Which Operating system is better to control your network

Introduction

Windows Vs Linux is a topic which has been debated for many years. The purpose of this site is to expose the weaknesses and highlight the strengths of the networking capabilities and security in place in each of the two operating systems. Although Windows and Linux have very similar Graphical User Interfaces (GUI’s) they are in fact, very different systems. Windows source code is a very closely guarded secret, and any ‘hacking’ into the software itself is considered an offence and breach of copyright.

The Microsoft organisation is perhaps one of the most profitable in the world, this may be because Windows is the most widely used operating system in the world, it is used by most business, academic institutions (such as schools and universities) and homes. It is considered to be a very user friendly system and there are many different versions out there to fulfil the needs of every user, for any use.

Microsoft's statement towards their security is: -

"At Microsoft, our approach to security spans both technology and social aspects. To us, security is helping to ensure that information and data are safe and confidential. We are making considerable investments to increase the security of our technology and to provide implementation guides and training based on industry best practices.[1]

Screenshot of Microsft Vista Operating System

Windows_Vista_Desktop.png

Linux is very different, most versions of the Linux operating system are available freely throughout the Linux website and Linux itself it not actually a profit making organisation; the use of the logo, software and all other related software is available for all to use however they wish to use it. However, despite this piece of sophisticated software being free, it is by no means the most widely used in the world. In this website we hope to answer the question as to why that is and to point out the strengths and weaknesses in the networking capabilities and security features in each of these two modern pieces of computer software.

Screenshot of Dolphin File Manager on Linux

linux_2.png

Linux says: -

“Apart from the fact that it's freely distributed, Linux's functionality, adaptability and robustness, has made it the main alternative for proprietary Unix and Microsoft operating systems. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and other giants of the computing world have embraced Linux and support its ongoing development. Well into its second decade of existence, Linux has been adopted worldwide primarily as a server platform. Its use as a home and office desktop operating system is also on the rise. The operating system can also be incorporated directly into microchips in a process called "embedding" and is increasingly being used this way in appliances and devices.”[2]

Back to top


Network Capabilities

Windows

Windows networking capabilities are very different to that of Linux. Rather than manually having to set up a network on each machine like in Linux, Windows gives the user two ways of setting up a network. Firstly, the user can choose the option of setting up a network by using the ‘Network setup wizard’. This method of setting up a network can be useful to very inexperienced users as Windows does the majority of the work for you whilst going through a step by step setup requiring only minimal information from the user. The second way of setting up networks in Windows is the manual way, the user can do this by going through all of the individual network protocols and ensuring they are identical on each machine, this method is of more use to more experienced users as it takes a lot of care as there is no room for error, this method is however a lot more tedious and time consuming than using a setup wizard.

Linux

Access between workstation on a Linux network can be a simpler task than navigating through Windows interface and rigid structure, with linux all that is needed is a few simple command lines which even a beginner would understand and then resources can be shared between two computers, real time editing is also possible allowing for collaborative working among teams without the need for expensive software and licenses.

Updating software can be a real hassle, especially when the system has a multitude of software installed, it is easier a task doin this in Linux than Windows. With Windows everything needs to be done individually and within the executed software to access the 'check for updates' option. Linux however can update all software at once automatically, notifications of new updates show up also which most Windows software doesnt do, another bonus is there is no need for a reboot after installations/ updates.

A users preferences and settings can be used on a different machine; personal settings on Linux can be transported in a removable storage device, moved to a different machine and it will load up a the user's preference/configuration that they had on their machine, whereas Windows can not do this because some infrmation is stored on the registry.

With the range of free software available for Linux the running cost is lowered, compared to Windows where most software require a purchase, license and yearly renewals. Linux also has a large online community, couple that with Linux's customisation problems can be quickly resolved. However most people are trained in the use of the Windows platform and trained Linux users are not as common so staffing may become an issue leading to staff training which incurs costs.

Back to top


Network Flaws

Windows

Window’s main problem, the main thing that slows it down is that it has never been able to shed its old label of being an inferior operating system when it comes to networking capabilities; this may because Microsoft Windows from the very earliest releases was never intended to be used as anything other than a single user system. However in more recent releases it has become a lot more up to speed with modern networking systems with the release of Windows XP. Although even this release still didn’t quite have the same capabilities as other multi user networking systems, “Windows XP supports ‘Fast user switching’, which means that two or more people can log into a Windows XP system on a single PC at the same time. Here’s the catch. This is only possible if and only if the PC is not set up to be part of a Windows network domain”.

