Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Linux or Windows?

  1. Jan 11, 2009 #1
    Right now I have Vista and I really don't like using it. I am looking forward to Windows 7 but it could just be another bad OS. If anyone is using Linux or has in the past I am wondering if I should start using it. And which version, Suze, Ubuntu...
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2009 #2
    I tried Ubuntu, problem is you cannot get a Liux version of every program/application, so
    you have to dual run which is impracticable. I use XP I have no gripes with it really.
     
  4. Jan 11, 2009 #3

    cristo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    What about the third option?
     
  5. Jan 11, 2009 #4
    I have experience with Ubuntu. If you are beginner, I would recommend you to start using Ubuntu 8.10. For first time, you may experience several problems with finding corresponding replace of the programs that you have used on Windows Vista.

    The linux platform is more stable and it is free! All famous sites (google.com, yahoo.com) has linux installed on their servers. You got very friendly GUI so you'll use the Terminal much less than usual.

    If you are game lover, you could also play Windows games using application Wine which stands for [W]ine s [N]ot [E]mulator.

    Practically, you could do everything that you have done in Windows.

    You could see this and this thread.

    Best regards,
    Diablo.
     
  6. Jan 11, 2009 #5
    What third option? Mac? I have used Mac before and I really don't like it.
     
  7. Jan 11, 2009 #6

    cristo

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Pff.. seems like you don't like any operating system!
     
  8. Jan 11, 2009 #7
    Pff.. I didn't say I didn't like Linux, and the only version of Windows that I don't like is Vista, I liked XP when I had it.
     
  9. Jan 11, 2009 #8
    RiseAgains did you read my #4 post?

    Sorry for mentioning but Mac is expensive and "made up". Don't you like the feeling when you got something free?

    Feel the passion of Open-Source! Order Ubuntu 8.10 CD for free!

    Regards.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  10. Jan 16, 2009 #9
    I agree that you should get linux, however i'm not sure which distribution. I think if you're just starting out, Ubuntu would be great, but i prefer Gentoo.
     
  11. Jan 16, 2009 #10
    If you like XP why don't you install it instead of Vista? Personally speaking I avoid Linux like the plague, preferring instead to stick with OS X or XP.
     
  12. Jan 19, 2009 #11
    Why avoid it, I've only heard good things about Linux. And I can't install XP because I don't have the disk to install it.
     
  13. Jan 19, 2009 #12

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The only important question is - what do you want to do with your computer.

    If you want to browse the web, send email = Linux is easy, works and you don't have to worry about viruses anymore.
    If you also need to write the odd document then Linux will also work, OpenOffice is included (with Ubuntu) and is as good as MsOffice for everything a regular user will do. It can read and write office docs pretty successfully so you can handle things sent to you by windows users.

    If you need to use a particular piece of software that is only available on Windows then use Windows (most Linux applications are also available for windows).

    Frankly for "computing for grannies" = I don't want to know anything about updates/reboots I just want to web browse, Ubuntu is looking pretty good.
    Download the Ubuntu CD and run it in live mode (just boot from the CD) it will run the entire system in memory - leaving your computer untouched. If you like it you can then install it instead of or alongside Vista.
     
  14. Jan 19, 2009 #13

    Ben Niehoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'm running Ubuntu 8.04, and I dual boot with WinXP. For the most part, I stay in Linux, and only go into XP when I really need to.

    Ubuntu Linux is easy to use for the most part. Most things will work out-of-box, including things you might expect to be difficult, like printer sharing and wireless internet. A few things might take some effort to set up; I still haven't got my sound to work properly with Flash videos online (and many Flash applications simply don't work). However, this deficiency is due mostly to lack of effort; the inability to properly watch YouTube helps keep me from procrastinating, so I haven't bothered to fix it. ;)

    Some of the main benefits of Linux are:

    1. You have control over your computer, rather than the other way around. It feels really great not to be pushed around by the Man.

    2. It can do almost anything Windows can do--there are tons of great programs you can download and install instantly for free. Even some really fun and beautiful games! And you also have the GIMP, which is a graphics program to rival Photoshop (and quite powerful).

    3. It also has stuff that Windows ain't got! Text editors with a wide array of useful features that MS thought were too complicated to put into any of their software. Have you ever tried to highlight and copy a column of text in Notepad? Good luck. There are some other neat things, too, but I haven't explored this very much yet.

    4. If you like to code and tinker, it's very easy to do in Linux. C, Python, Perl, PHP, MySQL, Apache, Lisp, LaTeX, you name it: there are high-quality, free compilers, etc., for Linux that you can download and install easily from a unified GUI interface. It is also VERY easy to write scripts for doing things on the command line, such as manipulating large collections of files, or what-have you. Microsoft is limited to vastly-outdated Batch scripts; in Linux it is quick and easy to use the full power of Perl and Python, with regular expressions that make text processing a breeze. Say you want to reorganize your entire music collection based on certain keywords in the title, filename, or ID3 tags? Imagine the headache in Microsoft Windows! But it takes less than 100 lines in Perl.

    5. If you need any help with anything, there is a large community of Linux fans on various messageboards who will have free, easy solutions. Whenever I get stuck, I just put some stuff into Google, and I usually find step-by-step instructions to do exactly what I want. The help available is usually better than what you find on Microsoft's website if you ever need to know how to do some obscure thing in Windows.

    The main disadvantages to Linux are:

    1. No workable substitute for Microsoft OneNote, with tablet features. There are a few attempts at imitation, but I don't think the developers on the project really understand what OneNote is for and how to use it.

