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Linux vs. Windows: What's The Difference?

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the parallels-maybe-but-come-on dept.

Operating Systems 1219

underpar writes "This zdnet article covering Microsoft's Tech Ed conference quotes one of the speakers, Mark Russinovich, as saying that Linux is becoming more and more like Windows. He cites many examples of where Linux 'copies' Windows and other operating systems. He says the only current difference is 'how windowing is handled.'"

cancel ×


An important difference (5, Insightful)

andyrut (300890) | about 10 years ago | (#9586609)

What's the difference? About $299 [] .

Or much more [] if you consider a server comparison.

Re:An important difference (5, Funny)

TwistedSquare (650445) | about 10 years ago | (#9586660)

I think you'll find that means Windows is 400 dollars cheaper than Linux.



Re:An important difference (3, Insightful)

Unnngh! (731758) | about 10 years ago | (#9586672)

Much, much more, even not for just a server. If you ignore windows ports of other GNU applications, you end up with linux having a great superiority over Windows:
  • compilers! you can't program sh*t on a windows install without buying separate software.
  • your choice of how your desktop environment looks
  • games, not just freecell and solitaire
  • real networking tools, such as nmap, a variety of firewalls, heck the list is too long to begin here
  • a powerful command prompt for expert users
Etc., making linux a viable platform for whatever you want to use if for.

Re:An important difference (5, Insightful)

pbox (146337) | about 10 years ago | (#9586763)

# compilers! you can't program sh*t on a windows install without buying separate software.

Unless you download mingw

# your choice of how your desktop environment looks


# games, not just freecell and solitaire

like gnubg, tux racer in cygwin?

# real networking tools, such as nmap, a variety of firewalls, heck the list is too long to begin here

Which almost without exception available for windows?

# a powerful command prompt for expert users


Re:An important difference (4, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | about 10 years ago | (#9586798)

"compilers! you can't program sh*t on a windows install without buying separate software."
There are many compilers out there for many languages. Other then VC++ I cant think of any language that dosn't have a free compiler out there for Windows.

"your choice of how your desktop environment looks"
There are so many desktop replacments/customizers out for windows I wouldn't even know where to start.

"games, not just freecell and solitaire"
Are you REALY trying to claim that there are more freeware games out for Linux then for Windows? Even the most basic of searches will prove this wrong.

"real networking tools, such as nmap, a variety of firewalls, heck the list is too long to begin here"
Most of them are available for windows.

"a powerful command prompt for expert users"
Ok, whats the diference between the BASH/TCSH/etc shell on Linux and the same shell on Windows?

Everything you listed is just a download away. I fail to see the problem.

Re:An important difference (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586814)

1. Visual C++ (the compiler, not the IDE) is a free download.

2. Themes and skins are available. And if you don't like them, you can download and install other shells.

3. Plenty of games for Windows.

4. Plenty of real networking tools available.

5. Ok, the command prompt could definitely use some work.

Of course, on 1, 2, 3, and 4, you might have to (gasp!) download something off of the Internet. They don't come with the OS. On the other hand, none of the above actually come with "Linux" either. They come with a distro, or as packages. While the available "Windows" distros may not quite suit your fancy, compared to Linux, it is just as easy (actually, easier in my experience) to get your Windows installation up to snuff. I can download and install a Windows utility more quickly than I can build and install a Linux package.

Re:An important difference (0, Redundant)

VisualThoy (202019) | about 10 years ago | (#9586695)

$699 - $299 = $400 in favor of windows.

Ooh! Selective comparison... (2, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | about 10 years ago | (#9586738)

Actually, if I get the "cheap" version of SUSE, it's $30. If I get Windows XP Home Edition with a piece of hardware, it's $90.

Isn't that $60?

If the main advantage of Linux is based on price, it's starting to become less and less of an advantage. Perhaps you guys should start working on usability and driver coverage. But don't take my word for it, I'm just 90% of the market.

It's a vicious cycle (5, Funny)

strictnein (318940) | about 10 years ago | (#9586618)

And it's gotten even worse with Mac OS 10.4 because now:
Linux copies Windows which copies Mac which copies Linux
(I'm sure SCO Unix gets copied in there somewhere too)

Uh oh... doesn't that sort of relationship end the universe in some sort of giant BLIP!?

Now, for those who want to actually read something that matters, Ars Technica has a primer on PCI-Express [] . Impress your friends, neighbors, and countrymen!

