Linux vs Windows: A Head-to-Head Comparison

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Linux vs Windows: A Head-to-Head Comparison

Vinay Khatri
Last updated on November 15, 2022

    Linux vs Windows is a hot topic for debate. Which one is better among the two most popular operating systems? Continue reading to find out!

    A person who is using Windows for the usual work, such as surfing the internet and/or working with docs and excel files would not prefer to switch to Linux. This is because Windows provides a beautiful and easy-to-use UI.

    On the other hand, Linux has some complex file system management and most of the work on Linux is done by using terminal commands, which could be difficult for a typical Windows user to handle. But when it comes to programming and computer science, Linux becomes the no. 1 choice for professionals and developers. The Linux operating system is even used by servers, and thus, most of the webpages run on the Linux servers.

    As such, having knowledge of Linux also becomes very important for a web developer. However, Windows also comes in a server-specific variant called Windows Server, and it is also one of the popular operating systems for servers.

    Here in this article, we have provided a detailed comparison between Linux and Windows (Linux vs. Windows), so you can decide whether you want to stick with your present OS or would like to switch to the other one. But before that, let's know a brief about the 2 contenders, along with their features, pros, and cons.

    What is Windows?

    Windows is a series of operating systems owned by Microsoft. It enables users to store their data, run various types of software, connect to the internet, play games, watch videos, and do many other activities. It is one of the widely used operating systems, where 90% of PCs run some version of Windows.

    Interestingly, the first Windows operating system was the extension of MS-DOS (Disk Operating System), and it was one of the first desktop operating systems that provided users with a GUI. Windows is, however, considered one of the most vulnerable operating systems and by now it has thousands of active viruses.

    History

    Microsoft released the first version of Windows in 1985 as an extension of its existing disk operating system called MS-DOS. Later, it released multiple versions with additional features, including access to Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and many others. The company then released Windows 95 in the same year and ruled the world of operating systems.

    Then there were a few upgrades to Windows 95, which turned out to be Windows 98 and was released in 1998. The year 2000 witnessed the release of Windows AMD and CE. In the following year, the company released Windows XP. After a gap of five years, in 2006, Microsoft released Windows Vista. In 2007, the company introduced Windows 7, which was one of the most popular Windows versions.

    Later, Windows was released in 2012, and Windows 10 in 2015. The latest version of Windows is Windows 11, version 21H2.

    Features

    The following are some significant features of Windows:

    • Control Panel: This feature enables users to configure and manage multiple resources on Windows. Using the control panel, users can change settings for audio, video, printers, installed applications, network connections, user accounts, etc.
    • Cortana: Windows 10 comes with Cortana, which accepts voice commands. It acts analogous to other digital assistants, like Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa.
    • File Explorer: Windows Explorer or File explorer displays your files and folders. You can also browser data stored on a computer, SSD, hard drives, and other removable disks.
    • Internet Browser: Windows comes with an internet browser, which allows you to search for any information, play games online, or watch anything online. The Edge internet browser in Windows 1o is the default browser.
    • Taskbar: Taskbar in Windows highlights all the currently opened applications. Also, it displays time and date, battery, volume, network, Bluetooth, etc., on the right side.
    • Start Menu: The left of the taskbar is the Start Menu. It displays all the programs installed on Windows.
    • Task Manager: This feature shows details of running applications. You can check the system resources, such as RAM, CPU, disk I/O, etc., consumed by each application.
    • Disk Cleanup: This feature frees up disk space by deleting temporary and unnecessary files.

    Advantages of Windows

    The following are some major advantages of Windows:

    • Windows is one of the most popular operating systems used by 90% of people worldwide.
    • The user interface of Windows is relatively more simple and easy to use than macOS and UNIX.
    • Approximately 95% of hardware vendors make drivers for Windows. Hence, this operating system provides support for all major hardware.
    • It is ideal for game and software developers.
    • You can directly plug and play various hardware, such as keyboard, mobile device, mouse, webcam, etc.

    Disadvantages of Windows

    Some significant downsides of Windows are:

    • Windows is more prone to hacker attacks than Linux.
    • Most Windows programs are pais, such as Photoshop, IDM, etc.
    • You need to reboot the system in case of slow performance.
    • Installing Windows requires high computer resources, such as RAM, good graphics cards, and a good amount of hard drive space.

