10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

Summary: perspective Interest stirred up by impending launch of Windows 7 is too little and too late to halt inexorable rise of Linux, argues TechRepublic's Jack Wallen.


perspective Despite the positive buzz generated by Windows 7, it is only a matter of time before Linux takes its rightful place at the top of the operating-system pile.

Microsoft's failings are finally catching up with it and will cause the once-unstoppable juggernaut to cede to Linux. A key event was September 14, 2000, when Microsoft set a tiny snowball rolling with the release of the deeply flawed Windows Me. That snowball has been gaining momentum, despite some ups and downs along the way--XP was an up, for example.

In many respects, the public mood has already shifted against the operating system that was once considered the heart of personal computing. Here are 10 reasons why that shift has taken place:

1. Inconsistent Windows releases
One of the things you can always count on is that you cannot count on new Microsoft operating systems to be reliable.

Let's look at the individual releases:

  • Windows 95: Revolutionized personal computing
  • Windows 98: Attempted to improve on Windows 95, but failed miserably
  • Windows Me: A joke, plain and simple
  • Windows NT: Attempted to bring enterprise-level seriousness to the operating system. Would have succeeded had it not taken Stephen Hawking-like intelligence to get it working
  • Windows XP: Brought life back to the failing Windows operating system; not since Windows 95 had the operating system seemed this simple.
  • Windows Vista: See Windows Me

With this in mind, what do we expect from Windows 7, which is now in the Release Candidate stage? Not much, in my view.

2. Consistent Linux releases
Contrasting with those problems with Windows versions, the various Linux distributions have been far more consistent. Of course, there have been a few dips along the way--Fedora 9 was one of them. But for the most part, the climb for Linux has been steadily upward.

Nearly every Linux distribution has improved with age. And this improvement is not limited to the kernel. Look at how desktops, end-user software, servers, security and admin tools have all improved over time. Once could easily argue that KDE 4 is an example of a sharp decrease in improvement. However, if you look at how quickly KDE 4 has improved from 4.0 to 4.3 you can see nothing but gains. This observation holds true for applications and systems across the board with Linux.

3. Continuing Windows price hikes
Recently, I have had a number of long-time Microsoft administrators asking my advice on solid replacements for Exchange. The reason? Microsoft changed its licensing for Exchange.

Now anyone who logs on to an Exchange server must have a license. You have 100 employees, including administrators, who need to log on to Exchange? Pay up. This charging really starts to mount up when your company has 500-plus Exchange licenses.

The very idea of making such a significant change to licenses is particularly ridiculous given the state of the economy. Companies worldwide are having to scale back. And like ExxonMobil celebrating record profits amid the catastrophe known as Hurricane Katrina, Microsoft creating such a cost barrier while the globe is facing serious recession is reprehensible.

4. Consistent Linux costs
Again, in contrast to the previous point, the cost of open source software licenses has remained the same--zero. When those administrators come to me asking for open source replacements for Exchange, I point them to EGroupware and Open-Xchange. Both are outstanding groupware tools that offer an even larger feature set than their Microsoft equivalent. Both applications are reliable, scalable, secure and free.

The only outlay you will have with either application is for the hardware to install them on. And with both packages, there is no limit to the number of users.

5. Windows hardware incompatibility
Microsoft Vista was a nightmare for hardware compatibility. Not only was Vista incompatible with numerous peripherals, it took supercomputer-level iron to run the operating system.

Clearly, this was a boon to Intel, which stood to make a pretty penny from the operating system. Intel knew some of the public would be shelling out for new hardware, and the new hardware would cost more because it had to be faster to run Vista in all its Aero glory. But even hardware that would run nearly any other operating system very quickly was brought to a slow, grinding halt with Vista.

6. Linux hardware compatibility
Again, in contrast with Windows, Linux continues to advance in hardware compatibility. Take X.Org, for example. Recent developments with this star Linux graphical desktop allow the X Windows server to run without the xorg.conf file used for configuration.

This measure was taken primarily because the system had grown so good at detecting hardware. So long as there was no cheap KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) unit between your monitor and your PC, X.Org would easily find the mode for your display and run X properly. With new distributions, such as Fedora 10, X configuration is becoming a thing of the past.