Re:It's a vicious cycle (1)

SIGALRM (784769) | about 10 years ago | (#9586764)

Linux copies Windows

I think it's the reverse; Windows seems to be getting more POSIX-like with each release.

Re:It's a vicious cycle (1)

hypermike (680396) | about 10 years ago | (#9586776)

I knew Linux was the Beginning and the End. The Alpha and Omega... (grin)

Re:It's a vicious cycle (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586787)

Nah, it's more like this ... with the circle (in dots) being common ideas, which grows larger and larger and bulges in some directions as two of the three share ideas that the others don't. The three lines represent new ideas coming in. Over time, each OS picks up the best (and sometimes worst) features of the others.

\ . .
.\ .
. \______ Linux
. / .
/ ..
Mac OS

Linux sucks (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586619)

and Windows doesn't, that's what.

Get Real (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586620)

Another non backed attack.

The Difference (1, Interesting)

mcbunny29 (583989) | about 10 years ago | (#9586625)

The difference is that one is unstable and easy to use while the other is stable and hard to use.

Re:The Difference (5, Funny)

kaschei (701750) | about 10 years ago | (#9586638)

Great-- this is going to attract the anti-linux trolls AND the anti-microsoft trolls, each arguing over whom you're talking about.

Re:The Difference (2, Interesting)

SoCalChris (573049) | about 10 years ago | (#9586664)

Except that the recent versions of Windows have been extremely stable. I've got XP Pro on my laptop, and it has never crashed. On my workstation, I've got Server 2003. It's never crashed either.

In fact, my workstation won't let me restart or shutdown without asking why I'm doing that. It gets annoying if I have to reboot for something, but it tells how little MS expects to have the OS go down.

Re:The Difference (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 10 years ago | (#9586739)

Lucky you- I'm using Server 2003 as a server- and it regularly crashes. Just about every time it downloads a so-called "update". I'm forced to run Roxio's GoBack just to be able to reboot it once every few weeks- usually when it crashes, it crashes hard (as in, "Your updates have been installed, reboot now? Yes,of course. Oh, too bad, I'm going to bluescreen during the boot sequence now.).

Re:The Difference (1)

Squeezer (132342) | about 10 years ago | (#9586761)

then you obviously don't use your workstation and laptop hard enough. I can use DC++ [] (file sharing program) connect to two hundred or so servers, get several dozen 600+Meg downloads going. come back to my Windows XP Pro computer that is running DC++ and doing absolutely nothing else(p4 1.8ghz, 512M ram, gig ethernet to an OC3) and it will have rebooted sometime durning the night, every time. I don't run DC++ and its fine. I think XP can't handle all the network load for that length of time.

there is also another bug in XP with a shell script that prints 5 tab spaces that will crash XP every time. maybe another slashdotter can point me in the right direction to a link that explains this/has the code because I'm having trouble locating it on google, but I did run it once and crash my XP Pro box, so its out there somewhere.

Re:The Difference (2, Interesting)

Rooked_One (591287) | about 10 years ago | (#9586665)

win2k hasnt crashed on me once unless I was being a fscktard and doing something stupid. I guess thats the one that is stable and hard to use cuz windows has always really confused me [/sarcasm]

Re:The Difference (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 10 years ago | (#9586686)

No it's not.
Linux isn't unstable.

Re:The Difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586723)

Windows: unstable, easy to use, security issues too.

Linus: stable, hard to use, attracts asshats like bees to flowers.

That was tough... I need a drink

Re:The Difference (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586759)

Actually, these are the two areas they're copying each other on the fastest.

Gnome/KDE/etc, is getting just about as hard as Windows is.

And the NVidia driver for Linux is getting more stable, and will soon be as stable as Windows.

Linux used to be easy, and Windows used to have decent driver support, but this isn't the case anymore.


Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586626)

first post


Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586648)




Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586710)

you and cmdr taco like men

Please note... (5, Informative)

XaXXon (202882) | about 10 years ago | (#9586627)

The article is talking about the Linux KERNEL not the Gnu/Linux system. He's comparing the linux kernel and the windows kernel, and the difference betweent he two with regards to windowing systems is that Windows has windowing operations in the kernel, whereas Linus has it in unser space.

Just a little summary for people too impatient to read the article..

Windows (3, Funny)

Exousia (662698) | about 10 years ago | (#9586675)

Somebody needs to write an OS where the windowing operations are all done in the memory allocator. Wouldn't that be the more efficient way to go about it?

