Linux vs Windows 7

Linux

It's something of a tradition that we pit the latest version of Windows against our trusty old operating system. This isn't because we want to raise the profile of Windows, or ignite further flamewars on which is better or worse. It's about understanding the market and understanding the competition. Microsoft Windows is by far the most dominant operating system on the planet, and as Linux users, we need to keep on top of new developments, new technologies and new ideas. This gives Linux the best possible chance to grow and remain relevant.

So, if you read our benchmarks comparing Windows 7, Vista and Ubuntu and are looking to find out more on what separates Windows 7 and Linux on the features front, read on...

Linux vs Windows 7

Both operating systems now occupy a distinctly different part of the market. Microsoft has taken Windows down a purely proprietary route, forging relationships with content providers and hardware vendors that keep full control from the user. Linux is completely open. Out of the box, Linux even boasts better media format support than Windows, and it can be the only way to run older hardware at its fullest potential, especially if there isn't a new driver for Windows 7.

Forewarned is forarmed

Over the life span of Windows 7, public concern for privacy, digital rights management and locked-in upgrades should help Linux to grow as an alternative when users want to keep complete control over their own hardware and software. Microsoft is now operating in a considerably different, and more technologically aware, environment than nine years ago when Windows XP was released.

The European Commission has spent a lot of time, effort and money hounding Microsoft for its alleged anti-competitive behaviour and this is going to have an impact on Windows 7 in Europe, as well as the user's awareness of the issues surrounding choice and bundling. Many average Windows users, for instance, were unaware that Internet Explorer was only one option for browsing the world wide web. Thanks to the European Commission, When Windows 7 is released in Europe it won't feature any browser at all, and for the first time, Windows users will have to make a choice about what they want to install. And making choices can get addictive.

Round 1: Performance

Much has been said about the various performance improvements in Microsoft's next operating system. After the apparent gluttony of Vista hardware requirements, Microsoft has tried to make sure that as many people as possible could attend the upgrade party. Many benchmarks have put Windows 7 performance ahead of both XP and Vista, and we saw some improvements over Vista when we initially benchmarked the open beta earlier in the year.

But when we compared the 64-bit version of Windows 7 against its equivalent Ubuntu release, Linux was faster on most of the tests we ran, including boot time, shutdown time and most of the filesystem tests. The only test where Windows 7 was significantly faster than everything else was the Richards benchmark of overall system performance.

Amount of time taken to execute the Python Richards benchmark. Measured in milliseconds; less is better.

Four months later we performed some of the same tests again, this time pitting the most recent 64-bit Linux distribution (Fedora 11) against the Windows 7 release candidate (build 7100). The most dramatic results for Linux were seen on boot speed, which for the final release of Ubuntu Jaunty measured around 35 seconds, with Fedora 11 close on its heels taking 39 seconds from power-on to desktop. Windows 7, by comparison, took almost twice as long, leaving us waiting 69 seconds from power to desktop.

We also found that a default installation of Fedora 11 running the Gnome desktop uses significantly less memory than Windows 7, at only 233MB. Windows uses 458MB, which is nearly twice as much memory.

Compatibility

But benchmarks and system monitoring is only a small part of the story. Every fresh Windows install feels fast and responsive, and it's only after several months' constant use that any weaknesses will begin to show. In the several weeks we've been using Windows 7 alongside our Linux boxes, we found it to be much more stable than XP, and snappier than Vista. We did have one problem with a corrupted filesystem while crash testing the machine with a reset, but as this is pre-release software it wouldn't be fair to criticise Windows 7 until the final version is available.

There's little doubt that Windows 7 is a solid improvement over its predecessor, and we would guess that most Windows users who were previously reluctant to upgrade XP will be happy with Windows 7 running on a new machine. Windows' greatest asset is the variety of software available, and Microsoft is going to offer an XP compatibility mode as an add-on to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate.

This solution bundles Microsoft's Virtual PC virtualisation software along with a copy and a licence to run XP. It's not native, so it's unlikely to run your favourite games, but it will enable you to run essential XP-only software in a window on your desktop. This stands in stark contrast to the cavalier attitude to backward compatibility that Microsoft took with Vista, and it's a step that's likely to make Windows 7 an essential upgrade for many XP users.

The same isn't quite so true of hardware, which still suffers from Vista's over-zealous attitude towards hardware signing and backwards compatibility. Even if your hardware is capable of running Windows 7 it's unlikely you'll be able to exploit its capabilities unless the officially signed drivers are available for your device. With no DirectX 10 drivers for your graphics card, for example, you won't be able to enable the Aero Glass effects on the desktop, which is one of Windows 7's best features.

Worst of all, you're locked into the resolution data provided by your screen. Our test system uses two 191D cheap screens from Hanns-G. They're perfectly capable devices that work well with Linux, but we wasted days trying every trick we could think of to get them working with Windows 7, and in the end we gave up. If you found Vista's hardware installation frustrating, you're likely to have the same problems with Windows 7.

Performance

Windows 7

  • Better at synthetic benchmarks.
  • Faster transfer of large files.
  • Final version likely to improve.
  • Suspend/resume works!

Linux

  • Faster booting.
  • Less memory usage.
  • Smaller install size.
  • Broader hardware compatibility.

Round 2: Desktop warfare

Despite the hyperbole surrounding performance tuning and increased efficiency, the battleground for success is going to be the desktop. This is where we spend the most time, and it's where small changes can make a massive difference in productivity.

Windows 7 promises big improvements, but at first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that very little has changed since the release of Windows XP, which never seems too far beneath the surface. The old device manager, for instance, is identical to the now discontinued version and there are many aspects of the desktop that feel the same. But to give the new desktop a fair crack of the whip, we'll take Microsoft's own list of what's good, and compare that with what Linux has to offer.

New features, according to Microsoft

Top of the list of usability improvements is the new task bar and full-screen previews. It's now easier to add your own applications to the task bar, using a process called 'pinning', and while this has always been possible through the use of the Quick Launch tool, Microsoft is making a big deal out its new easiness, as well as another major addition - larger icons. No, really. Another much-touted usability improvement is the window thumbnail that appears when you hover your mouse cursor over a minimised application.

