Friday, December 29, 2006

17 Things Linux Does Better Than Windows

In June 2007, the French parliament is moving their computing base to the Linux operating system, Firefox browser, and productivity suite. It's not clear whether the whole government will eventually move away from Windows, but this is law in France.
I've had a love-hate relationship with Linux over the years, and although I still develop/run everything on Windows, there's a lot Linux offers that I wish Windows would do better:
  1. More flavors of Linux from different vendors = more competition = better software. With Windows, you are stuck with only Microsoft. Linux flavors include Linspire, Red Hat, SuSE, Ubuntu, Mandr*, Slackware, etc.
  2. Customizability to special purpose builds. If I am installing a server, I probably need less than the bulk Windows forces you to install for the same purpose. Linux builds exist that can run off floppies; with Windows, even installs can no longer be initiated from floppies.
  3. Optional GUI for a fully functional OS means increased efficiency and allows for easier remote control administration. With Windows, the GUI is pretty much required for everything; DOS and the Recovery Console might help, but we all know how limited they are.
  4. More robust shell in Linux and the option to use multiple shells. In Windows, DOS is all you got. Their new WSH is heavily dependent on Windows itself that it's almost a program within Windows than a standalone framework.
  5. Linux is essentially free for a basic home machine. You purchase support and extra packages for server platforms, but all in all, for the same level of performance and features, you spend about 1/7 the cost of Windows on Linux. Windows desktop versions start at $200. Then there's the question of ongoing costs - maintenance, bugs, viruses, and upgrades - Linux costs less in this regard.
  6. More freedom with the software you purchase: Windows allows one copy per machine (WPA/Genuine Windows) and still essentially owns your copy of the OS. With Linux you can install any number of bases with no strings attached.
  7. Smarter installs to multihomed systems: if you ever need to install Windows and Linux operating environments, you start with Windows, then Linux. Somehow, Windows kills off bootstraps of OSes it does not recognize (read non-Microsoft), whereas Linux accommodates other OSes with customizable booters.
  8. Fewer viruses, spyware, and adware. And contrary to the myth that it's because the installed base is larger, consider the Apache web server (60% of web servers) which gets significantly fewer security problems than Microsoft's IIS. Thus, Linux is more secure. Also, some default installations of Windows allow a no-password account (with Admin rights).
  9. Certification stability. For those that have navigated the certifications world, you know how soon Windows OS certification expire. Microsoft releases a new OS every 3-5 years, making certifications on older OSes obsolete. A Linux certification goes much further.
  10. I've been irked by the option to buy support and patches from Microsoft - for Windows! What the hell is wrong with this picture? If you make software, please don't charge people for fixes to your won mistakes. Sure lost updates are free, but as a developer, I know I've hit the price wall in this regard. Linux support through forums and other user bases removes this problem (though sometimes hard to come by).
  11. Wider diversity of hardware. Windows no longer runs on MIPS and Alpha processors, for example. Linux can run on even the oldest and slowest of machines - has fewer hardware requirements. Have you heard of Linux fro iPods? Try iPodLinux ... an OS that can run on iPod power.
  12. Better clustering support - you can essentially run a supercomputer using Linux for a small fraction of the cost of using windows solutions.
  13. Linux is the original true multiuser environment. Windows was originally designed as a single-user environment, but has made strides with Terminal Services/Remote Desktop/Remote Assistance. Only the latest (Windows 2003 or later) have come close.
  14. Unlimited logical partitions in Linux, as opposed to 32 for Windows. Well, there are theoretical limits (and those imposed by hardware/software constraints), but it's good to be able to create 100 small partitions that can all be used in the OS. Windows limits you to what you can name them (A-Z) - DFS may add some capabilities.
  15. Ability to schedule (and even abort) shutdowns. I can't tell you how many times I've wished I could stop a shutdown or set it to run at a certain time (without having to create a batch file and use the Scheduler program to set it - not streamlined).
  16. Linux is modular by design, so plugins and failures are localized. Windows was originally a monolithic design, although 'modular' features are offered though DLLs and COMs, and other 'plug in' models. Still, when one area suffers, it can be felt everywhere in Windows (think Blue Screens).
  17. Linux is not constrained by the RPC model, which runs all programs as network components. It makes it easier to locate programs/services across the network, but for applications without networking features, there's no need to be 'network borne' locally. Like, there's shouldn't be a need to rely on ports/sockets when 2 applications only need to run and communicate on the same machine, networkless.
That's my two cents. In the coming year, I am brushing up again on my Linux skills (hot in the job market right now) and might even pursue a Linux certification. We shall see.


Ty said...

Nice to see another brother (African American) that is into Linux. Most brothers and sisters I mention Linux to give me the most confused look I have ever seen. LOL!

I am in the Washington DC area and have my own computer company, most of my clients (Outside of Federal Government) are small minority owned businesses! I install Linux servers and even desktops for things like Mail serving, Web Serving, DNS, WINS, etc. A lot are shocked when they find out that it's Linux, it was cheap and it just works.

Anyway, keep up the good work on your blog! :-)

Anonymous said...

#18 Can compete with and outperform Microsoft's IIS, ASP, and SQL Server, with native win32 ports of
Apache, PHP, and MySQL.