Linux distribution

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search This article needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2009)

A Linux distribution (also called GNU/Linux distribution by some vendors and users) is a member of the family of Unix-like software distributions built on top of the Linux kernel. Such distributions (often called distros for short) consist of a large collection of software applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, media players and database applications. The operating system will consist of the Linux kernel and, usually, a set of libraries and utilities from the GNU project, with graphics support from the X Window System. Distributions optimized for size may not contain X, and tend to use more compact alternatives to the GNU utilities such as Busybox, uClibc or dietlibc. There are currently over six hundred Linux distributions. Over three hundred of those are in active development, constantly being revised and improved. Because most of the kernel and supporting packages are some combination of free software and open source, Linux distributions have taken a wide variety of forms — from fully featured desktop and server operating systems to minimal environments (typically for use in embedded systems, or for booting from a floppy disk). Aside from certain custom software (such as installers and configuration tools), a distribution is most simply described as a particular assortment of applications installed on top of a set of libraries married with a version of the kernel, such that its "out-of-the-box" capabilities meet most of the needs of its particular end-user base. One can distinguish between commercially backed distributions, such as Fedora (Red Hat), openSUSE (Novell), Ubuntu (Canonical Ltd.), and Mandriva Linux (Mandriva) and entirely community-driven distributions such as Debian and Gentoo, though there are other distributions that are driven neither by a corporation nor a community, perhaps most famously Slackware.

• • • • •

1 History 2 Components o 2.1 Package management 3 Types and trends 4 Installation-free distributions (Live CDs) 5 Examples o 5.1 Popular distributions

• • • • • • • • •

o 5.2 Niche distributions 6 Interdistribution issues 7 Tools for choosing a distribution 8 Installation o 8.1 Installation via an existing operating system 9 Proprietary software 10 OEM contracts 11 Screenshots of common distributions 12 See also 13 References

14 External links

[edit] History

Linux Distro Genesis, timeline representing the development of various Linux distributions. Before the first Linux distributions, a would-be Linux user was required to be something of a Unix expert, needing to know not only what libraries and executables were required to successfully get the system to boot and run, but also important details concerning configuration and placement of files in the system.[citation needed] Linux distributions began to appear very soon after the Linux kernel was first used by individuals other than the original Linux programmers. They were more interested in developing the operating system than developing application programs, the user interface, or convenient packaging.[citation needed] Early distributions included:

• • • • •

H J Lu's "Boot-root" a two disk pair with the kernel and the absolute minimal tools to get started MCC Interim Linux, which was made available to the public for download on the FTP server of University of Manchester in February, 1992 TAMU, created by individuals at Texas A&M University about the same time SLS (Softlanding Linux System) Yggdrasil Linux/GNU/X, the first CD-ROM based Linux distribution

SLS was not well-maintained, so Patrick Volkerding released a distribution based on SLS, which he called Slackware, released in 1993.[1] This is the oldest distribution still in active development. Users were attracted to Linux distributions as alternatives to the DOS and Microsoft Windows operating systems on the PC, Mac OS on the Apple Macintosh and proprietary versions of Unix. Most early adopters were familiar with Unix from work or school. They embraced Linux for its stability, low (if any) cost, and for the availability of the source code for most or all of the software included. The distributions were originally simply a convenience, but today they have become the usual choice even for Unix or Linux experts. To date, Linux has proven more popular in the server market, primarily for Web and database servers (see also LAMP), than in the desktop market.

[edit] Components
A typical desktop Linux distribution comprises a Linux kernel, GNU tools and libraries, additional software, documentation, a window system, window manager, and a desktop environment. Most of the included software is free software/open-source software which is distributed by its maintainers both as compiled binaries and in source code form, allowing users to modify and compile the original source code if they wish. Other software included with some distributions may be proprietary and may not be available in source code form. Many distributions provide an installation system akin to that provided with other modern operating systems. Some distributions like Gentoo Linux, T2 and Linux From Scratch include binaries only of a basic kernel, compilation tools, and an installer; the installer compiles all the requested software for the specific microarchitecture of the user's machine, using these tools and the provided source code.

[edit] Package management
See also: Package management system and Linux package formats Distributions are normally segmented into packages. Each package contains a specific application or service. Examples of packages are a library for handling the PNG image format, a collection of fonts or a web browser.

The package is typically provided as compiled code, with installation and removal of packages handled by a package management system (PMS) rather than a simple file archiver. Each package intended for such a PMS contains meta-information such as a package description, version, and "dependencies". The package management system can evaluate this meta-information to allow package searches, to perform an automatic upgrade to a newer version, to check that all dependencies of a package are fulfilled, and/or to fulfill them automatically. Although Linux distributions typically contain much more software than proprietary operating systems, it is normal for local administrators to also install software not included in the distribution. An example would be a newer version of a software application than that supplied with a distribution, or an alternative to that chosen by the distribution (e.g., KDE rather than GNOME or vice versa for the user interface layer). If the additional software is distributed in source-only form, this approach requires local compilation. However, if additional software is locally added, the 'state' of the local system may fall out of synchronization with the state of the package manager's database. If so, the local administrator will be required to take additional measures to ensure the entire system is kept up to date. The package manager may no longer be able to do so automatically. Most distributions install packages, including the kernel and other core operating system components, in a predetermined configuration. Few now require or even permit configuration adjustments at first install time. This makes installation less daunting, particularly for new users, but is not always acceptable. For specific requirements, much software must be carefully configured to be useful, to work correctly with other software, or to be secure, and local administrators are often obliged to spend time reviewing and reconfiguring assorted software. Some distributions go to considerable lengths to specifically adjust and customize most or all of the software included in the distribution. Not all do so. Some distributions provide configuration tools to assist in this process. By replacing everything provided in a distribution, an administrator may reach a "distribution-less" state: everything was retrieved, compiled, configured, and installed locally. It is possible to build such a system from scratch, avoiding a distribution altogether. One needs a way to generate the first binaries until the system is self-hosting. This can be done via compilation on another system capable of building binaries for the intended target (possibly by cross-compilation). See for example Linux From Scratch.

[edit] Types and trends
Further information: Linux adoption and Comparison of Linux distributions Broadly, Linux distributions may be:

Commercial or non-commercial;

• • • • •

Designed for enterprise users, power users, or for home users; Supported on multiple types of hardware, or platform-specific, even to the extent of certification by the platform vendor; Designed for servers, desktops, or embedded devices; General purpose or highly specialized toward specific machine functionalities (e.g. firewalls, network routers, and computer clusters); Targeted at specific user groups, for example through language internationalization and localization, or through inclusion of many music production or scientific computing packages; Built primarily for security, usability, portability, or comprehensiveness.

