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Comparison of Windows and Linux

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Comparisons between the Microsoft Windows and Linux computer operating systems are a long-running discussion topic within the personal computer industry. Throughout the entire period of the Windows 9x systems through the introduction of Windows 7, Windows has retained an extremely large retail sales majority among operating systems for personal desktop use, while Linux has sustained its status as the most prominent free software operating system. After their initial clash, both operating systems moved beyond the user base of the personal computer market and share a rivalry on a variety of other devices, with offerings for the server and embedded systems markets, and mobile internet access. Linux and Microsoft Windows differ in philosophy, cost, versatility and stability, with each seeking to improve in their perceived weaker areas. Comparisons of the two operating systems tend to reflect their origins, historic user bases and distribution models. Typical perceived weaknesses regularly cited have often included poor consumer familiarity with Linux, and Microsoft Windows' susceptibility to viruses and malware.[1] Proponents of free software argue that the key strength of Linux is the degree of freedom allowed to the users, as embodied in The Free Software Definition: "the freedom to run the program [such as Linux]...to study...and change it...the freedom to redistribute copies...[and] improve the program, and release your improvements. "[2] Some fear that this "freedom of choice" primarily offers choices that are not pertinent to the mainstream majority of computer users.[3][4]


1 Total cost of ownership o 1.1 Real world experience 2 Market share 3 User interface 4 Installation 5 Accessibility and usability 6 Stability 7 Performance 8 Support 9 Platform for third party applications o 9.1 Gaming 10 Software development 11 Emulation and virtualization

12 Security 13 Localization 14 See also 15 References 16 External links

[edit] Total cost of ownership

See also: Studies related to Microsoft In 2004, Microsoft launched a marketing campaign, "Get the Facts", to encourage users to switch from Linux to its Windows Server System.[5] Microsoft claims that its products have an overall lower total cost of ownership than open source programs because of their ease of use, resulting in less work and lower staff costs.[6] However, a variety of Linux supporters, companies, and organizations, notably Linux distributor Novell, who produces SUSE Enterprise Linux and tech news outlet The Register, dispute Microsoft's figures.[7] One argument supporting the cost-effectiveness of Linux is that although Linux administrators are usually paid somewhat higher salaries than Windows administrators, a competent Linux administrator can take care of more computers than the latter. A study conducted by Chad Robinson, senior research analyst at tech/business researcher Robert Frances Group, supports this view.[8][9] In 2004, The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) warned Microsoft that an advertisement using research that claimed "Linux was [] 10 times more expensive than Windows Server 2003", was "misleading", as the hardware chosen for the Linux server was needlessly expensive. The ASA concluded that the comparison was misleading because the operating systems ran on different hardware.[10]

[edit] Real world experience

The German Foreign Office said that the cost of open source desktop maintenance is by far the lowest it experienced.[11] The French Gendarmerie reported saving millions on license fees by switching to Linux desktops from Windows XP, following the success of OpenOffice.org roll-outs.[12][13] On the other hand, the project of switching Munich's governmental IT infrastructure from Microsoft based to open-source software, called LiMux, had problems finishing all objectives successfully. Started 2003 with the aim of switching 100% of 14,000 PCs to an open-source solution, the project was funded with 35 million euros, approximately the money a Microsoft solution would have cost. Even though more than 80% of workstations used OpenOffice and 100% used Firefox/Thunderbird five years later (November 2008) [14], an adoption rate of Linux itself of 20.0% (June 2010) was achieved.[15][16]

[edit] Market share

See also: Usage share of desktop operating systems The market share of Linux or Microsoft Windows is difficult to determine as users of the former are usually not required to register with any organization to use their copies; additionally, a large number of unlicensed (illegal) copies of Windows exist. The following desktop usage share data is estimated from web browser user agent strings, rather than actual sales information or detailed surveys. This is highly unreliable for many reasons including, but not limited to, web browsers that do not always provide accurate information to web servers, and selection bias: Different websites attract different audiences that may be more prone to using one operating system or another. Frequently web users are forced to lie about their user agent in order to access a site. Also, desktop computers used for other tasks will be given a lower weight than computers mostly used for web-surfing. Microsoft's own numbers for Linux share are higher.[17] Windows 80.99% (w3counter)[18] Linux 1.49% (w3counter)[18] 5.0% (W3Schools)[19] Notes October 2010; November 2010 Based on web analytics for systems accessing the Internet

Estimated Desktop Usage Share 86.3% (W3Schools)[19]

Pre-installation Pre-installed by default on Pre-installed by default on almost all new desktop PCs. very few new desktop PCs. However, Microsoft's Among these are all agreement with vendors to System76 computers, some sell only the Windows Dell computers, some operating system is being Lenovo ThinkPads.[21][22] challenged in court by French consumer rights groups.[20] Server market 73.9% (officially registered) 21.2% (officially registered) Fourth quarter, [23] [23] share 2009; 20.36% (actual web servers) 74.29% (actual web servers) August 2010
[24] [24]

Top 500 1.0% (5 of 500)[25] supercomputer operating system family

91.8% (459 of 500), the 14 November fastest supercomputers run 2010 Linux[25]