Each one of these features has been part of the modern Linux desktop for some time. And while features such as the thumbnail preview of an application were initially a cutting-edge part of Compiz, we now take their inclusion on a modern desktop for granted. In KDE 4.2, for example, you get exactly the same task bar functionality, and if you use a cutting-edge distribution such as Fedora 11, you'll get all the latest enhancements.

With the panel in edit mode, right-click on any menu option and you can choose to either add an icon to the desktop or to the desktop panel, and once there you can drag it into a location that most suits you. Adding full-screen preview to your Linux box is also is easy. Either use Compiz on Gnome or enable the desktop effects in KDE to get exactly the same feature, and either panel is far more configurable than the Windows equivalent. The KDE one in particular can be resized, repositioned, re-aligned, set vertical or horizontal and augmented with any number of plasmoid additions.

Both KDE and Gnome users have been able to 'pin' applications and media to the task bar for years.

Both KDE and Gnome users have been able to 'pin' applications and media to the task bar for years.

Jump Lists

Let's see if Windows 7 can catch up in its next new feature - Jump Lists. These are a way to expose certain parts of an application to a menu revealed when you right-click on its launch icon. The most common example is right-clicking on an application to bring up a list of recent files, any of which can be loaded by simply selecting them. There's even an extension for Firefox.

This trick requires some communication between the applications themselves and the window manager, and the non-standard nature of the Linux desktop makes it a difficult feature to emulate. We can't honestly say Jump Lists are a paradigm shift in desktop use, but they're a nice addition, and it can't be long until either the Gnome or KDE developers come up with something similar.

Sticking with desktop usability, Microsoft is keen to show off the new window comparison feature, something it calls 'Snaps'. This is a semi-intelligent window snapping routine that can divide the screen into two and maximises two application windows into each half. Drag a window into one of these snap points, either the top border to maximise the window, or the left and right borders for a 50% view, and the window resizes.

While the average Linux desktop doesn't have this exact feature, both Gnome and KDE offer more comprehensive snapping options. From KDE's Window Behaviour panel, for instance, you can set separate snap borders for the edge of the screen, the edge of a window or even the centre of the display. And there are many more options for fine-tuning your window management and geometry, even down to selecting the types of window the options apply to.

Window snapping? We think KDE got there first.

Window snapping? We think KDE got there first.

Search tools

Another feature that Linux desktops have been threatening for a couple of years, but have as-yet failed to deliver, is pervasive searching. Despite being a killer feature on the OS X desktop and the iPhone, and despite several highly efficient implementations, a simple search that can read documents, your email, and online communication with a degree of intelligence is still some way off.

Windows embeds its search icon search in the bottom-left corner, just above the launch menu icon. It feels very similar to KDE's launch menu, and will quickly find the content you're interested in. Microsoft's version expects the user to define libraries of content, and these are locations on your computer where you're happy to have the search engine provide pervasive results, or not.

Windows 7 also promises to move file search away from local storage and on to the internet. Searching for a photo, for instance, might take you from your local photo collection and on to those you're interested in online, such as an associated Flickr account or Picasa. The capabilities of this online search are dependent on an appropriate extension for the media and the online resource that you're interested in, but it clearly has a lot of potential.

The average Linux desktop needs to get its act together if it's going to to compete with Windows 7 for search functionality. And whether you use it or not, it's a great feature for newcomers. New releases of distributions like Fedora still package search tools like Beagle, but that's a long way from being a single solution for the Linux desktop, and this is what we're going to need. Developers are aware of these problems, but the KDE 4 team, for example, have put off discussions on integrating search until the 4.4 release, which is likely to come long after Windows 7.

How Linux will look when Windows 7 is released

At the time of writing, we've still got a short while to go until Windows 7 is released. This means there are several major Linux releases between now and then that could add some significant updates to the Linux desktop. Most recently released is KDE 4.3, and it seems the KDE team are finally getting on top of things. Rather than being a release purely full of bug- and usability fixes, 4.3 added some cool new features and some nice eye candy.

The whole KDE desktop and associated applications will now have general access to geolocation data, which could be useful for laptop users. The task bar panel should be able to distance itself even further from Windows 7 with the addition of spacers. These will let you group a collection of icons together, rather than as a single glut, and the system tray should also get better management functions. There are plenty more Plasmoid desktop widgets too.

More Plasmoids are being added to KDE with every release, bringing fast feature turnaround for all.

More Plasmoids are being added to KDE with every release, bringing fast feature turnaround for all.

Most importantly, considering the emphasis in Windows 7 on merging local and remote data, the new KDE release resurrects the Nepomuk desktop idea - the so-called 'social desktop'. This means creating a connection between local and remote data, and making the desktop a seamless integration of the two. A lot of work has been done on the Akonadi PIM framework, for example - Nepomuk can analyse and annotate the body of an email automatically.

This means adding information like your location, people you're with and maybe events you're attending - the kind of information currently found on sites like Facebook and Twitter. There's also a new menu system, called Raptor, that attempts to guess what options you're most likely to want based on what you're currently doing. It's a cross between KLauncher and Gnome Do, and is a massive improvement on the current 'Lancelot' system.

Desktop innovation

Windows 7

  • Desktop search is well implemented and can go online.
  • Media libraries can be pinned to the start menu and task bar.
  • Jump lists can genuinely help improve efficiency.

Linux

  • Nepomuk blurs the border between local and online.
  • Gnome Do replaces the task bar entirely.
  • Google's Desktop widgets now on Gnome and KDE.

Round 3: Essential apps

The best example of a core application associated with an operating system is the web browser. But thanks to the legal wrangling that has surrounded Microsoft's browser bundling, Internet Explorer 8 isn't going to be as fatally intertwined in the operating system as its forebears were. The European release isn't even going to include a browser by default, which leaves users with the bizarre difficulty of not having a browser available to download an alternative.

This may also be why Microsoft chooses not to create more powerful applications for these core tasks, perhaps not wanting to risk the wrath of competing vendors or the European Monopolies Commission. And while these restrictions may seem harsh in today's online environment, it's a great opportunity for Linux to push integrated desktop applications as a serious bonus.

