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What Differentiates Linux from Windows? 1135

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the besides-the-random-crashes dept.
tail.man sent in a Linux Insider piece about the difference between Linux and Windows. Quoting the synopsis "So, what's really the difference between a Unix variant like Linux and any Windows OS? It's that Microsoft reacts to marketing pressure to make design decisions favoring running a few processes faster but then finds itself forced first to layer in backward compatibility and then to engage in a patch-and-kludge upgrade process until the code becomes so bloated, slow and unreliable that wholesale replacement is again called for."
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What Differentiates Linux from Windows?

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  • by tcopeland (32225) * <tom@thomaslYEATS ... d.com minus poet> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:15PM (#8534470) Homepage
    ...also wrote The Unix Guide to Defenestration [winface.com], which is an executive-level discussion of making a data center profitable.

    He's been a Linux advocate for quite a while...
  • The Difference... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by psycht (233176) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:16PM (#8534479) Homepage Journal
    market dominance.
    • by Orgazmus (761208) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:21PM (#8534541)
      MicroSoft makes an OS to make money, Linux is designed to be an effective OS
      • by dingbatdr (702519) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#8534567) Homepage
        So by the metric they care about, Microsoft is an effective OS.

        dtg
      • Close... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:36PM (#8534770) Homepage Journal
        MicroSoft makes an OS to make money, Linux is designed to be an effective OS

        Close. Microsoft makes something which runs like and O/S, but includes massive amounts of code for things you may never use, but fill up the disk and memory anyway. It's like the joke that inside every fat person is a skinny person trying to get out, but with Windows there's a bloated pile of software smothering an operating system.

      • by geekee (591277) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:44PM (#8534906)
        " MicroSoft makes an OS to make money, Linux is designed to be an effective OS"

        Why do you assume making money and making an effective OS are mutually exclusive?
  • It's simple. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lofoforabr (751004) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:17PM (#8534488) Homepage
    Linux is made with efficiency and innovation in mind, by lots of people around the world that believe in the idea of freedom. Windows is made with profit in mind, by one big corporation that wants nothing besides seizing market control. Need to say anything else?
    • Re:It's simple. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#8534552) Homepage
      Windows also has ease of use and ease of hardware integration...

      You can't tell me that Linux is easier to use and install hardware drivers for than Windows.

      While I know that we are all Windows haters it does do quite a few things rather well. It isn't used by so many people because it is *completely* inferior. It serves its purpose.
      • Re:It's simple. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dylan_t_p (630258) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:24PM (#8534596) Homepage Journal
        yea! The only drivers I ever have to install are the nvidia video drivers linux. For the most part has all my drivers and the only reason for the nvidia drivers is so I can have gl support, otherwise I could just use it out of the box without the installation of drivers.
        • by holy_smoke (694875) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @05:35PM (#8536517)
          like a scanner
          or a printer
          or a pen tablet
          etc etc

          windows: go to mfr website, download install file, run install file, (maybe) reboot. Proceed with using hardware.

          Linux: go to mfr website...unsupported (dam), go to linux geek site(s)...hmmm no luck, go to google...hmm no luck, go to another linux site - helpful geek says "just download this source, read your device specs, change these numbers accordingly, compile to your kernel with this line: (insert big ass command line here) and you should be ok; tries it...works partially (not all features utilized or available). crap. *heavy sigh* *gives up*

          user boots to windows...
          • by bninja_penguin (613992) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @08:03PM (#8537945)
            windows: go to mfr website, download install file, run install file, (maybe) reboot. Proceed with using hardware. Linux: go to mfr website...unsupported (dam), go to linux geek site(s)...hmmm no luck, go to google...hmm no luck, go to another linux site - helpful geek says "just download this source, read your device specs, change these numbers accordingly, compile to your kernel with this line: (insert big ass command line here) and you should be ok; tries it...works partially (not all features utilized or available). crap. *heavy sigh* *gives up*

            Okay, but what happens when the device is no longer supported for Windows? If you have a non-supported hardware item for any OS you face the exact same problem.
            Sure, all the crap you buy at Office Depot or Best Buy will probably have Windows drivers for it, and maybe not for Linux, but big fucking deal. Most of that crap won't work in an SGI or Alpha box, and I doubt the crap you buy at those places will come with drivers for anything but Windows, even at the manufacturers' website.
            If you can't do some research before hand on what works with what, you have no one to blame but your self.
            I have three scanners, eight printers a serial pen tablet and a USB tablet that ALL work in Linux, but don't in BeOS.... Should I get on Slashdot and cry about it? No, If I want devices that work with BeOS, I go out and do some research until I find the device that does work with BeOS.
            I also have a bunch of components (video cards, network cards, etc.) that I can't get to work in Windows, even after cruising the mfg's website, but work perfectly fine in Linux. Why you might ask? They are Macintosh parts.

            Not trying to flame, just point out that not everything works in every OS.
      • Re:It's simple. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Otter (3800) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:40PM (#8534839) Journal
        For me, Unix offers:
        • Transparency. The access to processes, orientation around files and CLI base provides much closer access to what's really going on in the computer.
        • Modularity. It's a lot easier to switch stuff around. I like WindowMaker, so I use it.
        • Fun. It's just more fun. Linux, anyway. IRIX or AIX provide less fun.

        The rest of it, the "Lunix never crashes because of open-source!" I don't especially buy into.