[edit] User interface

Windows Linux Graphical The Windows Shell. The window user manager is the Desktop Window interface Manager on Windows Vista, and a Stacking window manager built on top of GDI in older versions. The desktop environment may be modified The KDE Plasma Desktop by a variety of third party products such as WindowBlinds; or completely replaced, for example by Blackbox for A number of desktop environments Windows, or LiteStep. With Windows are available, of which GNOME and Server 2008 and later server releases, KDE are the most widely used. By default, they use the Metacity and there is also the option of running KWin window managers respectively, "Server Core" which lacks the [26] though these can be replaced by other standard window manager. . The graphics drivers, subsystem, and core window manager, such as Compiz Fusion. widgets are included with all installations, including those used as Other desktop environments and servers. window managers include Xfce, LXDE, Enlightenment, Xmonad, Openbox, Fluxbox, etc. The X Window system runs in user-space and is optional.[27] Multiple X Window system instances can run at once, and it is a fully networked protocol. See also: Comparison of X Window System desktop environments Commandline interface

A sample Windows PowerShell session The Command Prompt exists to provide direct communication A sample Bash session

between the user and the operating Linux is strongly integrated with the system. A .NET-based command line system console. The command line environment called Windows can be used to recover the system if PowerShell has been developed. It the graphics subsystem fails.[28][29] A varies from Unix/Linux shells in that, large number of Unix shells exist, rather than using byte streams, the with the majority being "Bourne shell PowerShell pipeline is an object compatible". The most widely used is pipeline; that is, the data passed GNU Bash. Alternatives include the between cmdlets are fully typed feature-full Z shell as well as shells objects. When data is piped as objects, based on the syntax of other the elements they encapsulate retain programming languages such as the C their structure and types across shell and Perl Shell. Many cmdlets, without the need for any applications can be scripted through serialization or explicit parsing of the the system console [30]. There are stream. Cygwin or MS's own Services many small and specialized utilities for Unix provides a bash terminal for available that are designed to work Windows.[citation needed] Posix subsystem together and integrate with other is built in but not enabled by default. programs. This is called the toolbox The Console can execute up to 4 principle. kinds of environments, MSDOS scripts under NT or via Command.com running on NTVDM, NT shell scripts and OS/2 Console Scripts. Windows Script Host is included in Windows 98 and newer versions.

[edit] Installation
Windows Ease of On Windows Server 2003 and prior, Installation the installation is divided into two stages; the first, text-mode; the second, graphical.[31] On Windows Vista and newer, the installation is single stage and graphical. Linux Varies greatly by distribution. Most distributions intended for new or intermediate users provide simple graphical installers.

General purpose oriented distributions offer a live CD or GUI Some older versions require third installer (SuSE, Debian, Pardus, party drivers (for example, by using Pclinuxos, Mandriva, Ubuntu, driver floppies disks or Fedora etc.), others offer a menuslipstreaming the drivers and driven installer (Slackware, Debian) creating a new installation CD) if while others, targeting more using a large number of SATA or specialized groups, require source to SATA2 drives or RAID arrays.[32] be copied and compiled (Gentoo). The system can also be built

If moving an existing installation of Linux into a new computer or changing the motherboard or other hardware components, Linux will detect and activate the new supported hardware with little or no further intervention required. Windows requires either using sysprep or re-installing Windows, manually re-installing the device drivers from the hardware manufacturers and rebooting each time before Windows will accept the new hardware. Windows will also require activation again.[37] Installation May be installed through the Almost all Linux distributions now via Live Windows Preinstallation have a live CD that may be used for Environments Environment or BartPE, but only the testing, install or recovery.[38] former is endorsed by Microsoft. Pre-installed Some multimedia and home use All main distributions contain software software such as IE, Windows numerous programs: multimedia, Media Center, Windows Mail, graphics, internet, office suites, Notepad, Paint depending on which games, system utilities and edition is purchased plus OEM alternative desktop environments. bundled software. Office suite or Some distributions specialise in

Supported Windows: i386 and x86-64. Architectures Windows Embedded: i386, x86-64, PowerPC, ARM, MIPS, SuperH[33]. Windows Mobile: ARM Device driver The Windows installation media usually contains enough drivers to make the operating system functional. To this end, "generic" drivers may be used to provide basic functionality. Drivers can later be upgraded from the manufacturer. Windows Update contains many updated drivers that can be installed after the base operating system is in place. Drivers are almost always closed-source, maintained and published by the manufacturer of their respective devices. Recent version of 64-bit Windows force all drivers to be signed, giving Microsoft the sole ability to authorize drivers; this feature cannot be easily overridden by system administrators.[34][35]

completely from scratch, directly from source code (Linux from Scratch). i386, x86-64, PowerPC 32/64, SPARC, DEC Alpha, ARM, MIPS, PA-RISC, S390, IA-64, SuperH and m68k. Linux kernels in most distributions include the majority of drivers available as modules. They are loaded at boot without user interaction. Most drivers are included in the kernel source tree, however there are several manufacturers which distribute proprietary drivers. The latter are usually packaged separately from the kernel and usually automatically installed on user's request [36].