Re:Please note... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586688)

What, you mean there are people who aren't too impatient to read the article?

Good God man, this is Slashdot! (Well ok, there's gotta be a few who do... like you, they tell us what the article's about so we don't have to read it.)

Probably the submitter didn't even read the site... =P

It would be easier... (0, Offtopic)

Kjuib (584451) | about 10 years ago | (#9586628)

to say what they have incommon... like... you can ... type... and stuff...well... they are stored on the hard drive, linux and windows have that incommon at least.

Re:It would be easier... (1)

Azrael Newtype (688138) | about 10 years ago | (#9586699)

Unless you bring Knoppix into the mix, in which case you're running a fully functional Linux distro, complete with KDE and, from a CD. I think it's sort of been done for Windows, but not nearly as completely. I agree with the main point though that they're rather different (to be understated.)

A rushed list... (5, Insightful)

danielrm26 (567852) | about 10 years ago | (#9586632)

1. Security. // Linux is usually more secure by default and is able to be secured easier due to the fact that users have complete access available to the system

2. Philosophy. // as a quasi-altruistic community, the Linux world often has Google-like aspirations regarding concepts of free information and such - as opposed to views that are arguably centered on money alone

3. Stability. // most uptimes in Linux are measured in months and years rather than days and weeks (with exceptions, of course), and the GUI being a completely separate component from the kernel helps this greatly

4. Cost. // nuff' said

Those are just a few for starters...

Re:A rushed list... (2, Insightful)

elmegil (12001) | about 10 years ago | (#9586709)

Are you saying an admin user doesn't have full access to the windows registry? Of course they do! And it's so easy to just ... wait.

Of course, winding my way through half a dozen different Ways To Do It [tm] trying to find the one that works on THIS flavor of Linux as opposed to the last one I used isn't much better.

Re:A rushed list... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586712)

Next time, RTFA before rushing in with your soapbox...

The difference? (0, Flamebait)

Rooked_One (591287) | about 10 years ago | (#9586634)

All software I need runs on windows... without the need for third party software to run it.

-1 Redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586724)

Oh. Yeah. That's really informative. Windows software runs on Windows without third party software.

Next you'll be saying linux software runs on linux without third party software!! WOWWWW THAT'S SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!

Re:The difference? (1)

Dr. Weird (566938) | about 10 years ago | (#9586743)

OpenOffice works extremely well for me, and achieves compatibility quite nicely. I even use OpenOffice on my Windows box, because it doesn't cost me anything. Besides games, what other applications are essential to you and available only on Windows?

This is a genuine question, not a suggestion that such applications don't exist. Often people ask if they can run their programs on linux, but 99% of the time "these programs" turn out to be Microsoft Office.

Re:The difference? (2, Interesting)

Nasarius (593729) | about 10 years ago | (#9586801)

All the software you need on Windows...isn't free, in any sense. Every major piece of software on Linux, from web browsers and email clients [] to office [] packages [] to IDEs [] are free-as-in-RMS-compliant.

Yes, I know you have software that absolutely must run on Windows. But the vast majority of popular computing tasks can be accomplished quite well on Linux.

And a *lot* more you don't need - or want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586815)

How much extra did you pay for the ability to automagically run a virus?

I'll tell tou... (0, Offtopic)

blackmonday (607916) | about 10 years ago | (#9586641)

I'll let you know as soon as I finish loading Red Hat on my work computer, Well, that and loading Gentoo on my home PC.

Re:I'll tell tou... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586733)

How is it interesting that this guy is loading Linux on to his PC? Who the fuck cares? This is a blatant karma whore attempt.

Re:I'll tell tou... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586821)

This is slashdot, where windows users pretend they are linux users and bash MS. You are correct, it is not interesting that this guy is going to install Linux. Big fucking deal, I install it on a few boxes a week. The grandparent post was as "interesting" as someone posting "I'm going to drive to work today".


Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586646)

Ummm isn't there some security stuff too?


kalidasa (577403) | about 10 years ago | (#9586749)

Yes, and they mention that security stuff in TFA.

Paging Microsoft Goons with strange European Names (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 10 years ago | (#9586647)

"Both operating systems had their origins in the 1970s and their real birth in the 1990s and have been evolving quickly since then. The two operating systems are very similar from a kernel perspective, because as engineers work on problems they look around to see what's working elsewhere. So you end up with a lot of similarities," said Russinovich.

