Linux vs Windows: Could You Make the Switch?

linuxvswindowsAlthough Microsoft Windows is still the world’s most popular operating system, Linux has been steadily gaining in popularity over the last few years. In contrast to the traditional view of Linux operating systems as complicated and usable only by geeks, the latest Linux distributions are very user-friendly. If you are considering whether to choose Microsoft Windows 8 or a Linux OS for your next computer, then read on to find out about the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

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Which Linux?

Whereas only one official version of Microsoft Windows is released every couple of years, there are various different versions of Linux which are being constantly updated. The most popular version of Linux is Ubuntu, which is designed to be easy to set up and start using. Other mainstream options include Fedora and openSUSE. If you are new to Linux, it is probably best to choose one of the most popular Linux distributions so that you can access help from a large user community if you need it.

Costs of Linux vs Windows

Unlike Microsoft Windows, most Linux operating systems are available to download entirely free of charge. If you are buying a new computer, then you should be aware that most of them come with Windows pre-installed and this is included in the cost. One way to save on the cost of a new computer and get the operating system you really want is to build your own machine and install a Linux OS instead of Windows. Check out this learn how to build your own computer online course to find out how to do it yourself.

Security Issues

Linux is generally considered to be more secure than Microsoft Windows. The majority of viruses are designed to run on Windows rather than other operating systems. The open-source nature of Linux, where a vast network of developers work on developing the OS, means that bugs and security issues are usually spotted and ironed out quickly.

Compatibility Issues

Not every piece of software will run on all operating systems. Microsoft Office does not run on Linux, but there are near-identical open-source Office packages that allow you to write documents, create spreadsheets, and work on your presentations. Ubuntu 12.04 comes with one such package, LibreOffice, pre-installed, whereas Windows requires you to install office software after OS installation. You can save each document you create in LibreOffice as a file that can be opened by Microsoft Office programs, so you do not need to worry about compatibility issues affecting your work.

If there is a particular piece of software that you need to use, then it is worth checking whether it is available for Linux before you go ahead with changing your operating system. Adobe Photoshop, for example, is not available for Linux, so if you need to use this software then you will need to either stick with Windows or install a Windows emulator such as Wine on top of your Linux OS.

Although not all of your favorite programs will run in Linux, the good news is that many of the open-source alternatives that have been developed are completely free of charge.

Coding

Whereas most regular users are probably happy to stick with the Windows OS that their computer came with, many programmers and scientists feel more at home in Linux. The Linux bash shell allows you to write and run simple scripts that can be used to automate processes. To find out more, try this online introduction to bash scripting and Python 101. If you are new to writing scripts, you can learn about the principles of coding in this free introduction to computer science and programming from MIT.

Do you prefer Linux or Windows? Or perhaps you use both in a dual-boot system? Let us know in the comments below!