Not preinstalled software

advanced multimedia software are education, games, or security. Most not included. As Microsoft has distributions give users the choice of licensed decoders for a number of which bundled programs to install, if patented audio and video coding any. methods, Windows is able to play a number of patented formats by default. Nevertheless, Microsoft's methods of bundling software were deemed illegal in the case United States v. Microsoft.[39] A massive pool of both proprietary Free software and some proprietary software (including shareware and software covering a wide range of freeware) and free software. use. Most primary applications such Programs usually come with the as office suites are available for free. required libraries and are normally [40] Using free Windowsinstalled easily. Most programs must compatibility layers like Wine, some be individually installed. Windows software can also be run, often to a lesser degree, on Linux. Third-party software is usually Uninstallation can be of varying listed/integrated into a packaging difficulty depending on which of many installer methods were used, system, which is built into the components and registry entries may operating system. Less popular be left behind. Windows has a built- programs, which are not in the in installer program, and software distributions repositories, are often that is to be installed has an installer provided in a form (such as the DEB "wrapper" that interfaces with the format or the RPM (RPM Package Manager) format) which can be Windows Installer to accomplish installed easily by the package installation. Not all Windows software uses the install manager. manager. In the rare case that no precompiled package exists, programs can be more or less automatically built from the source code. Most software is installed noninteractively to a default configuration. Linux distributions can not lawfully include MP3 or MPEG-4 file decoders in a minority of countries, as it would violate the Patent Cooperation Treaty. There is nothing preventing a user from installing these decoders, however the user assumes all liability for installing said pieces of software.[41] In particular with the MP3 file format, many companies claim patents relevant to the format. See

Patent issues with MP3 for more information. Partitioning Expanding NTFS partitions is Most file systems support resizing possible without problems, and on partitions without losing data. LVM Vista it is possible to shrink provide dynamic partitioning. All partitions as well. Dynamic Disks Linux distributions have bundled provide dynamic partitioning. Third partitioning software such as fdisk or party tools are available that have gparted. more features than the built-in partitioning tools. File systems Natively supported: NTFS, FAT, Natively supported: ext2, ext3, ext4, ISO 9660, UDF, and others; 3rdReiserFS, FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, [42] party drivers available for ext2 , NFS, NTFS (incomplete), JFS, XFS reiserfs[43], HFS, and others and others. Archives and FTP sites also can be mounted as filesystems. Boot Loader May boot to multiple versions of May boot to multiple operating Windows through the Windows systems through numerous Boot Manager in Windows Vista bootloaders such as LILO and and newer; or the earlier boot loader GRUB. With these, it is possible to NTLDR in Windows Server 2003 choose among multiple installed and prior. Graphical configuration kernel images at boot time. tools are available for both, such as Graphical configuration tools for the 3rd party EasyBCD for the GRUB are available.[46][47] GRUB Windows Boot Manager and can also accept arbitrary, one-time MSConfig for NTLDR, which can configurations at boot time via the chain load multiple non-NT GRUB prompt. GRUB and LILO environments, including Linux, by also support booting to non-Unix referring to volume boot records operating systems via chain loading; from those environments saved on for a Windows and Linux dual-boot the Windows partition.[44] Windows system, it is often easiest to install overwrites the Master Boot Record Windows first and then Linux on installation by default, thus because almost all Linux installers rendering other non-Windows will automatically detect and set up installations (e.g. Linux) unusable other operating systems for until fixed.[45] dual/multiple boot with Linux.[48]

[edit] Accessibility and usability

Windows Linux User Focus Mostly consistent. Inconsistencies Interface is usually consistent appear primarily through backports among the desktop environment software ported from newer used, which follows its interface operating systems to older ones. For guidelines.[50][51] High grade of example, software ported from Vista customizability is provided in order to XP must follow the Vista to adapt to the needs of the user.

guidelines, those of the newer Some inconsistencies may appear system (IE7 and Windows Media when using programs targeted for Player 11 are examples of this).[citation different desktop environments. needed] However, Microsoft There are other continually pushes for consistency environments/window managers, between releases with guidelines for usually targeting professionals or interface design. The latest are minimalist users, featuring some Windows Vista User Experience very powerful programs with guidelines.[49] Their focus is on rudimentary, minimalist graphical consistency and usability, but with front-ends, focusing much more on increased concern for safety in new performance, small size and safety. versions. Third-party applications WindowMaker and the may or may not follow these Fluxbox/Openbox/Blackbox guidelines, may have their own environments are such examples. guidelines, or may not follow any Some other environments fit rules for interface design. between the two models, giving both power, eye candy and simplicity (Enlightenment/E17, Xfce). Some graphical environments are targeted to mouse users only (Fluxbox), others to keyboard users only (Ratpoison), others to either. Certain graphical environments are also designed to be as resourceconservative as possible, so as to run on older machines. Newer distribution versions generally maintain the same user focus. Consistency User interaction with software is Consistency ranges from high to between usually consistent between versions, poor between distributions, versions, versions releases, and editions, although window managers/desktop Windows Vista generated many environments, and programs. complaints about unfamiliar and Software is generally highly userunexpected changes. customizable, and the user may keep the customizations between versions. Customization By default, Windows only offers Linux offers several user interfaces customization of size and color of to choose from. Different the graphical elements, and it is environments and window managers typically not possible to change how offer various levels of the interface reacts to user input. customizability, ranging from colors and size to user input, actions, and A few third-party programs allow display. more extensive customization, like WindowBlinds or LiteStep, but extreme changes are usually out of

reach. It is not possible to customize applications that do not use the default look-and-feel beyond the options the specific application offers. Accessibility Both Windows and Linux offer accessibility options,[52] such as high contrast displays and larger text/icon size, text to speech and magnifiers.