    What is Linux?

    Linux is an open-Source, free-to-use operating system based on UNIX. Linux's first version was introduced in 1991. Like Windows, Linux is also a GUI-based operating system, but most of its important work is done with terminal commands. Linux is used for cloud computing, embedded devices, mainframe computers, mobile devices, personal computers, servers, and supercomputers .

    Amazingly and unlike Windows - Linux isn't an OS. In fact, it is a kernel. Popular Linux distributions include Debian, Ubuntu, and Fedora Linux. Moreover, there are commercial distributions of Linux, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise.

    History

    Finnish software engineer Linus Torvalds and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) created the Linux operating system in the early 1990s. While Torvalds was a student at the University of Helsinki, Finland, he started developing Linux to create a system similar to UNIX. He then released version 0.02 in 1991. Initially, Torvalds published the Linux kernel under his own license, which was restricted for commercial use. In 1992, he released Linux kernel using the GNU General Public License.

    Features

    Here are some notable features of the Linux operating system:

    • Portable Environment: You can use the Linux operating system on any device flawlessly. It works efficiently on both low-end and high-end hardware.
    • Shell/Command-line Interface: It is an interactive interface that allows users to run various commands and utilities in the Linux operating system. With this interface, you can execute common operations such as copy files or restarting the system.
    • End-to-End Encryption: In the Linux operating system, you need to enter a password to access any critical file. Also, it allows you to encrypt your data.
    • Graphical User Interface (GUI): Like Windows, Linux also comes with graphical user interface abilities.
    • Configure Keyboards into Different Languages: You can change the language on your keyboard while working with Linux, as it is available in a variety of languages.
    • Lightweight: Linux is a lightweight operating system. It has fewer prerequisites than other operating systems, uses less storage space, and has a smaller memory footprint.

    Advantage of Linux

    Some major advantages of the Linux operating system are, as listed below:

    • Linux is an open-source and free-to-use operating system. it comes in handy for people who wish to change the code as per their requirements.
    • It is one of the most secure operating systems. Since Linux is open-source, various developers across the globe strive to prevent and avoid viruses and potential security threats.
    • Linux works faster than Windows because of its simple user interface.
    • This operating system has fewer system specifications.
    • There are frequent software updates.

    Disadvantages of Linux

    • Linux has a steep learning curve. Since it is different than another operating systems, it may take a time to learn.
    • There are various software that works on Windows and macOS but on Linux. If you require that certain software, Linux is not ideal.
    • This operating system doe snot support many popular games.
    • There are no drivers in Linux.

    Linux vs Windows: A Detailed Head-to-Head Comparison

    To make the Linux vs Windows comparison easier to comprehend, we've divided it into sections:

    Linux Windows

    Price

    Linux is an open-source operating system, which makes it free to use for any purpose. We do not have to pay anything to install GNU/Linux. Though many companies provide a paid version of the modified Linux operating system, the root Linux OS is free to download. Microsoft owns Windows. So, if you want the Windows OS on your desktop or laptop, you need to buy it. Some vendors and online portals also provide free versions of Windows, but they are all pirated. Microsoft does not support any service, update, and security for such iterations of the Windows operating system.

    User-Friendliness

    The latest distributions of Linux, such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint, are more user-friendly and provide a better Graphical User Interface. Yet, for most cases, Linux uses terminal commands that are challenging for a normal user. One of the main features of Windows is that it is very user-friendly, and even a kid can operate and use the OS with ease. Windows provides an intuitive Graphical User Interface, and a user can easily do his/her work using the drag-and-drop option. A normal user does not need to care about all the complex terminal or command prompt commands. Even without the knowledge of Windows terminal commands, a user can interact with the OS.

    Reliability

    Reliability and security are the 2 assets of the Linux operating system. It comes with a very strong process management system and security, which makes it impossible for someone to breach it. If you have ever used Windows then you have most certainly faced an issue like sudden application collapse or application not opening whatsoever or application not responding at all. In Linux, you do not face such types of problems. And by far there are limited numbers of viruses that have affected the Linux operating system. Though with every update Microsoft is improving Windows, yet, with each update, you face some new bugs and problems with the OS. There is no doubt that Windows is less reliable as compared to the Linux operating system. The main reason for Windows vulnerability is its user-friendly interface. Its user-friendliness leaves the OS exposed to external threats.

