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Why should Linux triumph over Windows?

Jack Wallen from TechRepublic has posted an article titled “10 reasons why Linux will triumph over Windows“. The article has attracted many readers and comments, so, here’s my question: why should Linux triumph Windows?

Let’s start by taking Jack’s points one by one.

1: Inconsistent Windows releases

So, according to Jack, “One of the things you can always count on from Microsoft is that you can’t count on its new operating systems to be reliable“.

Seems fair enough?

Until you see his take on Windows NT as “Attempted to bring enterprise-level seriousness to the operating system; would have succeeded had it not taken Steven Hawking-like intelligence to get it working“.

Let’s see, when was Windows NT released? 3.1 in 1993, 3.5 in 1994 and 4.0 in 1996. Obviously Jack is a Linux guru, so he was already very familiar with the ins and outs of Linux, but what about us general consumers? I know when I used Red Hat 6.0 around the Windows 98 days, I hated it. Back then Linux’s GUI was nowhere near as glamorous as Ubuntu’s or <insert the name of your favorite Linux distro>’s is today.

I know I’m looking forward to the Windows 7 release. The early (leaked) betas and the public beta have impressed me.

2: Consistent Linux releases

I’m not exactly sure what Jack is comparing Windows to, Linux or Red Hat? Surely I wouldn’t call this consistent. Please, Linux has its fair share of inconsistencies due to the number of distributions available (or no longer available for that matter).

3. Continuing Windows price hikes

Let’s be honest, no one likes to pay for things that are also available for free. But ask these guys why they use RHEL when there is CentOS.

Apple has ‘Apple tax’ on its hardware, why shouldn’t Microsoft apply ‘Microsoft tax’ on its software?

4. Stable Linux “prices”

To simply put, the society wouldn’t work without economy. No reputable Linux distributions can survive without a strong financial backup. The money has to come from somewhere. Instead of arguing Linux being free, I would have thought that arguing about Linux’s open standards would be more effective.

5: Windows hardware incompatibility

Oh dear! You are not serious, are you? Last time I checked, installing my digital TV tuner on Windows XP/Vista was just a matter of installing the driver came with it. On Linux? Nope, not a chance even with hacking.

Don’t get me wrong, Linux’s hardware compatibility has been improved drastically, but there is still a long way to go until most of the major hardware vendors start releasing Linux drivers.

6: Linux hardware compatibility

With new distributions (such as Fedora 10), X configuration is becoming a thing of the past“. Well, I beg to differ. Unless messing around with x.conf isn’t considered part of configuration.

7: Windows promises

Apparently Jack takes marketing gimmicks too seriously. I don’t even want to argue this point…

8: Linux transparency

Seriously, the majority of consumer users couldn’t care less. Don’t believe me? Talk to anyone who is not an enthusiast (which happen to be most of the users).

9: Feature comparison

Among the 10 points Jack listed, this has to be the most pointless one. Since when could any individual know what others need/want?

10: Hardware requirements

Yes I am very impressed with Linux being able to run on mid 90′s hardware, so what? It doesn’t concern most of us. It’s not like I will be using Windows 7 for my server needs or anything. Another pointless point.

Am I biased? I don’t know. I love Linux, all my websites have been / are hosted by either a Linux distro (mostly Debian and CentOS) or FreeBSD. I have been a long time Windows user (from Windows 3.1 to 7 beta). I am now a full time Mac OS X user.

My question still remains, why should Linux triumph Windows? I am happy to have choices.

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Comments Section

14 Responses to “Why should Linux triumph over Windows?”

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  1. 1

    I’m going to disagree with you on number five, that’s a pretty ignorant statement. Linux has come a long way and has very fine hardware support, for example I use Ubuntu 8.10 on my laptop and Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 4 on my desktop.

    When I installed Ubuntu, everything was automatically/instantly configured nicely right out of the box; my wifi, webcam, sound drivers, video cards, everything.

    I tried installing Windows Vista on a smaller partition; I had my webcam, sound drivers, wifi, pci bus controllers all missing. I had to find the all the drivers on my Ubuntu and burn it onto a CD because my USB slots nor my internet would work in Vista.

  2. 2

    Sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience with Vista. You might have misunderstood my point, obviously Vista isn’t as compatible as XP, but in general, the majority of hardware vendors only release Windows drivers. More and more vendors now start releasing Linux and OS X drivers, but there’s still a long way to go.

    I agree with you about Linux having come a long way in terms of hardware support, in fact I stated this in my original post as well. However, there are still hardware that are incompatible with Linux, have no Linux drivers and have no way of hacking ‘em without guru knowledge.