[edit] Stability
For an operating system to be subjectively stable, numerous components must operate synchronously. Not all of these components are under the control of operating system vendor. For example, poorly written device drivers can completely crash the system, since both Linux and Windows utilizes aspects of monolithic kernel. The same is true for misconfigured applications, which are using the operating system utilities in unexpected ways. Much of stability, then, is the extent to which the operating system is structured to thwart the consequences of bad behavior of third party installations. Linux General There are several indirection levels stability since all applications are separated from the graphic subsystem (X Server) which itself is detached from the Linux kernel[28][29]. As a result of that and because most device drivers are integral parts of the Linux kernel, it almost never crashes. The graphic subsystem can only fail if the application is using it in undocumented ways. Even in that case, it can be easily restarted without system reboot.[53] Device driver Device drivers are provided by Some vendors contribute to free stability Microsoft or written by the drivers (Intel, HP, etc.) or provide hardware manufacturer. Microsoft proprietary drivers (Nvidia, ATI, also runs a certification program, etc.). Unlike Windows, however, WHQL Testing, through which kernel developers and hobbyists most drivers are digitally signed by write many or most device drivers; Microsoft as compatible with the in these drivers, any developer is operating system, especially on 64- potentially able to fix stability issues bit versions. and other bugs. This generally seems to result in faster response to reported bugs and more stable systems. [54] Kernel developers do Windows Windows operating systems based on the NT kernel (including all currently supported versions of desktop Windows) are technically much more stable than some older versions (including Windows 3.1 and 95/98). Installing unsigned or beta drivers can lead to decreased system stability (see below).



not support the use of drivers that are not open-source, since only the manufacturer can fix stability issues in closed-source drivers.[55] Reboots are usually required after Linux itself needs to restart only for system and driver updates. kernel updates.[57] However, a [56] Microsoft has its hotpatching special utility can be used to load the technology, designed to reduce new kernel and execute it without a downtimes. hardware reset (kexec) and hence can stay up for years without a single hardware reboot, almost eliminating downtime. For minor updates such as security fixes, Ksplice allows the linux kernel to be patched without a reboot. System libraries, services and applications can mostly be upgraded without restarting running software (old instances use the "replaced" versions) In modern, NT-based versions of All processes except for init and Windows, programs that crash may those in D or Z state may be be forcibly ended through the task terminated from the command line. manager by pressing Applications can be closed via the CTRL+SHIFT+ESC or GUI. The optional SysRQ allows CTRL+ALT+DEL. low-level system manipulation and crash recovery. The entire graphical subsystem can be restarted without the need for a whole system shutdown. Reboots are seldom required.[58][59]

Additionally, Live CDs of Linux, if equipped with the correct tools, can work to repair a broken operating system if the hard drive is mountable. See: List of Rescue and repair live CDs. Unrecoverable If the kernel or a driver running in The Unix equivalent of the errors kernel mode encounters an error Windows blue screen is known as a under circumstances whereby kernel panic. The kernel routines Windows cannot continue to operate that handle panics are usually safely, a "bug check" (colloquially designed to output an error message known as a "stop error" or "Blue to the console, create a memory Screen of Death") is thrown. A dump, and then either halt the memory dump is created and, system or restart automatically.

depending on the configuration, the computer may then automatically restart. Additionally, automatic restart can be applied to services.

[edit] Performance
This section of this table needs attention from an expert on the subject. See the talk page for details. WikiProject Computing or the Computing Portal may be able to help recruit an expert. (April 2009) Windows Linux Process NT-based versions of Windows use Linux kernel 2.6 once used a Scheduling a CPU scheduler based on a scheduling algorithm favoring multilevel feedback queue, with 32 interactive processes. Here priority levels defined. The kernel "interactive" is defined as a process may change the priority level of a that has short bursts of CPU usage thread depending on its I/O and CPU rather than long ones. It is said that a usage and whether it is interactive (i. process without root privilege can e. accepts and responds to input from take advantage of this to monopolize the user), raising the priority of the CPU,[62] when the CPU time interactive and I/O bounded accounting precision is low. processes and lowering that of CPU However, Completely Fair bound processes, to increase the Scheduler, now the standard responsiveness of interactive scheduler, addresses this problem. applications.[60] The scheduler was modified in Windows Vista to use the cycle counter register of modern processors to keep track of exactly how many CPU cycles a thread has executed, rather than just using an interval-timer interrupt routine.[61] Memory Windows NT family (including Management/ 2000, XP, Vista, Win7) most Disk Paging commonly employs a dynamically allocated pagefile for memory management. A pagefile is allocated on disk, for less frequently accessed objects in memory, leaving more RAM available to actively used objects. This scheme suffers from slow-downs due to disk fragmentation (if a variable size paging file is specified), which

Most hard drive installations of Linux utilize a "swap partition", a partition dedicated exclusively for paging operations. This reduces slowdown due to disk fragmentation from general use. Linux also allows to adjust aggressiveness of the kernel when deciding whether to swap out an application or leave it on RAM. Windows does not support such features.

hampers the speed at which the objects can be brought back into memory when they are needed. Windows XP and later can defragment the pagefile, and on NTFS filesystems, intelligently allocate blocks to avoid this problem. Windows can be configured to place the pagefile on a separate disk or partition [63]. However, this is not default behavior, because if the pagefile is on a separate partition, then Windows cannot create a memory dump in the event of a Stop Error. The Windows 3.1x family does not have true virtual memory[citation needed] and uses a simpler swapping scheme easily leading to more swapping to disc and therefore more disc fragmentation. Virtual memory support and strict memory protection is limited on the Windows 9x family for the 32-bit processes [64]. Microsoft does not recommend disabling virtual memory in Windows.[65] The ideal solution performance-wise is to have the pagefile on its own hard drive, which eliminates both fragmentation and I/O issues. Default The way default Windows' Default Linux filesystems do not filesystems filesystem NTFS works causes files require defragmenting.[68] to become fragmented, degrading the performance of the system significantly over time, and it requires regular defragmenting to combat this.[66][67]

[edit] Support

This section needs additional citations for verification.

Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2008)

Linux Most support is provided by advanced users and developers over online forums, and other free community based venues. Professional support is available, but most commonly only utilized by large-scale businesses, and server dependent organizations. Phone support By Microsoft or OEM. Usually for Red Hat, Canonical, Novell and a fee.[citation needed] other major distributors have free and paid support available. Documentation A wealth of information is available Most documentation is available free online, or in books, as well as online, either in FAQ[69] form or on Microsoft's own support page. Wiki pages on developers' websites. Detailed documentation for specific commands, programs, functions, libraries, files, and file formats are available through offline documentation systems, such as the man and info pages, which are accessed through the command line, or through graphical viewers. Large applications often come with separate documentation. Some major distributions have books written by 3rd party authors, mainly for server admins, or application development. Linux is taught in many computing university courses in programming Many IT courses are written for and computer science.[citation needed] participants to learn how to use and Linux diplomas and certificates are manage Windows systems and Training rarely offered. Courses for networks. Most computer assistance certifications are provided by Linux experts have Windows training and Professional Institute and some qualifications. distributions, such as Red Hat and Ubuntu. Third Party Documentation is either written in- Documentation for source packages Documentation house or by a consulting firm for usually in a README file, also most proprietary software. Often man pages, info pages, and other documentation only covers a small, types of generally programmercommonly used set of functions. supplied documentation.

Windows Community Microsoft Developer Network support (MSDN), Microsoft TechNet: Resources for IT Professionals, and multitudes of user driven support forums are available at no charge. Additional support is available by 3rd party services such as OEMs.

[dubious discuss]

[edit] Platform for third party applications

Operating system integration (Installation) Windows Linux Strict separation between operating Linux systems often do not separate system parts and applications[70]. It is operating system and (third party) possible to install same software in applications at the filesystem level as several different directories. most popular distributions follow the Microsoft's guidelines strongly Filesystem Hierarchy Standard [74] [75] [76] suggest that software vendors use . This approach has a certain the Windows Installer for benefit over the Windows model in installation. However, many that it provides encapsulation, that is, applications are still deployed with stores the program itself, its data, alternative installers such as NSIS. configuration files and logs Nevertheless, overly simplified separately.[77]. Usually applications application management has several are installed using a package drawbacks such as introducing manager such as APT or RPM [78] [79], chances of DLL hell and which ensures that all applications compatibility issues. The former have their library dependencies problem can be solved by using satisfied. As packages are static linking (with a considerable incorporated into the system portion tradeoff in speed and memory of the Linux filesystem tree, consumption [71])[72]. In addition to installation of any software typically that Microsoft has addressed requires administrative privileges[80]. compatibility issues by providing However, it is possible to install compatibility layer to older software into user's home directory, software[73]. although it is a complex task as the application needs to be compiled from source [81]. Also, these applications introduce a security risk as they will not be tracked and updated if necessary. Program Thousands of programs are available The majority of applications are distribution for download from many websites distributed in a binary package and for purchase on CD/DVD in format. Each distribution usually has retail shops. Programs must be a centralized package repository, downloaded (or purchased on where trusted applications are stored CD/DVD) and installed individually. and available for download[82][83]. The The user has to search for the dependencies are handled application he needs, track automatically. As there are several dependencies (if any) by hand and common package formats, ensure safety from malware himself. applications are usually packaged specifically for each distribution. The source code is distributed of

most applications, which have a licence which allows to do so. Software Has historically been a very high The distributed software is generally Compatibility priority.[84] However, exceptions do compatible with the current and exist, even within Microsoft's own upcoming versions of the applications (particularly with distribution (Linux Standard Base [85] respect to Windows Vista). framework guarantees maintaining interfaces for at least 6 years[86]). The same binary packages can be used among systems using the same package manager[87] and generally can be used among any system providing libraries the package is dependent upon[88]. Some compatibility issues existed in the past, when proper packaging guidelines were yet to establish[89][90]. Shared DLLs are the Windows Almost all shared libraries are Library implementation of shared libraries. installed strictly system wide[92]. Policy DLLs placed in an application Several Linux distributions have had (called "private libraries" [91]) problems with software not directory are used in favor to the packaged for the distribution when DLLs in the system folder[92]. updating libraries, since the Historically, Windows 9x and prior application programming interfaces versions had no protections on of some Open Source libraries are system DLLs, and poorly written prone to change between releases[93]. programs would often overwrite them at will with incorrect versions, potentially leading to dependency problems. Software Windows Update handles updates only updates to Microsoft software and can deploy driver updates if present on the Windows update site. Some third party software has its own separate update manager. Windows Installer (See Package management system The Ubuntu Update Manager on a above) does not manage Ubuntu Linux system showing updates. updates.

Windows security updates typically require a restart.

