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Thread: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    New York

    Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    I'm writing a document to convert my friends from Windows to Linux, and I need the community's help: I've documented some of the most commonly asked things, but I'm looking to expand the essay even more. Or if you have no more ideas, even just feedback would be helpful
    (Note: This URL is subject to heavy downtime since it is hosted on my laptop. I will mirror it when it's done, but for now it will stay on my local server)
    Last edited by Pobega; January 16th, 2007 at 06:11 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Gutsy Gibbon Testing

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    One thing jumps out right away. Torvalds is not from Eastern Europe, his from Finland. Eastern Europe is concidered to be Slavic countries.
    Since I get asked alot, I am originally from Ukraine but am Russian by nationality. My nick means specter in Russian.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    New York

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    Quote Originally Posted by prizrak View Post
    One thing jumps out right away. Torvalds is not from Eastern Europe, his from Finland. Eastern Europe is concidered to be Slavic countries.
    Woops, sorry. I'm horrible at Geography, I'll just remove that right away.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    In your first paragraph you attribute everything to linus. GNU was around and making software before linus finished his kernel, which is all he is responsible for. The OS we're using isn't his brain child. And he never thought much about 'liberated' philosophy, he just chose the GPL for his kernel.

    Paragraph 2, you might convince them with that, but they will ask questions and you will have to be honest for them you believe you.

    P3, I'm pretty sure MS does have customer support, but regular people usually don't get it. They go to their local computer repair center, or call a trusted geek. Its good to tout the community, but don't lead off with IRC, this forum is as far as any regular person would want to go for help. And its more friendly, moderated, and helpful than IRC.

    P4, I hope your friends are already terminal minded, because otherwise they will probably scoff at that, as cool as it is. Why not tout the graphical package managers, and point out they are front ends to a very powerful package manager called APT, and find some creative way to describe it.
    Now that Linux looks good I bet you're thinking "But I still
    won't be able to do what I do in Windows in Linux!".
    After reading this, they are going to expect that the GIMP is Photoshop for linux, but free. They will be severely discouraged when they find out it isn't. And Cedega isn't free, they will use this against you if the conversion doesn't work.
    The last thing on your mind might be your external devices, like
    cameras/microphones, and how they don't have drivers in Linux. Well you
    might like to know that it probably <i>does</i> have drivers in Linux,
    and even if it doesn't you can use your Windows drivers using a program
    called <b>ndiswrapper</b>.
    You mislead them with this statement, ndiswrapper is only for wireless. If their camera/phone is not supported by the kernel, they won't be able to use their windows drivers.
    In Linux, when
    something goes wrong you can recompile the kernel (If that is too advanced
    for you, it basically means "reinstall" but without losing your data).
    This might be the best way to discourage them completely. You tell them that in Windows you would have to reinstall, and then you say something pretty geeky, and say in linux you have reinstall, sort of.
    I've never had to recompile the kernel, I don't understand why you would tout this as an advantage.

    and if you still don't feel 100% secure you can create a partition
    on your hard drive to just hold your data for you (Which doesn't work
    in Windows, mind you)
    But they can use FAT32 just fine for that.

    In the essay you never once mentioned the ability to dual-boot. For any first-timer, this is a must. They NEED to have their familiar environment to fall back on, if they are brave enough to let you do anything to their computer to begin with.

    The very last paragraph (maybe minus the first sentence) is very reasonable and friendly, you should try to use more of that sentiment, and in my personal opinion, you should explain in more detail what freedom means in terms of the GPL, and why adopting free software is a smart, and rewarding thing..

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    San Francisco, CA

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    There's probably ton of propaganda literature out there. Have you read any books about Open Source? They would be a good place to start: "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" by Eric Raymond is probably the most famous.

    Also check out the Wikipedia article "Comparison of Windows and Linux"... and contribute to it if you can, it needs constant updating because things change so fast.
    It's all about people

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    Because of Linux's security, it is a virus free operating system. It is also completely free of spyware, malware, and adware.
    This is just not so. There are viruses for Linux, though nearly all of them are/were just proof of concept code that were in itself demonstrations on why the kernel/userland needed patched or modified for those very reasons. Nevertheless, there ARE Linux viruses in the wild. They're just exceedingly rare.

    More dangerous to Linux than viruses, spyware, whatever are exploits against uninformed users. You can bind a shell to a port just like you can do in Windows if you don't know what you're doing. Not knowing what you're doing when that "please enter your password to invoke sudo/apt/network services/whatever" is just as dangerous in Linux as it is in Windows. While most think it's a security feature to ask for your password every time you need to do something as root, it's really not. Just because it asks for your password does not mean it's safe.

    Case in point, if you don't know what you're doing and you turn on... say, Samba with a poor configuration, you're just asking for problems. Running remote x displays, installing binary software from untrusted sources... all these can be more dangerous to a Linux user than Windows exploits who mainly anymore just display advertising windows.

    Linux is not the security powerhouse most believe it is. When you're INFORMED it can be, but it's not an automatic thing. You can still be attacked on Linux.