In Windows 7, these essential tools need to be downloaded separately under the Windows Live branding. Eight applications are selectable, and these include the latest generation of Microsoft's Messenger, Outlook Express, Word Pad, a content filter and Silverlight - Microsoft's competitor to Adobe's Flash. In Linux terms you might liken them to Pidgin or Kopete, Evolution, Kate and Gedit, DansGuardian and Moonlight. But the difference with the Microsoft offerings is that they feel very much cut-down, as the company would rather have you pay more for the fully functional versions.

Instant messaging

Despite Windows ports of Pidgin, Windows Messenger is still the instant messaging client of choice for most people on the Windows desktop. This is probably because it offers Windows users a seamless way of communicating with other Windows users, and as long as your contacts are using the same client, video and voice chat is usually just a click or two away.

Over the years, there has been steady progress, but nothing revolutionary, and the same is true of the version currently shipping with the Windows 7 release candidate. It's the same version that was shipped as Windows Live Messenger 2009 at the beginning of the year, and the first thing the average Linux user will notice is the embedded advertising. You can't open the main window or a chat window without a small banner or text fighting for your attention.

If you're chatting to other Windows Live users you do get the advantage of seamless voice and video chat, but that's the only advantage that Microsoft's Messenger has over multi-protocol clients like Pidgin and Kopete. Kopete in particular is a brilliant application that can send messages to almost anyone and anything willing to accept them. AIM, Jabber, Google Talk, Windows Live and even Facebook are all catered for through a series of plugins.

The best thing about instant messaging with Kopete is that (unlike with Windows) there's no advertising.

The best thing about instant messaging with Kopete is that (unlike with Windows) there's no advertising.

Photo management

Whether you choose Digikam or F-Spot, there's no doubt that Linux desktop users are well catered for when it comes to photo management. Both apps can both talk to the vast majority of digital cameras, enable you to organise your collection using tags, comments and geographical data, and then upload sections of your library to a variety of online photo repositories.

Microsoft's offering, by comparison, is far more modest, and a little creepy, as you have to sign into your Windows Live account when you first launch the application. This is because your library is closely tied to your online presence. They can be published on to Windows Live with a single click, and Flickr, Facebook and SmugMug are supported through third-party plugins. Google's Picasa photo hosting is a conspicuous absentee, but that's perhaps because it's associated photo management tool is a better application.

But Windows Live Photo Gallery is very fast, and it's an efficient way of getting photos from your camera on to an online repository with the least number of mouse clicks and CPU cycles. Like iPhoto, Digikam and F-Spot, it offers only bread and butter editing tools such as colour, contrast, crop and redeye reduction, but there are some weird usability errors. You can't drag tags on to photos, for instance, and photos that are part of your Pictures library aren't imported into the application unless they happen to be located under the My Pictures directory, which is confusing.

Online

Another aspect of Microsoft's new operating system that isn't quite so obvious is the default installation of Silverlight. Silverlight is web browser plugin, and it's Microsoft's attempt to unseat the dominance of Adobe's Flash, and it performs much the same function. It helps web developers create accelerated and interactive online applications for their users that plain old HTML just isn't capable of, such as YouTube or BBC iPlayer, and represents the pinnacle of Microsoft's .NET framework, using it to both develop Silverlight and as a method for creators to add program logic within its online applications. Windows 7 is going to be the first Windows operating system to install it by default, with version 3 currently going through a period of beta testing before its planned release in July.

The interesting thing about Silverlight is that there's a Linux version being developed by the same team porting .NET to Linux, and it's called Moonlight. Moonlight offers only a subset of the functionality currently in Silverlight, but it represents an incredible effort by the programmers. Since January 2009, it's been fully compatible with Silverlight version 1.0, and a beta version released at the beginning of May implements some features from 2.0, as well as a few from the planned 3.0 release.

There's no doubt that Moonlight is a considerable way behind the Microsoft implementation, but there's a bigger problem. For some users, Moonlight represents a big chunk of Microsoft's intellectual property sitting at the heart of the Linux desktop. This is why the inclusion of Mono on distributions like Fedora and now Debian has proved such a contentious issue, and if Silverlight becomes as dominant on the Windows platform as Microsoft hopes, it's going to become increasingly difficult to ignore either its potential on the internet, or its potential as a patent time-bomb.

Touch me

One of the most touted features in Microsoft's new operating system is its new-found ability to be controlled using a touchscreen interface. Microsoft has been experimenting with touch technology for years and its implementation has been overhauled for Windows 7, adding better hardware support and the ability to detect more than one finger press. Touch also seems to be the primary motivation behind the overhaul of the toolbar.

In its old incarnation, icons could be too small and their placement too unpredictable for fingers. In Windows 7, buttons have been resized, and custom spacing options should make it easier to hit the right target. This is also the first time multi-touch has been included, which must have been quite a task for an operating system than usually has difficulty if you connect more than one mouse, let alone 10 fingers. But Microsoft has also put hardware behind the rhetoric, demoing a hefty piece of multi-touch hardware called 'Surface'.

Until recently, multi-touch ability hasn't been a priority on the Linux desktop, despite various announcements on the subject in 2007. The ability to keep track of more than one controller on a standard desktop has been implemented by a project called Multi-Pointer X (MPX), and this is due to be rolled into the main X.org server code for the 7.5 release, due in August 2009.

But there is one important difference between MPX and Microsoft's Surface, and that's that multi-touch provides only a co-ordinate reference for each point. It can't interpret the shape and the size of the touch, which could be a problem if Microsoft pushes its advantage in this area. The most promising signs of progress comes from the netbook sector, where touch capabilities look like becoming the next big thing.

Windows 7 makes it easy to resize all the GUI elements to accomodate touch devices.

Windows 7 makes it easy to resize all the GUI elements to accomodate touch devices.

Version comparison

Windows 7

  • Starter: No Aero and no 64-bit.
  • Home Basic: Developed for emerging markets.
  • Home Premium: Standard edition including Aero and touch.
  • Professional: Adds remote desktop and encrypted filesystem.
  • Enterprise: Unix application support and volume licensing.
  • Ultimate: As with enterprise, but for individual users.

