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So, you’re a new, or fairly moderate Linux user, who wants to know what the true advantages of Linux over Windows are? There are several advantages of Linux, and of course, some disadvantages to using the Linux operating system. This article covers 5 advantages of using Linux over Windows, and lists a few disadvantages as well.

Advantages of Linux:

    Cost – The most obvious advantage of using Linux is the fact that it is free to obtain, while Microsoft products are available for a hefty and sometimes recurring fee. Microsoft licenses typically are only allowed to be installed on a single computer, whereas a Linux distribution can be installed on any number of computers, without paying a single dime.
   
Security – In line with the costs, the security aspect of Linux is much stronger than that of Windows. Why should you have to spend extra money for virus protection software? The Linux operating system has been around since the early nineties and has managed to stay secure in the realm of widespread viruses, spyware and adware for all these years. Sure, the argument of the Linux desktop not being as widely used is a factor as to why there are no viruses. My rebuttle is that the Linux operating system is open source and if there were a widespread Linux virus released today, there would be hundreds of patches released tomorrow, either by ordinary people that use the operating system or by the distribution maintainers. We wouldn’t need to wait for a patch from a single company like we do with Windows.
    
Choice (Freedom) – The power of choice is a great Linux advantage. With Linux, you have the power to control just about every aspect of the operating system. Two major features you have control of are your desktops look and feel by way of numerous Window Managers, and the kernel. In Windows, your either stuck using the boring default desktop theme, or risking corruption or failure by installing a third-party shell.
    
Software - There are so many software choices when it comes to doing any specific task. You could search for a text editor on Freshmeat and yield hundreds, if not thousands of results. My article on 5 Linux text editors you should know about explains how there are so many options just for editing text on the command-line due to the open source nature of Linux. Regular users and programmers contribute applications all the time. Sometimes its a simple modification or feature enhancement of a already existing piece of software, sometimes its a brand new application. In addition, software on Linux tends to be packed with more features and greater usability than software on Windows. Best of all, the vast majority of Linux software is free and open source. Not only are you getting the software for no charge, but you have the option to modify the source code and add more features if you understand the programming language. What more could you ask for?
   
Hardware - Linux is perfect for those old computers with barely any processing power or memory you have sitting in your garage or basement collecting dust. Install Linux and use it as a firewall, a file server, or a backup server. There are endless possibilities. Old 386 or 486 computers with barely any RAM run Linux without any issue. Good luck running Windows on these machines and actually finding a use for them.

Flexibility

You don’t have to deal with anti-piracy schemes and additional “hoop jumping”.

What about not needing to assess the number of security solutions out there for Linux. Just visit the Wilders Security Forums, and you’ll see what I mean!

There isn’t like 1 AV solution, or a few access control solutions (SELinux, grsecurity, etc)…In Windows, there’s like 50+ AV solutions, a whole dozen anti-malware apps, intrusion prevention, anti-this, anti-that, etc…People say this one is better, others say that one is better. In less than 10min, you’d be pretty confused as to which is the best for your needs!
Disadvantages of Linux:

    Understanding – Becoming familiar with the Linux operating system requires patience as well as a strong learning curve. You must have the desire to read and figure things out on your own, rather than having everything done for you. Check out the 20 must read howto’s and guides for Linux.
    
Compatibility – Because of its free nature, Linux is sometimes behind the curve when it comes to brand new hardware compatibility. Though the kernel contributors and maintainers work hard at keeping the kernel up to date, Linux does not have as much of a corporate backing as alternative operating systems. Sometimes you can find third party applications, sometimes you can’t.
   
Alternative Programs – Though Linux developers have done a great job at creating alternatives to popular Windows applications, there are still some applications that exist on Windows that have no equivalent Linux application. Read Alternatives to Windows Applications to find out some of the popular alternatives.

