So, you're a new, or fairly moderate Linux user, who wants to know what the true advantages of Linux over Windows are? There are several advantages of Linux, and of course, some disadvantages to using the Linux operating system. This article covers 5 advantages of using Linux over Windows, and lists a few disadvantages as well.
Advantages of Linux:
- Cost – The most obvious advantage of using Linux is the fact that it is free to obtain, while Microsoft products are available for a hefty and sometimes recurring fee. Microsoft licenses are typically only allowed to be installed on a single computer, whereas a Linux distribution can be installed on any number of computers, without paying a single dime.
- Security – In line with the costs, the security aspect of Linux is much stronger than that of Windows. Why should you have to spend extra money for virus protection software? The Linux operating system has been around since the early nineties and has managed to stay secure in the realm of widespread viruses, spyware and adware for all these years. Sure, the argument of the Linux desktop not being as widely used is a factor as to why there are no viruses. My rebuttal is that the Linux operating system is open source and if there were a widespread Linux virus released today, there would be hundreds of patches released tomorrow, either by ordinary people that use the operating system or by the distribution maintainers. We would not need to wait for a patch from a single company like we do with Windows.
- Choice (Freedom) – The power of choice is a great Linux advantage. With Linux, you have the power to control just about every aspect of the operating system. Two major features you have control of are your desks look and feel by way of numerous Window Managers, and the kernel. In Windows, your either stuck using the boring default desktop theme, or risking corruption or failure by installing a third-party shell.
- Software – There are so many software choices when it comes to doing any specific task. You could search for a text editor on Freshmeat and yield hundreds, if not thousands of results. My article on 5 Linux text editors you should know about explains how there are so many options just for editing text on the command-line due to the open source nature of Linux. Regular users and programmers contribute applications all the time. Sometimes its a simple modification or feature enhancement of a already existing piece of software, sometimes its a brand new application. In addition, software on Linux tends to be packed with more features and greater usability than software on Windows. Best of all, the vast majority of Linux software is free and open source. Not only are you getting the software for no charge, but you have the option to modify the source code and add more features if you understand the programming language. What more could you ask for?
- Hardware – Linux is perfect for those old computers with barely any processing power or memory you have sitting in your garage or basement collecting dust. Install Linux and use it as a firewall, a file server, or a backup server. There are endless possibilities. Old 386 or 486 computers with barely any RAM run Linux without any issue. Good luck running Windows on these machines and actually finding a use for them.
Disadvantages of Linux:
- Understanding – Becoming familiar with the Linux operating system requires patience as well as a strong learning curve. You must have the desire to read and figure things out on your own, rather than having everything done for you.
- Compatibility – Because of its free nature, Linux is sometimes behind the curve when it comes to brand new hardware compatibility. Although the kernel contributors and maintainers work hard at keeping the kernel up to date, Linux does not have as much of a corporate backing as alternative operating systems. Sometimes you can find third party applications, sometimes you can not.
- Alternative Programs – Although Linux developers have done a great job at creating alternatives to popular Windows applications, there are still some applications that exist on Windows that have no equivalent Linux application.
Now that you have an understanding of some of the advantages of Linux, its time get out there and experiment. Windows can be a great tool for the lazy and incompetent, but it takes a true scholar and one who wants to learn to run a robust operating system like Linux.