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How Linux and Windows Stack Up in 2006 193

Jane Walker writes "How does Linux stack up to Windows in 2006? Experts weigh in on that question in these articles, comparing the operating systems' security, reliability and usability. Get insiders' views on Microsoft's proprietary stack versus open source software, as well as Windows-to-Linux migration tips."
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How Linux and Windows Stack Up in 2006

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  • WTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xerotope ( 777662 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @02:31PM (#16188497)
    Where's The Fucking Article? A link to a bunch of links...great.
  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @02:36PM (#16188559) Homepage Journal
    You haven't seen:

      - SuSE 9.1 or later
      - Mandriva (formerly Mandrake)
      - Linspire

    FWIW, it's not a single CD. It's either several CDs or a single DVD, but yes, it is doable. Boot off the DVD, follow the install wizard, you now have a dual-boot (depending on distro your NTFS partition can be resized automagically), and you have to reboot only once during the process, unlike Windows' cryptic install screens, wiping out your MBR to prevent other OSes from loading, and having to reboot 4,281 times during the install process.
  • Re:Well (Score:0, Insightful)

    by repruhsent ( 672799 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @02:46PM (#16188713) Homepage Journal
    If you read the summary, you knew it wasn't impartial as soon as it mentioned "Windows to Linux migration tips."
  • Linux when it works is perfect. Linux when it doesn't is just weird and fucked up. I tried installing Ubuntu for a newbie recently, and sudo decided it just wasn't going to work. So I'm futzering around with weird commands and the Ubuntu forum for a couple hours, and yeah, my newbie was real pleased with her new system. Uh huh.

    Now my home Ubuntu computer has decided (again!) that flash doesn't need sound. No more Youtube for me anymore...

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:09PM (#16189057) Homepage Journal
    ``I don't think a regular user could switch their machine from Windows to Linux with one CD and a reboot yet... right?''

    It depends on how fancy you want to get, and on your hardware. Certain distributions (e.g. Ubuntu) make it very easy to install the system while wiping everything that was there off the harddisk, and they do a good job at autodetecting a lot of hardware.

    Things get more difficult if you want to set up a dual-boot system, preserve (some) of the data that was on the harddisk before the Linux install, customize what apps are installed, run Windows or Mac software, etc. etc. Whether or not this is beyond the reach of any particular user is mostly up to how much this user knows and is willing to learn; i.e. it's not particularly difficult to wipe OpenOffice.org off an Ubuntu install and install Koffice instead, but it does take a certain amount of effort and knowledge.

    As for hardware not being supported, there are certain classes of hardware that are problematic. Most generally, any new or unpopular-with-developers hardware that doesn't adhere to some standard and for which no specification is publicly available. In particular, WinModems (software modems), wireless network cards, and video cards (specifically, the hardware acceleration features) tend to be problematic. Having said that, in each of these classes there are plenty of devices that _are_ supported, and, of course, there are devices outside these classes that don't work. Also, sometimes things fail to work in Linux because they are broken, although they happen to work in Windows; e.g. I had a laptop once whose USB controller didn't work due to a wrong value listed somewhere in the BIOS; it (sort of) worked under Windows, but it took some patches to the Linux kernel to get it to work there.

    Searching the web to see if your hardware is supported is a good idea, and I recommend anyone buying hardware to consider Linux compatibility even if they don't want to run Linux; if you ever do want to run Linux, at least your hardware won't prevent you from doing so.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:24PM (#16189347)
    The sad thing is you don't have a clue of what you are talking about.

    Every time someone mentions blue screens, the Microsoft guys say "Oh, XP is stable for me, it never crashes!". Yet they still mention this "compile from source" which is so 1998.

    Most of the applications I use today are available in one of the Debian or Ubuntu repositories, so a simple click in synaptic or adept will install it for me, including all the necessary libraries. I have also a few other apps, such as Google Earth for instance, that aren't under the repositories, but it has been a long time since I had to compile anything.

    You Microsoft guys have no idea how complicated is getting software for Windows if you are a newbie. You just think it's easy because you are so familiar with the whole thing. Getting winamp or nero or whatever application you want is very easy if you know which app you need and where to get it. But show me where is the centralized application install function in XP, like Adept or Synaptic in Linux. Where is the simple way to look for a software to install, searching by category? I need a software to edit a video or to manage a network or to do scientific calculations, where is the simple interface where I can find it and install it with a few mouse clicks? Without knowing beforehand the name of the software? Let's face it, the closest equivalent to Synaptic or Adept in XP is Google!