Now that you have an understanding of some of the advantages of Linux, its time get out there and experiment. Windows can be a great tool for the lazy and incompetent, but it takes a true scholar and one who wants to learn to run a robust operating system like Linux.
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NikBrit28 Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013

To be honest, I don't consider folks who choose not to use Linux as "lazy or incompetent". I recently switched to Linux after installing a new hard drive in my crashed desktop. I installed Linux because the old drive came with Windows already installed and I didn't want to pay loads of cash for a programme I already technically owned (the machine was just old enough to where it did not fall within Dell's warranty brackets). The other reason was I'd heard good things about Linux and wanted to give it a go.

Now for the actual pros and cons from your average "Joe":

PROS
Limitless creative options
Smooth and "pretty" OS
Error messages and viruses are pretty much a thing of the past

CONS
Incompatibility issues GALORE
Limitations on software and gaming that is not associated with or built for Linux (Wine and PlayOnLinux are not overall solutions)
Inability in a lot of cases to transfer old Windows based data to new OS

Now I know to a lot of folks knowledgeable about computers, some things seem quite simple to understand. But it's common sense that some things come more naturally to some than others. For instance, I'm quite invaluable when it comes to fixing things and reading others, but give me a math equation and I will scratch my head for a while - this is what it is to be human. That said, although I'm no computer expert, I certainly know enough to get by and am no "dummy". And even with that, I'm still having a hard time keeping an OS I've come to love - yes love.

I've searched countless platforms in regards to compatibility issues and sometimes I find things that work, but most times I don't. The real problem is MOST of my most used and important programmes in fact will not work on my new OS and I'm forced to use my Windows based notebook for many many things. This is quite frustrating when I have a perfectly good desktop (built for gaming) that is now working like new - what a bloody waste! It's pretty much just sitting here begging for me to stretch its legs but practically nothing will install without me jumping through a shiteload of hoops, and even then, after all that blood sweat and tears, a lot of times I wind up with nada.

Lately, now that I have a new Windows disc I obtained via eBay out of desperation, I've been wondering if I could perhaps run the 2 operating systems together. That would certainly alleviate a lot of the problems I'm having, but doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of installing Linux? And wouldn't I still be left with the same issues in regards to viruses, etc.? And wouldn't that also limit the initial benefits?

I know I may get criticisms for writing this, but I'm putting it out there for anyone else who may have found themselves in my shoes and lands on this site. As much as I love Linux, I may be switching back to Windows today :-(
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doctormo Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Your experience is not unheard of and is a problem. But think of it like this: Your computer is from Dell, who gave the buyer no choice in what operating system would be supported. When you got the windows machine, designed to run windows, with your own existing experience with windows problems with an aim to do many windows things... well now you've got a fight on your hands.

You can see it in your story above; you wanted to go your own way, the least trodden path and you are not equipt with the machette of Unix knowelege that would allow you to cut through many of the problems. Firstly fighting the machine itself, that's actually the easiest to do thanks to the help of the Free Software community. Next you'd have to fight Dell with what ever decisions, lack of support (or help pages) relating to the installation of Linux based operating systems. then you have to fight your own notions and experence, tearing down entire libraries of learning so you can start from the beginning and learn a different universe of controls. Finally you have to fight the market place, where they only cater to windows users. Unless you're writing letters to the manufacturers and games makers, you're only option there is to give up those programs and find alternatives or try and run a compatibility layer which the community has heroicly provided to help ease the pain.

Getting a system working for a normal user is pretty easy. My mum uses it and so do several of my neighbours and friends. They're not demanding users and don't really need much except what Ubuntu already provides. More advanced, demanding or experienced users /always/ have more problems. It's the nature of the thing.

You've got a lot of battles to fight, and I can certainly help you if you want. But if you want your Linux experience to work like you want, you're going to have to fight for it. (until such times as we take over from windows, give us 20 years if you can wait that long ;-))
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AfroNinjaScroll Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2013  Student General Artist
Thanks for the post :D
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