Five Advantages Linux Has over Windows 8

I’m not a huge Linux user. In fact, I probably try out the latest versions of Ubuntu or Linux Mint once per year for about a week. Beyond that, I generally stick to Windows or OS X as my primary operating systems. That said, I can’t help but to notice just how many things Ubuntu (and other Linux distros) are doing right that Windows 8 appears to be missing the boat on.

Here are just five of those things, and why they should matter to you.

Customization

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the removal of the Start menu and introduction of the Metro interface in Windows 8. Basically, your primary OS menu has been replaced with a giant screen full of boxes that update dynamically, launching programs that exist either as apps or more traditional software within the same OS.

With this hybrid OS, you’d think there would be some flexibility in the interface that enables you to choose a path and stick with it, right? Well, no. Microsoft has decided that desktop users need to get used to the idea of having a touch-friendly interface, even if you have no intention of using a touch device at all.

Linux, on the other hand, is all about choice. Like Android to the iPhone, Linux gives desktop users a bit more freedom in terms of the UI. You can opt for a screen full of widgets or a traditional desktop environment with icons and a main menu similar to that of Windows. You can even make most Linux distros look exactly like OS X if you wanted to. That’s a pretty fun trick, and it’s really easy to do.

Free Market

One of the cooler things I’ve discovered in recent Ubuntu and Linux Mint excursions I’ve done is the app management system. Just like the Mac App Store, you can find and install software for your Linux PC very easily. This is a big improvement over previous solutions where hunting down software meant going out of your way to find the right release and get it to work on your system.

Note: This isn’t to say that Linux distros used the “App Store” approach after Mac OS X. It’s simply stating that the obviousness or usefulness of the app store was absent in early versions of Linux, and it’s a welcome sight to versions released in the past five years.

What do I like most about this program? Almost every program is available for free. Windows has a lot of free software available for it, but it’s nice to know that the majority of the programs I want to use on Linux not only already exist on its marketplace, but it doesn’t cost a thing to install. Windows 8, on the other hand, is just getting started and much of these apps are made for an environment developers haven’t crossed over to just yet.

Cost

This argument has existed for years, but is every bit as valid with Windows 8 as it was in previous generations. Microsoft doesn’t produce Windows for free. The price may be on the decline after years of being well beyond affordable for most average users, but there is still a price tag to deal with. Linux, on the other hand, is free. That’s what makes it special. It’s even cheaper than the $20 OS X upgrades.

Where can this come in handy? Buying a new PC is cheaper if you get one without the OS pre-installed. This can reduce the cost of ownership by a healthy percentage, and you don’t have to go through the hassle of getting rid of the current OS to install the new one.

In addition to the OS being free, software updates are too. You’ll never again have to pay for otherwise minor updates to the core operating system as you have with other so-called major releases.

Community

Perhaps one of the often-overlooked advantages to using Linux is the community. For just about any problem or situation you come across, the Linux community can and will find a solution for you. Driver issues (a common Linux problem) can be solved very quickly if the right developer knows about it and can fashion a fix for it. Even complicated processes can be solved with the help of the community, often resulting in comprehensive step-by-step guides for anything and everything a new user would need to do.

I’ve long been a believer in the power of community, and few I’ve seen hold a candle to one formed around a group-sourced operating environment. Linux is truly an OS by the people, for the people.

Stability

Linux’s stability depends largely on the distro and version of that distro you happen to have installed. The hardware you use is also a factor in this stability, though zero-day security holes and other immediate concerns to security and/or stability appear to be few and far between.

Where stability really comes into play is in software. If you really enjoy a specific version of an application you use in Windows, you run the potential of losing that application when you upgrade the OS. Windows XP software doesn’t always work on Windows Vista/7 and Windows Vista/7 software doesn’t always work on Windows 8. Meanwhile, you’re practically guaranteed a longer lifespan on Linux software as the core of the distro generally doesn’t shift by any dramatic degree.

Once you get past the initial setup hurdle (which is quite significant on some hardware) you should be able to enjoy the benefits of a relatively reliable system for many months (if not years) to come.