The diversity of Linux distributions is due to technical, organizational, and philosophical variation among vendors and users. The permissive licensing of free software means that any user with sufficient knowledge and interest can customize an existing distribution or design one to suit his or her own needs.

[edit] Installation-free distributions (Live CDs)
Main articles: Live CD and Live USB A Live Distro or Live CD is a Linux distribution that can be booted from a compact disc or other medium (such as a DVD or USB flash drive) instead of the conventional hard drive. Some minimal distributions such as tomsrtbt can be run directly from as little as one floppy disk without needing to change the system's hard drive contents. When the operating system is booted from a read-only device such as a CD or DVD, if user data needs to be retained between sessions, it cannot be stored on the boot device but must be written to some other media such as a USB flash drive or an installed hard drive. Temporary operating system data is usually kept solely in RAM. The portability of installation-free distributions makes them advantageous for applications such as demonstrations, borrowing someone else's computer, rescue operations, or as installation media for a standard distribution. Many popular distributions come in both "Live" and conventional forms (the conventional form being a network or removable media image which is intended to be used for installation only). This includes SUSE, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, MEPIS, Sidux, and Fedora. Some distributions, such as Knoppix, Devil-Linux and dyne:bolic are designed primarily for Live CD, Live DVD or USB flash drive use.

[edit] Examples
[edit] Popular distributions
Well-known Linux distributions include:

• •

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Arch Linux, a distribution based on the KISS principle with a rolling release system CentOS, a distribution derived from the same sources used by Red Hat, maintained by a dedicated volunteer community of developers with both 100% Red Hat-compatible versions and an upgraded version that is not always 100% upstream compatible Debian, a non-commercial distribution maintained by a volunteer developer community with a strong commitment to free software principles Fedora, a community distribution sponsored by Red Hat Gentoo, a distribution targeted at power users, known for its FreeBSD Ports-like automated system for compiling applications from source code Knoppix, the first Live CD distribution to run completely from removable media without installation to a hard disk, derived from Debian Kubuntu, the KDE version of Ubuntu Linux Mint, a distribution based on and compatible with Ubuntu Mandriva, a Red Hat derivative popular in France and Brazil, today maintained by the French company of the same name openSUSE, originally derived from Slackware, sponsored by the company Novell Oracle Enterprise Linux, which is a derivative of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, maintained and commercially supported by Oracle PCLinuxOS, a derivative of Mandriva, grew from a group of packages into a community-spawned desktop distribution. Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is a derivative of Fedora, maintained and commercially supported by Red Hat Sabayon Linux, Gentoo Based Distribution, aiming at working Out of the box. SimplyMEPIS, a Debian-based distribution intended for easy desktop use and strong support. Slackware, one of the first Linux distributions, founded in 1993, and since then actively maintained by Patrick J. Volkerding Ubuntu, a popular desktop distribution derived from Debian, maintained by Canonical. Ubuntu also has a netbook version called the Ubuntu netbook remix. Xubuntu, is the Xfce version of the popular desktop distro Ubuntu. Commonly used by Linux users that wish to have the function of a bigger distro such as Ubuntu or openSuse with the speed of a smaller distro.

DistroWatch maintains a popularity ranking of distributions on its web site; the ranking is based primarily on page views, which is not considered to be a reliable measure of distribution popularity.

[edit] Niche distributions
Other distributions are targeted at other specific niches, such as the tiny embedded router distribution OpenWrt, the Ubuntu project to create Edubuntu for educational users, and KnoppMyth, which wraps Knoppix around MythTV to ease building Linux-powered DVRs. Similarly, there is the XBMC Live distro which wraps Ubuntu around XBMC Media Center ease building Linux-powered HTPC (Home Theater PC). Others target the

Apple Macintosh platform, including mkLinux, Yellow Dog Linux, and Black Lab Linux. Karoshi is a server system based on PCLinuxOS and aimed at educational users.

[edit] Interdistribution issues
The Free Standards Group is an organization formed by major software and hardware vendors that aims to improve interoperability between different distributions. Among their proposed standards are the Linux Standard Base, which defines a common ABI and packaging system for Linux, and the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard which recommends a standard filenaming chart, notably the basic directory names found on the root of the tree of any Linux filesystem. Those standards, however, see limited use, even among the distributions developed by members of the organization. The diversity of Linux distributions means that not all software runs on all distributions, depending on what libraries and other system attributes are required. Packaged software and software repositories are usually specific to a particular distribution, though crossinstallation is sometimes possible on closely related distributions.

[edit] Tools for choosing a distribution
This section needs references that appear in reliable third-party publications. Primary sources or sources affiliated with the subject are generally not sufficient for a Wikipedia article. Please add more appropriate citations from reliable sources. (March 2009) There are tools available to help people select an appropriate distribution, such as several different versions of the Linux Distribution Chooser,[2][3] and the universal package search tool whohas.[4] There are easy ways to try out several Linux distributions before deciding on one: Multi Distro is a Live CD that contains nine space-saving distributions.[5] Tools are available to make such CDs and DVDs, among them Nautopia.[6] Virtual machines such as VirtualBox and VMware Workstation permit booting of Live CD image files without actually burning a CD. Details and interest rankings of Linux distributions are available on DistroWatch and a fairly comprehensive list of live CDs is available at Some websites such as and offer screenshots and videos as a way to get a first impression of various distributions. Workspot provides online Linux desktop demos using Virtual Network Computing (VNC).

[edit] Installation

This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2009)

There are many ways to install a Linux distribution. The most common method of installing Linux is by booting from a CD-ROM or DVD that contains the installation program and installable software. Such a CD can be burned from a downloaded ISO image, purchased alone for a low price, provided as a cover disk with a magazine, shipped for free by request, or obtained as part of a box set that may also include manuals and additional commercial software. New users tend to begin by partitioning a hard drive in order to keep their previously-installed operating system. The Linux distribution can then be installed on its own separate partition without affecting previously saved data. Early Linux distributions were installed using sets of floppies but this has been abandoned by all major distributions. Nowadays most distributions offer CD and DVD sets with the vital packages on the first disc and less important packages on later ones. They usually also allow installation over a network after booting from either a set of floppies or a CD with only a small amount of data on it.[7] Still another mode of installation is to install on a powerful computer to use as a servers and to use less powerful machines (perhaps without hard drives, with less memory and slower CPUs) as thin clients over the network. Clients can boot over the network from the server and display results and pass information to the server where all the applications run. The clients can be ordinary PCs with the addition of a network bootloader on a drive or network interface controller; hard disk space and processor power can be offloaded onto the client machine if desired. The cost savings achieved by using thin clients can be invested in greater computing power or storage on the server. In a Live CD setup, the computer boots the entire operating system from CD without first installing it on the computer's hard disk. Some distributions have a Live CD installer, where the computer boots the operating system from the disk, and then proceeds to install it onto the computer's hard disk, providing a seamless transition from the OS running from the CD to the OS running from the hard disk. Both servers and personal computers that come with Linux already installed are available from vendors including Hewlett-Packard and Dell. On embedded devices, Linux is typically held in the device's firmware and may or may not be consumer-accessible. Anaconda, one of the more popular installers, is used by Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora and other distributions to simplify the installation process.

