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Windows vs. *Nix...the WAR is ON

Am I missing anything?



8:45 pm on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi all,
I'm a Windows kind of guy. I guess because that is all I know. I have used Windows for years now and I think it is the best of the best. It's simple, straight-forward, and since after Windows 2000 its stable and secure. Yes, I said "secure". By default Windows is open to alot of vulnerabilities but if you tweak it a bit you can have a secure system. I have managed small businesses to corporate atmospheres using a complete Windows server platform and I have deemed it to be very good at managing a network. Well, actually the large corporate atmospheres always had cross-platforms...but my job has always been managing the Windows environment or working with Winodws systems.

I do not know anything about Linux, Unix, or the alikes...all I know is Windows and up to this point that is all I ever needed to know. I tried teaching myself Linux a few times but always gave up after frustrating myself to the point i wanted to jump off a bridge :).

My question is am I missing something by not taking the time to learn Linux, Unix, etc.? In your opinion which is the better OS? Does Windows provide all the functionality needed to perform well at all times in all areas? Am I missing something. Because Windows has performed well for me as a web server, file server, DNS server, DHCP server, firewall server, etc.! I know if I knew Linux, Unix, etc. I could make the big bucks because of the demand for Linux, Unix gurus and I know for open-source that is the way to go but besides all that is Linux, Unix really better than Windows? Is it really much more stable and secure? Much more flexible? Or are they all just about equavilent to each other and it is just a matter of preference? Share your thoughts!


9:21 pm on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello there,

I have almost the same feelings as you, except that I use Windows, I use Linux and I hate them both :) I can't find a stable version of WinXP and I'm in a state where reconfiguring/reinstalling the system is critic (damn, I was so pleased with my previous Win2k).

I'm using Linux when I'm working, 100% of our clients are using Linux/Unix servers to host their sites, which brings the need of me beeing able to work in such environments upfront.

The bad thing about Linux is that you waste tons of valuable time to configure it. Most of the tools are really buggy + I couldn't find any good IDE that's not Java, which makes my life miserable when it comes to hardcoding. Maybe my mistake it that I really didn't configure my system properly, but why the hell should I spend my next 6 months trying to figure out how to make the thing work better, while I can use the ready-to-use Windows environment + the large selection of tested tools such as Dreamweaver (yes I use it as PHP IDE and believe me, I can't imagine my work without it!), Photoshop, what about Flash?!? Corel Draw/Illustrator, etc.

For the average user I guess Linux could be a great deal of software, because it has the whole Office thing backed up with the Open Office software, it has Gimp for graphic manipulation, it has many multimedia players, browsers, GUI envirnments.

For the delveper - it's really nice to have a single box that runs Apache, MySQL, it has perl, php installed by default and is able to run multiple types of script applications, which is something that I miss in Windows, but I really found I way to bring this somehow in my system as well.

What I see in *nix systems is that they're really stable for web services, internet gateways, print spoolers for big environments, data centers, allthrough the *nix environments are perfect for backend processesing, but not so much about personal usage.

My advice is - your life is short, don't waste your life trying to figure out things you don't need, unless you're not really interested to - there's no point of trying to use Linux as a desktop environment or a graphical workstation - it's suitable if you're having a server OR if you're a hardcode developer that loves software coding and tweaking. I'd say that Linux is the hacking environment and that Windows is the user environment and what I personally need OS is to help me work, not to play around with it, since my work can be accomplished better with Windows :)

I'm sorry if I bored you to death, but I really asked myself that same questions so many times before, that I really love sharing a point of view.


4:09 am on Dec 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

By choice, I use Windows 98 as a workstation (2000 is nice too), and Red Hat Linux as a web, mail, and file server. I've always thought *nix to be much faster and more stable. I have seen some linuxes with security problems.

Admittedly, Linux is more difficult to set up as a server if you're not used to it. But I can install a Linux server in the same amount of time as a Windows workstation with some applications.

All just my own opinion, of course. If Windows does everything you want it to, then you're not missing anything.


1:24 am on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As a teacher I manage a classroom of 30 computers. Last year we used XP and although we were behind a firewall, proxy and router we still had issues with SpyWare, Virus's, crashes, permissions, speed and management.

