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What are the Differences between Fedora and Windows?
First of all, Fedora and Windows are different operating systems. Therefore, do not expect to find Start -> All Programs but a different menu layout. This is the first difference that you will notice after your installation and booting to the graphical user desktop. If you have followed the default installation options, Fedora will be installed with the Gnome desktop. The menu that you want to access for programs will be under the “Applications" at the top of the screen. Under the “Places" menu are the options Documents, Music, Photos and Videos which provide a quick access to your most-used folders. Under “System" there are many configuration options to customize and tweak your system. However, playing with them requires administrator privileges which we will speak about shortly.
When you open the “Places" menu, you will also see a folder called “Home." This folder is where all your documents, personal settings, e-mails, contacts, etc. are saved. This is quite different from the Windows set up, where your profile is saved at C:\Documents and Settings\Your_User_Name, your e-mails are saved elsewhere, and your photos are saved in “C:\Documents and Settings\Your_User_Name\My Pictures folder. In Linux, there are many folders, hidden or not, for the settings of your various programs on your computer. They hold your e-mails and contacts, but they are all under “home" directory. If you want to install another Linux distribution later on, you can just copy your entire home folder to a removable drive (USB or DVD) and then copy it back, and have all your files ready. You can’t do that in Windows: backing up all your “My Documents" folder does not guarantee that you have backed up everything. Think about it - what if the program you are using has stored its preferences under “C:\Program Files\Your_Favorite_Program\Preferences"? In Linux it’s safe - back up your /home directory and it’s over.
Regarding the privileges, we have to understand the “Administrator" and “User" concepts. An administrator is the “God" of the computer: he can do everything he wants. He modifies the system files, deletes/creates files/folders wherever he wants, adds/removes programs, creates/deletes users, etc.. On the other hand, a user cannot do many of the things above, for example a user cannot delete another user. This feature is not stated clearly by Microsoft in any operating system. You can just finish the installation with the default settings and log on and use your computer as an administrator. This is the most risky way to use a computer and it’s easy to damage everything with a wrong click. In any UNIX derivative (Linux, BSD etc.), the user account is a restricted account. If you want to make changes that will affect the system, you have to tell the system that you want to work as administrator and have to give the system the administrator (or super user) password. When the system confirms that you are the super user (by entering the correct password of the administrator) then you can change the system settings.
It is not obvious at first, but the biggest difference between Windows and Linux is that almost all of the programs are open source. This is to say, the source code of any program is available to you, as the user. You can see what the programmer did: what programming language he used, what libraries he used and exactly how he set up the program. The open source approach allows hundreds of thousands of eyes to analyze the program. You cannot embed a small code snippet for advertisement purposes like the the ad-ware programs in Windows and you cannot open a backdoor within the program without someone seeing what you did and removing it.
It is not easy to list the differences between the two operating systems, but I have to say that they are of different worlds, different mentalities and different applications. Linux is free, as in freedom of speech, and is not owned by one company/person or any institution. It enables you to use your computer as you want to, not how your computer wants you to use it. If you want to stick with simple word processing, Internet surfing, e-mailing, instant messaging, it’s fine. If you want to go with operating system kernel programming, it’s also fine. You have all the tools available, right under your fingertips, just install and start using them.