That means that it's incredibly hard to say that somebody actually *copied code* from somebody else- they may have just been thinking along the same lines. AdT, are you listening?

Re:Paging Microsoft Goons with strange European Na (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | about 10 years ago | (#9586788)

The two operating systems are very similar from a kernel perspective, because as engineers work on problems they look around to see what's working elsewhere. So you end up with a lot of similarities,

What this sounds like is that the Windows team is stealing ideas from Linux.

One is free, the other isn't (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586651)

Linux is both "free as in beer" and "free as in speach".

Windows comes from a monopoly that is ever more desperate to extend that monopoly.

Free as in Beer (1)

Exousia (662698) | about 10 years ago | (#9586714)

I wish Linux tasted like free beer. Now that would be something. Why doesn't somebody come up with an open source GPL'd free beer system?

Free as in Beer (1)

Exousia (662698) | about 10 years ago | (#9586786)

Really. I'm serious. Hopefully in time for the July 4th festivities.

Seems to me... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586653)

...the problem with Windows is not the design, but the implementation. With all the employees and money Microsoft has, you'd expect them to come up with some useful ideas (Start menu, for one) that Linux would be worse off without using. Of course, you'd also expect them to be able to churn out decent code, but apparently not.

Apps remove the difference (4, Funny)

prostoalex (308614) | about 10 years ago | (#9586654)

He's kinda right. I work with OpenOffice and Firefox for my basic stuff, and each time I launch those two or am in the middle of something, I have to look at the task bars to remind myself where I am at. User interfaces are so much alike.

The usual routine is pressing Win+E to launch Windows Explorer, then observe no Windows Explorer window launching, then cuss silently for the bug, then realize it's Red Hat 9 I am in.

Re:Apps remove the difference (2, Informative)

abiggerhammer (753022) | about 10 years ago | (#9586687)

Except the article has bugger-all to do with UI; it's about similarities in the kernel, and ostensibly about similarities in approaches to security (not that any of the latter are actually described).

Re:Apps remove the difference (1)

Lispy (136512) | about 10 years ago | (#9586728)

You are saying that there is an actual use for that key I ripped out of my keyboards cause it kept getting in the way when playing Doom??

Re:Apps remove the difference (1)

prostoalex (308614) | about 10 years ago | (#9586765)

Well, for a Windows box
Win+M - minimizes all Windows
Win+E - Windows Explorer
Win+F - Find files...

Those are all I know of.

Unix-derivatives easily identified. (5, Funny)

OpenGLFan (56206) | about 10 years ago | (#9586655)

A Unix-like OS is easily identified by the backspace key not working.

Re:Unix-derivatives easily identified. (1)

SethD (42522) | about 10 years ago | (#9586780)

I dont ^X^X't understand. Mine seems to work fine!

Re:Unix-derivatives easily identified. (5, Funny)

SethD (42522) | about 10 years ago | (#9586807)

I dont ^H^H't understand. Mine seems to work fine!

Re:Unix-derivatives easily identified. (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 years ago | (#9586819)

Corollary: A Unix newbie is easily identified by his lack of familiarity with the 'stty' command.

Corollary to the corollary: A Unix newbie can further be identified by separating those who say "newbie" from those who say "n00b".

Some simple differences, IMHO (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586661)

  1. Linux: free, Windows: $435
  2. Linux: fast, Windows: bloated
  3. Linux: small memory footprint, WIndwos: 256K min
  4. LInux: open source, Windpws: closed
  5. Linux: cli and GUI, Windows: GUI only
  6. Linux: scalable, Windows: scalable only with Server versions ($$$)

Re:Some simple differences, IMHO (1)

stiv (411055) | about 10 years ago | (#9586767)

#3 256K!?! I'd say that's pretty good. I'd even say that's great. In fact, I'll go even further and say that if Windows runs in 256K, nobody will ever need more than 640K!

Re: Some simple differences, IMHO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586813)

Linux: free, Windows: $435

Linux will cost you dearly just like Windows, but with Linux you get the choice of payment - money or time.

Linux: fast, Windows: bloated

Not true. Fedora for example, requires the use of three CDs in order to install a "minimal" 800 MB system. Windows requires one CD, and installs far less dulicated functionality.

Linux: small memory footprint, WIndwos: 256K min

Again, you need look no further than Red Hat or Fedora to see just how much more of a resource hog Linux can be than is a default Windows XP installation.