This year we switched to SuSE 9.1 and things couldn't be better. I can manage everything from my desk without installing any 3rd party software. Installation was a breeze and setup is easy.

I have all the apps I need and WINE works great for Flash, Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I teach web development, C++ and Server Admin. This distribution works great and it gives my students a different perspective on Operating Systems. This year, no SpyWare, no Virus's, and no Crashes. We have said our school over $4,000 this year in license fees.


3:00 am on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here's something to chew on:

Five-year study shows Linux has fewer bugs than commercial software [webmasterworld.com]

I'm a Linux user now, but you SHOULD have a Win box(for testing) if you are a web developer.

For the record, Linux is treating me great and I don't even miss Win!



5:41 am on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As i see it - from an end user point of view - you don't really have to miss anything regardless of OS

On windows: cygwin and xampp
On linux: wine
On mac: just do it, whateveritis


4:59 pm on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As much as I strongly dislike Microsoft, I must admit that for me, Windows (XP) is hugely more of a friendly, easy-and-quick-to-use system than Linux for desktop use.

Linux is great for servers as far as my experience tells me, but I think Linux still has some way to go for it to be a nice desktop system. Linux is supposed to be highly configurable but, just as an example, for the last 3 weeks I've been trying to find a way of globally increasing the size of scrollbars on Linux (somethink that takes less than a minute to do with Windows) and despite numerous attempts at changing numerous configuration files, still no luck. For me, being able to have a scrollbar to the size of my liking is a basic useability feature.

The file system can be confusing too, and installing programs is a chore, not to mention getting rid of stuff (uninstalling) you don't want.

On Windows I never use IE, never use outlook and am very careful with what I download. As far as I'm aware I've never had any viruses. As much as I dislike staying with Microsoft because of their business practises, Windows lets me do thinks efficiently, quickly and to configure things that are essential to me like scrollbar width (yes, I know I'm obsessed by my scrollbars but I like a nice 32 pixel width for ease of "grabbing" with my 1280x1024 resolution. Anything less takes time, thought and finickityness to get hold of - not to mention if I miss the scrollbar and end up clicking one of the google adsense ads on my site accidentally I need to write to Google in the hope that they don't ban me...all because of tiny scollbars!).

I'll keep watching linux but certainly not switching currently.


5:10 pm on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>> size of scrollbars

nice tip futuresky, thanks. Even 20px does make a difference to the default 16 :-)

I just did it in windows, i'll try to find the setting in KDE next time i reboot this machine. In linux, the setting will probably depend on which window manager you use (aka. "the graphical front end": KDE, Gnome, Fluxbox, IceWM, Enlightenment, just to name a few)


Added: Re: "depend on which window manager you use"

...and which theme you have chosen to run for that window manager, ie. "the look and feel" of your graphical front end.

- i'd think there was a setting in the K control panel somewhere but a quick G search revealed that in older KDE versions, you'd perhaps have to add/change "ScrollBarExtent" values in the *.themerc file for the theme

[edited by: claus at 5:43 pm (utc) on Dec. 19, 2004]


5:39 pm on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks Claus!. I've been trying with both Gnome and KDE (plus also ICEWM) and although I've managed to change the scrollbar width on some applications (which seem to be gnome applications), most applications seem to use KDE settings for the scrollbar width no matter what windows manager is used. The way I managed to do this for the gnome applications was by making some changes in the .gtkrc files in my home (~/) directory. Not logged in on linux at the moment but like yourself, I'll boot in to linux later and get the details.

From what little I understand (and I may be talking rubbish), I think there's a difference between gnome applications using gtk, whereas kde-type applications use something called qt?

I've tried searching the web and making various making alterations to my ~/.xresources and ~/.xdefaults files (as well as to other files) but no luck in any recommendations I've found so far. Someone else reported this in the KDE site in their bugs/feature requests part of the site (bug 94869) but the reply, with a "resolution" status of "WONTFIX" was "Will not be generally changeable, except for special accessibility modes". (I can't find any special accessibilty stuff that can change them)


6:09 pm on Dec 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I use FreeBSD on servers, Debian Linux on my desktop and Windows 98 running under Vmware (just so I can level with the unfortuante schmucks out there -- for testing).

