Why I like Linux and hate Windows

Once in a while you will find someone who is a Linux geek and claims that he hates windows and loves Linux. A lot many times I have found people who say so give vague reasons for the bias or probably because hating windows and using Linux makes them appear more geeky. Honestly I was not a Linux lover but I have really started using Linux because I think I was constantly being pushed to a corner by Windows and its allies (read antivirus, cd burning softwares, flash et al.). Today I thought to just list what really pushed me to a corner and how Linux solves a lot of my problems.

10 Reasons for Hating Windows:

1. Windows updates: Every once in a while Windows starts downloading updates, without asking the user, and hence utilizing all the network bandwidth, just when you need it. Even if you have a genuine Windows installation, windows update is a painful process. In comparison, Linux also have security and other updates available and similar notification manager on many distros but it

  • Doesn’t nag you repeatedly
  • You can update your installation when you are not using it, say in the night when you are sleeping

2. Windows without Antivirus is useless: I guess that explains it all. Even if you have ‘genuine’ Windows installation, it is a dead rat, without an antivirus software. Very soon your Windows will get infected even if you don’t download pirated softwares either from bittorrent clients or from various other sites. This is because sooner or later one tends to use USB drives for transferring data to and from other computers, owned by others, which are already infected. The other reason is that most of the times, windows installation has softwares downloaded from all over the internet, some of them pre infected with malware, trojans etc. In contrast on Linux, say Debian, there are standard repositories from where you would download the required softwares and most of these repositories are authentic places to download Linux packages from.

3. Windows with Antivirus is even more useless: The reason is that most of the times, the antivirus softwares tend to hog the CPU and other system resources so much that no matter whatever processing power you have gets utilized in either scanning the system, downloads, sites, mails etc. The remaining CPU time is utilized in downloading updates for Antivirus and Windows updates. Updates for Antivirus sometimes are so big that it takes quite a while on broadband currently in India to update them.

4. Other useful and general purpose apps are not installed on Windows by default: Most of the times, you would need a PDF reader/ writer, CD-DVD Writing Software, Office apps like Word processor, Presentation and Spreadsheet, Text Editor, Video player for playing various videos in variety of formats with inbuilt / standard codecs pre-installed, bittorrent client, Iso Image mounting software, Image manipulation program, etc. These are required even by most people who are not computer geeks and it sounds really silly to pay again for these utilities which should be part of OS. For a lay man what good is an OS, if it cannot do some simple task like playing of videos, music, viewing and manipulating pictures etc. If Windows provides utilities for these by default, I think it would definitely boost the number of people who would want to buy Windows.

Office Apps like Word, Spreadsheet and presentation are a must for most people and I believe if Windows starts installing these apps by default as part of Windows installation, of course without extra charge on the licence, there would be more people willing to buy ‘genuine’ windows copy. Some would say that so is the case with Linux but I think Linux model is completely different. There is no default. Softwares are installed based on what distribution you are choosing and for that distribution, what are the softwares that get installed as part of OS installation. I call this Linux model is WYWIWYG i.e.  What You Want Is What You Get. 🙂 More on Office apps later in the article.

5. Default browser, i.e. Internet Explorer is shit: I find the features and overall usability of IE way behind what other browsers in particular Firefox provides. Though it is a personal preference but IE is still trying to catch up with Firefox. In comparison Firefox provides so many features and plugins using which one can enhance the usability and features of Firefox and customize it to his needs. For example I am yet to find a good downloader with IE. It is the same old downloader with IE that in case of interruption has to start all over again. I know I can give many other reasons as well but let us just consider this to be a personal preference for now.

6. It is a fashion to update softwares now: It appears now that these days it is a fashion to update every software installed on the system. On Windows most of the times, there are lots of icons in the ‘tray’ i.e. at the right most, bottom most corner of the display. Let me count some most common softwares requiring update and IMHO the most pestering ones:,

1. Windows update

2. Antivirus update

3. Nero update

4. Java update

5. Adobe Flash update

7. Windows booting till the point it becomes usable, is too slow: The reason is that even after Windows get booted up, there are lots of default startup services and startup softwares showing up in status bar, which need to be initialized before the system becomes usable.