LInux [sic]: open source, Windpws [sic]: closed

Wow! You got one!

Linux: cli and GUI, Windows: GUI only

Windows comes with a CLI, and you have several options available as additions to what's supplied out of the box.

Linux: scalable, Windows: scalable only with Server versions ($$$)

Okay, that's two points for you, unless you're refering to the so called "Enterprise" Linux versions. Those vendors remove functionality from their non-enterprise OS kernels (like simple SMP support) and charge you dearly for the "freedom" of running an open source operating system.

UH-huh, sure. (0)

el-spectre (668104) | about 10 years ago | (#9586662)

So, they both use rectangular windows and are therefore pretty much the same. So, where does MS get off touting WinXP as better than 95? they both use windows, right?

I'd respect some big companies a lot more if they didn't expect us to buy this bullshit...

Re:UH-huh, sure. (1)

el-spectre (668104) | about 10 years ago | (#9586698)

hmm. I might respect myself more if I didn't react to the abstract before reading that article. damn.

windows copied, too (1)

sovtekmidget (718312) | about 10 years ago | (#9586666)

remember when 3.1.1 for workgroups came out? Microsoft only ripped off the whole windowing system from apple. So nothing is really 'original', except for maybe the dock in OSX

Key difference... (2, Funny)

Mateito (746185) | about 10 years ago | (#9586667)

"Duke Nukem Forever" isn't out for windows yet.

Re:Key difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586718)

Duke Nukem 4eva is gay. And you're gay for liking it.


Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586669)

Oh maaaaan......I need to take a big smelly dumb right now!

crucial difference (2, Informative)

acid_zebra (552109) | about 10 years ago | (#9586670)

When my X dies, it doesn't pull down the whole machine with it.

Re:crucial difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586797)

Sure, it's still usable - switching VTs on the console is for losers anyway.

only difference? (1)

eegad (588763) | about 10 years ago | (#9586673)

He says the only current difference is 'how windowing is handled.

This just illustrates that most people don't understand that the fundamental flaws with Windows exist under the hood.

Someone needs to write an article explaning those details in layman's terms.

The difference is pretty obvious from where I sit (4, Informative)

Vengeance (46019) | about 10 years ago | (#9586679)

With Linux (or BSD), I'm not forced into running a GUI on a server. All services and subsystems are configurable via whatever text editor I find handy. Installing software (except perhaps kernels) doesn't require rebooting the system.

Install... (1)

incompetent_bitch (519780) | about 10 years ago | (#9586685)

Big difference and a main one that I'm not running Linux - installing apps. I don't know how to compile, nor do I think I should learn how in order to install simple programs. A "setup.exe" is needed. And it should add the appropriate shortcuts, in the startup menu, and if desired, on the desktop.
Call me a simpleton, but this is a major sore spot for me, and it's keeping me away.

Re:Install... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586746)

Dude, there's always rpm and apt repositories. It's incredibly convinient to get all your software automatically updated from one command.

Re:Install... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586753)

And that has nothing to do with Linux.

Re:Install... (1)

akintayo (17599) | about 10 years ago | (#9586775)

Most modern Linux distributions have 'solved' the install problem. It is no longer necessary to compile programs, rather their is package managment infrastructure that reduce installation to selecting an application from a checklist. They almost manage upgrades, uninstalls and attempt to resolve conflicts. So while installign an application is still different, it is as easy as selecting setup.exe.

Re:Install... (1)

The Asmodeus (18881) | about 10 years ago | (#9586789)

I can see your point..

You shouldn't ever had to learn anything. What nerve people have expecting you to learn something new...

And nevermind all the packaging systems (ie: rpm).. Probably too complex..

Re:Install... (1)

bairy (755347) | about 10 years ago | (#9586805)

I think that's one of the main things keeping a lot of people away, along with a ton of other things of course

I dunno if setup.exe (or equivalent) is the exact way, but I do agree that the manual compilation process is quite long winded and there should be an easy way for people who don't know it/can't be arsed with it.. Of course the advantage of compiling (I assume) is effeciency and stability. I never really got into it.

As for the K menu (or equiv.) when I was using Linux I did find it annoying that it didn't *appear* to have an easy way of maintaining it. I didn't take a lot of time to look around but then I shouldn't have to.

