Difference between Windows and Linux
Key difference: The major difference that comes up while discussing Windows and Linux is the fact that Windows is a commercial operating system, while Linux is an open source operating system.
Windows and Linux are both types of operating systems. An operating system is a collection of software that manages computer hardware resources. It also provides common services for computer programs. The operating system is a vital part of the computer system software, without which the application programs will not function.
The major difference that comes up while discussing Windows and Linux is the fact that Windows is a commercial operating system, while Linux is an open source operating system. Essentially this means that Windows costs a lot of money while, Linux is free.
Windows is a graphical interface operating system developed, marketed, and sold by Microsoft. It was first launched on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS due to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs). There are various versions of Windows, such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, etc. The latest version of Windows is Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Server 2012.
Linux, on the hand, technically is a kernel. A kernel is the central component of many operating systems. The Linux kernel was first released on 5 October 1991 by Linus Torvalds. However, the term Linux has come to refer to the full fledged operating systems built with the Linux kernel. These should be correctly called as Linux distributions or Linux-based operating systems. Some of the popular Linux distributions include Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSE and Debian.
Windows is a commercial operating system, which means that the operating system and its corresponding programs must be purchased, in order to be used. The combined cost of the operating system and its corresponding programs can reach up to enormous highs. Linux, on the other hand, belongs to the GNU Public License. This ensures that users can get free access to the code to the very kernel that serves as the foundation of the Linux operating system. Not only that, users can even alter the kernel in order to make changes to the operating system itself. These changes can include preference changes for usability or the operating system can be changed so much that it counts as a completely new Linux distribution.
Some say that giving the public access to the kernel code opens up the system to malicious developers, who might take advantage of the code to program malware, viruses, spyware, etc. However, others claim that having full access to the code helps bring about faster improvements and bug fixes. These improvements can then be used to plug the holes that the malicious developers may use.
Some common reasons that many claim make Linux better than Windows:
- Linux is customizable whereas Windows is not.
- Linux has a very good security as you can log on to Linux only with a user id and password.
- Linux can boot from either a primary partition or a logical partition inside an extended partition, whereas Windows must boot from a primary partition.
- Linux can be booted from any hard disk in the computer, whereas Windows must be booted from the first hard disk.
- Linux uses a normal forward slash, whereas Windows separates directories with a back slash.
- Linux file names are case sensitive, whereas Windows file names are not case sensitive.
- Both, Linux and Windows support the concept of hidden files.
Windows has tried to be a system that is simple to use. It is designed with individuals that have no computer or programming knowledge in mind, as well as for businesses and other commercial users. This makes Windows quite simple and straightforward to use. It is in fact considered by almost all to be easier to use than Linux. Linux is an open source kernel, which is aimed at anyone interested in improving the code and using the system. This can mainly be done by someone with more than just common knowledge of computers and hence Linux is usually used by programmers.
The ease of use and simplicity of Windows makes it a favorite of common folks who use the computer for regular things, such as e-mail, web browser and word processors. Linux, on the other hand, is a favorite of programmers, who enjoy playing with the kernel codes. Linux is not really preferred by the general public, as it usually requires some knowledge of computer programming in order to use. According to Yahoo!, about 84% of all computers use Windows, 8.6% use a Mac, while 5.1% use a Linux-based operating system.
Image Courtesy: support247now.com, refugeeks.com