      • Re:It's simple. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by moojuece (661296)
        i do know that when ever i install windows i have to track down drivers for sound devices, video and network card. this has happened EVERY windows install i have done. this is on pcs made by the main pre-builts such as hp, compaq, dell,...etc i do know that as stated in an earlier post the only drivers i had to install for my slackware install is my NVidia drivers. and the only compatablity i ensure is that i dont buy winmodems, but this may be because i dont buy modems
      • Re:It's simple. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mick Ohrberg (744441)
        "It isn't used by so many people because it is *completely* inferior."

        Well, there are cases when things do not necessarily work that way. Take for instance Sony's Betamax video system. It was (and is) far superior to the JVC VHS system, but due to financial dealings with the movie industry (adult film industry, more than likely...), VHS ended up taking over the market, virtually pushing Betamax (and the Philips System 2000 too, for that matter!) out of the marketplace.

      • Re:It's simple. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:57PM (#8535109) Homepage Journal
        "Ease of hardware integration" is not Windows. That's the vendors. If anything the hardware vendors have a harder time creating new versions of drivers for each release of Windows than each major release of Linux.

        As for ease of use, that's arguable. I've used Windows since 3.0 and find the continually changing and inconsistant user interface frustrating. I find Linux much much easier to use on a regular basis.
      • Re:It's simple. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by brlancer (666140) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:58PM (#8535131) Homepage Journal
        Windows also has ease of use and ease of hardware integration...
        You can't tell me that Linux is easier to use and install hardware drivers for than Windows.

        As many people will attest, Linux works quite well out of the box. I think you are refering to the fact that hardware manufacturers often write WinXX drivers but not Linux drivers; this is entirely a market share decision, based on limited developer time. Windows, natively, does not support hardware better than Linux. I would argue Linux does, because I have gotten far more random BSOD's from Windows. One of my biggest complaints with Win2k was how sloooooow it got as I added additional hardware. Linux was not as easily encumbered.

        While I know that we are all Windows haters it does do quite a few things rather well. It isn't used by so many people because it is *completely* inferior. It serves its purpose.

        I don't think it does anything "rather well"; it does the bare minimum. People have accepted Windows' flaws because they have to, but the flaws are tremendous.

        The reason WinXX is so popular is primarily because of marketing; it wasn't "better" than OS/2, it was better marketed. Over time, people who did not use computers ran Microsoft software because that was what came loaded on OEM boxes. OEM's loaded Microsoft software because that is what people wanted for compatibility with their friends. It had nothing to do with Windows being a better product.

    • Re:It's simple. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GoofyBoy (44399) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:23PM (#8534577) Journal
      >Linux is made with efficiency and innovation in mind, by lots of people around the world that believe in the idea of freedom.

      Ummm IBM, SGI and lots of other profit-oriented companies have contributed code to Linux. Do they actually believe in "freedom"? Why not opensource all of their products?
    • Re:It's simple. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by x0n (120596) <oising@[ ].ie ['iol' in gap]> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#8534800) Homepage Journal

      My God, what a mindless mob of moderators we have today.

      I've got mod points now, but rather than pointlessly mod down the parent, I've eschewed them to say this: How in the name of Linus's bumcheeks is reiterating business common sense -- try to dominate the market with your product -- insightful?

      Do you not think that market dominance is not an appropriate goal for Linux? Do you think that the principal designers of NT are only interested in market control? You can't put together a operating system with marketing fiends using Powerpoint? (well, maybe windows 95 was a result of that).

      Anyone care to back me up on this? Am I completely deluded?

      - Oisin

      • Re:It's simple. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Geek of Tech (678002) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:50PM (#8535005) Homepage Journal
        >>Do you not think that market dominance is not an appropriate goal for Linux?
        "Really, I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect." -- Linus

        I don't think it should be a goal. I think the goal should be to design a stable, secure and efficent kernel. If it gains market dominance in the process, so much the better, but that should not be one of the main driving forces.

        >> Do you think that the principal designers of NT are only interested in market control?

        No, but I believe the team in charge of marketing it is. And the CEO... and the people that actually get to make the decisions....

        >> Am I completely deluded?

        No more than myself, or any other regular slashdot reader.... :P

    • Re:It's simple. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sielwolf (246764) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#8534813) Homepage Journal
      Innovative? I'd have to say Linux's strength is that it isn't innovative in its design. It instead replicates tried and accepted OS paradigms. It's monolithic (although that's changing. Although it definitely isn't a microkernel like OSX or Hurd), it eschews object orientated programming, etc. OTOH NT and all of its derivatives do try to absorb some of those features; exponentially increasing its complexity (and resulting in all of those pitfalls). In some ways its a 16 part screwdriver.

      Innovation in technology isn't necessarily a great thing. For every Macintosh you have your NeXT. Heck, even the Mac was just derivative of PARC's work. Linux plays it conservative and just does what it does.
  • Excellent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andih8u (639841) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:17PM (#8534490)
    A nice unbiased article about how Linux is superior...from a Linux magazine. Perhaps we'll be posting the article from Windows Insider about how Windows is better? No? Didn't think so.
    • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BrookHarty (9119) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:33PM (#8534731) Homepage Journal
      Maybe I read the article wrong, but it didn't state Linux was better, it just stated things that differed. It had multiple Unix type OS's Solaris, Linux, BSD and Mach kernels in the article.