Linux in general (5, Insightful)

LaserLyte (725803) | about 10 years ago | (#9586690)

I have to agree here. Linux is becoming more and more a "desktop" operating system. Default installs with lots of bloat and installed services. One of the reasons I try to avoid using mainstream software... besides any security (etc.) advantages, is because I like being a geek and doing things the hard way :). I like to get my hands dirty. I also like powerful, flexible software that does the job over fancy GUIs and the like. But, it seems Linux is drifting away in the direction of Windows.

HOWEVER, one of the reasons the Linux community has become so splintered (different distros, etc.) is because people are taking Linux in different directions. SuSE, LinSpire, and many other commercial providers are trying to make Linux a friendly, easy-to-use experience. Whilst Slackware and Debian are sticking to their roots.

As a side note: BSD is a server OS (no question about it). Windows is a desktop OS (being twisted into a server platform). But which is Linux?

Re:Linux in general (2, Insightful)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | about 10 years ago | (#9586777)

As a side note: BSD is a server OS (no question about it). Windows is a desktop OS (being twisted into a server platform). But which is Linux?

Both. Neither. Whatever you wish it to be, given some familiarity with how to compile a program from source and a bit of bravery.

I can't see why BSD couldn't be made into a "desktop" OS the same way Linux can be, due to its own open-source nature, and the fact that many GUI-based tools available for Linux are also made available for, at least, FreeBSD. Since I can't get a look at how Windows is structured, it's harder for me to say how easy it would be (or, perhaps, has been) to turn it into an operating system capable of replacing Unix-based servers, though I suspect the internal rewriting must be mind-bendingly complicated. I have to wonder if, at some point, the Windows coders will have to move some of the GUI stuff into userspace to improve kernel reliability and speed. With the current capabilities of modern hardware, the drive toward a new Windows command shell, and the ongoing complaints about Windows' speed, I wonder if anyone would notice at first...

Same job, similar method (1)

aj50 (789101) | about 10 years ago | (#9586693)

Since Linux and Windows were both designed to do the same job (be an OS) they are bound to be similar. This is especially true if people moved from one project to the other and brought ideas with them.

Two things off the top of my head... (4, Insightful)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | about 10 years ago | (#9586702)

...that, to me, separate Linux (and, by extension, BSD) from Windows

1) A monolithic kernel that can be customized and tailored by any end user willing to take the plunge, or at least just compile from source.

2) A variety of command shells that are intended to be used as full-fledged operating environments, without the need for a GUI.

(ObDisclaimer: haven't read the article, probably won't)

Some of the windowing environments and GUI-based programs try to emulate the Windows look-n-feel, but I haven't run across many things in the rest of Linux-based operating systems that can be thought of as copied from Windows... well, except for the embarrassingly registry-like GConf2 database (the first time I used the graphical gconftool to change spatial Nautilus back to usable-for-me Nautilus, I nearly regurgitated at the bad memories it brought back).

I think this guy might as well say any operating system "copies" things from Windows, Mac OS, and every other operating system.

monolithic (5, Funny)

captnjameskirk (599714) | about 10 years ago | (#9586711)

He says in the article: "Both kernels are monolithic". I thought the Windows kernel was monopolithic.

The only difference... (1)

gnu-sucks (561404) | about 10 years ago | (#9586713)

He says the only current difference is 'how windowing is handled.'

Then, of course, there is this issue of stability...

Makes You Wonder.... (1)

meplaysocr (715112) | about 10 years ago | (#9586716)

...if they are so close to each other, with only windowing and security being the defining differences...then why are all those people still using Windows? And they called this guy a Fan of Microsoft...? I doubt MS would like to be viewed this close to LINUX, escpecially with one of the defining characteristics being security...because we all know how 'secure' windows is(n't).

Aw...well the article just stated what many of us have know for quite a while...

Big Call (2, Insightful)

cranos (592602) | about 10 years ago | (#9586722)

For example, on making the kernel re-entrant (which refers to letting software be executed multiple times simultaneously), Russinovich cited an article he wrote which pointed out the lack of this feature in the Linux kernel. "Molnar said it was a 'clear red herring', said Russinovich, "A month later he turned around and made all paths in the Linux kernel) r-eentrant." "I also pointed out that a pre-emptible kernel is a lot more responsive to a high priority thread," said Russinovich, moving on to his next target. "The Linux kernel 2.6 was made fully pre-emptible."

I think this guy is trying to say that it was his articles that made the kernel jockeys change the way they do things. Thats a pretty big call to make.