    Downloading programs in Linux is easy and simple compared to Windows.
    In Windows, if you wanted to download a program you would have to use google
    to find the website, download and install the exe. In Linux, you have
    something called a package manager. For example, if I wanted to look for
    something to manage my phone, I would run this line on my terminal:

    apt-cache search phone

    My results would be as follows:

    p gnome-phone-manager -Manage your cell phone from Gnome

    As easy as it was to find your package, it's even easier to install it. All
    you would have to do is run

    apt-get install gnome-phone-manager

    And the package manager does the rest of the work for you! Beats Windows
    for speed, doesn't it? Also like I said before, everything is free on
    Linux. As opposed to Windows, which charges you for most of it's programs.
    Windows pundits are going to ask you what Windows Update does. Sure, it's not a direct analogy, but you can get Windows software with it without having to google for it. And, Windows Update doesn't charge you to use it.

    Also, apt-get commandline probably isn't the best way to tout package management, as Synaptic is going to be the easier way to propose a switch in OS. Considering that they're coming from a Windows background and are used to graphical install methods I think you would be better served showing off the graphical install method.

    Most Windows users I have shown Ubuntu to are impressed with Synaptic, the descriptions of what the software does, and the huge list of software for it; They are thoroughly unimpressed with long lines of text scrolling by in a "DOS prompt".

    installing Wine is simple!

    user@computer~$: apt-get install wine

    And you're done!
    This is a little oversimplified. There's a little configuration needed most of the time, and teaching them to use WINE after install is something you need to do as well. Sure, using it is dead simple to us, but most Windows users have never used an emulator before. Yeah, I know, it's not really an emulator, it's a compatiblity layer.

    Other than that, your essay looks great so far! I'd like to be kept up on updates to this project and I'm sure I can offer assistance and write up bits for you too.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    New York

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    I updated the page, but I'm having trouble thinking of a way to explain GPL; Any help would be appreciated.

    Edit: Also, I'll add an entry about the Synaptic package manager but I think for textual purposes it would be easier to keep the flow going using the terminal apt commands
    Last edited by Pobega; January 14th, 2007 at 10:04 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    I am writing a "book", or rather a short introduction to Ubuntu, which has a section about advantages of free software. Maybe it could be of help:

    1.4 Advantages of Free Software

    So, why would you use Free Software as opposed to other types of software?
    You are not a programmer, so you cannot make any modifications of your
    own to the code.

    It turns out that Free Software has many advantages, even for the non-
    technical user. Here are some of the advantages:


    Despite the fact that Free Software means Freedom and not price, most
    pieces of Free Software are indeed also free of charge, or at least significantly
    cheaper than the closed-source alternatives. The reason for the low price is
    simple: when the code is freely available, hundreds of programmers around
    the globe develop it on their spare time.

    Why? Many see programming as an art, and programmers often do it
    because they enjoy the process and result, and not for the money. Many
    programmers find that creating Free software allows much more flexibility,
    and "artistic freedom".

    Creating high-quality Free Software is also seen as an act of good faith.
    Many programmers enjoy using Free Software and want to give back to the
    community. Such donations of code greatly increase the fame and popularity
    of the programmer in the digital community.

    So, surprising as it may seem, you can get quality Free Software for
    absolutely no cost.


    If you are a user of software like Microsoft Windows, you are surely famil-
    iar with various malicious software: viruses, spyware and hacking attempts.
    Interestingly, Free Software tends to be far more secure than the alterna-
    tives. In fact, users of Free operating systems do not even need an antivirus

    or firewall! This may seem counter-intuitive, but has several very specific

    The first reason is very simple. Recall that a closed-source software is
    like a cake without a recipe. When you are given such a cake, can you be
    sure that one of the ingredients is not, in fact, arsenic? If you bought the
    cake from a reputable and expensive bakery, chances are that you are safe.
    However, if you bought it from a shady character in the middle of the street
    (this is analogous to downloading a closed-source program on the internet),
    I doubt you can trust it.

    Some users may become suspicious at this point and say, "All this is
    good and well for a programmer, but even if I see the source-code, how can
    I be sure that it is not harmful?" The answer is simple. You never have to
    do any of this tedious and complicated work yourself because with the code
    being freely available on the Internet, hundreds of experienced programmers
    carefully audit it for security flaws.

    The second reason is that Free operating systems like Ubuntu tend to
    be designed for security. This is because these operating systems have been
    originally designed not for the desktop, but for large servers. In fact, Linux
    runs most of the world's servers today, including those in huge companies
    like Google. Operating systems like Mac OS and Microsoft Windows, on
    the other hand, have been originally designed for people without an internet
    connection, at a time when security was not an issue.

    A third reason is that the users of Free Software tend to love and respect
    their operating system and their fellow users. While this may change in the
    future, with the rising popularity of Free Software, the good intentions of the
    developers add greatly to your security.

    A fourth reason is that Free Software users tend to get their software from
    a trusted source. Operating systems like Ubuntu have their own repositories
    of programs that can be trusted completely. This is described in more detail
    later in this book.