      The point that did come up multiple times, Microsoft has to rewrite large portions of windows code to take on new features, which make it incompatible with older software. While Unix based OS's can run older versions of software.

      Linux (or BSD/etc) is more modular and can build on newer, better OS implementations. Paging file techniques, VM engines, OS Schedulers, etc.

      It's more of a design philosophy article.
      • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mandolin (7248) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @04:14PM (#8535413)
        Unix based OS's can run older versions of software.

        *Practically* speaking, that's a crap argument. I haven't seen any linux distros installing libc5 support by default recently. Which means old libc5 apps won't run (unless they happened to be statically linked). I even seem to recall some pain in the glibc 2.0->2.1 transition. Or how about trying to install some older rpms on a shiny new distribution? It's about a 50-50 shot that it works.

        Microsoft has to rewrite large portions of windows code to take on new features, which make it incompatible with older software.

        The larger problem is that backwards compatability seems to be directly proportional to bloat. Microsoft's problem is that since they aren't a "distribution" per se, they can't even attempt to fix all your executables to use new libraries as they're developed. And then when they (finally) remove or fix obsolete/broken libraries anyway, shit breaks. Then they get blamed for 'intentionally' breaking other vendors' programs. It isn't actually their fault (..sometimes).

        Really, I always thought MS bent over backwards to err on the side of "bloat" whenever possible. Which is why you have the DOS virtual machine and the win16 API etc.

    • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pantycrickets (694774) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:34PM (#8534735)
      A nice unbiased article about how Linux is superior...

      These arguments are always stupid anyway. It really depends on what you mean by "superior." If you mean, who controls more market - as superior usually means in a business sense - the Microsoft is by far superior to all other operating systems. If you mean superior as in gets what you want done, and linux gets what you want done.. then Linux is superior to you, so why should you care what Microsoft is doing at all? I don't get it, and never have.

      I personally don't run Linux. I have a lot of quirky particularities in various Windows software that I admire too much to give up. But I don't run around wondering what "those Linux people" are up to all the time, constantly trying to dig up dirt.. or gloating at an open source failure.
    • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JohnnyComeLately (725958) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:36PM (#8534778) Homepage Journal
      Actually, I read the article to state that Solaris and _some_ subsequent releases (BSD, Linux) are superior.

      This article articulates very well the opinion I've come to hold, since being network and sys admin for about 300 Solaris and 2 or 300 NT machines for about 4 years.

      My point of contention is that Microsoft built its legacy on home users, and "amatuer" (for lack of a better adjective) operating systems. Sun, HP and the other enterprise OS companies built it for business. I pitty anyone who relies on M$ servers for their bread and butter. I was talking to a DB manager for a M$ shop, that manages 7 terabytes of data. I complained how we had to bounce Oracle about once a month, and it was always the middleware failing. He laughed, and said, "We have to reboot the M$ DB _daily_ and reboot the whole machine". We only had to restart the middleware processes (e.g. ps -ef | grep middlware....kill ...and the processes would automatically kick back off) and were back up and running in seconds, without affecting other DB processes on the box running.

      This speaks volumes.

      Those who don't know any better will keep their opinions for their own camp (either M$ or *nix) and those who've been on both sides are probably too busy to weigh in here anyway. (I'm out of it now, so I have more time :-)

      John

  • by neiffer (698776) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:18PM (#8534499) Homepage
    Murphy writes that "For example, cost is usually important in business only if the products being compared are otherwise very similar." I work in education and cost is everything. I can really say that my Linux OS machines (running the K12LTSP) are equal to my Windows 2K/XP machines but cost is huge. I can literally put a lab in my classroom using Linux, I'd have to settle for a couple of PC's at best under the commercial software regime.
    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#8534623) Homepage Journal

      K-12 institutions receive lots of donated hardware. How do you make, for example, a donated scanner work with GNU/Linux if SANE lists it as unsupported? Do you reserve a Windows box just for that scanner and a few other donated peripherals that the community hasn't yet figured out how to get to work with a Free operating system?

      • by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:35PM (#8534760) Homepage Journal
        I have found that most older hardware is in fact supported. Donated hardware is likely to have drivers out there for it. Depending on the manufacturer's attitude and device popularity, a Linux driver usually appears within two to six months after new hardware appears.
      • by neiffer (698776) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:41PM (#8534848) Homepage
        Actually, my experience has been that the driver set for Linux is in *some* ways more comprehensive than Windows. Case in point: I have a SCSI scanner that simply didn't work at all on a Windows 2000/XP box as no drivers were available. I put the card and scanner on a Red Had Fedora box and it auto detected it right away. I have had the same experience with a couple of NICs and a printer. However, I am not an advocate of a single platform school. My current classroom setup is two Windows XP boxes (two I brought from home) and 10 Linux thin clients. I have equipment plugged into both, including equipment donated from the community (in some cases, the community is my garage). Thanks for your thoughts!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#8534511)
    1. Linux does you want. Windows does what Microsoft wants.
    2. Unless what you want is to copy and paste between applications, in which case the opposite is true.
  • The other side (Score:4, Insightful)

    by krog (25663) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:19PM (#8534512) Homepage
    So, what's really the difference between a Unix variant like Linux and any Windows OS? It's that Microsoft reacts to marketing pressure to make design decisions favoring running a few processes faster but then finds itself forced first to layer in backward compatibility and then to engage in a patch-and-kludge upgrade process until the code becomes so bloated, slow and unreliable that wholesale replacement is again called for.