Linux

  • Starter: No Linux is this restrictive.
  • Home Basic: Crunchbang or Ubuntu.
  • Home Premium: For eye candy, try Mint or Kubuntu.
  • Professional: Fedora offers encryption as an installation option.
  • Enterprise: OpenSUSE should work well with Windows.
  • Ultimate: No matter which Linux you choose, there's no restrictions.

Round 4: Power users

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Windows over the years has been its lack of proper user access control. Despite the last few versions featuring user accounts with different levels of authority and control, nearly everyone simply created an administrator's account and neatly side-stepped any attempt to rein in what the average user could and couldn't do. Windows 7 attempts to do things differently, upgrading Vista's User Access Control to finally achieve what Microsoft must hope is a major feature in an age where thousands of Windows machines run as zombies on the internet.

The idea behind UAC will be familiar to users of Ubuntu and OS X. When a user's application requires a higher set of privileges, a password requester asks for authentication. In Windows Vista, this password requester could be a little overzealous, appearing every other minute if you weren't careful, especially if you were configuring hardware. This annoyance was even seen as an advantage by some, as it forced software developers to avoid asking the user to elevate their privileges though UAC if they wanted to remain usable.

By default, a standard user will have no administrative control over their system, and neither will any viruses or trojans may have been inadvertently run by that user. Of course, this is nothing new for Linux users, as this feature is embedded within Linux thanks to its use of groups and permissions to restrict users and processes. It's our main defence against wayward applications wreaking havoc on our systems.

Even if a user's account is compromised and a virus is able to run on that user's desktop, a utility with limited privileges can do very little system-wide and network facing damage, although your personal data isn't likely to be so safe. This is part of the reason why there are so few Linux viruses, and why so few of us consider it any kind of threat.

User Access Control can limit what a user sees on the internet as well as the configuration options they have access to.

User Access Control can limit what a user sees on the internet as well as the configuration options they have access to.

PolicyKit

But the truth is that there's plenty of potential on the average desktop for any malevolent coder with enough motivation. How many of us install third-party binary packages on our desktops? And how many of us could check the source code if we had to? Even riskier is the number of times we resort to typing sudo or launching a shell with administrator privileges, effectively bypassing the security inherent in the normal/root user system.

Many distributions and developers think there needs to be an extra level of security, and the closest we can get to the technology behind Microsoft's UAC is PolicyKit, originally developed by Red Hat but now shipped as standard in Fedora, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu. PolicyKit gives application developers (and distribution builders) a finer degree of control over what an application can and can't do while it's running. It could enable a user to mount portable storage, for instance, but not allow the same user to mount a local filesystem, avoiding the potential hazard of sudo completely.

The impending KDE 4.3 includes PolicyKit integration, which means that many system administration applications for the KDE desktop will be able to take advantage of PolicyKit's finer-grained privilege control in much the same way that certain applications request authentication on the OS X desktop. Gnome has had this functionality since the beginning of last year, and its inclusion in KDE brings us a step closer to a unified desktop on the Linux platform and a unified system for accessing administrative tasks.

Online security

Despite all these improvements to User Access Control, Windows is still going to be the main target for hackers, and as such, a virus checker is always going to be necessary. For the first time, Microsoft is going to bundle a virus checker and spyware detector with the operating system. This is likely to raise considerable protest from manufacturers who sell competing products, such as Symantec and McAfee, as they're making a tidy living from plugging this lucrative hole in current Windows security.

But bundling a free virus checker with the operating system is a great step forward for the rest of us who have to endure a constant stream of attacks from compromised Windows systems. Microsoft's checker is going to be part of the 'Security Essentials' download package, and it replaces Windows Live OneCare, a similar package that Microsoft previously charged for on XP and Vista.

Microsoft's Security Essentials covers only the basics of online security: real-time virus checking, system monitoring and download scanning. This should leave plenty of room for the commercial solutions to fight over more advanced features and neurotic Windows users. As Linux users, we don't need to run a virus-checker unless you're receiving files from, and sending them to, Windows users. It avoids the extra CPU and memory load of constantly running a checker and keeping it up to date. But there are several checkers that are up to the task if you need them, including tools from BitDefender and AVG, as well as the excellent ClamAV.

The Windows System Monitor app has been redesigned to show more information and show it more clearly - it's actually very nice to use.

The Windows System Monitor app has been redesigned to show more information and show it more clearly - it's actually very nice to use.

PowerShell vs Bash

Windows 7

  • Integrated scripting.
  • You can type ls to get a directory listing!
  • Syntax highlighting.
  • Remote execution.

Linux

  • 30 years of refinement.
  • Used by almost every Linux distribution ever.
  • Plenty of online help and documentation.
  • Can be used to administer the entire system.

Who wins?

As you should be able to tell from the scope of the features we've discussed, Windows 7 marks a significant point of maturity in the development of Windows, and is what the much-maligned Vista should have been three years ago. There's still a distinct lack of innovation, but the improvements to system stability and performance are what's going to matter to most users. And most users of Windows are businesses. They're not interested in eye candy, Twitter integration and hardware acceleration. They just need Windows to be a sober working environment that doesn't get in the way of helping people work.

And this is where Linux can make a big difference. There's nothing in Windows 7 that Linux can't do, and in most cases, do it better. Our machines are quicker and more efficient. Our desktops are more innovative and less static. Our apps are more powerful, cheaper and less partisan, and Linux security has never been better. But best of all, we have complete control over the future of Linux, and it's success or failure at the hands of Windows 7 is in our hands.

First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

What now?

Comparing Linux to Windows is like comparing an operating system to an operating system.

Please, lets not get silly.

BTW, one of the reasons people use Windows is because many programs will not work on Linux. For instance, Vue, a 3D program from E-on Software. Rather then port it to three operating systems, they decided to put their resources into two OS targets and work on upgrades to Vue, rather then porting to Linux.

It was their decision, and if you want to use Vue, you have choose Windows or Mac. You may not agree with the decision, but then you don't own a company making software used by many major motion picture animation/graphic design studios.

Chances are, if you watch movies, you've seen computer generated background scenery generated by Vue, and not even known it was done in computer.

You people are pathetic. I

You people are pathetic. I use windows 7 and yes i use linux too.Same goes for OS X I switch between them when i see fit and when i like to. To me when people said linux are better then you might not explore the full capability and function of windows 7 and that is a true FACT!.Linux is great and so as windows 7 and so as OS X. Depends how you use it and what you use it for.