[edit] Installation via an existing operating system

Some distributions let the user install Linux on top of their current system, such as WinLinux or coLinux. Linux is installed to the Windows hard disk partition, and can be started from inside Windows itself. Virtual machines (such as VirtualBox or VMware) also make it possible for Linux to be run inside another OS. The VM software simulates a separate computer onto which the Linux system is installed. After installation, the virtual machine can be booted as if it were an independent computer. Various tools are also available to perform full dual-boot installations from existing platforms without a CD, most notably:

The Wubi installer, which allows Windows users to download and install Ubuntu or its derivatives without the need for hard drive partitioning or an installation CD, allowing users to easily dual boot between either operating system on the same hard drive without losing data Win32-loader, which is in the process of being integrated in official Debian CDs/DVDs, and allows Windows users to install Debian without a CD, though it performs a network installation and thereby requires repartitioning[8] UNetbootin, which allows Windows and Linux users to perform similar no-CD network installations for a wide variety of Linux distributions and additionally provides live USB creation support

[edit] Proprietary software
See also: List of proprietary software for Linux Some specific proprietary software products are not available in any form for Linux. This includes many popular computer games, although in recent years some game manufacturers have begun making their software available for Linux, such as Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2004. Emulation and API-translation projects like Wine and Cedega make it possible to run non-Linux-based software on Linux systems, either by emulating a proprietary operating system or by translating proprietary API calls (e.g., calls to Microsoft's Win32 or DirectX APIs) into native Linux API calls. A virtual machine can also be used to run a proprietary OS (like Microsoft Windows) on top of Linux.

[edit] OEM contracts
Computer hardware is usually sold with an operating system other than Linux from a software original equipment manufacturer (OEM) already installed. In the case of IBM PC compatibles the OS is usually Microsoft Windows; in the case of Apple Macintosh computers it has always been a version of Apple's OS, currently Mac OS X; Sun Microsystems sells SPARC hardware with Solaris installed; video game consoles such as the Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii each have their own proprietary OS. This limits Linux's

market share: consumers are unaware that an alternative exists, they must make a conscious effort to use a different operating system, and they must either perform the actual installation themselves, or depend on support from a friend, relative, or computer professional.[original research?] However, it is possible to buy hardware with Linux already installed. Lenovo, HewlettPackard, Dell, Affordy,[9] and System76 all sell general-purpose Linux laptops,[10] and custom-order PC manufacturers will also build Linux systems (but possibly with the Windows key on the keyboard). Fixstars Solutions (formerly Terra Soft) sells Macintosh computers and PlayStation 3 consoles with Yellow Dog Linux installed. It is more common to find embedded devices sold with Linux as the default manufacturer-supported OS, including the Linksys NSLU2 NAS device, TiVo's line of personal video recorders, and Linux-based cellphones, PDAs, and portable music players. Consumers also have the option of obtaining a refund for unused OEM operating system software. The end user license agreement (EULA) for Apple and Microsoft operating systems gives the consumer the opportunity to reject the license and obtain a refund. If requesting a refund directly from the manufacturer fails, it is also possible that a lawsuit in small claims court will work.[11] On February 15, 1999, a group of Linux users in Orange County, California held a "Windows Refund Day" protest in an attempt to pressure Microsoft into issuing them refunds.[12] In France, the Linuxfrench and AFUL organizations along with free software activist Roberto Di Cosmo started a "Windows Detax" movement,[13] which led to a 2006 petition against "racketiciels"[14] (translation: Racketware) and the DGCCRF branch of the French government filing several complaints against bundled software

Comparison of Linux distributions
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search Technical variations of GNU/Linux distributions include support for different hardware devices and systems or software package configurations. Organizational differences may be motivated by historical reasons. Other criteria include security, including how quickly security upgrades are available; ease of package management; and number of packages available. These tables compare each noteworthy distribution's latest stable release on wide-ranging objective criteria. It does not cover each operating system's subjective merits, branches marked as unstable or beta, nor compare Linux distributions with other operating systems.


• • • • • • • • • •

1 General 2 Cost 3 Technical 4 Architecture support 5 Package management and installation 6 Live CDs/DVDs/USBs 7 Security features 8 See also 9 References 10 External links

[edit] General
Basic general information about the distributions: creator or producer, release date and latest version, and so forth.
First public release (yyyyMM-dd)




Base distribution

Latest release date


64 Studio



ALT Linux Annvix Arch Linux Ark Linux Arudius


Aurox BackTrack

Daniel James, 2005-05Free 64 Studio Ltd. 09 Ekanayaka Alinex Team, Alinex Team, 2005-12University of University of 06 Évora Évora ? preJay Klepacs Jay Klepacs 1999-0819 (1.1) ALT Linux ALT Linux 2001-03Team / ALT Team 21 Linux LLC Vincent Danen Vincent Danen 2003-11-? 2002-03Judd Vinet dev team 11 Bernhard 2003-01dev team Rosenkraenzer 25 2005-11Haidut dev team 03 Red Flag Linux, Miracle dev team 2004-06-? Linux, Haansoft Linux SoftwareWydawnictwo Aurox Sp. z oo 2002-09-? Sp. z oo Max Moser, Remote-Exploit 2006-08-


2008-06-09 multimedia




Red Hat Linux



none Mandrake Linux none none none

2009-02-20 2007-12-30 2009-02-16 2008-05-14 2006-02-06

general server general desktop auditing server, workstation



Fedora Slackware(version <

2006-08-31 2009-06-19

general auditing

Mati Aharoni & Martin J. Muench Brixton Linux BLAG Action Group C-DAC (Centre for BOSS Development of Advanced Computing) Daniel Neves, José Caixa Mágica Guimarães, Paulo Trezentos DeepSpaceO Arjo S Chakravarty CentOS Chrome OS CrunchBang CRUX Damn Small Linux Debian Desktop Light Linux DeMuDi dyne:bolic Easy Peasy Elive EnGarde Secure Linux Fedora Finnix Foresight Linux Frugalware