The Package manager handles updates for software that was installed via the

package manager. Updates generally do not require a system restart, with the exception of kernel updates. Updates to applications or libraries require restarting the applications to take effect, but there is usually no need to restart immediately (new instances of the program use the new version). All of the installed programs and the Linux operating system can be kept up to date easily (see picture, above). Keeping the operating system and the installed programs up to date is essential for security.[94] Gentoo allows different versions of software and libraries to be installed in the same system. GoboLinux allows different versions of a program to be run concurrently.[95]

Microsoft has had a longstanding emphasis on backwards compatibility.[84] In general, the Windows API is consistent over time, with new features added;[citation needed] programs designed for earlier versions of Windows often run without issues on later versions.[citation needed] For the sake of progress, however, Microsoft sometimes draws a line precluding support of very old programs. That first happened with Windows 95, where some purely 16 bit Windows 3.1 applications would not work, and again with Windows XP, where certain mixed-bit applications would not work. 64-bit versions of Windows (XP-64 and Vista-64) drop 16-bit support completely. However, 16 bit emulation and the enormous array of application-specific tweaks (shims) within new Windows versions[96] ensure that compatibility with old applications remains very high.[97] In the Linux world, the landscape differs. As most (if not all) parts of the operating system are open source and many Linux programs are open source, when a Linux distribution breaks backward compatibility, anyone willing might write a patch to the operating system or the program itself that would allow the older software to work. In reality though, since many popular Linux distributions uses software repository and the

most popular programs exist in the repository, the programs provided in the repository are guaranteed to be compatible with supported versions of the distribution.

[edit] Gaming
A major attraction of Windows is the large library of video games available for purchase. The majority of current major games natively support Windows and are released first (and often only) for the Windows platform. Some of these games can be run on Linux with a compatibility layer like Wine or Cedega. Those that rely on copy protection or undocumented features require much more effort in order to work properly. Since Wine is not an emulator it can, and does, obtain native speed, sometimes surpassing that of Windows.[98] There are notable exceptions, such as id Software's Doom and Quake series. When a developer chooses to write graphics code in OpenGL instead of DirectX, Linux ports become much easier. In addition, games such as the Unreal Tournament series are written in 3 parts: The core 'engine' of the game, the graphical display system, and the actual game data itself. The first two, typically being compiled programs, require porting, however only the graphical display system will often require much work (Windows to X Window, DirectX to OpenGL, etc.). The third part, the game data itself, is typically written in system-independent file formats and scripting languages. This allows the game developer to separate the actual game experience from platform compatibility. This also serves to reduce the cost of development in 2 ways.

There is no need to port the game data to another platform, which eliminates the need to compile and bug-fix the game data for each platform. Future releases of the software can use the same "engine" and graphical display system. This allows game developers to focus more on the game experience, and less on compatibility issues.

OpenGL provides platform independent, widely accepted, available and up-to-date solutions for 3D graphics, but does not address input devices or sound. The Simple DirectMedia Layer(SDL) libraries provide support for these features on both Linux and Windows, and are often used to provide portable gaming support. [99]. There are Open Source games designed first for Linux.[100] While most of these are small casual games like Kolf or Pingus, there are also larger "hardcore" games, such as Nexuiz, Freeciv, and The Battle for Wesnoth. Many have been ported to work on Windows as well. Some gamers opt to dual boot Windows and Linux, using the Windows partition for gaming and other applications, while using the Linux partition for the needs it addresses better. So far, there are over 1200 native Linux games[101] including over 220 games with proprietary licenses[102].

[edit] Software development

Crossplatform development (Operating system resource access: file system, threads, memory allocation, etc.)

Windows Elementary system resource access is provided by the Windows API which is available and kept compatible since Windows NT. Many programs are written for the Windows API and depend on an implementation of that API. Many Microsoft libraries have not been ported to other operating systems. Source compatibility with some UNIX programs is done via POSIX subsystem (Windows NT and 2000), or Subsystem for UNIX applications (formerly Interix) (2000, XP, 2003, Vista). Alternatives for POSIX and Linux compatibility under windows are Cygwin and MinGW.

Linux Linux is a UNIX-like operating system which implements most of POSIX functionality"POSIX.1 (FIPS 151-2) Certification". http://www.ukuug.org/newsletter/li nuxnewsletter/linux@uk21/posix.shtml .</ref>. Compatibility between such Unix-like operating systems (such as BSD Unix, Solaris, and Mac OS X) is provided through standards such as the POSIX and system libraries such as glibc. The GNU toolchain has been ported on Windows, as well as GTK, Qt and many other libraries. Under Linux there is no standard widget toolkit implementing GUI utilities such as windows, buttons, labels, etc. Several competing libraries are available, such as GTK, Qt, wxWidgets, Motif. Programs written for these widget toolkits must ensure that required libraries are installed in order to run.