Still going on the security crap? I've been using nothing but Applocker, MS Security Essential and windows 7 firewall on my PC.It's all from microsoft no 3rd party for security. It's all depends on how you configure it and some advanced tweak and it has never been more secure. You see it's all there but you too stupid to use it i guess.

If you can tweak something on linux distro why cant you do the same on windows?

Talk about free? I don't pay for my windows and yet it is genuine. And so other application i like to use it i hack it. So you can get everything free on windows IF you only know 'how to'. Call me a pirate? I don't give a shit!! so the other millions of people who do so.

In the end does it all matter which OS does it? No! Just use what you like whichever convenient to you regardless what other dumbass say so. Educate yourself well on which OS you favor and you will get rewarded.

My opinion

I've talk to so many Linux/Ubuntu users. They are talking about performance, stability and safety that linux OS has.

Everything about Linux that is better than Windows.

I am, like average user. I know Windows. I know how to use Windows and its features properly and with full potential.

BUT, few months ago, I've tried Ubuntu 10.10.
First of all it took 1hour and 45 minutes to install. Upgrades, drivers to download etc. Than I've got drivers problem. I need drivers for my GPU. Download....crashed. PC was blocked about 20 minutes. I could restart.....but....I've been waiting for that "stability" that all "L" users are talking about. And that would be end of my Ubuntu/Linux experimenting. It sucks. Really! I've never had that kind of problem with WinXP.

But for my old machine (Athlon 2500,GF6200,1GB ram, 160HDD), Windows XP needs about 35 minutes to install itself (with HDD formating, copying files etc.)

Why Windows needs time to defragment and why defragmentation is necesarry? Because, all Windows users playing games. Games took a lot of space on HDD. Every "game-user" plays, "destroys" game to the end within week or two. Local Disk C on Win has to much transfer files. Installing games, uninstalling games, installing large software like Adobe Pack and similar soft.

Where is "big" files transfer in Linux? No games, all progs are maximum big about 1GB.... Where is that big transfer.

Compare yourself with Windows. Like someone making you to drink beer a lot, that make you to piss all that out. Constantly. That is what we do to Windows. No such problems with Linux. No games, no f*ck... :D :P

Windows defrag problem is solved with "new" SSD drives.
Half of virus on Windows is now garbage. I have Win 7 x86 Ulktimate on my DELL Inspiron and have no viruses after 6 months surfing around the NET. Using pirated (ofcourse) ESET and Malwarebytes. Memory usage on my Win 7 is about 600MB.

Lets compare again.
Linux: fast, virus-free, no defrag; no games.
Windows: preety fast, almost virus-free, no defrag with new SSD drives; I can play every freakin' game in history.

I'll stick with Windows.

One more thing or two...

P.S. I'm not a frekin' programer. With Linux, I'll need time to learn a lot of stuff.

Every problem in Linux OS is solved through "command line" (it has it's name in linux).

I don't want command line, I need "mouse-CLICK". Microsoft is working 30 years to make Windows available to all dumbest users around the globe.

Everyone can use Windows, but only few can use Linux. Why?
Because it's complicated.

Who's bying Windows today? NO ONE!
Who's using Windows today? EVERYONE!

Simple, easy, "eye candy", playing games (everybody playing games)

Who's bying Linux today? NO ONE
Who's using Linux today? ONLY FEW

Complicated, hard to figure out solutions to problems (for regular "mortals"), looks pretty OK, playing games on Linux......WHAT GAMES?

Who should use Linux? NO ONE!!!

DEPENDS...

well.. it depends on what you like or what you dont like :-)

im an expert of windows but im getting tired of this OS.. tired from what?? tired from getting information how to hack using windows LOL .. yea I like to hack :-) i've found linux is a good platform to do hacking.. with linux I can get free internet connection where ever I go, so it's a good thing for people who dont have a money to go cafe or making a payment to get internet connection. Besides that, everything is work using application with linux, working well for me.

Only morons...

Only morons learning how to hack. Who is anyway interested in hacking? Hack what? Hack where? FBI? Some bank?

Not interesting. At least to me... I like to enjoy, not breaking my head because of the right or wrong code...

Time to Move on

I use Windows 7 to play Most wanted and other Games and Linux to build my future, to design website, coding to learn commands.
Windows to :fun and linux to :learn.
Windows addition and Linux perfection.
Windows beautiful and linux critical.

That's all, we addicted or used to be with windows and new to linux. Windows and linux both rocks!

That is great

I wonder how these guys are creating such an excellent operating systems and apps for free by forming as a community from all parts of the world.

but windows which do M$ business and gains M$. and gained many commercial befits. is doing the same.

how ever I use both Linux and windows.
most of people around me don't know that there is an OS other thane windows. hence they blindly use windows by copying. but even if they came to know they cant migrate to other operating system. this is because lack of awareness.

when I'm in college 100's of computer's are installed only with widows. even they run the software that runs on Linux better then windows. and these systems will allays give trouble this is just because of lack of awareness.

If I have the authority of my country economy i will spend M$ to develop Linux The free OS features with collaboration with the developers around the world. hence my country and the world as well will have good OS and apps with less cost and we can have a good civilization.

although I agree that both operating systems are great creation of mankind.

if there is an alien computer operating system. then we should be united to build a better operating system :D.

Well Posted

Although 7 Is a step up in evilution from Vista "no typo".

It's far to restrictive for my tastes, I run Mint 11 64bit and it runs flawlessly out of the box. Comes with flash and audio, video codecs installed from the start. Wifi worked immediately.

Legacy Nvidia driver worked perfectly with my integrated 7000 series video which also readily allowed to change X settings in the Nvidia settings control panel. Emulators and games galore were available from either synaptic or software manager. The Software Manager is the safe bet for the novice as all packages are pretty much guaranteed to work without breaking your installation. I even installed the MS font pack for libre office.

It does everything I need it to do faster, more securely, and with aplomb.

I highly recommend this distribution for the beginner, Some veterans may scoff @ the pre included packages, but for the novice it's a dream come true.