31 Brixton Linux 2002-10Action Group 22 C-DAC (Centre for 2007-01Development of 10 Advanced Computing) Caixa Mágica Software 2000-1028 2009-1210

3.x)/Ubuntu(version > 4.x) Fedora 2008-07-21





Mandriva Linux




Opensuse RHEL Ubuntu Ubuntu none Knoppix none none Debian none Ubuntu Debian none Red Hat Linux Debian rPath Slackware

2009-12-10 2009-10-21 N/A 2009-01-19 2009-09-08 2008-11-17[3] 2009-09-05 2008-05-28

general server, workstation netbooks desktop general portable general desktop

CentOS Project CentOS Project 2003-12-? Google Philip Newborough Per Liden John Andrews Google Philip Newborough CRUX Linux community dev team N/A 2008-0130 2001-0120 2003-?-? 1993-0816

Ian Murdock Debian Project Henry Jensen AGNULA Jaromil Jon Ramvi, Easy Peasy community

Henry Jensen 2002-10-? AGNULA Jaromil Jon Ramvi, Easy Peasy community 2002-04-? 2001-06-? 2008-0704 2005-0101 2001-?-? 2003-1105 2000-0322 2004-12-? 2004-0902[citation

2005-11-03 multimedia 2007-09-22 multimedia 2009-04-20 2007-07-05 2008-04-? 2009-11-17 2008-01-29 2008-11-24 2009-09-07 Weekly [4] 2009-09-14 netbooks desktop server general maintenanc e general general

Thanatermesis Thanatermesis Guardian Digital, Inc. Guardian Digital, Inc.

Fedora Project Fedora Project Ryan Finnie Ken VanDine Miklos Vajna Ryan Finnie dev team dev team Gentoo Foundation, Inc. dev team

Gentoo Linux Daniel Robbins gNewSense Brian Brazil and Paul O'Malley Klaus Knopper

2002-0331 2006-1102 ? pre-

none Ubuntu (8.04)

general desktop


dev team




2003-0717 (0.4) gnuLinEx Regional Government of Extremadura Hisham Muhammad, Andre Detsch dev team 2002-0609 2002-0320 2007-1101 Debian 2006-06-20 desktop

GoboLinux gOS SHR Impi Linux Kanotix Kiran Linux Knoppix KnoppMyth Kuki Linux Kurumin Linux

dev team

none Ubuntu FSO

2008-03-30 2008-02-07 2010-01-15 (testing) 2006-01-31 2007-12-31 2008-08-19 2009-11-18[5] 2007-09-09

desktop desktop portable desktop desktop, live general live


Gauteng Linux Users Group Jörg Schirottke (Kano) Kiran Shila Klaus Knopper Cecil Watson João Ferro

Impi Linux (Pty) Ltd. dev team Kiran Shila dev team dev team kuki bakers

2003-11-? 2003-1224 2008-0819 ? pre2003-0119 (3.1) ? 2008-1021

Debian Debian, Knoppix Slackware Debian Debian, Knoppix Ubuntu

Carlos GuiadoHardwar 2003-01-? Knoppix Morimoto e, Linspire Linspire, Inc. 2002-03-? Debian 2007-10-10 desktop Inc., Debian/Ubuntu(developin Freespire Linspire, Inc. 2002-03-? 2007-11-30 desktop Inc. g) 2009-02Linux4One ? ? Ubuntu 2009-04-06 desktop 28 Clement 2006-08Linux Mint dev team Ubuntu 2009-11-28 desktop Lefebvre 27 Chuck Mead, FooLunar Linux Lunar Penguin 2002-03-? Sorcerer 2007-02-17 general Project 1998-7-23 Mandriva Mandrakesoft Mandriva S.A. (5.1 Red Hat Linux 2009-04-29[6] general Linux S.A. (venice)) MontaVista MontaVista MontaVista 1999-?-? Debian 2007-03-? embedded Linux Software Software Mutagenix Dan Barber Dan Barber 2005-7-7 Slackware 2007-08-16 rescue Musix Marcos Knoppix, Kanotix, ? ? 2007-03-05 audio GNU+Linux Guglielmetti Debian Ronald W. Network Henderson, 2003-01network, Security dev team Fedora 2009-09-22 Paul 01 security Toolkit Blankenbaker NexusWare Performance dev team 1998-?-? Debian and others 2008-02-02 embedded Core Technologies, Inc Bogdan Bogdan NimbleX 2005-12-? Slackware 2006-12-25 desktop Radulescu Radulescu

desktop, live Acer Aspire 2009-08-30 One desktop, 2007-02-21 live

Nitix Open Enterprise Server on Linux openSUSE OpenWRT Oracle Enterprise Linux Paipix Pardus Parsix PCLinuxOS Pie Box Enterprise Linux Puppy Linux

Net Integration Net Integration Technologies, Technologies, 2001-?-? Inc. Inc. Novell Novell, Inc. dev team 2003




SUSE Linux Enterprise Server



SUSE Linux / Novell ? Oracle Corporation

Novell, Inc. & openSUSE 1994-03-? Project OpenWrt team Oracle Corporation ? 2006-1026

SUSE Linux ? RHEL Debian Gentoo Linux Kanotix, Debian Mandrake Linux

2009-11-12 2009-06-03

general embedded server science general desktop desktop general portable

2009-09-09 2007-10-17 2008-09-14 2007-10-05 2009-03-11

António António 2004-?-? Amorim Amorim TUBITAK TUBITAK 2005-?-? Alan 2005-01Parsix Project Baghumian 25 Bill Reynolds dev team 2003-11-? PixExcel Barry Kauler PixExcel Puppy Foundation

2004-04Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2006-08-15 19 none 2008-11-03


Red Flag Linux

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Red Hat Linux Rocks Rxart Sabayon Linux Satux

2002-0712 (0.4) 2003-1031 QiLinux team QiLinux team (1.0alpha2 ) Institute of Software, Chinese Red Flag Academy of 1999-09Software Co., Sciences, 20 Ltd. NewMargin Venture Capital 2002-0326 Red Hat Enterprise Red Hat Red Hat Linux 2.1 AS (Pensacola ) 1995-05Red Hat Red Hat 13 (1.0) UCSD UCSD Supercomputin Supercomputin 2000-11-? g Center, g Center, Rocks 1.0 Clustercorp Clustercorp Pixart SRL Pixart SRL 2000-03-? lxnay Design Institute of dev team Institute of ? 2007-?-?