Just like any other early release software from Microsoft, you could expect months of issues even after the initial launch. Drivers will need to be updated by manufacturers, bugs will be discovered and tackled by the development team, and security holes will need to be plugged. Meanwhile, there are Linux distros that are just as touch-screen friendly with very similar interface options that have the advantage of years of extra development behind them.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://twitter.com/CrisisC0rE Andreas Hartmann

    But the Ubuntu “App-like” installing system was there way before the Mac Appstore. You make it sound as though it were vice versa and I suggest you clarify this.

    • Anthony Schulz

      Keep in mind, apple and other large tech companies heavily invest in open source technology. Examples would be Novell which is responsible for the OpenSuse project. Yes, ubuntu had the software centre first, but incorporating it into other operating systems is an excellent decision. It ensures users are getting genuine software which hasn’t been modified, and that developers are paid. Anyone claiming apple created the “App Store” first, are just completely ignorant.

      • https://plus.google.com/112301869379652563135/posts Matt Ryan

        Which I certainly did not.

      • Samuel Butts

        No need to flame the author, he never said who thought of it first and frankly it isn’t relevant. this article is ballanced and neutral and still shows linux in a positive light, stop complaining! as a linux user myself I am happy with this

      • aikiwolfie

        SuSE was around long before Novell ruined it and basically sold it out to Microsoft. Apple certainly make use of a lot of open source software in their products. Ironically though they keep most of their changes to themselves and iOS or Max OS X are certainly not open source by any stretch of the imagination. Just using OS X on a normal PC invalidates your license. Apple also don’t allow open source software into the iOS app store.

        I see no reason to praise these companies for their involvement in open source. They cause more damage than good.

    • http://twitter.com/_KingDamian King Damian

      Indeed I agree with Andreas. You should make it clear that the Debian GNU/Linux developers came up with the first software package management system for applications and driver’s. Mac followed several years later.

    • https://plus.google.com/112301869379652563135/posts Matt Ryan

      I didn’t say Apple came up with it first. I certainly meant no harm by saying it’s similar to that of the Mac App Store.

    • Samuel Butts

      While this is true and well known to us linux users, most people will be more familiar with the app store on ios, no need to crucify the author

  • Alan Davison

    I’m sorry, but doesn’t “Linux, on the other hand, is all about choice. Like Android to the iPhone, Linux gives desktop users a bit more freedom in terms of the UI.” imply that iOS uses the Linux kernel in some way? I apologise if I’m interpreting it incorrectly at 4am, but that’s how it read to me.

    Pretty good article, though.

    • http://twitter.com/JamesForward1 James Forward

      No, he means comparing Linux to Windows is like comparing Android to iPhone in terms of freedom and customization. Thought this was obvious tbh

      • https://plus.google.com/112301869379652563135/posts Matt Ryan

        Exactly.

  • Fragil1ty

    This is a great post but it leaves out the important factor for most users, gaming and software. A lot of the software and gaming programs are not available on linux natively, and that’s what a lot of people want, they want native apps running within their opeating system, they do not want to have to install wine or some other emulating program just to get their Windows programs to run/work. Linux will never be an alternative for typical Windows users until the dawn of open compatibility for all programs Mac, Linux and Windows alike.

  • Wolfee Darkfang

    I love articles like this one. I’m a linux fan, and I could think of more then 5 advantages, but you listed a couple I wouldn’t have thought of either way. :)

  • M A R

    This isn’t very true. There is still an escape from the tiles touch interface, the original desktop exists within. This is a false accusation.

  • http://twitter.com/philippfranke Philipp

    Usually, I don’t like this kind of article, but your article makes some good points. I would like to read about the disadvantages as well. Have you ever thought about it?

    • https://plus.google.com/112301869379652563135/posts Matt Ryan

      Every day of my life. ;) We have a few articles out there about why Windows gets more coverage than Linux. Frankly, the one percent of users (our readers) that view our posts using Linux are also the most vocal when we don’t mention specific points. That’s rough on any writer as we try to be as impartial as possible. Hense, there aren’t many Linux articles on this site. You can see by the comments in this area alone just how protective the Linux community can be.

      • Samuel Butts

        It’s all down to the community, I used windows for years and felt indifferent about the os, vista put me off a little so I decided to try Ubuntu and havnt looked back

        • Samuel Butts

          What I mean is, with windows I was indifferent, with Ubuntu I actually enjoy using it

          • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ MHazell

            I love using Ubuntu. It is really a great OS to use.