P.S. Happy 25th B-Day Linux, You've come a long way and only get better with age.

This topic is sooooooooo old

Why is it that people have to bash one OS over another. I personally use both Linux & windows 7 and each has it's strong points and weak points. I use both in native systems and there are things that Linux does better at than Windows and vice versa.

I started using Linux way back I think the first linux I used was about Redhat 6 and then mandrake 7 and this very topic was covered then as it is now.

Windows is made for people that don't have time to tweak the OS to what they want. Windows just works. Linux is getting better but it will be a long time before it will replace Windows.

Unless the linux community comes together and applies all of the talented programmers, artist, and other support people onto one distro linux will be just like it is today and the way is was back then. Compairing itself to windows and wondering why it's not the number one OS in the world

My Experience

So, I have been using Ubuntu for the last few years, but I have finally gotten tired of fighting my computer all the time. I'm buying a windows 7 license and dual booting.

Specifically, for me, I have the following problems:
1) My printer does not work (misread the model number while purchasing; turns out the model that ends in 'g' has no linux driver, the same number with no g does. I missed the g, no printing for my desktop.)
2) Buggy Starcraft 2 support (mouse doesn't scroll to the right)
3) Issues with multi-monitor display (I ended up getting it to work, kind of, with multiple x displays. Can't move windows between them, but can start stuff on a second monitor by command line)
4) Oblivion crashes on startup. Why? I have no idea, its supposed to be wine supported and it was working a few months ago.
5) No MS Visual Studio; very hard to write Civ 4 dll mods in linux.
6) Sound issues. I had conflicts with pulseaudio and had to move to alsa, Much tweaking was needed to get sounds to play simultaneously, this was really annoying.
7) No netflix instant watch
8) DVD playback inexplicably suffers from major distortion during fast movement.
9) Bad magic workstation support (it does not work for me)

There are more, but they are generally small. Its just too many little things that don't work or don't work quite right, or take too much time to poke around and fix; on windows, everything just kind of works.

It isn't linux's fault, really. Most of the issues I have are caused because people aren't writing the software I want to use for linux, they're writing it for windows. If everyone made these programs for linux instead, then I would have no reason to use windows at all. In the end, however, no one cares about the OS; they care about the stuff that runs on it, and there is too much that doesn't on linux.

Disclaimer: My linux distro is a year and a half old. Updating my software has, in the past, caused mythtv/various games running under wine to stop working, so I haven't done it recently. It is entirely possible many of the issues I have run into would be fixed by a clean install or by spending a large amount of time looking for solutions on the internet. After all, two of the things I hated most about my previous linux experience (manual editing of xorg.conf and a proprietary video card driver that caused X to fail to start whenever I updated the kernel) were non-issues in my latest install. I am, however, tired of doing this all the time. I'm giving windows 7 a shot for now.

wht version is the version of the linux that have state up there

may i knw the the version of the linux that you all used to compare whit the window 7?

You guys are very unfair

How about hardware? This review is a joke. I worked in a IT consulting company and most people brought us Linux type of problems to solve, specially with hardware. We once hired the best Linux guy in the state because a very big business IT boss wanted Ubuntu on his laptop which had a touchscreen. 1 week and we could not get it to work with the touchscreen.

How about the new drives with Advanced Formatting? Yea, try to install Linux on this with the correct aliment. Its just supported in the most recent CentOS and Ubunty releases where it was since years in Windows, even Vista will format this correctly.

You can Google thousands of people just asking how to format this drives in Linux and tell this to mom and pop that just want to have their computers running.

Excuse me but Linux is not easier. Linux absolutely rocks in the business sector because you can put a whole datacenter with Linux OS, specially with Virtualization its easy to scale and clone. In this regards Microsoft sucks, because you have the licenses cost and you are not even allowed to export the OS because of this, or clone it.

But in desktop only a monkey would say Linux is better. Its hardware support is none. Everything new you buy works right away with Windows and with Linux, well you are glad if someone makes drivers for it. It has no support for games, cameras, and other plug and play device you put into Linux. For the consumer its a no brainer that you will spend hours just to get your printer or your video card to work correctly and even if its does, all it does is use generic drivers with support for all the feature in the hardware.

We also use windows free

hey.
I think the only benefit which linux user gets if free cost.but some countries where pirated softwares are used. Windows are also free. We buy a window's latest version for only 40 cents.I thing when linux will support windows games then it will gain a good share in the market.

Taking a peek

Novice user here. I've owned computers for 20 years but don't pretend to be up to date with current specs and terminology. I use it as most do - it is a tool.

I bought a previously owned laptop where the disk was wiped clean and the Linux Mint OS was installed, probably because it was free. Before jumping into the Windows 7 pool I thought I would give Linux a try, mostly out of curiosity. There are pluses and minuses but not as many as you would think between a $100 operating software versus another OS which is free.

While I agree the article above is neither fair nor balanced, the OS market has been far from fair and balanced, with a significant tilt to Microsoft, for a very long time (I encourage you to read the glowing reviews of Windows Vista prior to that dog's release). I've been burned by MS more times than I can count - Vista, MS Money support discontinued, etc.... I also remember the days when WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 were far superior to anything offered by Microsoft and I've watched those software crushed over the years as Microsoft began supplying MS Office(R) on new computers.

Expecting an OS with no issues is a pipe dream. That's why Linux is coming up with new versions and Microsoft continues to download "updates" (Def: update - corrections to flaws being discovered on an almost daily basis) to their current and previous Windows versions. That said, I like what I've seen so far from Linux Mint 11. It is fast, working through the OS is intuitive, and it loads documents from other software flawlessly. The Libre Office suite (also free) is similar to what Microsoft offers in their bare bones "Basic" Office packages. Hardware compatibility issues, which have been mentioned above, appear to be a known issue which cannot be easily fixed since the first thing manufacturer's ensure is that their product is compatible with Windows(R), further tilting the playing table in Microsoft's favor. On the whole, Linux is OK and Windows(R) is OK. I'll add that competition, scrutiny, and criticism are OK too.

I'll post again as I continue to use Linux or decide to move to Windows, but regardless, it is nice to know I have an option. More than anything, it appears that is what Linux freeware is all about.