    Source Code Accessibility

    As Linux is an open-source package, here, the user has full control over its source code. And if you know how to design a kernel you can customize the Linux operating system according to your needs. Every user cannot access the Windows source code. Only a few people have the authority to do so.

    Supported Devices

    Linux is used in cloud computing, embedded devices, mainframe computers, mobile devices, personal computers, servers, and supercomputers. Windows is usually used in desktops and personal computers. It had an ephemeral mobile version too by the name Windows Phone .

    Software and Applications

    There are thousands of applications and software available for Linux. Generally, all the popular applications, such as Chrome, Firefox, Oracle, and git are also available for Linux. You can also run Windows applications on Linux via the WINE simulator.

    Windows has the largest number of applications. There are thousands of applications that can run on the Windows platform.

    If there is an application for Linux so there is a high chance that the same application would also be available for Windows because it is one of the widely-used operating systems.

    Security

    The source code of Linux is available for everyone yet Linux is more secure than Windows because if there is a problem in the operating system it could be identified and removed easily. With each update, Microsoft improves the security level of Windows, yet we can say that it is not secure. Windows has the largest user base, which, unfortunately, makes it vulnerable to malicious users and hackers. These malicious users try to breach Windows security by adding viruses to the system, and the source code of Windows is not available for every user. So, if your system gets affected by the virus you cannot remove it simply.

    File System

    Linux is using a hierarchical structure to store files and directories. Here, the main directory is the root and all the folders and files are stored under the root directory. In Windows, files are stored in drives, such as C:, D:, and E:. We can partition any drive and create a new one out of it.

    Linux vs Windows: Why You Should Choose Linux over Windows?

    • Linux is open-source, and you do not need to pay for it. On the other hand, you need to purchase a specific Windows version.
    • Linux is more secure than Windows. There is no doubt that Windows is one of the most vulnerable operating systems.
    • Each update of Windows also affects the hardware. Moreover, you might require extra hardware to accommodate each update, but with Linux, you can optimize and custom the update according to your system hardware.
    • For a programmer, Linux is the best operating system, because it is faster and more customizable than Windows.
    • You can easily customize your Linux operating system according to your need, but Windows does not provide you with this feature.
    • If you encounter some problem in your Linux system, you do not need to go to an expert. Just google the problem, and there you will get numerous suggestions to resolve the same. This is because, in Linux, you hardly find any problem that is new.
    • Your data is more secure in Linux. Microsoft, on the other hand, is one of the Fortune 500 companies, and like Google and Facebook, it collects your data.

    Conclusion

    That sums up this discussion on Linux vs Windows. To conclude, Linux is more secure and reliable than Windows. On the flip side, Windows is more user-friendly and easy to use, which makes it more popular than any other desktop operating system. Yes, there are some shortcomings of Windows, yet, it has successfully maintained its position in the market by delivering an excellent user experience.

    For a normal user, Linux may be of no use, but programmers and developers prefer Linux for its security and customization. Many people who work with computers do not know anything about Linux, because the earlier versions of Linux were very complex to use. Windows, however, is almost known to everyone.

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    FAQs


    While Linux is an operating system that provides security and excellent speed, Windows is good at providing comfort and ease of use, particularly intended for non-tech-savvy users.

    Yes, Linux is faster than Windows for many reasons. Linux is a lightweight OS, and file organization is very clean, enabling faster reading and writing of data. Meanwhile, Windows is not lightweight as a number of processes that run in the background consume a lot of RAM. Also, files in Windows are not organized and are present anywhere.

    Yes, you can run Windows programs on Linux using third-party software. However, it is important to note that you can only run a few Windows programs on Linux, and not all.

    There are many things that Linux can do but Windows can't. Some of these things include testing a distro, choosing from a range of distros, using the OS free forever, using the OS without antivirus software, not requiring to restart the PC at every step, and customizing ay component of the OS.

    We can use Linux as server OS for file servers, web servers, email servers, database servers, and any other types of shared server.

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