Pin Me

Linux Versus Windows: A Beginners Guide

written by: KateG•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/17/2009

So you want to know if all of the hype about Linux is true and how it stacks up to your familiar Windows system. Well, see them go head to head in this comparison piece.

  • slide 1 of 5

    A lot of Windows users find the idea of switching to a Linux is an interesting idea. The only thing stopping them is that they do not know a lot about how Linux is different from and similar to the system that they are already familiar with.

    In order to help you get a hands on idea of Linux we will put the two head to head.

    Operating Systems

    This is one of the biggies that confuses a non-Linux user. Windows usually only has 1 current version of the system. Some users may have prior versions but that is about it for the Windows operating system. For Windows right now, that means Vista and XP. Linux, however, works in a different way. There are dozens of “flavors” of Linux. Each one is based on the system kernel, the core of the program, but has a heavy dose of customization that adds different features and unique user interfaces. In addition while you have to pay in order to use Windows, most versions of Linux and both free of charge and Open Source.

    Usage of The Operating System

    Many users think that Windows is for home and Linux is for servers. That is simply a misconception. While Linux is preferred by many a system administrators the world over, it is not only for them. Windows has versions for servers and Linux does have many flavors that are made exclusively for single computer desktop usage.

    Software Packages

    One of the things that many of the Windows system users like to talk about is software that you can use with the system. Sure we could go over a whole list of software that works on each of the systems, but 95% of the lists would not be relevant to the average end user, so to keep things in this fight above the belt we are going to look at some of the most common pieces of software that you may use on each system.

    Category --------- Windows -------------- Linux

    Web browser -- Internet Explorer* ---- Firefox*

    Office Suite MS- Office ------------------- Open Office*

    Image Editor ---- Photoshop ------------ GIMP*

    *You may have noticed that all of the Linux applications are starred, as well as Internet explorer. Those stars show you which applications you get access to for free, either as an independent download or as part of the bundled operating system package. If you want to learn more about those applications just click on their names to be taken to a review of the software.

    Of course you may have a program that you need to run that seems to run only on Windows. After all that is what it says on the box. Linux does, however, have an answer for that. It is called Crossover. Once you install the program on your Linux machine you open the Crossover program and then you can install and run your Windows based programs.

    Compatibility of Files

    Given Windows market dominance in the area of Office suites, many Windows users look to document, spreadsheets and presentation compatibility as a reason to stay the course. Open Office has, however, taken some serious steps to making the system compatible with MS Office and if you want to be extra sure that your documents get there perfectly then a variety of plug ins are also available.

    In the end the Windows versus Linux debate should not be a battle that needs to end in bloodshed. There is room for both of the systems to work and play well together.

  • slide 2 of 5

    Where to Get Linux

    Here you will find links to some of the most popular Linux flavors home pages. Here you can get more information or download the programs.

    Debian

    Gentoo

    Mandriva

    Red Hat

    Slackwear

    Suse

    Xandros

    Yoper

  • slide 3 of 5

    What is Open Source

    No doubt a few of you are wondering exactly what Open Source means. Since The Open Source Initiative has taken great pains to explain it out much better than I ever could, here is their description of what Open Source means.

    * Written by Ken Coar and Made available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5

  • slide 4 of 5

    Images

    Tux, The Linux Mascot
  • slide 5 of 5

    Related Readings

    Rating Average

    Linux: Choosing The Right Distribution For Your Needs

    Open Office Suite: A Free Alternative to Microsoft Office

    Common Linux Myths

    What is Red Hat