It is often seen that people get confused over choosing Windows or Linux as a host operating system in both server and desktop spaces. People will focus on aspects of cost, the functionality provided, hardware compatibility, support, reliability, security, pre-built software, cloud-readiness, etc. before they finalize. In this regard, this article covers ten reasons for using Linux over Windows.
The most obvious advantage is that Linux is free whereas Windows is not. Windows license cost is different for both desktop and server versions. In the case of Linux OS either it can be desktop or server, distro comes with no cost. Not only the OS even the related applications are completely free and open source.
For personal use, a single Windows OS license fee may appear inexpensive but when considered for business, more employees mean more cost. Not only the OS license cost, but the organization also needs to be ready to pay for applications like MS Office, Exchange, SharePoint that run on Windows.
In the Windows world, you cannot modify the OS as its source code is not open source. The same is the case with proprietary applications running on it. However, in the case of Linux, a user can download even the source code of a Linux OS, change it and use it spending no money. Though some Linux distros charge for support, they are inexpensive when compared to the Windows license price.
Windows OS is one of the simplest desktop OS available today. Its graphical user-friendliness is exceptional. Though Windows has a relatively minimal learning curve, Linux distros like Ubuntu, Elementary OS, Linux Mint, etc. are striving to improve the user experience that makes the transition from Windows to Linux smooth and easy.
Linux distros allow the user to choose one of the various desktop environments available: Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, GNOME, etc. If a Windows user is looking to migrate to Linux, WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator) can be installed to have a feel of MS Windows on a Linux system.
Linux is more reliable when compared to Windows. Linux will rock with its top-notch design, built-in security resulting in un-parallel up-time. Developers of Linux distros are much active and release major and minor updates from time to time.
Traditionally Unix-like systems are known for running for years without a single failure or having a situation that demands a restart. This is an important factor especially choosing a server system. Definitely Linux being a UNIX-like system, it will be a better choice.
Linux systems are known for consuming fewer system resources (RAM, disk space, etc.) when compared to Windows. Hardware vendors already realized the popularity of Linux and started making Linux compliant hardware/drivers. When running the OS on older hardware, Windows is slower.
Linux distros like Lubuntu, Knoppix, LXLE, antiX, Puppy Linux are best suitable for aging machines. Old horses like 386 or 486 machines with decent RAM (>= 124/256) can run Linux.
No doubt that Windows has a large set of commercial software available. Linux, on the other hand, makes use of open-source software available for free. Linux armed with easy-to-use package managers which aid in installing and un-installing desired software applications. Linux is armed with decent desktop themes certainly run faster than Windows.
For developers, the Linux terminal offers a superior environment when compared to Windows. The exhaustive GNU compilers and utilities will be definitely useful for programming. Administrators can make use of package managers to manage software and of course, Linux has the unbeatable CLI interface.
Have you heard about Tiny Core Linux? It comes at only 11MB in size with a graphical desktop environment. You can choose to install from the hundreds of available Linux distros based on your needs.
Following table presents a partial list of Linux distros filtered based on need:
Linux can be installed and used as a desktop, firewall, file server, or web server. Linux allows a user to control every aspect of the operating system. As Linux is an open-source operating system, it allows a user to modify its source (even source code of applications) itself as per the user requirements.
Linux allows the user to install only the desired software nothing else (no bloatware). Linux allows full freedom to install open source applications in its vast repository. Windows will bore you with its default desktop theme whereas with Linux you can choose from many desktop themes available.You can breathe fresh air after choosing a Linux distro from an available list of Linux distros.
With the USB live-mode option, you can give a try to test a Linux distro before you finalize one for you. Booting via live mode does not install the OS on a hard disk. Just go and give it a try, you will fall in love.
There are times when Windows suddenly shows an annoying message saying that the machine needs to be restarted. Apart from showing “Applying update of 5 of 361.” kind messages, Windows will confuse you with several types of updates critical, security, definition, update rollup, service pack, tool, feature pack. I did not remember how many times the Windows rebooted last time to apply an update.
When undergoing a software update or installing/uninstalling software on Linux systems, generally it does not need a machine reboot. Most of the system configuration changes can be done while the system is up.
Linux is installed on the majority of servers demonstrating that it is the best choice with a minimal resource footprint. Even rivals are using Linux on their offerings. As software applications are moving to cloud platforms, windows servers are getting phased out to make room for Linux servers. The majority of the supercomputers run on Linux.
Though the battle between Linux and Windows continues in desktop-segment when it comes to server-segment Linux evolves as a clear winner. Organizations rely on servers because they want their applications to run 24x7x365 with no or limited downtime. Linux already became the favorite of most of the datacenters.
Yes, Linux is everywhere. From the smallest device to the largest supercomputer, Linux is everywhere. It can be a car, router, phone, medical devices, plane, TV, satellite, watch, or school tablet, Linux will be there.
The inventor Linus Torvalds himself would not have imagined this kind of success when he was writing the Linux kernel first time. Kudos to Linus and Stallman for their contribution.
There is a saying – variety is the spice of life. It is true for Linux distros. There are more than 600 active different distros to choose from. Each is different on its own and meant for a specific purpose. Linux distros are highly customizable when compared to Windows. The above reasons mentioned are is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more than you could with Linux. Linux is powerful, flexible, secure, reliable, stable, fun… than Windows. One should always keep in mind that – free is not the best just like expensive is not the best.
Linux will undoubtedly emerge as the winner when all aspects are considered. There is no reason why you would not choose Linux instead of Windows. Let us know your thoughts on how you feel about Linux.
Ramakrishna Jujare is a post-graduate in Computer Applications and loves to code, review Linux distros, open-source software and write how-to articles. In his free time, he enjoys nature and music.
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