Red Hat Linux/Fedora


server, workstation



server, workstation

Red Hat Linux Debian Gentoo Debian

2008-11-? server, Rocks 5.1 workstation (V.1) 2006-04-16 2009-10-02[9] 2007

general desktop desktop

Technology Technology JRSC JRSC (iTJRSC) (iTJRSC) Scientific CERN, dev team 2004-5-10 Linux Fermilab 2007-02sidux sidux team sidux team 21 SimplyMEPI Warren 2003-09MEPIS LLC. S Woodford 05 Patrick 1993-07Slackware dev team Volkerding 16 Tomas Tomas 2002-06SLAX Matejicek Matejicek 16 SMS - Slack 2007-08gerasimos_h gerasimos_h Mini Server 10 SliTaz Christophe 2008-03dev team GNU/Linux Lincoln 25 Source Mage Ryan Abrams, dev team 2002-06-? GNU/Linux Eric Schabell SUSE Linux / Novell, Inc. dev SUSE Linux 1994-03-? Novell team Symphony Ryan Quinn & Ryan Quinn ? OS Jason Spisak SYS Trustix Secure Linux Ubuntu Kubuntu Xubuntu Edubuntu Gobuntu Ubuntu Studio Ututo GNU/Linux W.Landgraf Comodo Group, Inc. Canonical Ltd. Canonical Ltd. Canonical Ltd. Canonical Ltd. Canonical Ltd. Canonical Ltd. W.Landgraf 2007-11-?

RHL/RHEL Debian Sid Debian SLS Slackware Slackware none Sorcerer Slackware, Jurix[12] Debian Slackware Red Hat Linux Debian Debian Debian Debian Debian Debian Gentoo Linux Slackware Slackware Corel Linux Ubuntu Fedora, CentOS none Slackware

2008-06-28 2009-11-11 2009-08-25 2009-08-26 2009-0804[11]

science desktop desktop general live

2009-07-05 live, server 2009-04-16 2009-02-11 2008-05-21 2006-12-13 2010-0121(0.23r4+)

portable general workstation , server desktop general server general desktop desktop computer lab desktop

Diego Saravia, Daniel Olivera Robert S. VectorLinux Lange Wolvix Xandros XBMC Live Yellow Dog Linux Yoper Zenwalk Wolven

Comodo Group, 2000-02-? Inc. 2004-10Canonical Ltd. 20 2005-04Canonical Ltd. 08 2006-06Canonical Ltd. 01 2005-10Canonical Ltd. 13 2007-10Canonical Ltd. 18 2007-05Canonical Ltd. 11 UTUTO dev2000-?-? team dev team Wolven 1999-?-? 2007?-?-? 2002-1022 2008-1114 1999 2003-0305 2004-05-

2007-03-06 2009-10-29 2009-10-29 2009-10-29 2009-10-29 2008-07-03

2009-10-29 multimedia 2009-03-15 2009-0830[14] 2009-0602[15] 2006-06-21 general desktop desktop desktop

Xandros Corp. Xandros, Inc. The XBMC Project Terra Soft Solutions Andreas Giradet Jean-Philippe Team-XBMC Fixstars Solutions The Yoper Team dev team

2008-11-14 multimedia 2009-06-29 2007-10-03 2009-03-07 general general general






21 (as Minislack) First public release (yyyyMM-dd)

Base distribution

Latest release date


[edit] Cost
The following distributions are available without cost: aLinux, ALT Linux, Annvix, Arch Linux, Ark Linux, Arudius, Asianux, Aurox, BLAG Linux and GNU, CentOS, CRUX, Damn Small Linux, Debian, DeLi Linux, DeMuDi, Devil-Linux, dyne:bolic, Easy Peasy, Edubuntu, EnGarde Secure Linux, Fedora, Finnix, Foresight Linux, Freespire, Frugalware, Gentoo, gNewSense, gnuLinEx, GoboLinux, Gobuntu, Impi Linux, Kanotix, Knoppix, Knoppmyth, Kubuntu, Kurumin Linux, Linux Mint, Lunar Linux, Musix GNU+Linux, Network Security Toolkit, NimbleX, NUbuntu, openSUSE, Paipix, Pardus, Parsix, PCLinuxOS, Puppy Linux, QiLinux, Sabayon Linux, Satux, Scientific Linux, sidux, Slackware, SLAX, SliTaz GNU/Linux, Source Mage GNU/Linux, Symphony OS, SYS, Trustix, Ubuntu, Ututo GNU/Linux, Super OS, Xubuntu, XBMC Live, Yoper, Zenwalk and OpenWRT. The following distributions have several editions, some of which are without cost and some of which do cost money: Caixa Mágica, Mandriva Linux, MEPIS and Red Flag Linux. The following distributions cost money: Elive, Linspire[16], Novell Open Enterprise Server[17], Red Hat Enterprise Linux[18][19], Rxart[20], SUSE Linux Enterprise[21], Xandros[22]. Note that when talking about "free software", the word "free" refers to software freedom, not monetary cost: for an explanation of the difference, see The Free Software Definition.

[edit] Technical
The following table shows the default file system, but many Linux distributions support some or all of ext2, ext3, ext4, ReiserFS, Reiser4, JFS, XFS, GFS, GFS2, OCFS, OCFS2, and NILFS. It is possible to install Linux onto the majority of these file systems. The ext file systems, namely ext2, ext3 and ext4 are based on the original Linux file system. File systems have been developed by companies to meet their specific needs, and by hobbyists, or adapted from UNIX, Microsoft Windows, and other operating systems. Linux has full support for XFS and JFS, along with FAT (the MS-DOS file system), and HFS which is the primary file system for the Macintosh. Support for Microsoft Windows NT's NTFS file system has appeared, and is now comparable to the support available for other native UNIX file systems. CDs, DVDs, and BluRay discs' ISO 9660 and Universal Disk Format (UDF) are supported. Unlike other operating systems, Linux and UNIX allow any file system to be used regardless of the media it is stored in, whether it is a hard