7. Windows promises
We have all heard the pundits proclaiming Windows 7 will lead to a resurgence of the Microsoft operating system. But I recall that this same prediction was made for nearly every release from Microsoft.

Windows Vista was going to revolutionize the way the user interfaced with the computer. Vista was going to be the operating system you would never notice. Instead, Vista refused to take a back seat. And Windows Me was going to take Windows 98 and make it far simpler for the average user. What did it really do? Remove nearly every functioning system in the operating system, leaving little more than a browser and an e-mail client.

The public has finally reached such a level of apathy with Microsoft that most people are probably unaware of an impending launch. The media can continue to push Windows 7, but many people will continue to use XP until Microsoft pries it from their cold, dead fingers. And of course no-one really knows when Windows 7 will land.

8. Linux transparency
The next release of any Linux distribution is never shrouded in mystery. Because of the nature of open source, the release candidates are always available to the public--not on a limited basis--and the timeline is always made available.

Any user can know exactly when a feature-freeze happens for a release of any distribution. And all Linux distributions work under the full-disclosure model. Because of this fact, there is little false advertising going on with Linux. And you will never hear of a distribution claiming that its next release will revolutionize computing.

If you go to the Fedora Project Wiki, you can view all the proposed and accepted features that will be included in the next release. You can also view the completed release schedule, where you will see that Fedora 11 has a final release of May 26, 2009. Such dates are fairly firm and almost always on target.

9. Feature comparison
Let's compare the feature lists of Windows 7 and Fedora 11.

  • Windows 7: OS X-like docking; multi-touch screen; mapping application similar to Google Earth; hypervisor virtualization; location-aware apps; user-access control improvements; sidebar removal
  • Fedora 11: Boot time of 20 seconds; Btrfs file system; better C++ support; Cups PolicyKit integration; DNS security; ext4 default file system; fingerprint reader integration; Ibus input method replaces Scim to overcome limitations; Gnome 2.26; KDE 4.2; Windows cross-compiler inclusion

Looking at those features, both lists look impressive. But the Fedora 11 features are added to an already outstanding operating system. Microsoft is proclaiming multi-touch to be the biggest improvement, but it does not improve the operating system, and it also requires new hardware.

10. Hardware requirements
Microsoft says Windows 7 will run on any hardware that would run Vista--and even on slightly less powerful hardware. Slightly less powerful? What exactly does that mean? Well, Windows 7 will have no luck in the netbook market. And since XP is dying, the netbook market will be owned by Linux.

Netbooks are not gaining enough power to run anything from Windows but the watered-down version of XP. Netbooks are not going anywhere, and home and corporate consumers have limits to how many hardware upgrades they will make to fulfill an operating system's needs. As to Fedora 10, the minimum system requirements look like something from the mid-1990s.

Jack Wallen was a key player in the introduction of Linux to the original TechRepublic. Beginning with Red Hat 4.2 and a mighty soap box, Jack had found his escape from Windows. It was around Red Hat 6.0 that Jack landed in the hallowed halls of TechRepublic. This article was first published on TechRepublic.com, ZDNet Asia's sister site.

Topics: Software, Open Source, Operating Systems

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  • 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows - or will it?

    A significant disincentive to a transfer to Linux by the general user is the the lack of some very useful applications. A glaring example is the following:
    I want to make the transition from Windows to Ubuntu for my front-line machine which is used for a small business and many other purposes. While many applications can be duplicated or bettered within Ubuntu, the only available clipboard managers (such as Parcelite and Glipper) are very primitive.
    For many years I have been using "M8 multi clipboard" and find this to be pretty well indispensible for many of my activities. I emailed the author, John Turnbull, but sadly he appears to have no intention of producing a version for Linux, of which he seems quite dismissive. It does not even seem to have Wine compatibility. I feel strongly that a comparable application is an urgent candidate for development by the Linux community.
  • 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    Most computer users area *really* application users. Folks don't need a Turing complete universal machine to do what they need to do. Apple is building that, I'm no fan of their hardware, but for the masses who want it to "just work" will turn to Apple product and eventually realize they don't need a computer at all.
    Netbooks (still computers I know) smart-phones and media-devices will satisfy most of the applications. Then MS will have to survive on professional work that can't practically be reduced to a appliance. Considering what have now it will be slim pickings.
  • Linux oust Windows? REALLY???

