[opensource] Linux vs. Windows

Steven James Samuel Stapleton stapleton at mps.ohio-state.edu
Wed Oct 25 21:11:30 EDT 2006

I'll just jump in on this, I've read most of the thread, and just have a few 
comments to make.

(1) Security:

The biggest concern to security is not your OS, but the popularity of your 
OS, it's an inverse relation - the more popular your OS is, the less secure 
it will be. About a year (or two?) ago, Linux surpassed Windows in 
popularity for at least a while in the server market, and during that 
quarter, had more reported break ins. I'm pretty sure about the surpassing 
windows in that quarter, and I know I read from somewhere (possibly the 
register) about Linux having more reported break ins than Windows. 
Unfortunately I'm not finding the article in my searches.

That's not to say which OS actually had more security holes in it, but the 
more popular an OS, the more interesting a target is, and the more people 
will go after it. In the end, you'll get attacks no matter what OS you run. 
The question is, how well can /you/ secure it, and how well do /you/ know 
your OS.

And the most important thing of all in any OS, but Windows especially given 
it's pervasiveness in the market: The more paranoid you are about the 
outside world, the better. That doesn't mean that you should avoid it, but 
you should expect that things will attack, and you should tread carefully. 
I've gotten one virus, and no spyware on my Windows machine(s) that I have 
run at home, running them for about 10 years, for this very reason. Hardware 
firewalls, antivirus, and antispyware are good, but I've gone without all 
but the firewall and not had an issue (but one, in my first year of using 
the computer at that) simply for the fact that I am extremely careful about 
where I go (websites), in what I travel (browsers, mail clients and 
settings), and what I run (downloaded apps/files). That being said, I do 
like my Open Source *Nix box (actually running BSD, not Linux) for the 
reason that I can move about with less worry than I would in Windows.

(2) Ease of use:

In a *Nix environment, you'll have to do some command line stuff, almost 
certainly, that's just the way it works. It takes a bit to get used to it, 
don't be afraid to ask for help, and remember: google plus the words "howto" 
or "how-to" are your friends. Just add the appropriate term with them... 
"Linux Security Howto" will probably have some nice results (no I didn't 
google it).

Add to that, there are many good generalized books for Unix, O'reilly has 
some nice stuff, and there is something along the lines of "The Lazy Man's 
Guide to Unix", (not O'Reilly) which is also a very handy reference. In the 
end, your best friend is good documentation. If you can find a wide-ranged, 
and detail single source of documentation for your OS, that also contains 
good and relevant examples, you have gained your most important asset.

As for the incompatability with the instructors computers, what troubles are 
you having? For the most part, I've found software for my Open Source *nix 
of choice (which has much slimmer pickings than Linux - in fact, if you can 
find a compatability solution on BSD, you will certainly find it on Linux). 
I can probably recommend a few applications to help with the 
incompatabilities, as could anyone on this group. If worst comes to worst, 
crossover office is probably a worthwhile investment.

Finally, I would join the others who suggested that you keep in Windows 
during the weekdays, and use Linux on your off time (or when you know you 
have enough time to try to do what you want, but can go back into Windows 
and get it done if you fail) until you get familiar enough with Linux to do 
what you need to do.

-Jim Stapleton

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "BRIAN SWANEY" <swaney.29 at osu.edu>
To: "Open Source mailing list" <opensource at cse.ohio-state.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:20 AM
Subject: [opensource] Linux vs. Windows

> I'm finding Linix to be very confusing, having only understood computers 
> for a few months. The incompatibility with teachers' computers is adding 
> to the frustration a little too. Microsoft's security, however, resembles 
> that of already digested burritos, making it a risky choice. I value 
> security, but I'm not sure if Linux is for me (at least not right now), 
> but I'm not sure. What would you suggest for someone who has had a 
> computer for only 4-5 months, to return to Windows for simplicity sake, or 
> continue with Linux  for security and tough it out by learning the harder 
> one in the beginning (note that neither of the OS's content is deleted 
> yet)?
> -Brian Swaney
> _______________________________________________
> Opensource mailing list
> Opensource at cse.ohio-state.edu
> http://mail.cse.ohio-state.edu/mailman/listinfo/opensource

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