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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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  • by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @02:59PM (#16188911) Homepage
    It's still much, much easier to deploy applications on Windows, even when you're using the GNU toolchain. With windows you're guaranteed binary compatibility on a majority of systems, with Linux, it's pretty much expected that your users are advanced enough to be able to compile from source.

    It's a huge pain to distribute binaries for every different distro, so unless your app becomes popular enough for other people to do that work for you, (or the distros do it themselves) then a significant amount of development time is spent just on packaging and deployment.

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

  • Windows Perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tadrith ( 557354 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:08PM (#16189033) Homepage

    I'm a computer geek who regularly uses Windows. Yes, I know, boo, hiss, whatever. My software development happens under Windows because that's what I learned on, that's where most of the market currently is, and that's what I've got a job doing. I'm not going to stop working for a company I like doing what I enjoy just because I happen to do my work on Windows.

    In any case, periodically I load Linux on an alternate hard disk in my machine to play around with it and see what I can get going. I do like to keep my knowledge of it up in the event that I run into it on the job (I also do field work from time to time), but I also like to see how far it has progressed. At some point in time, I really would like to use it as my core operating system, even if I still have to drop into Windows when I work.

    Recently (about a week ago), I decided to try a couple of different distributions. They all seem to suffer from one problem -- the USB keyboard no longer works when it hits the installer. "You forgot to turn on legacy mode for USB in your BIOS!", is the first thing most people would say, except that I haven't forgotten to turn it on. It works perfectly fine for the BIOS-based boot menu. I even triple checked it, thinking I was missing something. I tried numerous options to try and get the damn thing working, to no avail.

    Yes, I could get a USB to PS2 converter and yes, it does work fine after that. But that's not the point -- I shouldn't HAVE to do that. Critical things like that will kill any interest your average user will have in the operating system. But, for what it's worth, I was very pleased with what I saw after I did finally get it loaded. It's come a long way from the operating system I tinkered with 6 or 7 years ago.
  • by manno ( 848709 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:57PM (#16190095)
    "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."

    And where's the central repository of knowledge that tells me what's the best text editor of the 9,000 available for Linux? The best media player, the best burning software? How do I know how stable they are? Will they have the functions I need? These aren't hits against Linux at all, but it's a lot easier for me to ask the guy next to me what he uses to burn CD's rather than look it up online. And while Linux continues to hold a very small part of the market, Finding what apps to use in Windows will be an easier thing.

    Installing in Windows just as easy as installing something on Linux. Frequently it's a heck of a lot easier to set up due to gui set up, rather than having to use config files.

    I've used Ubuntu, and tried to get it up and running on various computers with various levels of success. Even with its package manager I had to trudge through the forums to find out what program does what. Not to mention the fact that in order to replace my Windows setup I need to add repositories that aren't in there by default. I know why there no there to begin with, but it's a pain to add them for every install, and every tutorial I've seen just uses the command line anyway. I know you see it as easier, but I personally don't. I've had plenty of times where I install software with the package manager, and it either doesn't install right, or completely. Resulting in an hour + spent finding out what went wrong. How to fix it, ect.

    I love the idea of open source software. I use FireFox, OO.o, InkScape, OpenVPN, VNC, all terrific programs, but using Linux as a desktop OS just is not there yet. I've been following it for only 5 years now, and I admit it's come a LONG way in just 5 short years, and I honestly believe that sooner rather than later Linux will become my OS of choice, for myself, and the friends, and family I help pro-bono. But as it stands right now it still has a very critical last 10%-15% to go.

    I wish it could have been rip-roaring to go in time for Vista, but it looks like that won't be the case... I'm looking at Vista as a large black cloud looming menacingly off in the distance. I wish Linux, was there to replace XP as my OS of choice.
  • by goarilla ( 908067 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:20PM (#16191559)
    i dont want to sound like an asshole or something but
    ./configure; make; make install is not the way to go
    if configure fails it'll still try to make it ... etc
    ./configure && make && make install is better assuming you are root when you compile things
    (and offcorse want the program to end in the your PATH)
    best thing tho is to first read README INSTALL and then ./configure and output the options to a file
    So you can consult them first before making the thing

    ./configure && make && make install are fine for most packages but for importants programs like mplayer,mencoder you should
    take all of your time you have to compile xvid, h..., Nvidia XvMC support, .... therefore first consult the configure options and read the documentation and for
    a lot of people doing all that is just hardcore!
    when my friends see me compile mplayer altho i have frontends of mplayers installed on their pc's
    and they use it daily they say damn you're a geek and damn GNU/linux is hard but then i always
    remind them of the fact that some guy did even more hardcore shit than i did to get to compile those win
    binaries that they are all using :D

    and then they all shut up
  • by Eideewt ( 603267 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:04PM (#16203335)
    I'm sure Windows is pretty easy to diagnose if you know your stuff, but I've found it much harder to get a handle on because I'm never sure what it's doing or how to make sure I've configured something as completely as possible. This is mainly because Linux is a more open system. For example, on Linux I can edit xorg.conf and be sure that I'm in control of what X is doing. If I'm trying to change my video card driver in Windows, I don't have a clue what Windows is doing underneath. The best I can do is coax it through the driver update wizard or something. Working with Windows's screwy wireless networking system is another exercise in "what the hell is really going on".

    Windows may be easier for newbs, but I don't care about that. A system that tries to do the right thing is all right but I (like you, I think) would rather just tell it the right way and know for sure that it's going to do it that way.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.