    As opposed to Unix, where the design is so open and extensible that anything is possible, yet there is no coherent interface and none of the non-server applications work or look as good as they do on Macintosh or Windows.
  • Simplicity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultrabot (200914) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:20PM (#8534532)
    Unix revolves around the idea of simplicity. Microsoft revolves around complex systems, and misguided attempts to hide them with friendly configuration interfaces.

    Net result is that you might get something done quickly, but you still won't understand how the thing works. This is not optimal, especially for critical systems.

    Nobody understands Windows. I for one don't even want to understand it.
    • Re:Simplicity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SlashdotLemming (640272) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#8534625)
      Nobody understands Windows. I for one don't even want to understand it.

      No-one understands Windows, but anyone can use it. Linux is simple, but few can use it.
    • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:50PM (#8535007) Journal
      The article discusses technical aspects of the OSs. And that's important. But Linux and Windows differ in principles of design philosophy. The parent post hints at this; it is a crucial point.

      Let's not begin the quarrel of which OS has the ~better~ GUI. The point is that although a GUI can be well-designed, it will by its very nature be a greater burden on the OS than a command typed at the prompt. It's a performance burden, it's a design burden, it's a maintenance burden for the development team. (Axiom: The more complex software becomes, the less even its creators and maintainers understand it.) Eventually it produces a Support burden because users know dulcet coital nothing about their computers.

      Then bring in the Internet. Make it very popular. Hell, make it commercial. People are learning that you can get things done quickly with Linux. UNIX was networking when Bill Gates was battling pimples.

      Linux builds on the better tradition. So it's not just the cost, but the design philosophy of Linux that is beating Windows.

  • Rewrites necessary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IAmTheDave (746256) * <basenamedave-sd@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#8534565) Homepage Journal
    Despite conventional wisdom and some articles to the contrary, sometimes complete ground-up software rewrites are necessary. Windows 2003 is - for my money - one of the best server systems around. Its stability is equal to the linux servers I run, and finally it installs completely locked down.

    Windows 2003 wouldn't be possible if 90% of its codebase was from the WinNT 3.1 kernel.

    Even Macs - OSX is so completely different than OS9 that they can't even be compared fairly. OS9 was dead in the water before it came out - the rewrite of the OS (albeit on the BSD kernel) was necessary to allow Mac to continue to compete at all.
    • I am all for rewrites if they are necessary. But I am completely against the logic that coding faster is better. During the creation process of a program, you may stumble upon flaws in previous decision regarding the structure of your code. It seems to me like many coders (and companies like MS) think it is better to ignore those flaw since they can be fixed in a second version. They go on and on improving the application until such flaws become a real, serious problem. So they end up spending much mor
  • by freerecords (750663) <slashdot.freerecords@org> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:23PM (#8534571) Homepage Journal
    .. the gap is closing between the two in terms of usability and stability - in BOTH DIRECTIONS. this is hardly ever mentioned, but Windows has improved BIG TIME since 95/98/ME -> If you have used 2003 you will note the speed is much improved over older versions as is the stability. Now before you brand me a Redmond freak, I've been a linux user for 5 years (since I was 12) and will be forever, but I can hardly help noticing that everyone thinks Linux is gaining on Windows, when in fact Windows is also gaining on Linux
    just my 2 pence
    Tim
    • hat you say may be true for the desktop scenario, but server scenario is a whole different ball game.

      For e.g. can Windows allow the following things...

      Change network configurations on the fly. which may include , changin domains, sub domains, IP addresses etc, and not having to reboot ?
      Restart the windowing system parameters on the fly, i.e. update the video card drivers and not rebbot.

      Windows still require a lot of rebooting for tasks which can be done very easily in linux, just by reloading kernel mod

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:25PM (#8534606)
    Although no self-respecting /.er wants to admit, there is a steeper learning curve to using Linux than Windows. How much more steep is debatable. There also is a tendency for closed-minded people who want to do as little thinking as possible to choose Windows, even though it paves the way for migraines later. My two cents, be gentle with the flames. Ah heck, I'll post anonymously, so flame on!!!!
  • i guess (Score:3, Funny)

    by jiffah (685832) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:25PM (#8534615)
    it is that one is inately evil..
  • by amigoro (761348) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:25PM (#8534616) Homepage Journal
    Like how the guy says here [mithuro.com] "All my Windows user friends are happily playing games or downloading porn while I am trying to get this piece of excrement to work properly"

    This is exactly the problem with Linux. A Linux user spends(well wastes) most of his time just trying to get a simple thing like an office suite to work, where as the Windows user can happily go about doing whatever he wants to do.

    Linux is good for the geeks. But for the normal everyday man, Linux is no alternative for Windows.

    I am a Linux user: that's my personal preference. But I don't see many of my friends ever using it. Quite a lot of them are very computer literate. Why don't they want to use linux?

    simple because they want to use a computer as a tool, and not as a source of frustration.

  • Boils down to (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onyxruby (118189) * <{onyxruby} {at} {comcast.net}> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:25PM (#8534618)
    Boils down to something like this.

    Windows: easy to configure, easy to break
    Linux: difficult to configure, difficult to break

    Don't get me wrong, I use both, its an apples to oranges comparison. The question is what do you want to do with it? A MS firewall is unconsiderable, but so is the thought of putting Linux on my sisters desktop.
  • It's obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:26PM (#8534636) Journal
    On one hand, we have an O/S that works with X86, once worked with one other architecture, and has gone nowhere else.