Wine providing a reimplementation of the Windows API and the DirectX API to allow Windows programs to run on Linux, although sometimes with glitches. CrossFor multimedia applications Among the various distributions of Linux platform like games, audio and video there is no widely accepted and general development applications is for Windows multimedia standard and API available. (hardware the DirectX API available. For 3D graphics OpenGL is as standard resource Almost all major games and available and accepted but for everything access: multimedia applications rely else like audio, input devices, networking graphic, on this API, given the etc. many different approaches are audio, input availability since 1995 and the available. [103][104] devices, etc.) downward compatibility since then. DirectX is available for the Windows PC platform and the XBox platform, and by the reimplementation Wine it is

also available for Linux. There are also third party libraries and standards available like e. g. OpenGL for 3D graphics, OpenAL for audio and SDL as general purpose multimedia API. Driver Windows provides extensive, Linux hardware drivers are mostly development well-documented developed and released as part of the programming interfaces that kernel itself, as free software released in enable third parties to develop source code form. The driver is considered kernel software that extends part of the kernel project, and developers and modifies system behavior. of these drivers are considered to be part of Microsoft provides its the community of Linux kernel developers. Windows Driver Kit at no However, driver developers are responsible cost, which includes thorough for keeping their drivers up to date; drivers documentation, samples, and which are not actively maintained are tools for building, testing, and removed from the kernel [105]. deploying drivers. Windows driver programming interfaces The kernel group does not publish a are based on standards and programming interface for third-party specifications, often the drivers released in compiled binary-only product of a process involving form. Nonetheless, third-party closedleading players in the source binary drivers are not uncommon, applicable industry. While especially for graphics hardware. Usually Windows drivers are compiled they consist of the binary driver itself and based on specifications, and an open-source driver interface which is are not tied to a specific compiled on installation [106]. Because version of Windows, source binary-only drivers are released only for code for a specific version of specific machine architectures (usually Windows may, in theory, be Intel x86 and x86-64) they are not purchased for modification in supported on the full set of architectures some circumstances that the Linux kernel itself supports. (restrictive), or third-party tools may create modifications. In practice, the availability of Windows source code is generally heavily restricted or extremely expensive, if available at all. However, even where source is available, modification to the operating system can break the EULA, and in turn be prohibited or even illegal. IDEs & Several commercial IDEs for Several commercial IDEs and compilers

Compilers sale, such as Microsoft's Visual Studio. Multiple free or gratis IDEs and compilers, including the GNU Compiler Collection, Eclipse, NetBeans, Pelles C, lcc32, Borland C++, Visual Studio Express (Visual C++, C#, and VB.NET compilers), .NET compilers freely included in .NET Framework, Sharpdevelop, Free Pascal

for sale such as PGI, Intel, and Absoft's Fortran compilers.[107][108] Multiple free IDEs and compilers, the most common of which are often included in distributions; [109] including the GNU Compiler Collection, Eclipse, NetBeans, Mono, MonoDevelop, Geany, Anjuta, KDevelop, Free Pascal, OpenLDev, Codeblocks

[edit] Emulation and virtualization

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Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2010)

Windows Linux Hardware VMware, VirtualBox, Virtual PC, VMware, VirtualBox, Xen, Parallels, emulation Virtual Server, Hyper-V (only Linux-VServer, OpenVZ, Win4Lin. and available on 64-bit versions of Vista KVM, VirtualBox and QEMU can virtualization SP2, Windows 7, and Windows be used to run other operating Server 2008), Parallels, QEMU can systems within Linux. be used to run other operating systems within Windows. Binary Several projects attempt to set up Several projects including Bordeaux, emulation, Unix-like environments in Windows. Cedega, CrossOver, and Wine alternative Only Microsoft Windows Services attempt to implement Windows API API for UNIX is supported by Microsoft. on top of Linux. Many Windows Unsupported alternatives are LINA, programs are able to run flawlessly and Cygwin. In both cases additional without additional configuration. libraries a suitable X server are Due to nature of API emulation most required to set up a fully functional of Windows applications can be as desktop. fast as on Windows and sometimes even faster since advantages in the Linux kernel.[110]. However, several Windows applications can not run at all as some of Windows API is not fully implemented. This can be avoided by using native Windows DLL instead of builtin ones but this is not legal unless the user has a Windows licence.[111] Operating Several Linux distributions can be User-mode Linux allows users to run systems run run inside Windows as userland Linux kernel as userland application.

as application application using Cooperative Linux Andlinux and TopologiLinux are the as kernel and Xming as X server. simplest ways of running Linux There exist user-friendly easy to software on Windows. install software packages based on this approach (Andlinux, TopologiLinux, Portable Ubuntu). A Linux distribution installed in this way has binary compatibility with other x86 Linux distributions; the only difference is a special kernel modification allowing it to run on top of Windows.

[edit] Security
A true comparison between Windows and Linux on the values of the inherent security of each operating system is hard to obtain, and the matter is extremely contentious among both security professionals and computer hobbyists. Because there are many more Windows systems in the world [112], there are simply more targets available for attack. This factor makes Windows a richer and more attractive target for malware developers. The security differences between Windows and Linux is heavily debated and the security track record of both operating systems has proven Linux has fewer serious vulnerabilities. Also Linux derives its security from the underlying Unix design philosophy.[113][114] According to some security researchers [115], the "Windows monoculture" contributes to disproportionate levels of malware exposure: because Windows systems are all tightly binary-compatible, a single successful attack can affect a large fraction of them ("cascade failure"); whereas different Linux distributions are more loosely coupled with source compatibility and different selections of software. Thus, even if the software were equally buggy, the chance of a single bug affecting all Linux computers is reduced. Windows Linux Malware As of 2009, well over 2 million As of 2006, more than 800 pieces of malware programs target Windows. Linux malware had been discovered. [116] [119] Botnets networks of infected Some malware has propagated computers controlled by malicious through the Internet.[120] However, in persons with more than one million practice, reports of bonafide malware computers have been witnessed.[117] presence on Linux-based systems are Once malicious software is present on extremely rare.[121] Nonetheless, antia Windows-based system, it can malware tools such as ClamAV and sometimes be incredibly difficult to Panda Security's DesktopSecure for locate and remove. As such, users are Linux do exist. These programs are advised to install and run antimainly intended to filter Windows malware programs. In the event of malware from emails and network