What distro?

Does anyone know what version of Linux is shown under the "How Linux will look when Windows 7 is released" section? I really liked the look of it.

EDIT

I know that it is the KDE interface, but what distro is it on?

Distro

I'm going to assume it's Fedora, as it's in the first screen shot. But it really doesn't matter. Any distro can use KDE and look just the same. I personally use Fedora 16 Gnome Shell.

Windows stability vs Linux stability

I am using Windows XP for over 8 years now. But, I have noticed that if you keep the system up for more than 8-10 days and browse heavily using IE/Firefox, the total memory usage (after closing all application) is left at higher value than that at the time of start of Windows.
It is evident that there is a memory leak somewhere, which forces the user to restart Windows XP every 10-15 days compulsorily without which total memory usage will make system running very slow due to excessive page swapping to/from the disk.

It looks like Windows memory management has some fundamental issue which is causing the memory leak? I am not sure if this issue has been discussed before.

I have not used Win 7, but I guess it must be inheriting this problem as well. I have also heard that Linux system can run without restarting for months.
Any expert comments on that?

Biased

I am sorry, but I must say, I got tired of reading this before I was halfway through the article. It keeps comparing Windows to Linux, and saying there are many alternatives to Windows features, glossing over the part that you have to INSTALL them. Windows 7 is an AMAZING OS. Is it better then Linux? Maybe. But both operating systems are made for different users, and different things.

Windows is Good

Ubuntu rocked more than windows until started to suck with the power regression bug in the kernel... fuck it...!!!

Depends on your needs

Linux advantages over Windows
-Better use of hardware
-Faster in anything
-More customizable

Windows advantages over Linux
-Better support for multimedia (surround sound, easy installation of proprietary drivers, games... I can go all day long). Let's face it, watching a movie on Linux is NOT as good as watching it on Windows; It's very difficult to install nvidia drivers, and when you have them installed they are crap; surround sound is nearly impossible to get with proprietary sound cards. Linux games are boring and not mainstream.
-Microsoft Office, yes, no Linux office suit would even compare to this monster. Microsoft Office it's not only the most used around the world but the best at ANYTHING.
-You don't need programming skills to run windows. First time I used Linux I had to create like 5 scripts to get my computer working.

Final word
I love my Linux OS (Debian squeeze) as I love Window$ 7, so I dual boot. I'm a computer engineer so I don't mind messing with the terminal, both OS give me what I want when I want it. There is just no absolute winner, it depends on what you need

Not enough free time for linux

For the past two weeks I've been trying to set up my now-dualboxed win7 computer with Linux (first Fedora x86-x64, now Ubuntu 11.10 x86). My only goal was to set up Eclipse for android development. I was able to do this in a total of about an hour on my Win 7 computer. in about 60 minutes I went from nothing (I usually work with Netbeans so I didn't have eclipse) to a 'hello world' program that I ran on my droid.

After 2 weeks trying to do nothing but get Linux and the dev environment up and running, I STILL haven't managed to actually get to the point where I could build that hello world program. It's not any single insurmountable problem, just a series of never-ending 'hiccups' that seem to line up to thwart my efforts.

I'm sure given another week or two, with enough research, I could get my hello world going. I think I know now, though, that these roadblocks won't stop cropping up. Reading through these comments (even the linux supporters' comments), these problems aren't a 'growing pains' problem like I was hoping it was; something that once I get used to the OS, would cease to waste my time.

When evaluating whether or not it's in my best interest to spend time doing something vs. spending money to NOT have to do it, I just equate one hour of my time with Minimum Wage where I'm from; in this case 7.15 (I think?). *Not* including the considerable time it took me to research the different distros, and obviously installation time, Windows paid for itself already.

In short, it seems like Linux is for hobbyists; people who WANT to recompile their kernel, be required to re-program the programs they want to use so they'll actually run, and tinker around in the command line like this is that War Games movie (I'll admit, it IS kind of fun for a short time). No hate on them, I can understand the appeal; but that stuff doesn't interest me anymore, I just want to work on fixing MY code, not my OS's.

On a final side-note, I keep hearing that linux has free software and that is a major selling point: Is the implication that no freeware runs on Windows? Other than the OS itself I don't think I've paid for a single program that I use (and this is a 'clean' computer, no pirating needed).

PS

One more comment, then I'll shut up:

I want to see Linux succeed. I like Free as in beer, I like open-source, I like competition in all markets. That being said, I don't think Linux will stand a chance until all the distro makers get together and decide on the following:

- ONE installation package format, supported by all distros.
You know, like RPM but supported

- ONE executable format, supported by all distros. (Hell, I guess there can be more than one, as long as they are ALL supported by ALL distros)

- ZERO dependence on software libraries/repositories.*
I actually like them, but the distros I've tried seem way too tied to the assumption that you will forsake all other software not available in these glorified app stores.

last but certainly not least:

- ZERO need to use a damn command line

In short, Linux needs standards, and the distros need to STICK TO THEM. With standards such as mentioned above in place, users won't have as hard a time getting their workspace up and running; they won't need to monkey around so much with their chosen software.

Also, Distribution will be less of a headache for developers; they don't need to choose between/amongst RPM, DEB, or a zip-based installation, complete with instructions that will surely branch off on various if-thens (IF you are using Ubuntu x86, THEN do these 5 steps... or, IF you are using Ubuntu x64, then do these 7 steps... if you're using fedora, goto line 1,500 of the readme).

So if developers feel more comfortable making/porting programs for linux, and users feel more comfortable adopting linux as their desktop OS, both groups will grow in a beautiful symbiotic relationship; hardware manufacturers, taking note of an increasing user base, will find it more worth their time to support Linux. It's not hardware OR software developers' faults that they don't support Linux; Linux hasn't made it worth the effort. It's not the average user's fault they don't use linux; most people don't want to use an OS not supported by hardware and software devs.

Linux just doesn't GET IT

Windows continues to win, again and again, because Linux never got the idea how important Sleep / Suspend is. As far as I know, 10 years later, Linux systems still can't sleep.

Oh, and games. Linux continues to fail miserably.

And the user interface. Gnome, KDE, Enlightment, IceWM, Blackbox, it doesn't matter, they are all kludgy, slow, and awkward to use.