    Linux may be low-maintenance, it may run on just about anything. It may have some excellent features for an excellent price. It may be wonderfully stable and delighfully fast. The problem? Ask any average-Joe consumer anything about Linux and you will probably hear something like, "What's Linux?" Linux doesn't have the brand awareness that it needs to overthrow a juggernaught like the Windows brand. Not to mention, most of Vista's problems have all but disappeared. Drivers have been rewritten for compatibility, harware has been seriously beefed up, and Windows is compatible with just about everything--Linux isn't. Microsoft surely will release something for the netbook market (the only market linux is even seen in) before the complete phase-out of XP. I have Windows 7 RC installed on my laptop as I type right now--no driver isssues, no performance issues, nothing. And lets not forget--Linux may run on a system with specs straight from the mid-90s, but it also looks like something straight from the mid-90s. Just take a trip to your local Best Buy and you'll see that people like their electronics to be "pretty," and if Windows 7 has one thing, it is a gorgeous interface. Linux? Not so much.
  • 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    This article is wishful thinking, unfortunately. You underestimate Microsoft's hold on the market. It will take far more than releasing a crappy product to give Linux entrance to the market.

    There are some major areas where Linux is lacking:
    - In store sales. You can only buy Windows/Mac. Period. No matter how crap Windows is, people don't have the option to buy a Linux system, so if they can't, they won't. Windows wins.
    - Commercial Application support: Again, a customer goes to the store. They can only buy Windows/Mac software products. Tax software, video editing, games, etc. Why would they buy a Linux system, if it's even more incompatible than a Mac?

    The average user is stuck in the monopoly. Microsoft could release worse and worse versions of Windows forever and still destroy Linux in terms of marketshare.
  • Hardware requirements

    just this week i have tried to give a boost to a 10 year old compaq laptop, and while i must admit i havn't tried fedora, i doubt it would run well on a mid 90's machine, at least not doing what most people expect it to do.
    it will however run much faster then xp if it's only for web surfing (that's what i wanted it for).
  • 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    All a person has to do is use Linux one time and they will never go back to Windoze. Guaranteed!

  • 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    Don't mean to sound like a windows fanboy at all, but I don't think you are really giving an honest comparison... Have you even tried the Windows 7 beta/RC?

    Because, if you have, then you will know there are many other features that are significantly more important than the ones you have listed.

    Jump lists for instance, now that I am using them, I don't really wish to think of not using them. And the ability to create "Libraries" makes organisation so much easier.

    "but it does not improve the operating system, and it also requires new hardware." I cannot begin to think of how untrue this is... you clearly are going by the presumption that newer windows = higher hardware requirement. The fact is simple: Windows 7 has had MAJOR os improvements, so much in fact that it will run on pre-vista hardware... faster than xp... I don't know what planet your from... but to me.. thats an improvement...
  • RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    I have dual boot with Windows 7 and Linux, testing both. I'm still confused why some people say Linux is better. I'm giving an honest chance to Linux to win my love, but....... it's like dating your best friend, safe but boring.
  • RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    you are very very wrong about that point, you don't unserstand the global market, goto china and india hp websites or dells website, you will be surpise they only sell linux, so the crap you state windows will destory the Linux Marketshare is not vaild in the two largest population in the world, You are simply blind from the US market, the china is mass developing apond linux because they see furture in linux from freedom thus getting rid of pirating problems, YOUR COMMENTS IS NOT VAILD FOR TWO LARGEST POPULATION COUNTRY IN THE WORLD
  • RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    I've tried Linux and have had a nightmarish time with it. Its compatibility (or lack thereof) with wireless connectors is absolutely atrocious. Until it improves its driver support, I'm not going back.
  • RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    Justin: I feel the same way. I've been playing around with Windows 7 for a few hours, and already I'm impressed by it. I've managed to get it working on an old laptop of mine, too, and have had nothing but incredible performance. It's great on resources, it's responsive, it's reliable.

