Linux vs. Other Operating Systems

There are many online articles touting how Linux is better than other operating systems, usually Windows. Common reasons include:

  • Linux is free.
  • The source code is open.
  • More secure.
  • More easily customized.
  • Better support for a variety of hardware.
  • Reliability.
  • Community support.

Such claims sound well and good, but mostly are click-bait and unproven.

While the initial license monetary cost of a Linux distro is free, the overall administrative cost is no different than any other operating system. Somebody has to maintain those systems. Another cost is Linux systems do not always integrate well with other operating systems. A common barrier is round trip compatibility with MS Office products, which requires Windows to be fully functional.

A common adage among Linux advocates is that with enough eyeballs all bugs are shallow. The open source nature of the source code implies that many bugs are easily fixed. While many bugs receive attention, that does not mean all bugs are fixed. While source code might be open, some project leaders are not friendly. Many free/libre software projects are tightly controlled by a few people. Feature requests and patches often are rejected.

Whether Linux systems are more secure is debatable. Any operating system that does not expose open ports to the public will be more secure, but is no guarantee. The moment ports are opened to the public the rat race begins with malicious people attempting to find ways to exploit systems. Exploits through web browsers threatens all users, regardless of the underlying operating system.

Unlike other operating systems, there are many Linux desktop environment choices. This variety encourages customizing but often there are many features missing from those options.

Hardware support with Linux systems often is sweat equity and savvy reverse engineering. Often device drivers remain broken in one manner or another. Browse any Linux support forum and note how often wireless networking is broken.

Linux once was touted as an escape from the infamous Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). BSODs are rare these days, but Linux is no exception with black screens of death.

In all online forums, regardless of operating system, a common challenge is the “blind leading the blind.” Many people want to help but often provide misleading or useless information. Sadly, in this day and age there remain many forum participants who are cruel and condescending with snarky RTFM and STFW replies.

Being enthusiastic is fine, but click-bait comparisons help nobody.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

Next: Web Browser Privacy Leaking

Previous: Pipes