drive, a disc (CD,DVD...), an USB key, or even contained within a file located on another file system. Similarly, many C-compilers, desktop environments and window managers are widely supported.
Distribution Alinex aLinux ALT Linux Annvix Arch Linux Archie Ark Linux Arudius Asianux Aurox BackTrack BLAG Linux and GNU Caixa Mágica CentOS CrunchBang Linux CRUX Damn Small Linux Debian DeLi Linux DeMuDi Dreamlinux dyne:bolic Easy Peasy Elive EnGarde Secure Linux Fedora Finnix Foresight Linux Frugalware Gentoo gnuLinEx GoboLinux gNewSense Linux kernel 2.6.22 2.6.12 2.6.25 2.4.32[23] 2.6.22[26] 2.6.13 2.6.18 2.6.9[28] 2.6.18 2.6.27 2.4.31 2.6.26 2.4.32 2.6.12[30] 2.6.18[31] 2.6.15/ 2.6.17[32] 2.6.22 2.6.27 2.6.30 2.6.32 2.6.16 GCC 3.4.3 None GCC 4.4.2 GCC 4.1.1 GCC 4.1.2 GCC 4.4.1 GCC 4.4.2 GCC 3.3.5 GCC 4.1.2 GCC 4.0.3

C Compiler GCC 4.1.2 GCC 4.1.1 GCC 4.1.2 GCC 3.4.3 GCC 4.4.1[24] GCC 4.2.1 GCC 3.3.6 GCC 4.1.1 GCC 4.1.1 GCC 4.1.1 GCC 4.1.1 GCC ? GCC 4.1.2 GCC 4.3.1 GCC 4.3.2 GCC 3.3.5, TCC GCC 4.3.2, 4.2.4, 4.1.2, 3.4.6 GCC 2.95 GCC 3.3.5 GCC 3.4.3

Default file system ext3 none ext3 none none[25] JFS[27] ext3 ext3 ext3 ext3 ext3 ? ext3 ext3 none ext3 ext3 ext3/ext2 ext3 SquashFS, ext3 ext3 SquashFS, ReiserFS ext3 ext4 SquashFS ext3 none none ext2 ReiserFS ext3

Commonly chosen desktop environment or window manager GNOME KDE KDE, Xfce any Xfce KDE Fluxbox KDE KDE KDE, Fluxbox GNOME ? GNOME Openbox Openbox JWM GNOME, KDE, LXDE or Xfce (depending on installation media) IceWM GNOME Xfce Xfce Gnome, Ubuntu Netbook Remix Enlightenment none GNOME, KDE, Xfce (depending on spin) none GNOME none any GNOME KDE GNOME

Impi Linux Kanotix Knoppix Kurumin Linux Linspire Linux Mint[33] Lunar Linux Mandriva Linux MEPIS Musix GNU+Linux Mutagenix Network Security Toolkit NimbleX Nitix openSUSE OpenWRT Paipix Pardus Parsix PCLinuxOS Pie Box Enterprise Linux Puppy Linux QiLinux Red Flag Linux Red Hat Enterprise Linux Rxart Desktop Sabayon Linux Satux Scientific Linux SHR sidux Slackware SLAX SMS - Slack Mini Server SliTaz GNU/Linux Source Mage GNU/Linux SUSE Linux 2.6.22 2.6.18 2.6.14 2.6.31 2.6.26[35] 2.6.16 2.6.18[36] 2.6.11 2.4.21 2.6.14 2.6.25 2.6.16 2.6.9 2.6.17 2.6.9 2.6.18[37] 2.6.11 2.6.31 2.6.22 2.6.18 2.6.29 2.6.31[39] (ISO) or any

GCC 4.0.1 GCC 4.1.1 GCC 4.2.2 GCC 4.1.1 GCC 3.4.3 GCC 4.4.1 GCC 3.4.6 GCC 4.2.4[34] GCC 4.4.1 GCC ? GCC 4.0.3 GCC ? GCC 4.4.2 ? GCC 3.3.4 GCC 4.4.1 none GCC 4.0.2 GCC 3.4.6 GCC 4.2.2 GCC 3.3.1 GCC 3.4.6 GCC 3.3.4 GCC 4.0.2 GCC 3.4.3 GCC 4.1.2 ? GCC 4.3.2 GCC 4.1.2 GCC 4.1.2 GCC GCC 4.3.4 GCC 4.2.4 GCC 4.2.3 GCC 4.3.3 GCC 4.2.2 GCC 4.1.2 GCC 4.1.3

? ext3 XFS ext3 ReiserFS ext3 none ext3 ReiserFS, ext3 ? ? ext4 SquashFS ReiserFS ext4 yaffs none ext3 ext3 none ext3 SquashFS containing ext2 ReiserFS ext3 ext3 ext3 ext4[38] ext3 ext3 ext3 ext3 ext4 SquashFS ext4 ext3 ext2 ext3, JFS, ReiserFS, XFS ReiserFS ext3

KDE KDE LXDE KDE KDE GNOME, KDE or Xfce (depending on edition) none GNOME,KDE KDE IceWM KDE GNOME, Fluxbox KDE none GNOME, KDE, Xfce none KDE KDE GNOME KDE GNOME JWM KDE KDE GNOME KDE KDE, GNOME GNOME GNOME Enlightenment's Illume KDE 4.3.2 KDE KDE KDE Openbox none GNOME, KDE, Xfce

Symphony OS SYS

2.6.16 (iso) / 2.6.33-

GCC 4.1.0 GCC 4.2.4

Mezzo KDE, GNOME 2.28, Xfce

Ubuntu/Edubuntu Kubuntu XBMC Live Xubuntu Ututo GNU/Linux VectorLinux Wolvix Xandros Desktop OS Yoper Zenwalk Linux Distribution

rc6 (repository [40], server [41]) 2.6.31[42] / 2.6.24 (LTS) 2.6.31[42] 2.6.24 (LTS) 2.6.27 2.6.31[42] 2.6.24 (LTS) 2.6.27 2.6.13 2.6.15 2.6 Linux kernel

(selectable in kdm) GCC 4.4.1[43] GCC 4.4.1 GCC 4.1.2 GCC 4.4.1 GCC 4.3.2 GCC 3.4.6 GCC 4.2.4 GCC 3.3.5 GCC 4.0, 4.2 GCC 4.3.3 C Compiler

ext4 ext4 ext3 ext3 ext3 ? ext3 ReiserFS ext3 ext4 Default file system

GNOME KDE XBMC Media Center Xfce GNOME Fluxbox, IceWM, Xfce XFCE,OpenBox KDE KDE Xfce Commonly chosen desktop environment or window manager