    On the other hand, we have an O/S that works with X86, and now works on everything from calculators and old gaming consoles to some of the largest supercomputing clusters in the world.

    Anybody who says that Linux isn't inherently more robust and flexible at the critical core areas is living their life under a rock.
  • by Cytlid (95255) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:27PM (#8534639)
    It's like driving a car you're not accostumed to every day. It's just different.

    But to be slightly OT...

    It sort of reminds me of something ... I'm a huge Linux fan, but I also use windows. (Often tagged, albeit incorrectly, as a 'Microsoft Hater'). Anyhow, my point... what happens when someone open sources windows? Or, more specifically, comes up with an Open Source Windows clone?

    I've always wanted to write a book talking about how the two camps actually need each other. Microsoft would have more to fear from an open source windows variant than any threat Linux could ever bring.

  • by Mori Chu (737710) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:27PM (#8534642)
    My dad (a reasonable, intelligent, only semi-computer-literate man) asked me this exact question the other day. The best I could give him was that Linux is a hobby OS and Windows is an OS driven by business interests. That gives pluses and minuses to each of them. Dad and I talked about the good and the bad; obvious things like, security issues, lock-in, consistency across apps, integration, stability. We agreed that Linux could really benefit from some of the aspects of Windows, such as centralization and consistency across the UI in every app. We also agreed that Windows could benefit from many things Linux has, such as increased peer review, freedom (beer and speech), and community. In the end, he wasn't interested in switching to Linux or anything, but he hoped that its influence was going to get Microsoft off their rear ends and improve their product. I think whichever OS can meet the other in the middle--with a balance of security, usability, and power--will win the long-term battle.
    • I think the best solution is a mix of both. A proprietary governing body to make decisions about the API, toolkit, etc such that there aren't UI forks everywhere creating an inconsistent system, and an open kernel and subsystem to make additions easy and powerful. You don't have to look much further than this [apple.com] if you are looking for stability (UNIX), usability (Mac), and power (BSD).
    • by leandrod (17766) <l@@@dutras...org> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @05:13PM (#8536227) Homepage Journal
      >
      The best I could give him was that Linux is a hobby OS

      Only that's not true. It is a professional system made by its users, while MS Windows is a substandard one made by hired coders commanded by marketers trying to please the users' managers. Got the difference?

      >
      That gives pluses and minuses to each of them

      The only GNU/Linux minus is time: it takes time to get it right. There is no reason why, say, Debian GNU/Linux with Gnome can't reach all the same qualities of MS Windows without loosing any benefits. That is, apart from the fact that security is inherently opposed to convenience. There are things that will always be more difficult simply to keep security; on the other hand the basic design is so much simpler that the complexity coming from security can easily be offset, especially if we eventually follow the GNU/Hurd road to Lisp system programming and the Gnome road to database storage as the filesystem engine.

      >
      consistency across apps

      This is a red herring. Gnome is already quite consistent, and has most apps one needs. 2.6 will need even less non-Gnome apps, such as Gnome PDF viewer being nearly as feature-complete as XPDF or Adobe Acrobat Reader for instance. It will take a few years, but there is no reason why OpenOffice.org, LyX and such foreign software won't be totally Gnome-ised and immature software such as Passepartout or Gnome PDF won't become full-featured.

      >
      integration

      Another red herring. In fact, it is much easier to integrate GNU/Linux, because it tends to follow open standards and even to create new open standards, instead of being subject to MS's bad case of NIHS. MS integrates well only with MS or other mature proprietary MS-platform software, but not with non-MS-platform software.

      >
      Linux could really benefit from some of the aspects of Windows, such as centralization and consistency across the UI in every app

      Centralisation would buy you precisely nothing, and would cost much. With centralisation things would move slower, be less flexible...

      Consistency is yet another non-issue. Gnome and KDE are still pretty immature, but they are consistent. The fact that you can run Qt apps in Gnome and Gtk+ ones in KDE, and text and Motif or Athena or whatever in both, is a bonus.

      In fact it has been argued that if we had had a single widget set since the dawn of X, now we'd have tons of obsolete software. As widgets were never a given, people have designed their apps to be easily ported to new ones, and now we have the luxury of apps that play well with lotsa them. For example, with GNU Emacs we've curses and Motif already, and will have Gtk+ soon; with LyX we have Qt and XForms already, and someone was porting to Gtk+... MS Windows apps so old as these were already rewritten or are dead or have become bloated, choose any number of these three options.

      >
      he hoped that its influence was going to get Microsoft off their rear ends and improve their product

      It is happening all the time, but the cultural gap is simply too big. Microsoft will only be able to cross it by ceasing to be Microsoft. In this sense the decision by the courts not to break Microsoft in several companies (games and content, OS, tools, apps, servers) was against MS own shareholders' best interests in the long term. But this is a decision shareholders could have taken without the courts.

      >
      whichever OS can meet the other in the middle--with a balance of security, usability, and power

      As I've shown it is not about balance, but about GNU maturing.

  • History (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eidechse (472174) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:29PM (#8534678)
    The points in the article (and others) also reflect the fact that Unix variants came about during an era of big expensive hardware and timesharing versus small cheap (relatively) hardware and a single operator. These categories can also be looked at as Unix favoring "enterprise" tasks and Windows favoring "personal" tasks. The interesting part is that both camps are trying to became more attractive to the other's "side"; i.e. Windows han been targeting the infrastructural role while Unix variants are warming up to the desktop.