8. No Good command line interface for power users: The default command line interface on Windows is ‘cmd’ which is really stupid. There are not many commands supported on ‘cmd’. In contrast, even on a MacOS, there is a terminal which almost has all the features of a shell on a Linux system. This is useful in those cases where a user doesn’t want to use GUI but wants to use command line interface which is specially useful during programming.

9. Performance degrades over a period of time: My experience with Windows has been that mostly the performance of a windows installation degrades severely over a period of time and slowly it becomes completely unusable. I really don’t know the reason for this but my guess is that it could be due to many reasons:

1. Windows updates

2. Bloated registry due to too many installed softwares

3. Antivirus updates bloat

4. Viruses et. al.

5. Disk fragmentation

6. Some unknown and /or hidden reasons like Windows deliberately doing it so, so that you buy a new version of Windows with a new hardware, most probably Intel (together called as Wintel). Who knows it could be a hidden strategy of MS as the source code of the OS is not open.

10. Miscellaneous: Other things that I really dislike in Windows are: Registry mechanism: It is a really weird way of storing OS, applications and other settings. It is not easily readable or writable and you really have to be a Windows OS / driver developer to be able to edit / modify the settings in the registry. Also registry bloats over a period of time and affects the performance of OS. Environment variables: The Windows way of setting environment variables is really weird. I think Windows shouldn’t have had any feature like this, or if they wanted to have then they should have created a good shell inbuilt into windows, quite like Linux. Frequent Hangs: One thing that every windows user knows is how to ‘try to kill’ a hung process. You do CTRL-ATL-DELETE–> open task manager and kill a hung process. With this, either your system will stop responding, or wouldn’t do anything or kill the explorer process (which is quite like the Window Manager on Linux) as well. As a last resort, you end up doing hard reset.

10 Reasons for Loving Linux:

1. Linux OS updates are optional: Apart from regular security fixes, most updates are optional and even if you want to update your OS, you can schedule them when you are not going to use your PC.

2. Mostly no requirement of Antivirus: This is not because there cannot be Viruses for Linux, but most of the times, a person operates as a user and not root, the damage is restricted. Also there are so many flavors of Linux that it is hard to infect them. May be only a few. In comparison the primary user on Windows is mostly the administrator and thus viruses can infect easily. On Linux softwares are downloaded from standard repositories which are relatively safe and are community managed.

3. Most useful Apps are installed by default on most ‘standard’ installations of various Linux distributions. Office apps, CD/DVD writing softwares, image manipulation programs, bittorrent client, video and music player for almost all formats, text editors etc are pre-installed / or are readily available. Though some of them are not so easy to use, i.e their UI is either not so good or one has to read some man page to read the equivalent command line functioning, but nowadays Linux has really improved on a lot of UI and presentation aspects.

4. Default browser on most distros are pretty good: The default browser on various distros is usually Firefox or its variant. The only fallout is that the flash player does not work properly on some browsers. I think this requires some solution on Linux.

5. Boot time and logging time is very less: Since there are usually no apps to be started during login process, the boot and login time on Linux is really very less. Also one has a choice to modify what processes, services and daemons to start when Linux boots, which makes it really flexible. Based on one’s liking, one can choose how many such processes should be started during boot+login time, thus making Linux booting process really fast and flexible.

6. Good command line interface: Almost all distros have a good shell like bash pre-installed which is a real breeze to use, specially for power users. find, ls, grep, cat, less, more, pipe, echo etc. are so common utilities that they are a must on any OS.

7. No degradation in performance over time: There is usually no degradation in performance of a Linux OS. The system is as responsive and usable even if you have Linux running for a year. In comparison, Windows require some sort of reinstall, restore, recover in less than a year.

8. No nagging softwares: On Linux you will never be nagged by an installation of an app to update, buy, pop up or some such nuisances. If you know what I mean, then I guess you would have realized that how much painful the nagging can become.