Switching to Linux desktop: Looking back at it, the first 3 weeks were painful. Everything seemed weird; even though I've been administering *nix on server side for years.
After about 3 months of Linux-only on the desktop, I started saying to myself everyday: "Why didn't I switch sooner." I still say that :)

Just the amount of tools that are available to a linux user make is worth switching.

I don't even remember when was the last time I used ftp.
I have all my sites running on the desktop in full configuration. And once I'm done changing something, I run a script that calls rsync to update the files on the appropriate server. I still can't get over how cool things really are.

Of course, some apps get ported to windows, but you can't get anywhere near the level of what's available to a *nix user.
Think of sort, uniq, split, awk, sed, etc.. used with tee and named pipes just to do some small task in the middle of your project. Those little things make like MUCH easier, and time spent much more efficiently.

As far as installing/unistalling - that's the reason I use Debian.

> apt-get install ApplicatioName
and i'm set!

> apt-get remove ApplicationName
and that app I didn't want is gone.

> apt-get update
> apt-get upgrade

And EVERY application on my desktop is updated!

And I don't remember needing an app that wasn't available as a debian package. I think pgadmin3 was one, but it was also available from the postgres guys.

Not to mention the virtual desktops, and separate X sessions! The latter one really rocks!

As far as the speed - yes, linux is slower on the desktop. The main reason is because of the architecture of X. So if you are used to Alt-tabbing between apps 5 times per second, you are in for an unpleasant surprise; that weird feeling of slowliness takes getting used to.

As far as stability, I would say it's the same. Windows seems to be getting better (at least that's what I heared), and linux is getting worse. So they are converging to about the same level...


12:35 am on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, the slowness is very noticeable, particularly when opening applications. That was another unfortunate surprise - I'd expected Linux to be faster than Windows. Not sure if speed varies in distributions but I'm using Mandrake 10.1.

Regarding the scrollbars, the following is the full content of my ~/.gtkrc.mine file:

style "galaxy-default"
GtkRange::slider_width = 32
GtkRange::stepper_size = 32

and the ~/.gtkrc, ~/.gtkrc-1.2-gnome2 and ~/.gtkrc-2.0 files all contain the following line at the end of the file:

include "/home/myusername/.gtkrc.mine"

...replace myusername with your username :-)

This seems to get the gtk applications with a 32 pixel scrollbar when using gnome. I've managed somehow to get 32 pixel scrollbars in gtk applications using when the kde desktop too...not sure exactly what did it but you may find by tweaking the /usr/share/themes/ files it may get things working in KDE. Still no idea how to get the (qt-based?) applications to change their scrollbar widths though.

I've tried adding the ScrollBarExtent line to the .themerc file for Keramic (the style I use in KDE) by the way, but no luck.

I've tried all of the following in my ~/.Xresources and ~/.Xdefaults files too:

*Scrollbar*Width: 32
*Scrollbar*Height: 32
*ScrollbarWidth: 32
*ScrollbarHeight: 32
*scrollbar*width: 32
*Scrollbar*width: 32
*scrollbar*height: 32
*scrollbarwidth: 32
*scrollbarheight: 32
*XmScrollBar.width: 32
*XmScrollBar.height: 32
*.vscroll.width: 32
*.hscroll.height: 32


11:31 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>> next time i reboot this machine
..which was half an hour ago, but two days ago i changed my graphichs card, so i'm not at all able to start any graphic frontend in linux at the moment... d*mn ... i'll get it sorted out though, it's just one of those things that are really soo much easier in windows - i reckon it will take me half a day at least...


11:51 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you get a mac you now have Mac OS X which is based on the FreeBSD kernel (i.e. it is a *nix variant and very similar to linux), you can get microsoft virtual machine so you can run any windows apps you want, plus you can get microsoft office for the mac if you want. So basically you have 3 in 1. Stability, security, and versatility, imagine that! I think if apple was ever in a position to give M$ a run for their money it's now with the new laptops.