    Free software tends to be more stable (that is, crash less frequently) than
    closed-source software. The reason for this is the that Free software runs
    on many servers, as mentioned earlier, and servers need to run for months
    without crashing or rebooting.

    Another reason is that Free Software is often written as art, whereas
    closed-source software is written as a product. When writing software as art,
    programmers try to make it to be praised by other programmers. Stability
    is a measure of quality software, so an emphasis is made on it.


    Some people believe that when using a Free operating system or software,
    they will be getting less technical support because it is not released by a
    large corporation. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, support
    for Free software is often far superior to that of closed-source software. In
    general, there are two types of support you can get:

    The first is commercial support. This is the way companies that sell Free
    software make their money. If you plan to install Linux on an important
    server or for a large office, it may be a wise choice to buy it from an official
    vendor. Companies like RedHat, Novell and Canonical (the company behind
    Ubuntu) provide such support at affordable rates.

    If you are installing the Free Software on your home computer, a small
    server or a small business, you don't need to spend any money on support.
    Excellent online forums exist where questions are answered quickly and in a
    friendly manner. These forums are very active; at the time of writing this
    book, the Ubuntu Forums have 220,912 registered users, and two million
    posts. In fact, 4118 users are online at this very moment! There are also
    chatrooms for live support, as well as Linux Users Groups (LUGs). A LUG
    is a local group that meets once every week or two to discuss Free Software,
    and help each other with problems. New members are always welcome, no
    matter how technically skilled.
    I updated the page, but I'm having trouble thinking of a way to explain GPL; Any help would be appreciated.
    There's also quite a lot in the book about the GPL. I find that a metaphor that works very well is the cook and the recipe:
    1.1 Free Software?

    Free Software is a term you may find confusing at this point. Why would
    anyone in their right mind create free programs for you to install on your
    computer? Is it true that there is no such thing as a free lunch? The answers
    may surprise you.

    The first surprise is that when we talk about Free Software, we don't talk
    about its price. Free Software can and is currently being sold, making for
    an interesting but profitable business-model. In the Charter of Rights and
    Freedoms, the Freedom of Speech does imply that speech costs zero dollars.
    The hippies of the sixties did not mean that you didn't have to pay for their
    Free Love (as far as I know, paying for love is illegal). So what does Free
    Software mean? It means liberated software; software without an owner,
    without restrictions.

    In order to understand what it means for software to be Free, we must
    first understand what software is. Software is a computer program written
    by the programmer. Examples of software you may be familiar with are
    Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Mozilla Firefox. But just as a cook
    can't create a cake atom-by-atom, the programmer can't create a complex
    piece of software in the language of the computer (a long sequence of ones
    and zeroes). Just like the cook's recipe, the programmer has her code.

    The program code describes a piece of software in a way a well-trained
    human can understand, just like a well trained cook can understand a recipe.
    The process of converting this code to the ones and zeroes computers under-
    stand, it needs to be compiled. Compiling a program is exactly like baking
    the cake. Once the program is compiled, the result can be executed on your
    computer, but can no longer be understood by humans, just as the recipe for
    the cake cannot be derived from the finished cake itself.

    Once upon a time, nearly all software came with a copy of the source
    code, allowing the programmers to modify it to better suit their needs. At
    some point, however, people realized that software could be sold for profit
    as a product. Since then, software has been distributed in what we call a
    closed-source format. This means that you only get the cake, not the recipe.

    At that time, a man by the name of Richard Stallman has come to the re-
    alization that software distributed in this closed-source format is imprisoned
    by the company that owns it. Software, Stallman says, should not be owned
    by anyone, but rather should be Free; modified, redistributed and used by
    anyone. With the goal to liberate software, he created the project called the

    But the liberation of software is easier said than done! Even if you do
    own a piece of software, how can you release it to the world without the fear
    of it being captured and enslaved yet again? The answer came in the form
    of a legal mechanism called the GNU Public License; the GPL. When one
    licenses his piece of software under the GPL, it means that the code must
    be freely available, and any person must have the right to take that code,
    make modifications to it and redistribute it (sometimes even making profit).
    But the GPL also places a restriction on software that was modified in such
    a manner: it must also be licensed under the GPL.

    So, the technical definition of Free Software is software licensed under the
    Last edited by IYY; January 14th, 2007 at 10:12 PM.
    But I mean no harm nor put fault
    On anyone that lives in a vault
    But it's alright, Ma, if I can't please him.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    New York

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    Thank you! I've scanned through that all now, and I'll add ideas from it to my page when I get the chance.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Why use Linux over Windows: A document

    Great writeup... you got me convinced. Just finished backing up my XP system and installing Ubuntu now.

    The only thing I'm worried about really is the "I don't need antivirus and firewalls" statements, which I've been seeing a lot. Just how serious is that? I've been weened as a kid on DOS 2.10 and have been a MS user since forever, and the though of not having a firewall or antivirus scanner running at all.. well... the image that comes to mind is me being dropped into a warzone, with nothing but a squirt gun, and my pants around my ankles.

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