This has been a question asked and answered many a times and everytime I read such an article I feel that there has been some bias towards one or the other. An example of linux bias and a whole bunch of windows biased articles. Well I know none of these articles are completely true. I strongly feel that open software is the way our society should go. But then we do live in a piracy heaven where every software is "free" software here and who cares for openess anyways! Then I have this feeling that companies like Microsoft don't push the case of piracy much in countries like India...just to get to more users. But what if one day Govt. along with Companies like Microsoft try to enforce a strict anti-piracy regime and do get successful in doing so? Is there an alternative to buying software ?
Well having used linux machines for almost 3 years I may try to summarize what is better? is it windows or linux? is linux worth it?
The OSs being compared here are Windows XP and Mandrake 10.1
Lets start with what actually comes first and i.e.
Linux: Mandrake 10.1 is completely graphics based installation with installation time of something around 30 min on my AMD 2400+ machine when a fair amount of packages are being installed. It asks me a few questions such as language, time zone, keyboard layout, HDD partioning (during which it shows me an image of my HDD and asks me to choose from existing partitions or create a new one). It also asks me a lot of questions about applications I need. Intead of appication names it asks me to classify the broad categories such as whether this is a development computer or a game station or whether do I need multimedia applications. After installing all these it does asks me the network parameters, sound card installtion stuff and monitor resolution things. Then it reboots the computer and when it comes again throws up a blueish screen of KDE and asks some question which I prefer not to answer.
Windows: Well as I pop in the CDs it throws up a rather ugly looking console based EULA and HDD partitioning agent. Here it sure confuses me with the details like NTFS and FAT without actually telling me the advantages of the same. But as NTFS is fist on the list I do understand that it is the preferred one. Then it goes all beautiful blue and asks me some stuff about timezone etc. And then it installs itself in less then 20mins(17 to be specific). It then reboots and takes me to a cool looking interface.
Here I'd like to mention that linux bores me with details of sound driver and monitor specs which windows detects by default and installs. Linux also bores me with the details of applications to be installed (though it has categorized them well can be a bit intimidating for a first timer). But hey then there is a big difference between these two. When linux is installed it comes with a plethora of applications and you'd hardly need any new software after that whereas windows is installed as bare minimum and you'd probably need some more softwares such as office, games, multimedia players (which are abe to play those .avi files) to make it useful.
Linux : People say linux is for geeks and it is not supposed to look great. well certainly not true in my case. This is how my mandrake desktop looks like. Hmm so that goes out of the window. But there is definitely a catch. That KDE is not inherently this good looking (I never stop bragging about my KDE looks) but you need to work on it a little to make it look good.
Windows: It is a stud from birth :) just put a nice wallpaper there and there you go! It has cool looks and is very reposive to the user clicks (menus are snazzy and all) if the system idle process is around 95% +
Comparison : Windows win here. Linux does lack in terms of look... inherently but can be made to look good.
Linux: Comes preinstalled with all you need
Image processing: Gimp, Office: open office, a bunch of arcade games, multimedia players like mplayer can play almost anything. And even if you miss something just pop in the CD and install it (there are other options also). Installing apps here is not harder than windows. All you have to do is go to install software option and search for the app you are looking for and there is a very good possiblity that you'll find it there. If not then you ve to find RPM file of the app on net and just click on it. If you are not able to find an RPM too then you are in trouble and you may land up compiling and installing. But possibilty of that is very negligible as I never had to do that.
Windows: There are almost no apps to start with. Just the IE and windows media player. You need to either download or buy a lot of things like office, photoshop, ftp client etc
Comparison: Linux wins here as there is hardly any app that you need and won't find there. If you are from the era when people used to think that installing apps ona linux machine is a pain as you have to satisfy a lot of dependencies the installation procedure throws up then you need to look a Mandarake as it makes a list of dependencies and installs them. All it does is to notify the user all the dependencies it is installing. Linux here has a lot of cost advantage. If you really do go buying all you need in windows it may cost you atleast twice the cost of the computer. Linux offers all that functionality without any cost.
Linux: Install it and run it for years and you won't find any virus or spyware there(atleast I ven't met any) No need for an antivirus!
Windows: Install it and use it for 20 mins and bang you'll start meeting a whole baggage of viruses. They will come and do things to your system that you won't ever forget. Blaster is probably will be the first one which will not allow you to drag and drop and before you realize you 'll eb served with a 60 sec death sentence(not for you exactly but the comp) and it 'll go cold before you can do anything. (go to run and type 'shutdown -a' incase you don't know the temp. remedy). Pinfi et al that follow will force you to install a firewall almost as soon as you isntall the system.
Comparison: Linux wins hands down
Linux: Sucks bigtime when it comes to fast games like quake. Though there are apps such as celdega which let you run your favs but better not to.
Windows: Buy/download/steal and fireaway
Comparison: Windows all the way
Linux: Openoffice is a decent office software and with it going 2.0 there is much less to worry about in this department. Though it is still not near where microsoft office is today but does offer decent functionality and almost comaptible with the .doc format so not much to worry about.
Windows: Having said that must tell you that there is nothing like the original. MSOffice is one hell of software and is truely amazing
Comparison: Windows...but open office beta 2 is also reaching there
Linux: Aha! with kernel 2.6 series around the multitasking in linux has improved so much that even if I leave my system running for months there is no sluggishness whatsoever.
Windows: Will start sucking in this department big time as it grows old and if viruses are not taken care of it won't probably grow old either :P
Comparison: Linux is the winner , though windows performance is okay if takne care off.
Well I'll add to this list soon