That’s not to say that Windows systems are in any way inferior to other Operating systems, perhaps they just haven’t perfected the technology yet, maybe the arrival of a new version of Windows will solve a lot of the problems encountered with previous attempts at a multi user networking system.

Windows Server 2003 was a lot closer to the idea of a true multi user system however, even this more up to date version has its bugs, “Windows server 2003 has to turn off many browser capabilities (such as ActiveX, scripting etc) by default.” And it is sometimes argued that “If Microsoft had redesigned these features to work in a safe, isolated manner within a true multi-user environment, these features would not present the severe risks that continue to plague Windows.

Linux

Critics of Linux argue that it is old, outdated software, it is also argued that it is not generally very user friendly and you really need to have a good knowledge of how to use the software before you could even think about trying to set up a fully working network through it, whereas Windows on the other hand has a lot of ‘Setup Wizards’ to help even the least qualified of user setup simple networks in their own homes.

An analyst report [10] on comparing the cost for a business to run Red Hat and Windows 2003 found that Red Hat cost less in the initial 3 years however after that the costs begin to rise whereas the costs for Windows 2003 drops. This is due to the extra support services that is offered in purchasing software and special subscription offers, although Red Hat also provides such services and packages they vary and differ to those offred by Microsoft.

Back to top


Security

When it comes to security issues between the two operating systems, Windows has the reputation for being the worse; there have been more accounts of Windows being under the attack of worms, viruses and trojans. Is this actually due to Windows being poorly coded, Linux users not stating their problems, Windows is a bigger target compared to Linux or there are just a lot of Bill Gates haters out in the world?

Windows

Securing Windows can be a right nightmare, the need for antivirus software, spy ware, firewalls,Windows updates and with more software installed the further system performance deteriorates and thats when problems start to occur as one Window user has experienced [6].

The in built firewall that is packaged with Windows XP is helpful but it is limited in functionality, it only checks incoming traffic and not out going so if you happen to have a trojan somewhere on the system it wont be of any help therefore it should not be used as the only means shielding, invest in another firewall [7].

It seems that viruses virus writers like to target the current market leader more than others, it means Windows has a lot going on for them; however John Lettice at ‘The Register’ [6] states that it is the way that Windows work and its design that leads to its vulnerability, giving the example of the RPC (Remote Procedure Calls) [8] which in 2003 was targeted for its slack and caused an outbreak of the blaster worm (WM32 Blaster (msblast.exe)). One of the biggest target for trojans and viruses was Outlook Express pre patch fix, users were duped into thinking that file is safe to open when there was a hidden .exe .com, .pif, .scr, or .vbs extension.

Linux

Linux has no viruses, this is what adamant Linux fanatics would say the answer is yes and no. Linux does have viruses that are made to specifically attack its platform however the number of viruses Linux have pales in comparisson to the amount Windows have. This make it easier and faster for the Linux community to fix compared to waiting for Microsoft updates.

Another common problem is the cross over of platforms, some individuals prefer the use of Linux/Mac so their personal computers/laptops has it installed however their work place may be using Windows, this is where the problem starts.
Many viruses do not affect Linux systems but they are still there and can easily be sent to another person, for example you may have a friend and they recieve an email that has a worm or virus, luckily they use Linux and nothing happens to them so they forward you the email, you know the person who sent it and you wouldnt expect it to contain a virus.

With the increasing popularity of Linux as an alternative to Windows which many people seem to start disliking, will the number of viruses increase? It is likely to reach such a conjecture if trends continue as it is but it will not be at an alarming rate, Windows will remain primary target for virus writers [11].

Comparative chart of Windows to Linux user figures

linux.gif

Back to top


Conclusion

Well there you have it, we have presented our findings on our research into the topic of Windows Vs Linux, although it is by no means an easy topic to research, it is a very interesting one to look into and there is a seemingly infinite amount of published material out there about the subject which will always leave you wanting to know more. There is much speculation into which system is superior and finding any accurate data on usage statistics is pretty much impossible as there has always been such a strong rivalry between the two operating systems. We have tried to remain as impartial as possible whilst writing this page as we would prefer the reader to make an informed decision based on our findings rather than just speculating for the sake of it. We have our own opinions on which operating system is better but we will leave you to come to your own conclusions.

Heres an old video clip to end this discussion, and hope your machine doesnt do this if you are using Windows.

Back to top


Forums

Windows Vs Linux
Please feel free to comment on our site
Category nameThreadsPostsLast post
This category groups discussions related to particular pages within this site.
1019by yav (guest)
31 Mar 2009 12:43Jump!
Deleted forum discussions should go here.
00 

Show hidden

rss icon RSS: New threads | New posts

Back to top


References

Back to top


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License