Windows becoming more like *nix? (2, Interesting)

Owndapan (789196) | about 10 years ago | (#9586730)

I don't know squat about kernels, but in general Windows seems to be becoming more like *nix and related packages.

- Swapping WINS for DNS
- New MSH (Microsoft Shell) being developed to give admins "Unix-like" access to system services and scripting.
- Longhorn interface resembles WindowMaker and other WMs
- WinFS going from drive names to "/"-based file system

Can anyone add to this list?

Re:Windows becoming more like *nix? (1)

WwWonka (545303) | about 10 years ago | (#9586781)

Bill Gates legally changing his first name to Penis to sound more Finnish.

David Cutler (1)

Lank (19922) | about 10 years ago | (#9586732)

I heard this rumor while I was in high school about some guy that Microsoft locked in a closet and they made him write Windows NT. This rumor stayed in my head for years, until I interned with Intel in 2000. I asked the group (OS research) if they had ever heard of anything so crazy, and they said that basically, one guy did write the NT kernel - though a lot of it was borrowed from VMS. As to whether or not he was locked in a closet - I guess the world will never know! :)

Repeat After Me (3, Interesting)

pnatural (59329) | about 10 years ago | (#9586741)

Linux only looks like Windows(tm).

Linux only looks like Windows(tm).

Linux only looks like Windows(tm), and then, only sometimes.

Seriously, Gnome is not Linux, KDE is not Linux. The ever-increasing familiar Linux desktop is not the actual operating system, mmmmkay?

There are dramatic differences in the underpinnings of both desktops. More striking is the philosophical difference. From [] :
Rule of Modularity: Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces.
Windows rarely does this.
Rule of Clarity: Clarity is better than cleverness.
Now we don't have access to the Windows source, so we can't really say. But we can easily surmise the worst, given it's behavior.
Rule of Composition: Design programs to be connected to other programs.
Not on any MS platform, at least not without using a protocol or other IPC/RPC devised by MS.
Rule of Parsimony: Write a big program only when it is clear by demonstration that nothing else will do.
No MS program manager has ever heard these words.
Rule of Robustness: Robustness is the child of transparency and simplicity.
Explains Windows. Perfectly.

If you can't RTFA, here's a short summation. (1)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | about 10 years ago | (#9586742)

The article talks a lot about the two kernels, as is right. Linux is a kernel.

To sum it all up, you can see from the source that Linux uses lots of strategies both in and out of the kernel.

This is different from Windows, where you see ANYTHING from the source.

Ergo, Linux is different from Windows. The end.

Linux vs. Windows: What's The BIGBIGBIGDifference? (1)

bluethundr (562578) | about 10 years ago | (#9586747)

IMHO, armed with a knowledge of programming and a good (or bad) Linux distro you can mold it ultimately to your desires as a potter molds clay. Without said knowledge of programming, the difference can be superior speed of Linux and the slight incompatibility between OOo and Ximian and MS apps. But there are easy workaround to those. It's the cathedral vs. the bazzar.

Comparing Kernels or Windows? (1)

eamacnaghten (695001) | about 10 years ago | (#9586752)

Hmm - The POSIX kernel has long been superior top the Microsoft ones, especially in the days of 95/98/ME. To say Linux is "catching up" there is a joke.

In the article he points out the differences between the two, highlighting where he thinks Windows Kernel lead the Linux one, but he forgets to mention where the Linux one leads Windows - especially in the areas of stability and security - I wonder why?

Also - he is mentioning the fact the windowing in the kernel suggesting that the only advantage of it not being is the ability for remote operations. My question would be is why do I need windowing features in a kernel that is being used as a server?

On a final note he seems to be recognizing that Linux competes with MS Windows at all levels, at the desktop as well as server. A mistake on his part?

For me... (1)

Dimwit (36756) | about 10 years ago | (#9586766)

I understand that the article is more comparing the kernel implementations. On that point, I actually like the way Windows does a lot of things better - a stable driver API, for one thing.

As for me actually using Windows, well, here's the thing. I don't really care about price (up to a point), nor do I care about source-availability (for most things). I would gladly use Windows if I could do this:

for FOO in `cat iplist` ; do echo "ppp-$FOO IN A $FOO" >> ; done

I realize that I could just install cygwin or SFU, but that doesn't change the fact that Windows was not designed with shell-scripting in mind. I need that sort of functionality (I run GNOME because Fedora installs it, but I do 99% of my work (including file management) from a terminal).