    I'm actually excited about this release. To say that there's a considerable amount of apathy for Windows 7 is grossly inaccurate.
  • RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    It's not a wishful thinking it's really only a matter of of time, you watch and see, microsoft over the year will have no foothole in china and india, thus reducing huge amount of profit for Mircrosoft, over time Linux in China and india will surpass Windows in Many ways because they are willing to develop on Linux, i see great potential in Linux, Good luck Microsoft with the US market when Linux becomes really really powerful OS since so many is deveopling on it, good luck Microsoft on trying to win against Linux
  • RE: RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    Is anyone else sick the hell to death of this "Linux will" - "windows will" debate? People arguing with each other. One from the underdog with seemingly little chance. The other from the top dog, destined to die? Who gives a right royal crap? Windows is what it is. The stupid of for the mass stupid market. If you don't like it. Don't use it. On the contrary, if you like Linux,use it. Put your time effort and energy into helping advance open source. Not bagging windows and MS. It's tired and frankly boring.
  • RE: Linux oust Windows? REALLY???

    Linux from the 90's? Wake up!
    Se Xorg with Compiz
  • Good ole' Jack

    Oh wow. An article by Jack Wallen, a known Linux troll who is so hardcore he got a tattoo of "Tux" on his arm. No joke. What's this? He says that Linux is going to beat Windows? Gee, we haven't heard that before in the last 10 years. I'm sure he won't be biased either.

    Who signs this idiot's paycheck?
  • RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows - or will it?

    Clipboard managers: try klipper. It's (technically) part of kubuntu as it's a KDE app but should work fine with gnome. I prefer it over anything available for gnome.
  • RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows - or will it?

    I think that comment is a great example of how far Linux has come. I don't doubt how important the multi clipboard is for this person, but I don't think that it would be a show stopper for many others. The point is, that people are no longer saying that Linux doesn't have a good mail client, or browser, or word processor etc.
  • RE: RE: 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    Boy you don't like to read or something, wireless compatbility is zero problem, even with broadcom wireless adapter, their is a "patch" for every thing... just google it...
  • RE: Linux oust Windows? REALLY???

    Windows is compatible with just about everything? Just another pawn brainwashed into paying for something that is specifically designed to only work with windows. Wake up dude - see Ubuntu 9.04 -
  • 10 reasons why Linux will oust Windows

    i truly think Linux will oust Windows, but no one can tell the true future. but i tell you now Linux is on the wining edge and Microsoft must think a killer strategies to defeat Linux, at this point i don't see any way that Microsoft can do so, Linux is taking up a huge Market in china and India and many other Europe country's, US is behind the Blind, they don't see the whole scope of expansion of Linux. a company does not need a fancy graphic that does not increase Productivity, it does not matter how great Windows is been developed if it does not increase the overall productivity it will fail, Windows 7 does not come close to improve huge productivity.

    On the Home Desktop end Windows will have trouble in pirating, Microsoft will have no chance to combat this problem, if if they did fully combat this problem, i can assure you Microsoft will face a huge problem and find that people is moving away from Windows faster than ever before. Will Microsoft make their product free???? NEVER 1 year maybe, but what does it truly solve????? nothing, Microsoft can not stop Pirating, Pirating is Microsoft best friend to increase population using Windows, but now it's worse enemies.
    Microsoft will face huge decrease in profit throughout these few years.

    Microsoft will face china and India Linux Market Increase as research has shown a 22% increase in Linux in China in one year, that's huge, giving Linux another few years, Microsoft will be facing the ground in despair, don't be fool by the US market stating Microsoft is fine, i can tell you now, Microsoft is in despair and don't know what to do.

    i don't care how much money does Microsoft have. if Microsoft don't come up a Overwhelming Strategies they will fail.

    Linux is expanding in rapid rate in many country's and people are willing to develop on Linux, China see to need to move to Linux and doing so in very fast rate, they also training, setting up training ground in a very fast rate and developing Linux in very fast rate.

    Good luck Microsoft, you got a heck of a fight a head of you, i don't think you will win, if you don't think of a overwhelming strategies