    Granted, this analysis is a little superficial but I think it's true in a broad sense.
  • by Embedded Geek (532893) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:29PM (#8534682) Homepage
    Whenever anyone presents a "definition" that is clearly loaded with bias (regardless of whether I share the bias), it makes me recall an incident with Clint Eastwood (cited here [netfunny.com]):

    While he was in New York on location for Bronco Billy (1980), Clint Eastwood agreed to a television interview. His host, somewhat hostile, began by defining a Clint Eastwood picture as a violent, ruthless, lawless, and bloody piece of mayhem, and then asked Eastwood himself to define a Clint Eastwood picture.

    "To me," said Eastwood calmly, "what a Clint Eastwood picture is, is one that I'm in."

  • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <.yoda. .at. .etoyoc.com.> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:30PM (#8534684) Homepage Journal
    What differentiates Linux from windows is the amount of attention paid to all of it's various sub-systems. Pick any chunk of Linux, and you will find a active developer who is constantly working on making that particular driver the best little thing he or she can.

    Windows on the other hand is sterile and ferile. No one is personally involved in one particular aspect (at least for very long, comparitively speaking.) So you get mountains of code that, once written, are rarely re-thought. They work, they go through testing, and until some new function is needed for it or some vulnerability found, never given a second thought.

    Think Bit Rot.

  • Linux Zealots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Borg_5x8 (547287) <borg_5x8&hotmail,com> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:30PM (#8534688) Homepage
    Ugh, there have been far far far too many MS-bashing linux-is-so-great posts on /. recently... yes, Windows may have flaws, but it has good points too people. At least pretend to present a balanced view, lest the Linux community comes to be seen as the mad fanatics Mac users are.

    It turns people off Macs, and it can do the same for Linux.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:31PM (#8534705) Homepage
    It's that [Linux] reacts to marketing pressure to make design decisions favoring running a few processes faster but then finds itself forced first to layer in backward compatibility and then to engage in a patch-and-kludge upgrade process until the code becomes so bloated, slow and unreliable that wholesale replacement is again called for."

    That's a good description of Linux inter-application communication. Linux is still stuck with a antiquated pre-object model of interprocess communication that's based on pipes, signals, forking, and sockets. The Linux/Unix world has never been able to come up with a good answer to COM/DCOM/Active-X. CORBA never caught on. The window managers and OpenOffice have totally different approaches to inter-application communication. In typical Linux fashion, there's an attempt to hack a "gateway" between the two, rather than standardize.

    Because of this Mess Underneath, most interprocess communication is done by adding a bloated layer on top, usually at the language level. This leads to hacks like Java RMI, or the Mozilla "platform".

    Cut and paste sucks because the infrastructure needed to do it right is missing.

  • by DangerSteel (749051) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:32PM (#8534714)
    Microsoft owns the code to Windows

    SCO owns the code to Linux

    any questions? /puts on flamesuit/

  • main difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coneasfast (690509) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:32PM (#8534715)
    here is the (very general) main differences IMO:

    Windows is an OS driven by the desire for profit and more widespread use.
    * ease of use
    * compatibility with hardware/programs
    * small learning curve

    Linux is driven by a desire to create a more 'better' operating system with a desire for more configurability.
    * longer learning curve
    * more versatile
    * not intended for the average user (and will not be anytime in the near future)
    * more concentration on bug fixes and security, and less on user-friendliness

    there are commercial companies obviously that sell linux, but mainstream usage is not #1 priority for the main developers, therefore it is a hard sell for the linux distribution vendors
    • Re:main difference (Score:5, Insightful)

      by w8300v-2 (760576) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:49PM (#8534982) Homepage
      not intended for the average user

      Depends on what your definition of average user is. We have 20 Linux desktops where I work. We went straight from Windows to Linux. These are not tech people, they are customer service and sales reps for a mail order company. These people had no problem learning the new system. That was our definition of the average user.

      The focus needs to be on business use - once everyone is using it at work, the home users will follow. Linux is perfect for business - your secretary or sales rep shouldn't be installing hardware or upgrading apps anyway. That should be the responsibility of the IT personnel.

  • by Eberlin (570874) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:33PM (#8534733) Homepage
    Windows still has an edge in simplicity as far as installing apps. Folks who swear by apt (for RPM) do have to realize you still need to deal with adding repositories to sources.list and dealing with GPG signatures.

    OTOH, that simplicity in installing apps makes Windows extremely vulnerable as well. Doesn't take much effort to run/install anything off the Internet. Spyware can cling onto your system without much consent at all.

    That brings up the major difference I've seen so far. Worms, Viruses, Trojans, Keyloggers, and other forms of malware don't seem to find their way into my Linux machine. The rest of my family who run Windows, though, get infected too many times for my liking.

    Is that because most Linux users know to watch out for those types of things while Windows users can be painted with the "AOLer" stereotype? That's probably a factor. But so is the general architecture of not putting yourself in danger for the sake of convenience -- by running mail programs and browsers with enough privs to bork a system.

