Would You Still Love Linux If Windows Was Free?

  • Andy Warren

    SSC Guru

    Points: 119655

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Would You Still Love Linux If Windows Was Free?

  • david.leyden

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 239

    The reason I love Linux is because it is free. But it isn't free as in free beer. It is free as in free speech.

  • Gary Varga

    SSC Guru

    Points: 82166

    I don't care much about the OS. That's from my developer's perspective. Any OS continually changes so, arguably, the OSes I develop on today (currently supported Windows versions) are not really the Windows OS I did when I started my professional career (Windows 3.0). Plus I am used to changing languages over time. I once coded solely in C++ but hardly haven't done so at all since 2002. Also coding in one language seems like a luxury of a bygone era.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • Alex Gay

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2177

    david.leyden - Monday, February 6, 2017 10:16 PM

    The reason I love Linux is because it is free. But it isn't free as in free beer. It is free as in free speech.

    This is a big reason to like Linux.  The freedom to do what you want and make a system that does as much, or as little, as you want.

    To counter the argument on price, if the price is uninportant and peole care more about features and functionality why do Apple machines make up such a small percent of the market?  They certainly have the cool factor, they look gourgeous, and a lot of Linux users choose to use Apple hardware.  The reason that these people reject the Apple ecosystem is the same reason they reject the Windows one.  It is a walled garden over which you have no control, the owner of the software can change anything, at anytime, and break your existing programms, or invalidate your hardware, forcing you to upgrade some aspect of your computing experiance that you are perfectly happy with. If someone else can control what you do on your computer and how you do it, then that computer is not yours, you are not free, you are living in electronic fudalism.

    Linux makes my computer free for me to use it how i like.  I can be as secure, or insecure as I wish.  I can use older versions of software, either because I am used to them or don't need new er features, no one will force me to upgrade.  It gives me freedom from the upgrade treadmill, I don't have to buy a new device because the manufacturer wants to sell more product.

    Linux is freedon from slavery, not freedom from financial cost, that is why people love it.

  • sean redmond

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5623

    My understanding of it is that the primary division between Windows and Linux is the ability to legally see and alter the source code. The sort of person who wants (or would like) to see what exactly is happening under the bonnet prefers Linux. Windows is the choice of closed-source because of its ubiquity. Apple is the choice of closed source software for those prepared to pay the premium for stylishness.

     As long as home and development use is affordable, I don't think that cost is really an issue. Production licences are things that companies pay for and are the consideration of managers and those in charge of the purse-strings.

    As we have seen with OSs on mobile devices, it is not a love or respect for Microsoft that makes Windows popular. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that another OS is the default desktop OS in 10 years' time. InDesign replaced Quark as the DTP-standard within a couple of years in the late 1990s. Lotus 1-2-3 was the spreadsheet king until the late 1980s.

     If Microsoft were to make the source code for Windows freely available on a GPL-like licence, then many of those that love Linux would come to love Windows *as well*, once they had found a way to customise it to their wishes. The majority of people want an OS that just works. No hassle, no spyware, as few updates as possible. They want much the same as before but a little nicer [1] They don't care about the OS, it is a necessary evil so that they can play their game, type up an e-mail, use Skype or make a DVD with family photos and videos.

    [1] Consider the furore over the Ribbon in Office 2007, the new layout Windows 8.1, the success that was Windows Vista.

  • Cary Hower-563110

    SSChasing Mays

    Points: 608

    One thing that I have wondered about for years is how an open source OS can be secure. It seems to me that it makes it far less difficult for a hacker to hack. Am I missing something?

  • Alex Gay

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2177

    Sean Redmond - Tuesday, February 7, 2017 2:40 AM

     If Microsoft were to make the source code for Windows freely available on a GPL-like licence, then many of those that love Linux would come to love Windows *as well*, once they had found a way to customise it to their wishes. The majority of people want an OS that just works. No hassle, no spyware, as few updates as possible.

    If Microsoft adopted free software development for their software, then it may well be taken up by the community.  But if you want the features listed above today, then Ubuntu gives you that in spades, you really don't need to use the terminal unless you are a power-user.  

    Contrariwise, with the advent of PowerShell Windows is moving back to the command line for power-users, so that now I find little difference between them.