At home I have a machine running redhat linux, one running the newest windows xp and an iBook G4. The iBook quickly became my favorite (especially with built in wireless networking and bluetooth ... no dongles!)

If you're thinking about buying a laptop take a look at the iBooks and power books ... they're pretty amazing little machines.

On a different note for servers linux is far superior than windows imo. Windows for a server sounds like an oxymoron to me.

For *nix lovers you can get XDarwin for the mac so you can run all of your xwindows apps or use xemacs to edit files remotely on your server. There's also a package manager similar to rpm called Fink, which comes in quite handy ... or of course you can install progies from source.


8:20 am on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Ultimately, it's Linux advantages that are also it's disadvantages.

I use a MAC, but I SSH into my server at least 10 times a day - It's a mandrake box.

I just had to update PHP to version 4.3.10 on my server and let's face it - If I wasn't familiar with shells and make and ./configure, doing something like this would have been a very, very, very complicated task.

On Windows, you can "uninstall" the PHP, download the latest version, then install it, and not once will you have to type "./configure --with-blah" etc.. You just click install on windows, wait a few seconds and it's done.

Granted, you have more options on Linux, but I couldn't give a hoot about all of that stuff - what matters to me is knowing that I can update as easy as possible, and it's not easy on Linux... You have to compile the bloody source code for gods sake.. not always but a lot of the time.

What would be nice is if I could have type php -update and it would download the source, decompress it, compile it, figure out how it's integrated with Apache and everything else, and not tell me a thing until it's prepared to say "install successful".

If Linux every make itself as user friendly as Windows is (while keeping the compiling an options for pro's) then windows is in real trouble as Linux is certainly more stable.

For me, MAC is the best OS out there.. and it's based on BSD I believe, but I never have to compiled didly unless I want to.


9:16 am on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Linux is better at memory management and can run on ancient hardware. You can configure and tune your kernel to your precise needs unlike Windows where you have to accepted a bloated and less efficient Operating System


8:02 pm on Dec 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree that Linux is not quite 100% up to par with Windows, but depending on what you need it to do, it can be as good, or so much better.

I use Windows at home because I'm a gamer. I switched back and forth at home many times. Finally, I just got another two computers with Linux on them. One is a server, one is a desktop.

At work I use Linux exclusively. Some things require extra steps compared to Windows, and some things require many fewer steps. Sometimes there's pain involved, but I would say that Linux can do anything Windows can, with the exception of games.

Overall, my satisfaction level is the same for Windows and Linux. (But for the life of me, I can't figure out Mac OS X...)


9:10 pm on Dec 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Chico_Loco, make sure to check out yum ... and remember that you can use package managers like RPM on Fedora. With these package managers and a control panel or preferably Webmin a linux server can be much easier to manage. Granted it is not point and click (I didn't install any gui components on my linux server for added security!) but for the stability and security it it worth it imo. If you really run into trouble you can always hire an 'expert' but I've never done that ... prefer to learn myself ;) The extra time you spend doing ./configure may be worth it when your server is still chugging along after all your competitors have been hit by some evil worm...


6:36 am on Dec 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I found that using a 2.6 kernel and compiling it with the preemptible option greatly increased speed and responsiveness. My box is dual boot and I can't say that I noticed XP being any faster compared to the above kernel.

Compiling a custom kernel using debian can be pretty easy.


8:33 pm on Dec 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree that Linux is not quite 100% up to par with Windows

I must have missed this before ... I have to completely disagree with this statement. If you mean it's not as easy to use for newbies then yes, that's true. But if you're here on webmasterworld and planning on running your own servers then you won't be a newbie forever! Once you get the 'hang' of linux you realize how much better it is for speed, security, flexibility, etc. Sometimes ./configure won't work for a certain package I really need so I go into the source code and fix the bug so it will ./configure Try that on windows!
There are so many advantages to *nix that if you're planning on using computers for a while it is well worth your time to learn it. Going to graduate school in a hard science seems to be a good way to learn for 'free' at least in my experience ;)


5:30 am on Jan 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My first post to these forums - Hi all.

I use Windows exlusively at work and have used Linux/Windows at home for years.

