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The way that you utilise your PC or laptop often depends on the operating system you use, in line with your technical knowledge. Even though the majority of people will turn to MacOS or Windows as the given operating system on their new computer, these only scratch the surface of what is available. One of the many options that often gets overlooked is Linux, with a large number of IT professionals claiming its superiority. 

In a similar vein to buying a car, the most suitable and best operating system depends on what your requirements are. 

Windows and Linux have long been considered two of the most popular and effective operating systems used by IT professionals of varying knowledge. Like any competing product, professionals will often put two similar products head to head. But can we really claim one is better than the other?

What is an operating system? 

Before we look at the differences between the two, it is worth explaining what an operating system is. 

Put simply, an operating system is a piece of software that controls the operation of a computer and directs the processing of programs through managing memory and processes. It also allows you to communicate with the computer without knowing how to speak the computer’s language. So, what is the difference between Windows and Linux?

What is the difference between Windows and Linux?

While both are commonly used operating systems, they differ on several key aspects. 

Windows OS is essentially a gateway operating system that many users first used to learn on, and is often pre-loaded on nearly all computers. While Linux is incredibly popular, it is substantially different and is predominantly used by those who are more technologically adept. Whereas Windows OS is relatively standard across all machines, Linux is what is called an open-source operating system, which allows a user to change certain aspects through simple changes within the code. 

To truly understand the difference between the two, it is important to address some of the more confusing aspects of the systems, more specifically Linux. Windows follows a standard version structure with updates and versions split into tiers, with the latest version of Windows being Windows 11. This is where Linux differs and becomes far more complex. Where Windows is split into several versions, Linux operates through something called Linux Kernel, which underpins all Linux operating systems. 

As a result of the open-source nature of Linux, what we have now is hundreds of bespoke Linux-based operating systems known as distribution, or ‘distros’. However, as Linux remains open-source, the operating system can continue to be tweaked as purposes continually change. 

Key differences

  • Users: There are three types of users in Linux – regular, administrative (root) and service users. Whereas in Windows, there are 4 types of user account – administrative, standard, child and guest.
  • File systems: In Windows, files are stored in directories/folders on separate drives, however in Linux, files are ordered in a tree-like structure starting with a root directory and then further branching out to various subdirectories. Also, everything in Linux is treated as a file, no matter if this is a printer or a directory.
  • Source code: As mentioned, Linux is an open-source operating system, whereas as we know Windows OS is commercial. In Linux, the user has access to the source code of Kernel and can alter the code according to the relevant need. Through this, any bugs in the OS get fixed at a rapid pace. In Windows, only selected members have the capability to change core aspects of the OS.

So, what is better? There is no single answer to this question, however, here are some points to consider: 

  • Ease of use – Linux does require some knowledge to get the system set up and for getting used to its subtleties, but once the basics are learned, it is easy to use. Windows is designed to operate out of the box, without needing extensive configuration.
  • Code – Windows has always protected its source code, so users cannot make modifications to the software. As the code is closed-source, only Microsoft can add to the operating system’s functionality. Linux is open-source, meaning that users are free to add to the operating system and customise it.
  • Licensing – Windows charges a license cost per user, per machine. However, Linux has a free license, and users can re-use the license on any number of systems.
  • Command-line access – Linux is suited to users who want to use command-line configurations, which are useful tools for administration and daily tasks. With Windows, it aims to be more user-friendly with a graphic user interface, as there is a command-line but users have to navigate to ‘run’, then enter ‘cmd’ to make it work.
  • Support – Linux is open-source so it has a huge community of developers to help with any issues. As there is no official support, it does deter some companies from using the OS. Windows has easily accessible support forums and also the option to receive paid support from Microsoft.
  • Security – Windows has regular updates and patches to solve security issues. As it is closed-source code it does mean that any issues that users find cannot be rectified immediately. Windows is also a major target for viruses and malware due to its number of users worldwide. With Linux, it is easier to identify bugs and fix them as the code is open-source. Linux is also known for being more secure by nature because of the way it has been designed and handles user permissions.

How can Hyve help? 

Hyve can successfully support any existing or new environment, whether that is Windows or Linux. Hyve has years of experience in supporting both Windows server and Linux server hosting. 

For more information about how Hyve can help you with your OS needs or questions, please feel free to contact our sales team on 0800 6122524 or sales@hyve.com


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