    Cheaper, more secure, and absolutely transparent. Many thanks to everyone who makes OSS possible -- from the programmers and QA testers to the advocacy groups and spokespeople. (and the large corporations backing Open Source)
    • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <.yoda. .at. .etoyoc.com.> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:39PM (#8534827) Homepage Journal
      Tell me about it. I just cleaned yet another program that hijacks search results from google and funnels them to someone else's portal off a VP's machine. A web page installed it at some point, and damned if I can figure out how to get rid of it.

      I nuked the DLL's the worm installed. I nuked the registry entries. I even got it to the point that it doesn't reset his web page every time he opens explorer. But deep down, some dll was over-written, and it's not coming up on virus scans, and good luck tracking down md5 hashes of internet explorer components.

      I introduced him to Mozilla, and implored him to sin no more.

    • by AvantLegion (595806) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @04:01PM (#8535183) Journal
      >> But so is the general architecture of not putting yourself in danger for the sake of convenience -- by running mail programs and browsers with enough privs to bork a system.

      THIS is the reason Linux doesn't get raped from viruses/worms the way Windows machines do.

      The common argument is that Linux lacks viruses because it's not popular. That's partially true. But this is usually accompanied with the false implication that, if Linux were more popular, it would have the same virus problems as Windows. And that's not true. Viruses would fail to be as easily effective. You can find a hole in an email client and bork the email client, but that's as far as you'll get. Linux isn't bulletproof, and the best virus writers could come up with some successes, but it would be nothing like Windows - where most of these recent viruses take advantage of "features" as much as bugs.

  • the differeince? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AsimovBesterClarke (701529) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:34PM (#8534743)
    Well, here's my opinion, anyway.

    The Unix philosophy: build tools which do one or a few things very well (and are trivial to develop, debug, and maintain) and build upon them.

    I have yet to detect anything resembling a philosophy in the 'other' place. It seems to be build a single big-ass swiss army knife application (which doesn't seem to do anything very well).
  • by eltoyoboyo (750015) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#8534814) Journal

    What is code bloat? Evidently, it involves kludging, which is mentioned several times. Is this one programmer attacking another's style or is this a non-programmer playing a religion card?

    IANA Historian, but the "Defenestration" of Prague is what started the 30 Years War, over religions' control of govenrment. I certainly hope this is not the way the author sees the IT world.

    Anyone here ever worked on a project which was perfectly clean and well commented? Show of hands? I thought not.

    The terms "Code bloat" and "kludging" has been tossed around quite a bit over the years about Microsoft without anyone producing any source code examples until some were recently lifted and shared.

    It would not take me long to look on any project source tree to find some code, which, IMHO, I thought was "kludged"

  • by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:39PM (#8534819) Journal
    One has adherents that are noisy, abusive, close-minded, stubborn, silly and the other- oh, wait a minute...
  • by MoFoQ (584566) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:39PM (#8534823)
    let's see...since the source code is available, it's a buttload more portable; hell, they even have it for embedded systems, PPC's, Dec's, Sparcs, etc. (not just x86's).

    Bug fixes are out faster and bugs are found faster and dealt with unlike Microsoft (e.g. that vulnerability that Microsoft sat on for months before word got out, etc.). Another example, though is old, is the old port 139 vulnerability (Ping of Death). The fix for linux was out within hours while Microsoft took days (if not more).

    And with KDE, WINE, etc. Linux is getting some of the benefits (the GUI) of Windows without the baggage and the disadvantages.

    It's too bad there's no version of Visual Studio .Net for linux, since that's the only reason I'm still using Windows along with Linux (need it for my classes; though I tried to convince them that Open Watcom and GCC is a much better way for learning C/C++ programming).
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:44PM (#8534892) Homepage Journal
    Articles like this on /. and LinuxInsider are great. But they're preaching to the choir. Great articles like The Myths of Open Source [cio.com] being in CIO Magazine (yes, a great article about OSS in CIO magazine), are far more influential.

    I would guess at least 90% of the readers of /. and LinuxInsider already know the many things which differentiate Linux from Windows. What's needed is for good articles on these topics to appear in places of primarily proprietary software users (MSDN? ;). They're finally appearing regularly in business publications. But I know far too many technical people who read Microsoft-only magazines amd web sites. We could blame them for not being inquisitive enough, but if they saw these articles in the right places it could be very influential.
  • Article=junk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:46PM (#8534929)
    So, what's really the difference between a Unix variant like Linux and any Windows OS? It's that Microsoft reacts to marketing pressure to make design decisions favoring running a few processes faster but then finds itself forced first to layer in backward compatibility and then to engage in a patch-and-kludge upgrade process until the code becomes so bloated, slow and unreliable that wholesale replacement is again called for.

    1. You'd think a journalist could write a more coherent and jargon-free paragraph, but maybe that's just me?

    2. Asking what Windows vs. *nix does different is too broad. You can ask this question literally forver - if you keep abstracting down further and futher. Once again, vague journalism.

    3. Ok, you can flame me (as if I would deny you that) but I don't think Linux zealots are in any position to say that windows is any less bloated than Linux. Mandrake 10.0 community from just yesterday's is 2.1 gigabytes (re: torrent), most of which is unnecessary for 95% use. Suppose I manage to start the install from CD1 without having CD2 or CD3, well I *hope* there's not a package required by default that is on CD2 or CD3.

    4. Microsoft runs a few processes faster and others slower? I think he needs to define what he means by processes. Because I dont think he's using the same terminology as the rest of us when we say 'process'. Once again, too vague.

    until the code becomes so bloated, slow and unreliable

    5. Is the code bloated, or are the features bloated? Or are the features bloated and the code that composes those features bloated? Once again, too much abstraction.