I prefer Linux, but feel the amount of time you will spend on tweaking will pay for a copy of XP really fast.

If you just want something that "just works". Buy XP and be happy.

my $.02


4:53 pm on Jan 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Welcome to WebmasterWorld Luddite :)

You're right about the time spent tweaking. It reminds me so much of the early Windows versions, where you'd spend a lot of time tweaking config.sys'es, autoexc.bat'es, placement of files, driver updates, bat, pif, ini files, and so on and soforth.

After all these years, and especially the release of Mac OSX i am increasigly finding myself thinking along the lines of "why bother... get a mac instead and get the best of all three worlds" (Win+Mac+*nix)

I'm not particularly fond of the Mac user interface or interaction design, and not really of their hardware design either, though. The design component of their design in all areas is just far too visible for my preferences, plus you just don't tweak the individual hardware components as easily as with a PC.

So, although from a pure OS viewpoint, i think the Mac approach has serious advantages, i'm a little sceptic about buying a Mac anyway. Those boxes looks too much like toys to me, and i really have to trust my boxes, as they generate my bread+butter.


5:16 pm on Jan 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm not a Linux user so I guess my vote won't count, but I can tell you that Windows doesn't get any complaints from me. I tried using Linux Redhat 7.2 once in the past but it just was too difficult to figure out. I got it installed fine and surprisingly got the network configured w/ internet. But that was the extent of my success. I still don't know and couldn't it out then, how do you install a simple program? Just installing a simple program seemed like it would be an adventure. I have a Windows home server and it does just what I need it to do.

Everyone says that Linux is more stable and more secure but is it because Linux is more difficult for the average person too learn, and a person can configure Linux to their liking and change the source code. This will definitely make an arguement for security. But is it Security or the laziness of exploiters, who wants to take weeks or months trying to figure out a system when there is Windows which its design is consistent!

So my vote is for Windows. When I see a Linux box I throw up the cross and run the other way!


2:11 am on Jan 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


You really should look at some package management for your server. Really, you shouldn't need be typing all that just to install something in this day and age. :)

Granted, I use FreeBSD and for me "manually" installing a newer version of PHP consists of typing:

# portupgrade php

and waiting for it to finish everything. No need to even manually find or download an upgrade or specify a version number or whatever.

In fact, on my non-production boxes (where I don't feel the need to check the readme's and such before upgrading things) I just have a short script that weekly automatically downloads new versions of all installed software and installs it for me. That's even easier.

As for all the compile optimization options, etc... Doesn't your version of Linux have some equivalent of /etc/make.conf to store whatever you want to use as defaults.

I understand that some of the various Linuxes out there might not be quite as nice in terms of ports/packages and dependencies as FreeBSD, but I can't believe that you can't at least get close.

Anyway, to respond to the original possible troll message that started this thread, use the best tool for the job. IMHO, that's FreeBSD or another Unix/Linux for servers, hands-down.

The desktop argument tends to revolve around what you use your desktop for, exactly. If you play a lot of DirectX games, then stick with windows (although at least 2000/XP, so you have SOME stability!).

If you spend most of your time doing internet based stuff like the web, email, etc... then after a little learning curve (believe it or not, but MS Windows had a learning curve too, you are just so used to it that you don't remember it anymore), you may find that you are better served with a non-MS windows machine.

If you are using a multi-cpu or a 64 bit machine, run FreeBSD or Linux.

In any case, if you are a serious MS Windows admin, do yourself a favor and at least take an older box you've got lying around and install FreeBSD or stick in an knoppix CD and just play around with it. If nothing else, it will improve your understanding of OSes in general and probably help your MS Windows administration skills as well. Sometime you will run into a problem that is better solved using a screwdriver instead of that hammer you are currently used to.


11:45 am on Feb 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The Australian Consumers' Association has published this test of Mac OS, Win XP and four Linux distriburions (Linspire, Mandrake, SuSe, Xandros):


"Watch out Microsoft and Apple, Linux is closing in"



Windows XP was the only operating system that couldn’t recognise and open an imported Excel file — the included office software is very basic so you need to install Microsoft Office or another more advanced program.

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