  • Gary Varga

    SSC Guru

    Points: 82166

    Cary Hower-563110 - Tuesday, February 7, 2017 4:44 AM

    One thing that I have wondered about for years is how an open source OS can be secure. It seems to me that it makes it far less difficult for a hacker to hack. Am I missing something?

    It seems counter intuitive but the idea is that with all the people that can and will look at it then you are not likely to have bodged together an implementation and even less likely for the community to accept that as the final solution and use it.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • Alex Gay

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2177

    Cary Hower-563110 - Tuesday, February 7, 2017 4:44 AM

    One thing that I have wondered about for years is how an open source OS can be secure. It seems to me that it makes it far less difficult for a hacker to hack. Am I missing something?

    Security comes from closing the holes that make software exploitable and do things that it wasn't intended to do, such as elevate users permissions or change settings that the user doesn't want changing.  The open nature of the source code means that more people than the developers review it, and spot logical errors as they go.  It doesn't mean that a version 0.1 piece of code is inherently secure, but it becomes more secure over time by the incremental efforts of many people.  
    With a closed team of developers who are all thinking the same, or being moved to other projects, these kind of continuing reviews don't happen, and security holes are left until someone figures out how to exploit them.

  • Andy Warren

    SSC Guru

    Points: 119655

    Alex, on those security holes, do you think that having open source makes a product more vulnerable to day zero or day 10 vulnerabilities being found and exploited than closed source? That seems like an interesting thing to do dig into!

  • Andy Warren

    SSC Guru

    Points: 119655

    All, good discussion so far, but it seems to focus on personal use (and personal choice!). But what about for servers, do the same reasons apply or is it mostly about cost, or cost first, then other considerations?

  • rustprooflabs

    SSC-Addicted

    Points: 404

    Being Free is part of why I love Linux, but it isn't the whole story.  The low overhead for system resources is a major draw, especially as a small start-up trying to keep the annual budget as small as possible.  Granted, I have not tested Windows Server Core with a single processor and 512 MB RAM, but I'm not sure that SQL Server would run well on a system like that.  On the other hand, I have ran many Linux server's with those specs and can happily run multiple instances of PostgreSQL within Docker containers on a single server.  For small development teams this can provide ample power and the server costs us $0.007/hr to run.

    Another instance of using a low power Linux server effectively is our main web server that handles load balancing and serving static files.  We run Nginx on the same basic server (1 core, 512 MB RAM) and it can handle thousands of requests per second without flinching.  I have no real experience with IIS, so I can't say if that's something IIS could do on a similar setup.

    So, the cost of the OS is a draw, but the cost of the required hardware should also be considered.  For the record, I do use Windows on a daily basis too, just not for server resources.

  • Andy Warren

    SSC Guru

    Points: 119655

    Rust, I agree the low resource usage has been very attractive, perhaps most so when trying to make the most of a hypervisor. I think server core (and Nano) are the attempt to counter to that. SQL Server needs more resources because that's how it works - we need to cache so we need lots more memory.

  • jasona.work

    SSC-Forever

    Points: 49855

    Andy Warren - Tuesday, February 7, 2017 5:34 AM

    All, good discussion so far, but it seems to focus on personal use (and personal choice!). But what about for servers, do the same reasons apply or is it mostly about cost, or cost first, then other considerations?

    I think in the server realm, it quickly becomes less about cost and more about "will this do what we need it to do, when we need it to do it?"  Once you move into servers, and I suspect especially at non-startup type business (ie established companies such as Ford, banking, etc) cost ceases to matter as the business will be buying a support agreement / license / subscription for whatever OS they use.

    A quick look shows that a Red Hat Enterprise Linux Standard Subscription (1yr) is $799.  If I recall, Windows Server Standard is about that as well (obviously more when you start tossing in Software Assurance, CALs, etc.) but then the cost of SA is spread out over several years, so it probably still comes close to break-even between the two.

    Which means, again, the choice comes down to "which does what we need, and which can our team support?"

  • mjh 45389

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5695

    I started my IT career proper (1984) using Unix and some DOS (company legacy). Various flavours of Unix were use over the next ten years (my favourite was IBM's AIX) when the company went Windows and Linux. All subsequent companies used variations bar a three year period in a total Windows environment  both OSs. The most positive experience has been with RHEL which is not free (to purchase). A couple of freebie ones have hit issues which have never been resolved. So it is six of one and half -a-dozen of the other!

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