What is Linux Compared to Windows - Software Installation Reviews Part 1

First Impressions - What is Linux Compared to Windows - Software Installation Reviews Part 1

by Larry Neal Gowdy -September 11, 2011 (updated March 04, 2014)



Screenshot of Puppy Linux

Screenshot of Puppy Linux.

Also see:

What is Linux Compared to Windows - Software Installation Reviews Part 2

What is Linux Compared to Windows - Software Installation Reviews Part 3

What is Linux Compared to Windows - Software Installation Reviews Part 4

It is also recommended that you read Linux versus Windows - How to Choose Which to Use before deciding whether or not you may be pleased with Linux or Windows.


What is Linux?


Linux® is a computer operating system similar to Microsoft® Windows and the Apple® OSX. An operating system is the primary programming that all other software functions within. An operating system can be thought of as being like the electronics in a television: different television manufacturers design their circuitry different, but the user (you) still receives the same television stations. Also similar to a television's circuit design dictating how good the sound and picture will be on a television, so does a computer operating system dictate the quality of display and audio on a computer.

Similar to different automobile manufacturers using parts that will only work on their cars, so are computer programs designed to only work with one specific operating system. Programs that work well in Microsoft's Windows will not work in Linux, and visa versa. There are special programs available that will run Linux programs in Windows, and run Windows programs in Linux, but it is common for the programs to not work well. Generally, if you want to use a specific program, then it is best to choose the operating system(s) that the program was designed to use.


Differences of Operating Systems


The three main desktop operating systems of Linux, Windows, and Apple can be generally divided into two main categories. (1) Linux is usually programmed by volunteers who freely give of their time and talent, which enables Linux to usually be free for downloading. (2) Windows and Apple are programmed by programmers who are paid to create the software, and the cost of programming is passed to the user (you).

In the past, desktop versions of Linux were mostly a hobbyist operating system for techies (geeks). Linux software for big business servers, however, is big business and has big business backing. Without the big business backing, Linux desktop operating systems have been slow to gain popularity, and the graphical user interfaces (GUI) still remain somewhat spartan, which is to be expected since techies typically prefer spartan displays to work in. It is estimated that approximately one percent of users on the Internet use Linux, as compared to over ninety percent of people using Windows.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Linux


The two main advantages of Linux are (1) it is free to download and to upgrade, and (2) there are about as many commonly used programs available in Linux as there are in Windows. The three main disadvantages of Linux are (1) the quality of display and audio is almost always less than that of Windows, (2) the actual performance is almost always sizably slower than Windows, and (3) installing and maintaining Linux may require substantially more computer skills than what is needed with Windows. Linux is a fun operating system for techies who want to tinker with the programming and to create their own setups, but Linux is not fun for the average person who needs an operating system that is speedy and intuitive.*

As briefly covered in the article Review and Comparison of Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Zorin Linux, the differences between desktop Linux and Windows are often large. If you only run one program at a time (i.e. email, browser, etc.) then Linux may work well enough, but if you prefer to have several programs running simultaneously, Linux will likely not be useful due to the desktop versions of Linux usually requiring the CPU to run at or near 100% as compared to a Windows computer running the same programs with a CPU usage of around 2% to 10%.

When a CPU hits 100% the computer pretty much grinds to a halt. Some versions like Puppy Linux are much better at keeping CPU usage down, but still the percentages will usually be higher than Windows.**

In the next article I will show some screenshots of CPU usage comparing Linux and Windows on the same computer with the same hardware. If you are interested in which Linux version to use, the following articles should help to give you a good idea of what to expect.


* (Update March 04, 2014) The intuitiveness of some Windows-based software has steadily been decreasing since 2007 to where today a new Windows 8 computer with Office 2010 or 2013 can be difficult, slow, and physically demanding to navigate even for experienced users. Meanwhile, most Linux distributions have improved speed, stability, display quality, user friendliness, and intuitiveness. There is no longer a decisive advantage for Windows, and some of the advantages that Windows once had are now found in Linux.

** (Update March 04, 2014) Some of the newer Linux distributions have made good progress in reducing CPU usage, while at the same time the latest Windows 8 operating system is defaulted to use more CPU and an almost continuous accessing of the hard drive. Lubuntu is one example that is purposefully designed to work well on computers that previously used older Windows versions like XP. With Lubuntu, Manjaro, or other lightweight Linux distributions an inexpensive single-core CPU and 1gb of RAM can easily multi-task several programs while maintaining a CPU usage similar to Windows'.


Also see:

What is Linux Compared to Windows - Software Installation Reviews Part 2

What is Linux Compared to Windows - Software Installation Reviews Part 3

What is Linux Compared to Windows - Software Installation Reviews Part 4

It is also recommended that you read Linux versus Windows - How to Choose Which to Use before deciding whether or not you may be pleased with Linux or Windows.



Unless otherwise stated, all content and graphics are Copyright©2011-2014 by Larry Neal Gowdy.
No content nor graphic may be copied or reused without written permission.