Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ten reasons Linux and BSD are vastly superior to Windows - Part I


I know that some Microsoft fanboys are probably hitting the Send button on their flames as they read the title, but you can't ignore the truth. Linux and BSD are vastly superior to Windows in every way. Don't believe me? Read on, my friend. Read on and realize the folly of your MS ways.

The top ten list
#10 - Total cost of ownership ranges very low to nothing for Linux.
For that matter, ownership isn't really a term you can apply to your Windows box. Microsoft allows you to use their software, for a hefty fee, and you are limited as to how you can use your software and what machines you can install it on. Want to install a new CPU in your Windows box? Sorry, you'll have to "activate" your copy of Windows again. Want to actually be productive with Windows right out of the box? Sorry, it doesn't come with any software, unless you count Notepad and Solitaire. But that's another point entirely...

You can freely download Linux from thousands of different websites. If you don't have a fast internet connection, you can also purchase it for a very, very small fee - usually not much more than the cost of the CD's themselves plus shipping. Even if you purchase a full retail version of a major Linux distro, say Novell's Suse or Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation, you're still far short of the cost of Windows plus the cost of all the software you'll still have to purchase to bring Windows up to the basic usability level as your average Linux distribution.

Bottom line: If you are only considering cost - Linux and BSD will always be cheaper than Windows in every scenario. Game over. Windows cannot compete in cost.

#9 - Linux and BSD distributions give you more complete, usable operating environments out of the box.
Take this test: Download and install any Linux distribution and take a look at all of the applications that come with your new system. Office apps, Web browsers, Chat clients, Programming tools, Network tools, Server software, Games, Administration tools. Now, do a fresh install of any version of Windows and take a look at what you get. Nothing. (maybe some server software, if you installed a "server" version of Windows) But, in order for a Windows system to have the same level of productivity as a Linux system, you must install many, many third-party applications after the install.

Bottom line: If you need to be productive quickly, Linux and BSD distributions are exponentially more capable out of the box. Sorry Windows, can't compete here either.

#8 - Viruses and Spyware are basically nonexistant for Linux and BSD.
There are a handful of Linux viruses, I know, but the difference is, the security paradigm for Linux and BSD is completely different than Windows. You aren't administrator by default in Linux systems. If you do something malicious in Windows, you could wipe out your whole system. In Linux, you'll just destroy your own user files and your system will keep purring along. But if you're still paranoid about viruses on your Linux box, there are excellent free antivirus packages you can download and use on any distribution (ClamAV is an excellent choice).

Bottom line: If you're worried about viruses and spyware, Windows is very susceptible. Linux and BSD are practically immune to all known viruses and your system will continue to perform while all of your Windows friends are overwhelmed. Buh-bye, Windows.

#7 - Linux and BSD systems are more stable than Windows.
Because of the way Unix-like systems are designed and the underlying concepts behind the way they run, Linux and BSD will always be more stable than Windows. In fact, Microsoft has "borrowed" parts of BSD in the past to improve versions of Windows.

Think about this: There is a reason why BSD and Linux are used in large supercomputer clusters, datacenters, web server farms, graphics rendering farms, and other areas where Windows simply cannot extend or compete in areas of scalability, performance and stability. The bottom line is, if your business has critical data, don't entrust it to Windows.

#6 - Linux and BSD supports more hardware out-of-the-box.
You may not believe me. You may be scoffing right now, but it's true. Try this: Install any Linux distro. How many drivers did you have to install during the install or after? Maybe graphics and that's it. Now install Windows. After you've installed the base OS, you'll have to install your network card drivers, graphics card drivers, sound card drivers, motherboard chipset drivers, printer drivers and maybe more if you have some specialized hardware.

It's not that Linux doesn't use drivers for your hardware, it's the fact that the Linux kernel source package contains Open Source versions of most of the drivers you'll need. The reasons you might have to install drivers after the install are for proprietary/trade secret things like certain wireless cards (Intel) and nVidia/ATI video cards.

Bottom line: Linux-based systems support more hardware by default and will make you more productive out-of-the-box.

#5 - It's easy and fun to develop high-quality software for Linux and BSD.
The de-facto C/C++ compiler for Linux/BSD is gcc and it's free. Several very good IDE's (Integrated Development Environments) that allow you to quickly and easily develop GUI and CLI applications are also free. The Netwide Assembler (NASM) is free. Python, Ruby, Perl, Java, PHP, Fortran, ADA, Pascal, Prolog, Lisp, Eiffel, ML, Tcl/Tk, Forth - over 183 languages with freely available compilers. You can build everything from mission critical embedded applications to large, distributed simulation apps. Sure, you can develop some good software for Windows, but it will cost you. The best Windows compilers are very expensive.

Do you need to understand how the OS works to hook in your application? Check out the kernel source. Need your own device driver? Not a problem. You've got the kernel headers freely available with plenty of documentation. Want to actually learn how a modern, standards compliant, multi-user operating system works? Check the kernel source! Are you seeing a pattern here? Ask Microsoft for a copy of Windows source code for free and see if you get it.

Bottom line: Linux and BSD provide better developer support with a large range of free compilers, IDE's and access to the operating system source code.

Up next...
Next week we will discuss Part II of this article covering points 1-4. I'm sure this will give you and your friends plenty to discuss. Feel free to post your comments in the Open Addict forum area and also here on this article.

website page counter