[edit] Architecture support
Distribution 64 Studio aLinux Alinex ALT Linux Annvix Arch Linux Ark Linux Arudius Asianux Aurox BLAG Linux and GNU Caixa Mágica CentOS CrunchBang Linux CRUX Damn Small Linux Debian[44] DeLi Linux DeMuDi dyne:bolic Eagle Linux Elive EnGarde Secure Linux Fedora[46] x86 IAx86 -64 ppc ppc6 sparc3 sparc6 arm hppa mips loongso s390 s390x alpha 64 4 2 4 n Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No Yes No Yes No Yes No No No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No ?[45] No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No ? No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No Yes No No No No No No No

Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No

No No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

No No Yes Yes No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

Yes Yes No No

Yes Yes No Yes Yes

Finnix Foresight Linux Frugalware Gentoo gnuLinEx GoboLinux[50] Impi Linux Kanotix Knoppix Kurumin Linux Linspire Linux Mint Lunar Linux Mandriva Linux MEPIS Mutagenix Musix GNU+Linux Network Security Toolkit NimbleX Nitix OES2-Linux openSUSE[51] OpenWRT[52] Oracle Enterprise Linux[53] Paipix Pardus Parsix PCLinuxOS Pie Box Enterprise Linux Puppy Linux QiLinux Red Flag Linux Red Hat Enterprise Linux[54] Rxart Desktop Sabayon Linux Satux Scientific Linux SHR sidux Slackware Slax SMS -Slack Mini Server SliTaz GNU/Linux Source Mage

Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No ? No ? No No No No No No No No No No No No ? No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

No No No Yes No No ? No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

No No No No No No No No No Yes[4 Yes[48 Yes Yes ][49] 7] No No ? No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

No No No

No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

No No No

No No No

No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No

Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No No No No No No

Yes No No No

Yes No No No No Yes No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

No No No No No No No[55 Yes ] No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

Yes No No No

Yes No No No No Yes Yes No Yes No

GNU/Linux SUSE Linux Enterprise Server [56] Symphony OS SYS Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Edu buntu/Xubuntu UTUTO GNU/Linux VectorLinux Xandros Desktop OS XBMC Live Yellow Dog Linux Yoper Zenwalk Linux Distribution

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes ? No No No No

No No No No

No No No Yes

No No No

No No No

No No No No No No No No No No No

No No No No

No No No No

Yes No No No

No No No No

Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No ? No No No No No No No No No No No x86 IAx86 -64 64 No No No No Yes No No

Yes No No No No No No No No

No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No ppc6 sparc3 sparc6 ppc arm 4 2 4

No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No loongso hppa mips s390 s390x alpha n

[edit] Package management and installation
Information on features in the distributions. Package numbers are only approximate.
Approximat Approximat Default e number of e number of package Package presource managemen Format compiled packages packages t tools 20300 1200 8300[57] 15000 4000 APT RPM APT (aptrpm), RPM APT, RPM Pacman DEB RPM RPM RPM tar.gz Graphical installation procedure Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No


Default installer

Alinex aLinux ALT Linux Annvix Arch Linux Archie Ark Linux Arudius Asianux Aurox BlackMouse Linux BLAG Caixa Mágica CrunchBang Linux CRUX CentOS Damn Small Linux

3000 10000 [58] 16000 23000 1155 1660 610

RPM, APT RPM Slackware tgz Pkgtools mlupdater, RPM RPM RPM, yum RPM pkgsrc tar.gz, source RPM, yum, RPM APT urpmi, APT RPM (apt-rpm) APT deb pkgutils tgz RPM, RPM yum/up2date myDSL, .dsl,

APT Debian Desktop Light Linux DeMuDi Draco GNU/Linux Dreamlinux dyne:bolic Elive EnGarde Secure Linux Fedora Finnix Foresight Linux Frugalware Gentoo gnuLinEx GoboLinux Impi Linux Kanotix KateOS Knoppix Kurumin Linspire Linux Mint Lunar Mandriva Linux MEPIS Musix GNU+Linux Mutagenix Mythbuntu Network Security Toolkit NimbleX Nitix openSUSE OpenWRT Paipix Pardus Parsix 22000 2000 1600 25113 150 875 23000 20000 500 8000 350 15000 3000 80 200 2000 12123 APT

.tar.gz, .uci, .unc, deb deb DebianInstaller Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes[60] Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Ubiquity Yes Yes DrakX Yes Yes Yes Yes Ubiquity Anaconda Yes No Yes YaST opkg Yes No Yes Yes Yes

APT deb pkgsrc tar.gz, source APT deb none none APT deb RPM, APT RPM yum RPM Anaconda APT deb Conary, PackageKit[59


Pacman Portage ebuild APT deb Manager,[61] Compile, recipes, InstallPackag 2 e APT APT APT CNR "click and run" APT, mintInstall lin urpmi, rpmdrake[62] APT APT APT deb deb deb deb deb source RPM deb deb tgz deb RPM tgz RPM RPM opk deb .pisi deb

1200 3600 2200 23000 3120 20000 20000 1300 26000 8280 500 8280

yum none SoftUpdate, yum YaST, Zypper opkg APT PiSi APT

PCLinuxOS Pie Box Enterprise Linux Puppy QiLinux Red Flag Red Hat Enterprise Linux Rxart Sabayon Linux SAM Linux Satux Scientific SHR sidux Slackware Slax SMS - Slack Mini Server SliTaz GNU/Linux Source Mage GNU/Linux SUSE Symphony OS SYS Ubuntu,Kubuntu,Xubun tu Ututo

5025 1500 300 2500

APT, RPM up2date, yum PupGet, DotPup RPM, APT Red Flag Installer System, RPM RPM, yum APT Portage, Entropy

RPM RPM .pup, .pet RPM RPM

Yes Yes Yes Yes[63] Yes

3000 5000 12000

RPM deb ebuild

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No

23000 544 2050 600 1400 5514 22000

6000 26000 5000

dpkg,apt-get deb APT/yum RPM opkg opk APT deb installpkg, tgz, .txz upgradepkg none .lzm installpkg, tgz, .txz .lzm upgradepkg Tazpkg .tazpkg Sorcery Package src Manager YaST, RPM Zypper APT, RPM OneClick installpkg, tgz upgradepkg APT deb ebuild


No Yes Yes YaST Yes Yes No Ubiquity Yes

Vector Linux Wolvix Xandros Desktop OS XBMC Live Yoper Zenwalk Linux Distribution