    2. You can't play most mainstream games, except by using Wine (a Windows emulator). I haven't tried that, so I can't say how good it is. I boot into XP if I want to play games.

    3. There are a few multimedia software publishers who do not produce Linux versions: Adobe Photoshop, Finale, etc. (Both Mathematica and Maple DO produce Linux versions; I have them both installed and they work great).
     
  15. Jan 19, 2009 #14
    I avoid it because it doesn't do what I need. I use my computers for email, web browsing, getting papers from the ArXiv, programming, and some reasonably heavy numerical work. Any time I've used Linux I've had to bang my head against the wall with driver issues, flaky software, and poor performance (and, given that I have neither the time nor the inclination to struggle with custom compilation of the kernel, this is a killer). Moreover, Matlab performance on Linux is atrocious, and there really is no comparable alternative to Visual Studio, which is my main development environment; in fact, nothing on Linux even comes close to Visual Studio and, as good and all as GCC is, Microsoft's compilers produce significantly faster code in my experience.

    Finally, and perhaps bizarrely given all the bad press Microsoft gets in this area, I've had innumerably more crashes, glitches, and hangups when running Linux than I have when running XP.

    I'm not saying that Linux isn't a good fit for some people. But for what I need my computers to do, Linux is just an utter non-starter in comparison to XP/OS X, and I can't see that changing any time soon.
     
  16. Jan 19, 2009 #15

    Ben Niehoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Visual Studio is quite sophisticated, yes. It also costs something like $1200. That's fine if you program for a living; if you just like to tinker, it's a bit overkill.
     
  17. Jan 19, 2009 #16

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Visual studio express is free, pro costs around $600
    It is by the far the nicest development environment I have ever used, including some IBM things that cost 10x more.

    But Eclipse is still good, especially if you are doing Java, and the GCC compiler has always been better than windows in terms of the latest C++ standards compliance and performance.

    In the 2005/2008 versions the C++ compiler has improved a lot - a result of MS hiring some outside people, especially Herb Sutter and possibly because c# is now their own proprietry language so they don't have to 'embrace and extend' c++.
    I haven't done any high performance stuff with 2008 but it used to be that Intel's icc compiler and gcc were neck-neck and VC++ a bit behind. This is mainly because there isn't a big market for HPC on windows.
     
  18. Jan 19, 2009 #17

    vanesch

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A very long time ago, I was a Mac user and a UNIX user, but since about 10 years I've been dwelling in the world of windows. I do like XP. However, when I recently bought a cheap portable computer with Vista on it, I also installed Ubuntu on it in dual boot, and I have to say I work 95% of the time under Ubuntu. At my work I switch between XP which I need for some specific applications, and Ubuntu which I need for other applications.
    Although at the office I've had some difficulties with printing and so on under Ubuntu (it is not supported by our computer department), at home everything runs fine. I print under Ubuntu on my portable using my local network and a fixed PC running XP to which a printer is connected. It was actually easier to do this under Ubuntu than under Vista!

    I've had an occasional small problem with Ubuntu (the most serious being that one update messed up with my wifi driver ; the solution has been to boot under a previous version of the kernel, until a newer update came out in which the problem is fixed). Most of the time things work well under ubuntu.

    As a development environment, I use code::blocks. It runs as well under Windows as under linux (and I even think it runs on a mac).
     
  19. Jan 21, 2009 #18

    daniel_i_l

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I used to have only XP on my laptop. About 1.5 years ago I installed the fedora linux distro as a dual boot and was very impressed by it. Since then, the only time I've needed to boot into XP was to play around with a program I wrote a while ago using windows - I eventually ported it to linux. Most of the people I know who used a dual-boot found the same thing, they almost never use the windows partition. I'm aware that this may not be the most representive group but it still shows something.

    If you like programming and fiddling linux is definitely the way to go. If you just use the computer for simple things like web browsing then linux could be a lighweight solution. On the other hand, if you use the computer professionally - for an office enviroment, artwork, etc... it's probably easier to stick with windows.
     
  20. Jan 22, 2009 #19
    i totally accept with daniel_i_l. for programming linux is the best way to go. but if you use computer for general purpose and if you expect easy user operation use windows. using windows is easy to the people who is new to desktops (like kids or aged peoples), if your desktops will be used by these peoples you can install windows.
     
  21. Jan 23, 2009 #20
    I am currently using Fedora Core 10, since I severely dislike where Ubuntu has gone/is heading. It brags about being usable, yet the default installation package provides software you will most likely never use. I feel that Ubuntu is very bloated, and Fedora Core provides a nice system that requires little to no meddling, such as a Gentoo stage3 install, or an Arch Linux installation, which I frankly do not have the time for.

    The Windows 7 Beta has been released, and I have heard that it is "What Vista was supposed to be." It has a brand new interface, and apparently uses less resources than Vista.

    I would suggest giving Linux a nice, long try. I find that it feels great to have a system completely tailored to your needs, and I enjoy the package managers very much. I would recommend you start with something like CentOS, Fedora Core, or Ubuntu (Debian would do fine as well), and possibly move up towards a distribution that allows for more customization during the install process, such as Gentoo.

    Another reason I love Linux is for the choice of window manager/desktop environment. I am currently using gnome, but when I do more than casual web browsing and emailing, I enjoy using a tiling window manager to work more efficiently (no more moving and resizing windows, and switching between them is also very easy) such as xmonad or wmii.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?