  3. 3

    Oh, where do I start! :)

    I want to love Linux, I really do. But every time I give it a go it feels incomplete. Maybe I don’t give it enough time, but heck, the last thing I want to do is search forums for answers to things that should “just work” out of the box.

    I wonder how much of the latest Linux penetration is due to netbooks taking advantage of cheap/free licensing?

    Speaking of price, being free is actually something that can work against Linux (possibly why RedHat still has customers). You see, when you pay for something, the person you pay has a degree of responsibility for what you paid for. This gives people a sense of security.

    Anyway, Linux has a long way to go before it reaches a tipping point where the masses adopt it. You’re more likely to have OS X gain market share on the back of the iPhone than you are to see Linux rise to the top :)

  4. 4

    Messing with the xorg.conf is no longer necessary with recent Xorg releases.

    Mine now simply runs out of the box without any configuration.

    So: Why should Linux triumph?

    Because it is free software.

    That’s not about “no cost”, but about “it can’t be taken away” and “developers can customize it for their needs”.

    For example you can take a GNU/Linux system and customize it for schools to include exactly the features you need, and if something is missing, you can add that feature yourself without being bound to the marketing agenda of any company.

  5. 5

    I can’t believe the number of idiots out there who swear up and down about how great linux is when its really broken and far too user-hostile.Simple things that should just work like wifi drivers often fail to work at times. Seriously would you ask your grandmother to understand and use the sudo command? Linux is really triumphant at poor usability and complexity.

  6. 6

    Ok dear lynux is good for bussiness men but not for simple user and it required more time to make the opertaion compare to window and it’s major draw back is if you want do something then you must know many thing like if you want change and install font then it’s very troubled while it’s easily in window . second thigs it’s required more memory . suppose you have 1GB DDR then the PC whome OS is Lynux is slow operating compare to window . So that’s i m not ready for your idea ok .window is best ok

  7. 7

    I have been a developer for a very long time now and I have heard this discussion for a long time – without any of the sides ever being able to agree on anything. The linux guru’s has spend all their childhood in a basement learning linux and all about the OS and how to controll everything – for them it is much more than a tool and the window boy’s only look’s at the OS as a tool and lives the risk of getting a virus.
    I have even heard Linux guru’s argue that ubuntu is not real linux (only because it can be used by almost everybody, has a gui and is as simple as windows) – sometimes it looks like the linux guru’s are afraid that their knowledge and control of the commandline are not being appreciated. And frankly I can not see the point of learning all the commands when you can use a gui – I don’t belive and don’t hope that the commandline is part of the future.

    I use both ubuntu and windows and think that Ubuntu and windows are very alike (not saying that ubuntu is a wannabe windoes – but it is simple to use).
    The only reason that I am using windows is that I am using Visual Studio to .NET. But every time I code in java I switch to ubuntu. For me it is only a tool for doing my job. I think that both Ubuntu and windows works fine and I really don’t understand why people make such a big deal about the OS. If you love to use the commandline and to control everything (using a lot of time in the basement) then sure windows and ubuntu is not the right OS. But if do not have a basement where you can spend a lot of time then Ubuntu and windows will work just fine.

  8. 8

    I’ve been a Developer and avid windows user for the past 15 years or so… That is until I bought my current laptop which has the downgraded windows XP installed. My problems with this installation are endless (because of drivers and the pre-configured backup partition). After numerous emails to Microsoft to try and get a clean version of XP installed, I’ve broken free and installed Ubuntu and there’s no turning back!

  9. 9

    But hasn’t anybody who has ever used any flavor of Linux for a significant amount of time for any significant work other than something trivial felt that the memory/process management of Linux is much better than windows? I have used both windows and Linux(SuSe, Ubuntu) for quite some time now. I have many times run into situations when processes end up hogging memory on windows and its quite some time before I am able to kill the run away process either because the task manager won’t come up even after pressing CTRL-SHIFT-ESC repeated number of times or something else. With Linux I have probabaly never run into such a situation. Its mostly just opening up a console window and killing the process in a giffy. I am not an expert on OS design but from an end user perspective, this is a difference that I have consistenlty felt.

  10. 10

    @Arne – Linux certainly is fantastic when it comes to the ability to customise it, but are “mainstream” users really going to do this?