9. Miscellaneous:

  • Option to recompile kernel to make the most out of your hardware. I will explain why this is needed some other time in a different article altogether.
  • Programming is easy. Most compilers, editors, programming environments and utilities are free and are readily available. On windows this is really cumbersome. Even if you have to write a hello world program, you need to open some IDE like Visual studio, create a project and then do some settings to the project and then only you can start writing a small hello world program.
  • Killing a process is quite quick.
  • Permissions and security: Unlike Windows, rules for permissions, security etc, are very well-defined. On Windows I have problem accessing my external hard drive across different Windows machines. And I don’t really know why is that the case. It shows locks on certain directories and some are simply not accessible.
  • Multiple virtual desktops (also available on windows but only through specialized softwares)

10. GNU/Linux is free: Last but not the least, GNU/Linux is free.

Over the years Linux has evolved a lot and a lot of hardware manufacturers contribute their drivers for their devices to be installed on Linux. UI and other regular features have also matured. I would rather write another article on what is it that has really come of age on Linux and what still requires rework, to completely replace Windows as an OS for an average user.

Currently I run a GNU/Linux Debian running Linux kernel 2.6.32 and I am really happy with the system. Comments and clarifications are most welcome 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Why I like Linux and hate Windows

  1. Concur with you on all the points you mention here, except:

    “Even if you have to write a hello world program, you need to open some IDE like Visual studio, create a project and then do some settings to the project and then only you can start writing a small hello world program.”

    In such a situation, on Windows, I’d rather use the good old Turbo C IDE. 🙂

  2. Great article, I agree completely. Microsoft is a billion dollar company while Linux is completely free, and yet linux can do anything windows can do and still outshine it. But I think these three reasons are why most people stick with windows:

    1. Linux isn’t as user friendly. Distros like Ubuntu are getting better at this, but sooner or later on a linux computer you are going to have to use the shell. To someone who isn’t computer savvy this could be quite intimidating.

    2. Linux lacks mainstream software support. Let’s face it, most of the world uses Windows. Hence most software makers only care about their programs working on windows. Not to mention Linux users, in most cases, aren’t going to pay for software, they find a free alternative. Direct X support for the latest games are also a reason (and the fact these software makers don’t bother coding their games for linux.) Btw, sure you could use WINE, but not everything works right.

    3. Hardware support. Sure, it’s true most things work wonderfully on Linux, there is still that occasional piece of hardware that won’t work (like certain HP printers for example.) Amending a problem like this can be time consuming and in some cases impossible.

    But I think the last two reasons the software/hardware companies are to blame. If Linux had the software and hardware support windows has, I’m sure many more people would be more than happy to switch.

    • Hi Patrick,
      I couldn’t agree more, though there are a few more points worth mentioning.

      >>1. Linux isn’t as user friendly.
      yeah, but it is getting there.

      >>Distros like Ubuntu are getting better at this, but sooner or later on a linux computer you are going to have to use the shell. To someone who isn’t computer savvy this >>could be quite intimidating.
      Using shell is not necessary even on linux, for average computer user, but it definitely shell is a necessity for programmers and advanced users. Shell is mostly for power users. In fact a unix like shell even exists on Mac books as well, but people are not bound to use it, as Mac offers similar functionality using its GUI.

      >>Direct X support for the latest games are also a reason (and the fact these software makers don’t bother coding their games for linux.)
      That is because DirectX is Microsoft’s proprietary API and is not an open standard hence it couldn’t be implemented on Linux. Next this is a problem on Game writer’s part as most of the games are written over DirectX, though they could always choose to write them using OpenGL which is an open standard and most H/W vendors like Nvidia and ATI drivers offer support for both OpenGL and DirectX.

      >>3. Hardware support. Sure, it’s true most things work wonderfully on Linux, there is still that occasional piece of hardware that won’t work (like certain HP printers for >>example.) Amending a problem like this can be time consuming and in some cases impossible.

      Yeah even I had troubles installing my Canon printer on Linux, the support for my LBP2900B printer is not there from Canon, but I was able to make it work using other drivers from Canon for Linux which are not ‘official’ and documented. This is partly because most users are Windows and H/W vendors don’t really care about having even a proper documentation of their drivers for Linux. Thus it is a chicken and egg problem. H/W vendors waiting for users to switch to Linux so that their efforts on Linux drivers fetch good ROI and users waiting for H/W vendors to provide support for Linux.