Windows just works. Mostly. Once you figure out what crap to turn off, how to pimp out and trick out the system, you can at least have a comfortable environment. As hard as I've tried, since the early 90's, I've never been able to say that about Linux.

Google OS

After the launch of scuccessful browser CHROME, google should concentrate on developing an Operating System.

Linux is Freedom!

I didn't even read this article, I just scrolled all the way to the bottom to the "enter a comment" section and started typing. Of course I know that Windows 7 is the winner, I don't even have to read the dumbass article to know this. I've tried linsux: it sux. No sound, no support for video capture or web cams, slow as molasses, no applications, no games, no nothing. Why does anyone bother?
-----------------

Are you sure? Your PC are dumb one, Windows 7 -BAD IDEA!

Slow, stupid aero peformance, VIRUZ every where, STUPID ANTIVIRUS, no software center, NO FREEDOM IN WINDOWS!

Linux IS FREEDOM!

Linux exam

what operating system is good.

Giving up on Linux :-(

I have used Linux on my company laptop for over three years. But I finally decided to switch over to Windows 7, because of the lack of Linux support in our IT department. They even support Redhat Enterprise officially, but in practice you're on your own, because all the support personnel really knows is Windows and M$ apps. And spending my own time troubleshooting problems, instead of the time of those who are paid for it, is getting frustrating.
Not that I have many problems really; the stubbornness of our company to stick to MS Office is another issue. As good as LibreOffice is, it's no 100% replacement. Especially not when you start talking about Visio and Project.
So alas, I give up, and assimilate myself to the M$ herds. At least at work.

Do you drive?

I get in my car, put the key in, turn it a bit clock-wise, and it starts. I take my foot off the break, I get going, a bit slowly, but I start rolling; I then give it a little gas, and away I go. My hands turn the wheel left, and I turn left...from that point on, if I crash is up to me. If I jerk the wheel into a tree, its not the cars fault.

I get in my advanced starship. I press forty two buttons, enter in my credentials, and type in my password; the engine starts to turn on. I initialize the warp core with a few text commands in the central computer, and it's online. I ask the lieutenant to my left to unlock the inertial dampeners, and tell the ensign on my right to plot a course, and to hold it until the systems are operational. After a few minutes all systems are functioning properly, and we are on course. I will never crash due to the precision of my super computer.

I'd much rather get in a car and start driving, and take the risk of crashing, than spending an hour with a forum, and commands to prevent any crashing.

After all, I'm only driving to 7-11 for a coke (or trying to burn a DVD for my kids).

5 years on

The comparisons are old the people debate old thoughts.

So much bias on both camps. with some really knowledgeable insights along the way.

Quite an educational read.

-----

Personal thoughts

If Microsoft did not hold the market and i spent 10 years tweaking linux O.S's instead of MS O.'S then it would have
been a No brainer.

But the fact of the matter is that IBM took it from Apple with compatability.

MS jumped on the band wagon focused on that then carried on his buisness skills and catapulted MS into our current future.

That same catapult created capital which pushed innovation on hardware levels.

Be grateful that linux exsists so you can get off the MS catapult when you are ready.

Both are great systems for different reasons.

Comparing side by side...

Compliancy for latest hardware currently is MS's play ground.

Making everything work and able to be used till it's dying day, Linux excells.

-------------

spend 5000 dollars on a New Home PC , I would almost guarantee there will be a MS OS on it till at least 2016.
and that OS will remain for 2 years untill alternatives
cover that hardware or they wont and MS stays on.

Pick up a 3-5 year old machine or peices for less than 200$
replace the power supply and probably run linux for 5 years.

---------

Linux Fans buy Hardware based on what is supported by linux.

Linux gurus buy new hardware to code linux drivers.

--------

Common users buy a machine preinstalled with MS for 400-4000
pay someone to service every 2 years.

Advanced MS users tweak or reinstall their own machine every 3-6 months.

--------

Common linux users ring their friend for help or a service.

advanced linux users can keep their system together from
machine to machine (biggest reason they advocate linux of MS)

--------

Create a simple shortcut?

Do it now. Google "how do I create a shortcut in <put your favourite distro name here>". For some distros, this will render millions of references. People are willing to make the switch, the devs are just refusing to make it easy for them though. We are just switching the tyrants here?

Why has someone decided, in this promissed freedom, to stop people from dragging ANYTHING ANYWHERE they want and create a shortcut to that resource? Ok, fair enough, maybe they ask for too much, but how about ON THEIR WORKSPACE?!?

Life is short. Let's move on...

People Forget You Can Build Your Own "Linux"

If you are smart enough to use a computer, then you should be smart enough to figure out how to build your own OS. Microsoft thinks the average computer user is too lazy and stupid to do this so they do it for you and charge you a license fee. With Linux you literally can build what you want. If you want a distro that is updated regularly and often, install Ubuntu. If you don't like the Unity desktop, install KDE or Gnome or LXDE etc....

All you have to do is Google the terminal commands for whatever program you want (that is if it isn't in the package manager) and you literally just copy and paste the commands into your terminal and voila you have what you need. Is it that difficult? If it is too difficult for you to do, then by all means don't use Linux because you are too dense to get any good out of it anyway.

If gaming is all you care about then I understand the preference for Windows, but outside of that one market, Linux meets or exceeds all other uses. There are plenty of printers and scanners out there that are Linux compatible, and what is any different than paying for a compatible printer than paying for an OS to run one?

Since the arrival of Windows 8, more and more people are starting to give Linux a second look. Sometimes even Microsoft can be too smart for their own good.

drivers

The benchmark "trying to find drivers" wasn´t there, that would have been interesting seeing as Linux either doesn´t have any for lots of hardware, ie 3 machines I tried to install it on. Not only that the drivers that were available were so slow and pathetic the system didn´t work.

iran

tnx. It was a good post
Here is Iran.

ubuntu waste of time

ubuntu can't be compared with windows. windows is the best operating system. i am using both windows 7 and ubuntu. ubuntu is a disaster no software is available on it. u cant do computer programming on ubuntu. no good games are available on ubuntu. i am going to stick to windows 7 and i advise u all not to use ubuntu......

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