    @tom – LOL! sudo for grandma indeed! ;)

    @dips – Generally linux should be able to run on a less powerful machine better than Windows although I have had some experiences where some basic distros have taken a long time to boot when compared with Windows. The “snappiness” is usually very good however :)

    @pem – Gosh.. whoever said Ubuntu is not real linux must be so 1337 hehe :)

    I personally hate using the command line in linux (even worse in Windows). Have to do it now and then as our servers run linux but I find I’m always having to refer to my “cheat sheet” to remember how to do even the most basic tasks. But oh well, you learn to make do :)

    @Cobus – Glad to hear Ubuntu has been a good solution for you :) I got a bit jack with Microsoft with what they did with Vista so ended up making the switch to a Mac (being able to develop iPhone apps made the decision quite easy too ;)

    @apu – I’ve not used Linux much (beyond telnet/SSH to a server), but to be honest I’ve never had any real problems with the memory management in Windows – EXCEPT Firefox lately. Firefox is being a big memory and resource hog. I know I it’s not ideal when I have 10+ tabs open at a time, but hey, I like to pick what I want to read/watch and then go do it after :)

    Anyway, Firefox is being so bad lately that it’s sometimes even locked the machine up (can still move the mouse but bringing up the task manager can take several minutes if at all, so it’s often quicker to just reboot). I wonder though, is it a Firefox thing or a Windows thing? If Windows (or linux or OS X) could prevent this resource hogging then that would rock – I’m not that “up” on the technical details behind it – for me the OS is just part of the tool like someone mentioned here :)

  11. 11

    A little late to the show here but regarding your problems with Firefox and memory usage, it’s exactly the same on Linux and Firefox. I feel your pain…

    I decided to take Opera 10 Alpha for a spin and I’ll never go back. I miss Firebug and the Web Developer Toolbar etc. but Opera has Widgets and now we have Dragonfly which is really nice (kind of like a DOM/Network etc. inspector).

    Take it for a spin. It’s the most stable Alpha software I’ve ever used in my life. It’s also, in my opinion, the fastest and maybe even the most standards-compliant browser around.

    It can handle 20+ tabs using 60-80% less memory than Firefox does with 10 and with Firefox’s memory leaks that usage will just keep going up and up anyway.

  12. 13

    1&2 – Can you imagine a more consistent, stable and reliable system than Debian and years after years? (My servers run Debian, my home Desktops too and also my laptops). You have many distributions, it’s up to your needs and you can make another one if you want, dont you like having choices? For me it’s an evidence.

    3&4 – With Red Hat you pay support, you pay a service, what kind of support you get with your Windows licence? Or mac? Im tired of hearing people mixing open source with comunism or a movement against economy. It’s another filosophy where nobody steals you for another copy of something thousends of times already recovered. You pay for services : support, customization, teaching, warranties… Yes warranties!!

    5&6 – Well, I don’t know how many hours it took me to make work some hardware in Windows and finding drivers… Nowadays, 95% of the hardware works out of the box in Linux, of course, you can chose to install another drivers (propietary or not) and it can take you a long time. With Windows almost nothing : how do you get your drivers without internet, nor usb? Everybody lose the provider cd’s and then? How long can you conserve your windows installation without formating it? And how many people knows how to install a driver in Windows, and just if their drivers are correctly installed, 30%?

    8 – If you have an enterprise you does not need c++ programming to get the opensource advantages, you just can pay someone near you (local economy) or not and make your needs reality. For me it’s the only real reason Linux must triumph, I dont care about what are you doing at home and if you dont want to learn coding yourself. But in real business you must be blind if you dont see the big advantages you get. Of course Windows is just an OS but lets extend the concept to some other software to let your computer doing something more than just starting and then we can compare with GNU / Linux. You pay for an ERP for your Windows (not opensource), 6 months later your needs changes (new products, new markets,… or just this software get discontinued) you have many chances to need changing this software and pay for another one and learn to use this new one and try to not lose your old data. Or, if youve choosen an opensource one, you find someone to change it and everyone is happy (until here you had nothing paid). I realy think it’s just a question of time… Windows and its market way will die… or change!!

    9 – 25 000 packages has Debian. Its feature endless, every day I find new possibilities : apt-cache search “just a concept” and then apt-get install, two minutes and try if it fits your needs, if not, try the second possibility, and then the third,… and in the remote case of not finding what you need, well Wine is also there.

    10 – Well, I still use all the pc’s I ever had. And anyway, 700 MB RAM / MHz CPU extra for running yet another simultaneous applications it’s just cool when you get no other benefits.

    For me nowadays GNU / Linux ARE by far the better choices for any needs and from any poin of view and the evolution of opensource is just exponential, in some years I cant imagine what it will become.

    … I just wanted some info about SyntaxHighlighter Plus (great job) but … It’s a question of bood.