(As for Microsoft's much-touted "you can do anything from the command-line in 2003!" thing - I don't consider "dhcp -f ScriptFile" to be elegant or useful. It's one-off and icky. I am interested in the "object shell" concept from Longhorn, though.)

(As another aside - look at StepTalk ( - that's functionality I'd like the more mainstream *nix desktops to support...)

Using that argument... (1)

narmer65 (598389) | about 10 years ago | (#9586769)

... If Linux is becoming more like Windows and their is very little diffrence between the two... Why should I pay for Windows?

I know they are only talking about the kernel but most people don't know what a kernel is. This is an excellent statement that could be used for FUD against Microsoft. However, I know we (OSS crowd) have to much dignity for that....

Can I moderate the referencedarticle as flaimbait? (1, Insightful)

IBitOBear (410965) | about 10 years ago | (#9586772)


Saying that two things are the same based on a movement towards similar outward apearence is specious in the extreeme and not particularly newsworthy.

In point of fact, wind-tunnel tests in the mid-to-late seventies proved that the essentially ultimate shape for a four-wheeled ground vehicle with a human-sized passenger compartment, was a sort-of convex (raised in the middle) sausage with wheels at the ordinal extremes.

In the interveening years we have seen cars steadly aproaching this shape. This does not make these cars "the same except for how they handle their windows."

There is a big difference between an electric town car and a Mini Cooper Turbo. They look a lot alike, but technologically they are completely different. And the apeal and prime target for both.

Comparasions of technology based on the outer skin is representative of a complete lack of understanding of even reason.

After all, beauty is only skin deep and is in the eye of the beholder, but ugly, it is universally understood, goes straight through to the bone. 8-)

Oh, how snide. (2, Insightful)

abiggerhammer (753022) | about 10 years ago | (#9586779)

The article's tone is particularly amusing -- it's as if both the author and Russinovich himself are patting him on the back for presaging developments like the Linux kernel becoming re-entrant (apparently he bitched about this six years ago [] ). And I do wonder how many people won't even bother to RTFA, instead simply chattering on about surface issues like user interface (which, let's face it, M$ can afford to hire all the HCI experts it can get its hands on, and the Linux community generally must rely on volunteer expertise to develop).

But I'm particularly entertained by the fact that security is the lead-in -- "Security and the way windowing is handled remain two of the diminishing differences between Linux and Windows" -- and then isn't mentioned AT ALL until the very end of the article, with no examples whatsoever, and no indication as to which OS is playing catch-up.

Way to hide your biases, ZDNet.

The forgotten difference (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586785)

The first aspect is that linux isn't a black box; it really can be fixed if it's broken, whereas windows stays broken until Redmond cares.

But that's really minor.

The single biggest major aspect which explains why I don't want to use windows any more isn't security, it isn't stability, it isn't price, it isn't source access.

It's true scriptability.

In windows you can use packaged software, or write your own. There isn't much middle ground. You're a drooling loser, or an ultrapowerful developer. Windows powerusers can not readily bend it to their will beyond configurations.

On unix in general and free unices most especially, a power user can use the basic interface (not an added layer like VB or cygnus) to make things happen. Power use and programming on unix shade into each other.

When DOS did not have a truly scriptable environment, they fell behind. They have never caught up, and as long as they insist that their basic interface is a pretty collection of icons, they never will. It is possible to create a truly scriptable truly graphic environment, but Redmond hasn't done it and shows no sign of it.

The major difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586795)

Windows is based on technologies stolen from Apple, while Linux is based on technologies stolen from SCO.

Linux vs Microsoft on the back end (1)

Sean80 (567340) | about 10 years ago | (#9586804)

What I'd love somebody to describe is the difference between Linux and Microsoft on the back end, in terms of programming models. What are the open-source initiatives that parallel Java and .NET in terms of server-side enterprise development environments?

I understand that things like MySQL and PHP fill the void, but are there, for example, replacements for things like .NET (yeah, I've heard about Mono, but am more interested in a different approach, rather than an open-source approach to a Microsoft standard), or Enterprise Javabeans?

On the front-end, things seem pretty clear cut to me, but on the back-end, I haven't heard of any independent projects. Are there any open-source standards, or purely open-source implementations of what are effectively closed standards?

Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9586818)

An article about an MS conference covering what an MS guy said at an MS conference, saying how not to dissimilar M$ and "everybody else" is.... Give me a break
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