlike other operating systems which had a cult following – BeOS, AmigaOS, OS/2 Warp – Linux won’t die because of its open source nature.

96. Not to mention the large industry-wide backing Linux receives. Such large organisations like IBM and Sun Microsystems and Oracle and Red Hat and Ubuntu are feeding into the advancement of Linux. Yet, only Microsoft is working on Windows. As a result, Linux is advancing beyond what one corporation could achieve and has major enterprises invested in its success.

97. Linux doesn’t restrict how content is used on the system. There’s no digital rights management (DRM) slowing down the computer or causing conflicts with hardware or software. High quality audio visual output isn’t artificially degraded. With Linux you can play music, watch movies and run software. The operating system won’t interfere with your fair-use rights to the content you own.

98. If ever you do get a rogue Linux process you really can kill it, unlike Vista’s Task Manager where “End Process” may or may not end the process.

99. Linux hasn’t changed its basic worldview. Linux has always embraced TCP/IP, separation of regular users from super-users, powerful command line scripting, reliance on defined standards and other items. By contrast, Microsoft have tried their own route and then come back to these items. TCP/IP wasn’t the lingua franca of Windows until Windows 2000. Vista attempts to break the horrible Microsoft mess of all users being administrators with the woeful User Access Control (UAC.) After years of poo-pooing the command line, Microsoft have now brought in PowerShell. Microsoft Office has finally now embraced XML and open file formats. With Linux you’ve got a system that has consistent design philosophies. With Windows you don’t.

100. Linux just works.

Ok, one more ...

101. You can get find better groupware products on Linux than Microsoft Exchange – but with full compatibility for all your Outlook clients.

So, that's 101 reasons why Linux outshines Windows. Do yourself and your computer a favour today.

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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.