    Besides, even when I had to compile stuff in the past, it was much simpler to type "./configure; make; make install" in a console than trying to solve all those "missing vbrun.dll" problems one often got when trying to install software in MS-Windows. I may be out of date myself here, because it has been a long time since I did this, but I remember that even in 1998 automake/autorun were easier to use than solving all the incompatibility problems between windows applications and DLLs.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:39PM (#16189703) Homepage Journal
    ``It's still much, much easier to deploy applications on Windows, even when you're using the GNU toolchain.''

    For you or for users? Installing and maintaining software that is packaged for distributions can be easier than it is on Windows, and so much software has been packaged for Debian and Ubuntu that I feel the claim that "software installation and maintenance is easier on Debian than on Windows (or OS X)" is justified. On the other hand, packaging software for various distros can put an enormous burden on the developers.

    Going the other way, providing software that can be installed on many different Linux distributions is a piece of cake for the developer. As long as you stick to a few sensible conventions (like not assuming things that tend not to be true across distros), users should be able to install your program without too much trouble, once they have all the necessary dependencies in place. Of course, this effort might still be too much for would-be users.

    Other alternatives are targetting only a select few distributions (see also my other post about "the Linux OS" not existing), and/or leaving the packaging in the hands of the distributors - arguably, it is their job. Also, it's not uncommon for users to post step by step instructions or even creating binary packages for installing software on distributions that don't include that software.

    ``With windows you're guaranteed binary compatibility on a majority of systems''

    Yes, but this comes with a hefty price tag. For example, binary compatibility will be broken the moment another hardware architecture comes along (AMD64, anyone?). It's entirely possible that this has kept PCs from evolving past x86 for so long - with actual drawbacks; various other architectures have been more performant, more affordable, etc. at various points in time. And that's just the hardware side; I'm sure many people can point out bugs and vulnerabilities that have persisted because of the need to maintain binary compatibility with some flawed earlier system.

    Also, binary compatibility isn't completely achieved on Windows, either. Think of DLL Hell, for example.

    ``with Linux, it's pretty much expected that your users are advanced enough to be able to compile from source.''

    Which doesn't have to be very advanced at all. For a lot of software, a single command suffices; often, it's the familiar ./configure && make && sudo make install mantra (which isn't necessarily more complex than your average Windows installer), and there are often front ends to the compilation that ease the process.

    Also, if a user wants to run your software on an operating system that you do not support, is it your fault or theirs if the installation isn't easy? With the source, at least they _can_ make it work.

    ``Ironically, Windows with mingw et. al. seems to be a more hospitable environment toward deployment of open-source software than "Linux" is.''

    Some companies (at least Google) actually develop their software against winelib, and then create a Windows binary that works on Windows and any x86 Linux distro with Wine installed. Although I dread the ugliness of win32 programs on Linux, it does solve the binary compatibility problem.
  • Crappy hardware (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:40PM (#16189711)
    Sound, video acceleration, UDMA-support (meaning harddrive-access will be dog slow), bluetooth.

    It's the same thing when people say "XP is rock-solid for me" and I answer "I get plenty of blue screens in XP", they say "the problem is in the device drivers".

    Distributions like Ubuntu, Mandriva, or Suse, which have powerful installers, usually get all the hardware working automatically. Other distros, like Debian, Gentoo, or Slackware normally need a bit of fiddling to get all the hardware working. But if you compare Linux with Windows, hardware which is not quite kosher will give problems in both systems. The difference is that in Linux it will be hard to get to work in the first place, in Windows it will install easily but crash the whole system later.

    Given a choice, the best option is always good hardware, but if I have to live with crappy hardware I'd rather have a system which I can configure to work with the troublesome hardware than with a system that will get the hardware working only to crash on me.

  • Re:Not again... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:41PM (#16189733)
    "Bye bye karma..."

    You mean, "bye bye credibility". Just because you never use Linux on the desktop doesn't mean that people who do are uncomfortable doing it. Of the three major operating systems I use daily, I find Windows to be the least comfortable. Does that make me a Linux zealot? or a Mac zealot? or an anti-Microsoft zealot? Or does that make me a person who has an informed opinion and bases his decisions upon that opinion? Hm.