      • aikiwolfie

        A vocal readership is surely better than dumb mutes who simple blindly consume what ever they are fed. Keep writing. We’ll keep arguing. We’ll all get to a better place in the end.

  • Isham

    hahaha the same cons and pros of linux we studied in our 1st year 1st semester.
    But windows is 1000+times better then linux.

  • Doubtful

    If Linux is all about customization and choice, then how come I can’t find an updated distro with the Gnome 2 interface?

  • Mark Greenwood

    GNOME 2 is older and unsupported at this point. A good alternative to GNOME 2 would be GNOME 3 Fallback/Classic or Mate, which is a fork of GNOME 2.

    • Samuel Butts

      And there you have it, the power of choice is returned to the user, if your favourite distro introduces a UI change that enough people dislike it won’t be long before you can have your cake and eat it

    • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell
  • Mark Greenwood

    Why ? Because you can play Call of Duty on Windows ? lol.

  • William Morgan

    You say in the point about cost that buying a PC/Laptop without a pre-installed OS is cheaper. I agree in theory, however when I was shopping for a PC to install Ubuntu on, I couldn’t find one that didn’t come without an OS. Some friends recommended that I claim back the cost of the OS, but I couldn’t be bothered – I just upgraded my old machine (which works just dandy).

    Where can you get a PC without an OS installed?

    • Samuel Butts

      I know of many places in the UK where you can get one, finding laptops without an OEM license is rare though

  • Samuel Butts

    So how do you launch an application without seeing metro?

  • Samuel Butts

    oh no why isn’t my ps3 compatible with Xbox games, ps3 sucks because of this

  • Harold Gardner

    If your world view is that of a geek, I think your post makes a bit of sense. If you are talking to ‘normal’ computer users, you are wrong. Linux is still WAY too complicated for regular folks. Windows wins as the incumbent, and that inertia is too tough to overcome.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bjro.rambo Brandon Rambo

      I have to disagree with you… My mom recently needed a new computer
      (lightning) my dad is a coffee newspaper kind of guy and didn’t want her
      spending more than 2-3 hundred on a new one… i was able to build one
      for her with much better stats than what she could buy and i installed Ubuntu on it… i did move the UI to look more like windows so there wouldn’t be too much new stuff shock and she absolutely loves it… she can do everything she ever did on her windows box and there was only a small learning curve and most of that was the change from internet explorer to Firefox… When was the last time you installed Ubuntu? its much easier to install than windows and takes maybe a third of the time… less than that if you take all of the defaults

  • metromarks

    I would love to try out Linux on my home PC but let’s face it….you really do have to have the knowledge to install it and run it properly. I love that its open source but am “afraid” to take the plunge.

    • Samuel Butts

      you can try it out without installing, if you go to ubuntu.com they have very simple instructions on how to create a “live usb” or “live cd” this allows you to assess if there will be any complications if you were to install it

      annother good way to try out ubuntu is through “wubi” this installs ubuntu inside windows, if you dont like it you can uninstall it from add and remove programs and reclaim the space it used.

      try the live usb/cd first though, thats my recommendation

    • Samuel Butts

      go to the ubuntu website and follow the instructions for making a live cd/usb then you can try it out without installing it, it will run straight from the usb pendrive or cd/dvd.

    • smilee

      Go to http://www.pclinuxos.com/ and get the different versions of their live CDs listed on the right side of page. Boot your computer to each one with printer and other hardware hooked up. See which one finds your equipment the best. Play with that live CD
      on your computer and do some of the things you normally do.
      If you want to save something while doing this you have to save to a usb hard drive. You will notice to do things the controls are maybe in a different location, just like when you buy a new car. The live CD will not harm or change your hard drive. You will actually be running off a operating system on the CD. Have fun and good luck on a great operating system.

    • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ MHazell

      Try installing Ubuntu using the Windows installer. You can install it as an application.

  • kachukumma

    one question, which flavor of linux is being under discussion, is it DEBIAN or SLACKWARE?

  • smileeb

    You always talk about ubuntu and mint, I like mint the best.
    You should try PCLinuxOS it has many versions and is a great OS.

  • JF

    Re: Five Advantages Linux Has over Windows 8
    Here’s a sixth:
    Unlike the system requirements for Linux and Windows 7, the current release preview of W8 (and probably the final release) requires that a PC’s BIOS and CPU support, among other things, the fairly new NX/XD security feature which is not present in many hardware combinations older than a few years. This is contrary to the bulk of Microsoft’s advertising which claims that the release preview is able to run on systems with only a 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB (for 64-bit); furthermore, in the Microsoft Answers forum, they claim that their analysis shows that only 0.1% of all PCs will be incompatible with W8 – and sorry, no workaround is available, such owners should upgrade their machines sooner rather than later.
    That claim is being loudly denounced by most people who post in the Answers forum, in many pages under the sub-heading
    “/windows_8-windows_install/error-when-installing-windows-8-release-preview/”.
    Indeed, some posters who have multiple machines at home or at work have stated that the W8 Release Preview will not install on up to 2/3 of them even though they far surpass the stated requirements of just 1 GB CPU and 1 or 2 GB RAM (gives a 5D error message, CPU is incompatible). One wonders how Microsoft came to that 0.1% figure – perhaps they really believe that 99.9% of all PC owners immediately send their still shiny machines to the landfill every time there is some sort of update and buy new ones. Maybe that’s what MS does, but then there’s a small difference between the size of their financial resources and those of Joe Citizen.
    The overwhelming consensus in the forum is that MS should re-write the W8 code to ignore the CPU NX requirement, or at least give users the option to do so. The NX feature is a nice security bonus, but not a necessity, as Windows 7 and other O/S’s demonstrate.

  • Tinman57

    Go away MicroSuck fanboy. We know your just trolling for a fight. From the look of your post, you just finished with the 1st grade of elementary school.

  • Tinman57

    As soon as MicroSuck stops supporting XP, I’m heading towards Linux, which I should have done when I left ME behind. I only used ME for a couple months, and was dazed and confused that MicroSuck made such a big deal out of it, like it was the OS to end all OS’s. They did it again with Vista and now Win8. I’m tired of all the MS BS and having to get permission from them every time I need a re-install or changing hardware. I’m also tired of them looking at everything in my computer and reporting back the findings just to get updates. I’m tired of MS’s customer/technical support, or lack thereof. And I’m tired of having to marry the OS to the motherboard unless I pay an exorbitant price. And I’m tired of all the crashes. This list could go on and on….
    In other words, good riddance Microsoft…..

    • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ MHazell

      Microsoft is already ditching XP, all of their newest apps are not supported in XP (an example is the SkyDrive desktop app). Go ahead and ditch Windows, or set up a dual boot with Windows XP and Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a great distro to use if you are new to Linux, or just want something that works.

      • Tinman57

        MS will give security updates until 2014 I do believe. I plan on using a dual-boot system with Linux as the primary and XP as the secondary. I’ve got a lot of reading to do on Linux and all the different distros, but so far it looks like Ubuntu and/or Mint will be my choice. Of course this may change when I catch up on all the reading I need to do….

        • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ MHazell

          Trust me, Ubuntu is the way to go Mint is a spin of Ubuntu. When I first started moving into Linux, Ubuntu was and still is my distro of choice. Not only is it easy to use, it just “works”. A lot of Linux software makers produce packages (.deb) for Ubuntu because it is so popular. Of course the choice is up to you, but I highly recommend you use Ubuntu as your own distro. If you can, let me know what distro you pick. Either way, the Linux world is glad that you will be off the Microsoft train.

  • John Abbott

    You omitted the most important and probably most obvious – FREEDOM! MSFT wants to lock you in and then lock you down. You will only get to run software THEY approve and it has nothing to do with compatibility.

    • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ MHazell

      You are so right. Microsoft and its requirement of Secure Boot makes them look more like a dictator of the computer market.

  • http://profiles.google.com/thenamminamm Nammi namm

    Linux Mint’s MATE edition uses Gnome 2. Just so you know.

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ MHazell

    I for one love using Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a great distro, and it is super user friendly for people to use. I would definitely ditch Windows for Ubuntu. I’m working on converting my family from Windows to Linux.

  • http://techmansworld.blogspot.com/ MHazell

    Ubuntu (based on Debian).

  • Anthony Schulz

    Slackware is rather rare.

  • http://facebook.com/varunpriolkar varunpriolkar

    I would also like to point out that SuperX is pretty good too.. http://www.superxos.com