      Overall we can’t really blame Software and H/W companies entirely as they have to think about cash and finance first before anything else. I think overall it is also governed by the the usual market dynamics and economics.

    • I started with Linux in the late 90s. The difference in user friendliness between then and now is like night and day. So this comment is related to your points 1,2, & 3. Linux is free but if you are not an advanced user you may need vendor support, which is actually available despite what many believe. You normally get limited support if you buy a copy, which is generally not expensive unless you buy Red Hat. (yes, yes Fedora, blah blah)

      Medium to advanced users can also use user forums which can provide all the support you need. The problem with user forums is the same as it was 10 years ago, though it seems to a lesser degree: Too many elitists who are more apt to put you down for not knowing as much as they do or for not RTFMing before posting, than they are to be helpful. In these cases, persistence is the key. You may have to re-post your question a few times before getting an answer but you should never do that more than every other day. Overall, the forum experience is a good one but everyone encounters a troll or two here and there.

      Many tools that you can use in Linux have Windows equivalents, even things like gcc or even when not can be recompiled with an open source windows compiler, even if it takes a bit of tweaking the source. Some things will always be better under Unix but for those who live in both worlds like I do, having tools they can use in both is great. The idea that you need to be a programmer to hack the registry is completely false. You do need geek smarts, cool nerves, and a good reference book or website when getting started. It’s perfectly safe provided you know how to make and restore a backup before committing changes. Of course if you can’t figure that last part out, then you clearly lack the first qualification I just mentioned. 2 out of 3 should do.

      Linux’s biggest problem for the last 15 years has been half-baked software:
      First, There are too many people who start forks because they want to generate some glory for themselves as FLOSS gurus. What good is open source if skilled people don’t use or contribute to the source because they want to be their own honcho and call the shots on their own project? Not only does it take longer to finish big projects but the overall talent pool becomes diluted. I got an email from the founder of the k3b project years ago saying he had the same problem. People would write him threatening to start their own project if he didn’t do this or that. He said, ‘If you can write code, why don’t you help improve what we already have rather than starting yet another half-baked project that others will be complaining about next week?’
      Second, The “It’s good enough” philosophy. My first experience with Linux years ago was of trying to find replacements for my Windows software. I kept getting Linux software that was highly recommended (like Evolution 10 years ago, yikes!) but when you ran it, it would disappear suddenly for no reason (crash without proper termination or error msg) or there would be menu items that were not connected to any code at all so when you clicked them they did nothing (the bane of the KDE print dialog a while back). Back when SUSE was independent and bragged of 3000 programs on its box, I once came across a “program” where the author only had time to write the GUI. Not a single thing on the entire screen worked and it was still included on the CD. I wrote support and they told me how I could use it as a front-end and connect commands to it myself.

      Companies like Ubuntu have largely fixed these problems by pruning the distros. They took out all the junk. Why have 23 text editors when you can include the top 3? 20 of the 23 were started by trolls who didn’t want someone reviewing their code. For this task, you need people committed to looking at Linux in a practical business fashion and not as a cause. I submit to you, that people who view Linux as a cause and not a tool (as Linus himself said) are still responsible for 90% of what’s wrong with it today, despite how cool it has become.

  3. I installed Linux on a new Laptop (Ubuntu 9.10). I love having the power of the command line at my disposal. However, fonts on my firefox suck. They make my eyes hurt. I’ve spent some time running around to find a solution (installing other font libraries etc.). However, still can’t get the fonts to look anywhere as good as Windows.

    Such a pity – if i could work this issue out, i would switch almost entirely to Linux.

  4. Can you tell me, how minimum reqruitement hardware to running Qemu on Computer or laptop. Thank you before. I Like your article

  5. Yeah linux is nice until you want to connect a third monitor and spend several days googling and banging your head on the desk, just to give up! come on, the simplest things in windows can be so complex in linux… they still haven’t figured out how to make xwindows worth a dang.

  6. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and engaging, and let me tell you,
    you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about.
    I’m very happy I found this during my hunt for something concerning this.

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