    Well, I guess it all boils down to what it is you want to believe. You clearly have some emotional investment in thinking that using the most common and popular OS makes you somehow more special, better, or more rational than those of us who don't like it. What's not clear is why you feel the need to flaunt your membership in the MS lovers' club, and why you need to taunt people who disagree with you. The only answer I can come up with is insecurity - no, no, I'm not talking about Windows. I'm talking about your psyche. I think you need to get in touch with yourself, learn to know and to like yourself, and then perhaps you'll see that if using Windows defines you as a person, you're not really much of a person. Perhaps after high school, you'll realize that all those cool kids you wanted to hang out with weren't really all that cool, either.

    We're here to help. Come talk to us when you develop opinions of your own.
  • by Eideewt ( 603267 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:59PM (#16191205)
    I've had the opposite experience. Linux is great when it works. When it doesn't, it's always been broken in a sane way. I can diagnose the problem and fix a config file and be pretty confident that the problem isn't coming back. I may not have understood the problem beforehand, but after I get a handle on it the solution is obvious. Windows, on the other hand, has never made any sense when it breaks. I suspect that Windows is as rational and fixable as Linux underneath, but it's even harder to figure out the obscure tweaks that may be needed to fix it, which leaves you with solutions like "install the driver again and hope it doesn't break this time" or "try reformatting".
  • by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot&davidgerard,co,uk> on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:42PM (#16191909) Homepage
    The Linux pride, or simply pride, campaign of the open source movement has three main premises:

            * that all people of all computing orientations should be proud, not ashamed, of being young white middle-class Linux-geek men;
            * that computing diversity is a gift to young white middle-class Linux-geek men;
            * that computing orientation and operating system type are inherent, unless of course you dual-boot Windows and FreeBSD and are therefore only fooling yourself.

    Pride Parades are held worldwide, wherein young male white middle-class Linux geeks of all colours, ages, operating system types and backgrounds can walk down the centre of the main street of their city and commemorate the original Stallmanwall printer driver riots.

    Many parades still have at least some of the original political or activist character, especially in less Linux-positive settings. However, in more Linux-positive cities, the parades take on an installfest-like character. Large parades often involve floats, coders, Mountain Dew, venture capitalists, and amplified music; but even such celebratory parades usually include political and educational contingents, such as local politicians and marching groups from open source institutions of various kinds. In some countries, Linux parades are now also called Linux Pride Install Festivals.

    Even the most festive parades usually offer some aspect dedicated to remembering victims of Stallmanwall and anti-Linux FUD. Some particularly important Linux parades are funded by governments and corporate sponsors, and promoted as major tourist attractions for the cities that host them. Other typical parade participants include local Linux-friendly churches such as Emacs Community Churches and BSD Universalist Churches, PFLAB (Parents and Friends of Linux and BSD), and the nerd employee associations from large businesses.

    Though the Stallmanwall riots themselves as well as the immediate and the ongoing political organizing that occurred following them were events that were fully participated in by BSD users, X11 people and future Sun founders as well as by white middle-class male Linux users of all races, genders and backgrounds, historically these events were first named Linux, the word at that time being used in a more generic sense to cover the entire spectrum of what is now variously called the Red Hat, SuSE or Debian community.

    By the late '80s and early '90s, as many of the actual participants had grown older, moved on to other issues or passed away, this led to misunderstandings as to who had actually participated in the Stallmanwall riots, who had actually organized the subsequent demonstrations, marches and memorials and who had been members of early activist organizations such as the Linux Liberation Front and Linux Activists Alliance.

    But eventually the language caught up with the reality of the community and the names have become more accurate and inclusive, though these changes met with initial resistance from some in their own communities who were unaware of the actual historical facts. Changing first to Linux and BSD, today most are called GNU/Linux/X11/KDE/GNOME/Mozilla/gcc (GLXKGMg) Pride Parades. But only by the sort of geeks even the other geeks don't want to hang out with.

    Remember: just because you have a personal coding output of zero doesn't mean that you can't take full credit for the programming genius of others for a lifestyle of Slashdot, caffeine and masturbation.

    And believe me, you haven't lived until you've seen twenty Linux geeks clad only in silver jockstraps.

    http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Linux_Pride [uncyclopedia.org]
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @01:35AM (#16195817) Homepage

    To be fair, the registry isn't nearly as prone to outright corruption when you're running it on NTFS 5 than it was in Win9x with FAT.

    Of course, like you say, it's such a monstrosity... you can't actually walk through it and notice a problem like you can with config files.

    The registry wasn't a bad idea (it's basically a standardized config file format with more efficient read/write and mutual exclusion), but the way Microsoft used it (HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, anyone?) made it a mess.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake