7 Differences Between Linux and Windows: User Expectations

Clearly, Windows and Linux fulfill basic functions in exceptionally different ways.
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Also see: Open Source Software List, The Ultimate 2016 List

When I was a boy, I imagined that other languages were codes, whose words had a one-to-one correspondence to English. In the same way, many Windows users expect Linux to be an exact equivalent.

The reality, of course, is quite different. Both Windows and Linux are operating systems -- the programs used to run other applications -- but they often fulfill basic functions in different ways. Like any application, they have their own unspoken logic, and part of learning either is to learn their logic.

For example, here are seven differences to watch for when you move to Linux:

7. Free-Licensed Software

Except for specialized or high end applications, most Linux software is free for the download. Put bluntly, that may sound uninteresting, but this simple fact can change your work habits

For example, if you suddenly another application, you can download several candidates, try them out, and pick the best one in 5-20 minutes. Even cloud services and downloadable licenses cannot compare with the convenience. You won't be tempted to pirate software, and instead of worrying about the cost, you can focus on finding the best tools for your purposes. You may soon find yourself resenting the few occasions when you are expected to pay.

6. De-Centralized Software Installation

On Windows, installing new software is a matter of downloading a file that includes all needed resources, and then running it. To remove the software, you select it from the control center.

By contrast, on Linux, you run a command that specifies the software, either from the command line or from a graphical tool. If the software needs uninstalled programming library or some other resources, it asks if you want to install them at the same time. Another command removes the software, and a third the resources that no other application needs. This method saves space, and makes users aware of what is happening.

Efforts are being made to develop a universal software manager that would making installing on Linux more like installing on Windows, but this technique is unlikely to replace the current approach.

5. Different Tools, Same Functionality

A few applications, like LibreOffice and Firefox, are the same on both Linux and Windows. Yet it always astounds me how many people never consider that a change in operating system is probably going to mean a change in available software.

Linux doesn't have PhotoShop or Illustrator. It doesn't have Notepad, Edge, or most of the other tools you are used to having on your desktop. However, you can usually find an equivalent, such as Krita for PhotoShop or Inkscape for Illustrator. Try thinking of functionality rather than lamenting applications.

For example, instead of lamenting MS Word when using LibreOffice, think of what you want to do, and scan the menus for it. It may be under a different name -- for example, AutoAbstract instead of Autosummary.

4. Fewer Games

Linux has never been a major platform for games, although Steam is trying to change that. You may be able to use WINE to run your favorite Windows games, but don't always count on it. Some state-of-the-art Linux games are being developed as free software projects, but most of those are still in development. Native Linux games run more to Solitaire or, at most, Battle for Wesnoth, a 2D strategy game.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Windows

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