rootkit infection, users may have to traffic traveling through Linux-based resort to reformatting the system's servers. The extreme rarity of this hard disk and re-installing Windows. type of occurrence is such that it is [118] not usually necessary to use antimalware programs. The exception to this would be if the Linux-based system is connected to Windowsbased systems, and only to mitigate the spread of Windows malware. Open vs. Claims its platform is more secure Claims its platform is more secure Closed because of a comprehensive approach because all of its code is reviewed by to security using the Security so many people that bugs are detected Development Lifecycle.[122][123][124] (referred to as Linus's law). However, because Windows is Anyone with programming closed-source, only Microsoftexperience is free to fix bugs and employed programmers (or licensed submit them for inclusion in future third-parties) can fix bugs. Because releases and updates. However such the software is closed-source, an approach has indeed produced consumers have to trust that several vulnerabilities, although this Microsoft is not doing anything is a rare case.[126] against them. (See security through obscurity). However, even recent Windows versions have some security vulnerabilities detected.[125] Response There are claims that closed source Bugs can be fixed and rolled out speed offers a faster and more effective within a day of being reported (often response to security issues.[127] within hours), though usually it takes However, critical bug fixes are a few weeks before the patch is released only once a month after available on all distributions. extensive programming and testing, [128][129] and certain bugs have been known to go unpatched for months or even years[130] . User In Windows Vista, all logged-in Accounts sessions (even for those of "administrator" users) run with standard user permissions, preventing malicious programs (and inexperienced users) from gaining total control of the system. Processes that require administrator privileges can be run using the User Account Control framework. For standard

Users typically run as limited accounts, having created both administrator (named "root") and at least one user account during installation. In most Linux distributions, there are commands (su, sudo) that will temporarily grant elevated permissions to processes that need it. In practice, this can be very dangerous, as any error can lead to

users, this presents a credentials severe damage to the system. (Ubuntu dialogue (example) that requires the locks the root account by default for password of a member of the security and safety reasons.[133]) New administrators group (who are listed). frameworks such as PolicyKit seek to For users who are already logged in rectify this problem. However, as of an administrator, only confirmation is Feb. 2009, PolicyKit is not in necessary. The first user account widespread use. created during the setup process is automatically a member of the administrators group. The majority of users did not change to an account type with fewer rights, meaning that, in Windows versions prior to the introduction of UAC, malicious programs would have full control over the system. However the security of the User Account Control is not guaranteed to prevent malicious programs and users from unlimited access in Windows.[132] Filesystem permissions

File system permissions on a Windows Vista system.

File system permissions on an Ubuntu Linux system running GNOME.

Linux has a traditional Unix-like The DOS based Windows ME, user, group, other approach to Windows 98, Windows 95, and filesystem permissions at a minimum. [136] previous versions of non-NT . This approach is extended by Windows only operated on the FAT Access Control Lists on some filesystem and did not support filesystems. There are some specific filesystem permissions[134] . Windows to Linux frameworks such as NT and subsequent NT-based AppArmor and SELinux which add versions of Windows use NTFSeven finer-grained controls over based Access Control Lists to which users and programs can access administer permissions, using tokens. certain resources or perform certain [135] On Windows XP and prior operations. Some distributions use versions, most home users still ran all them out of the box.[137] of their software with Administrator

accounts, as this is the default setup upon installation. The existence of software that would not run under limited accounts and the cumbersome "Run As..." mechanism forced many users to use administrative accounts. However, few organisations have taken advantage of the richness of the Token based system of NTFS which can be applied to almost all NT operating system objects[citation needed].

[edit] Localization
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It is easy to have multiple languages installed in both operating systems and to switch between them while the user is logging in. In MS Windows, localization can be provided by a separate installation of the operating system, the Multilingual User Interface (MUI) can be used to provide multiple languages on one installation, and in certain editions of Windows (such as Ultimate) it is possible to switch languages from the control panel. In Linux the language can be chosen separately for any subsession and any instance of a program (by setting environment variables), separately for different aspects of the locale (date format, collation, message language etc.).

[edit] See also

Free software portal Microsoft portal

Comparison of operating systems Comparison of open source and closed source

[edit] References

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136. ^ Security on a Linux file system, retrieved January 19, 2007. 137. ^ Red Hat discusses RHEL's inclusion of SELinux: [5] A wiki devoted to SELinux in Fedora: [6] A review of CentOS hosted at linux.com: [7]

[edit] External links

An IT Professional's Testimonial of Windows and Linux The table of equivalents/replacements/analogs of Windows software in Linux [hide]vdeLinux operating system


Adoption Comparison with Windows Criticism (Criticism of Desktop Linux) History Kernel (kernel names supported architectures) Linus' Law Linux Foundation Linux-libre Tux

Distribution (general comparison netbook-specific comparison Distribution Lightweight Linux distribution) Live CD Live USB Package formats GNU Free Software Foundation GNU GNU GPL GNU/Linux naming controversy GNU packages GNU Project X Window Manager AfterStep Blackbox CTWM Enlightenment FVWM Hackedbox IceWM Metisse OLVWM PLWM PWM Sawfish vtwm wm2 wmx Xmonad CLI GUI GNOME KDE Xfce LXDE

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