    I think I'll stop here.
  • by bluethundr (562578) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:52PM (#8535039) Homepage Journal
    What Differentiates Linux from Windows?...Common sense. ;)
  • by greymond (539980) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:54PM (#8535067) Homepage Journal
    Seriously. Windows and OSX I go to a store buy a product plug it in and it works. If its a camera I plug it in a icon on my desktop or in "my computer" show sup and I can drag and drop the photos from it. Don't even need to install anything (like SMB support). Anything I want to install I just double click and it installs then the program runs. I don't have to see if some dependencies are turned on/off I don't have to install anything. I buy a new soundcard I plug it in Windows finds a driver and I hear sound instantly.

    I'm not a programmer. I use my computer to work on projects that require typing, graphics, spreadsheets, browsing the net, watching movies, and I want to do it without having to install/setup anything. And if I do need to install somethign I just want to click the "install" file and hit "ok" and run the "shortcut" thats been put on my desktop. Windows and OSX does that, Linux has you jumping through 100 different hurdles to ge tthe simplest things to work the way you want.
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:56PM (#8535094) Homepage Journal
    My comment is mostly for the beanie-heads who are newer to Slashdot than us dyed-in-the-keyboard vets of many computers, so forgive me by driving home the obvious.

    An operating system is an operating system is an operating system is an operating system. It's only purpose is to provide you, the user, a human-readable interface and control system for the computer's hardware and software.

    How Linux, other UNIXen, and Windows handle this, however, is the big question to me when someone asks me the question that the article posed.

    Applications designed for Windows are just that--developers typically use programming tools that create apps which are hardware-and-operating-system-specific. Barring an emulator such as Virtual PC (funny, that's owned now by Microsoft, too), Windows applications simply will not operate unless it has a conventional Intel-style PC hardware architecture running a specific flavor of Windows. And nope, your 16-bit Windows apps will likely break in Windows XP, so you have to hunt and peck for the app that works in the OS you have.

    The UNIX family has things differently. UNIX-family applications are frequently hardware-agnostic and non-operating system-specific. You could be running Solaris, or FreeBSD, or Mandrake, or SuSE, or Darwin, or Mac OS X--generally, the code just works. (Plenty of exceptions, like OpenOffice ports to Mac OS X, but a version does work now in OS X's X11 environment, to take an example.)

    Where you would walk into a computer store to buy Windows software, a *NIX user could download the source code for an application and compile it, or build it to work for their particular operating system and platform. Of course, we could buy the source code from a store as well, or the binaries for our platform, if a software maker distributed most of the UNIX software in that format. Currently, the inability of a home Linux user to visit CompUSA for the latest UNIX application is among the greatest challenges to *NIX as a popular home desktop OS (Mac OS X's inroads notwithstanding).

    Nevertheless, I can download most BSD and many UNIX and Linux source code from my Mac OS X (BSD variant) workstations, compile it, and use it, without problem or complant. Windows users generally aren't compiling squat--they have to buy or find the already-assembled binaries that run within Windows--and pray that those versions of the binaries were compiled with their Windows version (and patch version, and service pack version) in mind.

    The best example of a well-written application that doesn't particularly care about platform (at least in terms of its data files--binaries must still be obtained) is BioWare's Neverwinter Nights [bioware.com] game series. It works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. While the two expansion packs for the original game haven't yet been released in an official Mac version yet, because BioWare designed the game's data to be platform-agnostic, many impatient Mac users have figured out. without a lot of hassle, how to install the game expansions using the Linux versions of the games.

    Windows is a proprietary operating system, and any applications written for it feed into that mold. The UNIX world is literally open in its design and flexibility. Don't confuse "open" for "Open Source," however--that's another (related) story.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DwarfGoanna (447841) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:56PM (#8535095)
    Scanning through the comments here, I have to point out that for the vast majority of it's users, Windows is not easy to use. Every day I get hit with the craziest questions, and many people I have to deal with at work have a "computer guy" do things like defrag their drive and run Norton's for them. Very few mom and pop users can get anything but the most elementary tasks done unless they have been using Windows for years. I've had more than one person ask me how to burn a music CD. Really.


    On the other hand, my ex girlfriend sent me a screensaver she made with photos and video clips on Mac OSX (another unix varient), and lemme tell ya, she is no 1337 "power user". As outrageous as it sounds, I sometimes I think we give Windows a little too much credit in the usability department.

  • Big Difference! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brundlefly (189430) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @05:13PM (#8536228)

    There's a huge difference between the two.

    When I install new hardware on my WinXp machine, I turn it on and go grab a cup of coffee. By the time I get back my desktop is ready to use.

    When I install new hardware on my Linux machine, I go get coffee first. It's gonna be a while....

  • by stealth.c (724419) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @05:41PM (#8536586)
    These are the guys that were publishing strangely pro-SCO articles DESPITE the increasing amount of bovine feces they'd been spewing about IBM conspiracies.

    Now this article. The tagline paragraph atop the article tips me off that it isn't even PRETENDING to be objective. The article feels like an over-the-top attempt to compensate for kissing SCO's ass a week ago. There are several things I could call this article--journalism is not one of them. The whole publication appears extremely contrived. I wouldn't listen to a single word they publish.

    Do not read LinuxInsider.
    --

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