This page provides some high level comparisons between Windows and Linux.

User Logins
In newer Windows distributions the User Login operations are similar to how a user Logs into a Linux machine.

'In each case the user has a Username and a Password'

Users and Groups
Both Windows and Ubuntu Linux have Users and User Groups
Ports and devices
Both Windows and Linux support Physical device ports such as parallel, serial, and USB. Various controllers, such as IDE and SCSI, are also supported.
Linux and Windows both support a number of networking protocols, such as TCP/IP, NetBIOS, and IPX. Both support a wide variety of network adapters. Both provide the ability to share resources, such as files and printing, through the network. Both provide capability to perform network services, such as DHCP and DNS.
Linux and Windows both have services, applications that run in the background to provide some function to the system and to computers that remotely call the service. These programs can be controlled individually and be started automatically when the system boots. (Note: In Linux these applications are often referred to as daemons, a legacy of its Unix roots.) File systems::Both Linux and Windows work with a variety of file systems. File resources can be shared with through NetBIOS, FTP, or other protocols.
File System Hierarchy
Most Windows users have one physical drive and that drive is split into various size chunks. Each of those chunks (sections) is (unfortunately) referred to as a Drive having a Letter Designation of C thru Z.

Linux (physical drives) can also be split into various size chunks but each chunk has a Directory Name, such as

  • usr
  • var
  • home
  • etc
  • Filename extensions
    Linux does not use filename extensions to identity a file's type. Rather, Linux looks at the header contents of a file to identity the type. You can still use filename extensions for human-readability, but Linux doesn't care. That said, some applications, such as a Web server, may use naming conventions to identify file types, but that is a factor of the individual applications, it is not a Linux convention.
    File Names
    Windows has many Folder and File names that contain embedded spaces, for example 'My Documents'

    Linux allows embedded spaces in File and Directory names but the practice is discouraged. However, oftentimes the 'period' or 'underline' character is used instead of a space character.

    In Windows a Folder refers to a collection of Files or Sub-Folders and Files.

    'In Linux a Folder is a Directory' and Directories can contain Sub-directories and files.

    Home Folder
    In Windows there is not a concept of a Home Folder but each user has a Folder that matches their Login name on the C: drive, under 'Documents and Settings'

    In Linux Home folders are (almost always) in the '/home' directory and there is a Directory under /home that matches the User Login name, such as

  • /home/john
  • /home/paul

    /home directories under Linux can be anywhere and are not confined to the /home directory, however, Home Directories are generally in /home.

  • Pre-assigned Folders
    Windows has some pre-assigned folders such as 'My Documents'

    Linux does not (currently) create or pre-assign Directory names so you will not find a 'My Documents' Directory on a Linux machine unless someone created the 'My Documents' directory.
    This also applies to the following Windows Folders such as

  • My Pictures
  • My Anything
  • GUI vs Console Interface
    Windows has the 'cmd' feature that provides the user with an interface that is command oriented and does not go thru the GUI to execute applications etc.

    The equivalent feature on a Linux machine is referred to as the Console Interface.
    The Console Interface is used almost exclusively by experienced Linux users. It is actually possible to boot a Linux machine and use the Console Interface for various operations without starting up the GUI. In fact there are times when you may have altered something that prevents the GUI from starting and you have to access the Linux machine via the Console to correct the problem.

    Commands are case sensitive
    All Linux (Console) commands and options are case sensitive. For example, -R is different from -r, and will do different things. Console commands are almost always lowercase.
    Internet Browsers
    Windows comes with the Internet Explorer Browser loaded and ready to use.

    Ubuntu comes with the Epiphany Browser and Kubuntu comes with the Konqueror Browser. Both browsers are loaded during the installation of Ubuntu/Kubuntu.
    The Firefox browser can be installed after the Linux Installation is complete.

    Application Software
    The Windows OS provides many pre-loaded applications for sound, processing photos, working with Personal Information Managers and the like.

    To add additional applications you have to go to a Company site and download and install their application(s). Often Windows applications not written by MS depend on other software packages that you also have to download and install to get additional application to run.

    Linux comes with similar applications but most additional applications come from the Ubuntu site and have been written for and tested on your current Ubuntu release.
    Ubuntu will only provide free software covered by the GPL licensing agreement(s). Some Nvidia video drivers are not provided by the Ubuntu Distribution because they are considered restricted and contain code the manufacturer says is proprietary. However, most of this code can be downloaded from various restricted repositorie(s) and installed on your machine.
    When you download and install a Ubuntu (99% of the time) package all the dependent software required to run that package is downloaded and installed at the same time.

    Rebooting is a last resort
    If you have been using Windows for a long time, you are accustomed to rebooting the system for many reasons, from software installation to correcting problems with a service. The system design of Linux prevents applications from corrupting the kernel, which is why it doesn't need frequent reboots (in contrast to Windows system design). So except for the Linux kernel, you can install, start, stop, and reconfigure (most) software without having to reboot the system.

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    Windows/LinuxComparisons (last edited 2008-11-03 14:28:22 by jonreagan)