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Windows vs Linux for programming

Windows vs Linux for programming

Windows versus Linux is an old question that keeps coming. As absurd as the question feels, it’s important to offer a comparison between the two systems, especially from a developer standpoint.

As we start, it’s important to note that it’s impossible to ascertain a better operating system, as this depends on many factors such as use cases. However, let’s look at the key differences between Linux and Windows.

What is Windows Operating System

Windows operating system was created or released in 1985, and it has the largest number of users around the world, thanks to its usability and mature graphics. The latest version of windows as of this writing is Windows 10.

Its applications a widely for office use.

What is Linux

It is an open-source operating system that was created or released in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. Because it’s open-source, users can modify the Linux core code and create their own flavour, a copy of the Linux operating system, cool right!.

Linux is widely used in servers, and increasingly desktop environments. It is also used in mobile, consoles, ebook readers and many more.


1. Price

Linux is free, you can also find many alternative open-source applications that work just fine. However, there are other “premium” Linux distributions or flavours that you can buy. The GNU General Public License for Linux allow users to modify the underlying Linux source code.

Windows comes with a licence, you have to buy one. The user does not have the right to change or to see the source code, it’s a black box.

2. Usability

This depends on who you’re and what you do, but generally, Windows is much better at usability because of its matured graphics and utilities. Installing Windows, or a Windows application is fairly easy. Many users don’t actually need to learn to install their own windows since it comes preinstalled on many devices. Windows actually have a dedicated button on most laptops and keyboards.

Linux on the other hand is hard to use if you’re a normal user. However, for software developers, and server administrators Linux is the best thing to ever happen to them. It comes with such ease and flexibility to deal with.

3. Support

For almost any error you can encounter on a Linux distribution, there’s an answer for that which was discussed in some forums on the internet.

WIndows has online as well as integrated troubleshooting help. There are also multiple forums online which can be helpful.

4. Performance

Linux is much faster than Windows, partly because Linux is light and small in size. The file system Ext4 in Linux helps improve the Linux overall performance over Windows.

5. Security

Linux is generally more secure than Windows, that’s why server administrators use Linux. Since Linux code is open source, people can scan for viruses, vulnerabilities faster and patch them quickly. Windows is also secure, but because of its user base, hackers find it lucrative to breach or compromise Windows.

6. Command Line usage

Linux has a very handy and powerful command line, and terminal. Windows command line is still basic and lacks the powerful feature that comes with Linux.

7. Reliability

Even though this depends on the user, Linux has more emphasis on system security, process management, and uptime.

Windows system is also reliable but cannot be compared to Linux. Many of the compromises come from wanting to make great graphics and usability for an ordinary user.

8. Gaming

Windows is the leader in games, it has a wide range of games that you can download and use. Steam, Epic, and many other game clients are available to Windows users.

Linux has few games and is trying to catch up now though it’s still far behind.

Why I use Linux

First, I’m a software engineer, so my reasons are more to do with performance, reliability, and features and not graphics and games because personally, i play games on consoles only.

1. Free and Powerful

Linux is free software that anybody can modify and play around with. The more people use it, the more open source projects win. Linux is very powerful for it’s price.

2. The Terminal

Linux terminal is unmatched. I spend more time in the terminal and Linux features allow me to do tasks very fast as compared to the Windows CMD. You can customise the Terminal to look and feel whatever you want.

3. Security

Linux is more secure than windows, because of its limited user base or maybe because of its design. There are a few viruses for Linux. All vulnerabilities are discovered and patched fast. Read this story where a university student does research on Linux security by pushing buggy code to the Linux codebase and gets caught and later banned from the Linux developer community.

4. Variety

Linux has a lot of flavours. You can choose any flavour or distro you like depending on whether you’re a security person, data scientist, system admin or developer.

Here are the most popular Linux distributions:

- Ubuntu – Ubuntu is one of the most popular distros, it has many users because of its relatively easy learning curve. If you’re starting as a Linux user, I recommend you start with Ubuntu before you start using the other power user distros like Arch Linux.

- Linux Mint – Its desktop resembles Windows XP. Linux Mint is a variant of Ubuntu, so all ubuntu features are available on mint.

- Elementary OS – If you want an OS that resembles Mac OS, then the elementary OS is your best choice.

- Arch Linux

- Zorin OS

- MX Linux

- Pop!\_OS

- CentOS


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