UTUTO Package Manager slapt-get, gslapt, installpkg installpkg, --upgradepkg APT APT 2000 Smart netpkg, 1200 installpkg, upgradepkg Approximat Approximat Default

tgz tgz, .txz deb deb RPM tgz Package Default

Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Graphical

e number of packages

e number of package source managemen packages t tools



installation procedure

[edit] Live CDs/DVDs/USBs
Distribution ALT Linux Desktop or Lite Archie Ark Linux Austrumi BackTrack CentOS Damn Small Linux Debian Live Dreamlinux dyne:bolic Elive Feather Linux Fedora Live CD Finnix Freespire iloog Inquisitor live CD Kanotix Knoppix CD edition Knoppix DVD "Maxi" edition Knoppix STD Gnoppix gOS Linux Mint Mandriva Linux One MCNLive Morphix Size in RAM Use Boots from CD-ROM MB in MB 700 700 50 1570 700 50 50 to 5120 700 650 700 128 683 100 to 130 700 700 210 700 700 4812.8 497 4812.8 700 700 700 350 700 256 to 768 128 to 768 16 to 24[65] Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No longer updated No longer updated Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Only DVD edition is maintained Yes Boots from DVD[clarification

Installable Live CD No

Installable Over USBs

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Officially not supported[64] Yes Yes Yes Yes

48 to 96 256 to 1024 28 to 64 128 to 768 96 128 to 320

Yes Yes Yes

Musix Network Security Toolkit Live CD/DVD NimbleX nUbuntu openGEU openSUSE OpenWRT Oralux Parted Magic PCLinuxOS Phlak Puppy Linux (standard edition) pure:dyne Red Hat Linux Sabayon Linux Live CD Sabayon Linux Live DVD SAM Linux sidux SimplyMEPIS SLAX SMS - Slack Mini Server SliTaz GNU/Linux SystemRescueCD Trinity Rescue Kit Ubuntu Edubuntu Kubuntu XBMC Live Xubuntu Distribution

700 483 to 1300 200 265 700 700 < 100 500 30 130 to 96 to 512 700 500 70 542 695 4000 683 400 to 1999 706 32 to 192 256 to 1024 96 to 320 192 to 512 128 to 768 < 64

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes 193 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Yes Yes Yes

Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No longer updated Yes Yes No No longer updated Yes No

128 to 512 200 96 to 320 283 to 128 to 950 786 29 160 104 700 384 700 700 384 256 to 700 1024 700 256 Size

Yes Yes Yes Yes Boots from Installable Live Installable RAM Use Boots from DVD CD-ROM CD Over USBs

[edit] Security features
Distribution Compile Time Mandatory Buffer access control Software executable space protection grsecurity RSBAC

Debian/Ubuntu Fedora Gentoo[68] Mandriva SUSE

Checks unknown Yes unknown unknown Yes

Yes (AppArmor) Yes (SELinux[66]) Optional (SELinux) Yes (AppArmor[69]) Yes (AppArmor[70])

Optional (PaX) Yes (Exec Shield[67]) Optional (PaX) unknown Yes (Hardware NX and other methods in mainline kernel and toolchain [71])

Optional No Optional unknown No

Optional No Optional Yes No

[edit] See also
Free software portal • • •

List of Linux distributions List of Linux distributions free of proprietary code Comparison of operating systems

Comparison of Windows and Linux
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search For a broader comparison of closed source and open source software, see Comparison of open source and closed source. This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Please improve this article if you can. (October 2007) This article is written like an advertisement. Please help rewrite this article from a neutral point of view. For blatant advertising that would require a fundamental rewrite to become encyclopedic, use {{db-spam}} to mark for speedy deletion. (January 2010) Comparisons between the Microsoft Windows and Linux computer operating systems are a common topic of discussion among their users. Currently Windows is by far the most popular proprietary personal computer operating system (in terms of desktop installations), while Linux is the most prominent free software operating system (note that some proprietary components, such as compiled, binary only drivers provided by hardware manufacturers, are included in many Linux distributions). Both operating systems not only compete for user base in the personal computer market but are also rivals in the server and embedded systems markets. The comparisons below reflect three different families of Windows operating systems, each based on a different codebase and design. These families are: (1) Windows and Windows for Workgroups 3.1 (DOS-based), Windows 95, and Windows 98 and ME,

legacy versions that are no longer sold today; (2) the NT family, including Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and Servers 2003 and 2008. This family runs all Microsoft-supported desktop and server computers today; and (3) The Windows Embedded family, comprised of both scaled-down versions of other Windows versions and specialized operating systems such as Windows CE. The focus of these comparisons is mainly on the NT family. Linux is available for many types of CPUs: IA-32 (i386 and later PC processors), x86-64 (64-bit PCs and most Mac computers with Intel processors), Itanium, MIPS, PowerPC, ARM, and others. However, current versions of the Windows NT kernel focus only on the first three. Because of the diversity of CPU types supported, Linux finds applications today in routers, set-top boxes, PDAs and mobile phones as well as in servers and desktops. Windows Embedded has a historically long market, starting with DOS on POS terminals. Today's Windows CE kernel runs in under a megabyte of memory, and it no longer solely targets hand-held computers.[1] Microsoft has based many embedded platforms on the core Windows CE operating system, including AutoPC, Windows Mobile, Mediaroom, Portable Media Center, and many industrial devices and embedded systems. Windows CE even powered select games for the Dreamcast. Microsoft Windows dominates in the desktop and personal computer markets with about 90% of the desktop market share, and in 2007, accounted for about 66% of all servers sold (while not necessarily used).[citation needed] In server revenue market share, as of Q4 2007, Microsoft Windows had 36.3% and Linux had 12.7%.[2] As of June 2009, Linux powered 88.6% of the world's most powerful supercomputers.[3] In December 2008, Linux powered five of the ten most reliable internet hosting companies, compared to Windows' one.[4] Linux and Microsoft Windows differ in philosophy, cost, ease of use, versatility and stability, with each seeking to improve in their perceived weaker areas. Comparisons of the two operating systems tend to reflect their origins, historic user bases and distribution models. Typical perceived weaknesses regularly cited have often included the poor “outof-box” usability of the Linux desktop for the mass-market[citation needed], while Microsoft Windows' main drawback is susceptibility to viruses and malware due to its enormous market share and lack of security features that could thwart this.[5] Proponents of free software argue that the key strength of Linux is the degree of freedom allowed to the users: "the freedom to run the program [such as Linux] study...and change it...the freedom to redistribute copies...[and] improve the program, and release your improvements."[6] Windows embedded devices are often configured without disk storage, and may be configured as a “closed” system that does not allow for end-user extension.


1 Total cost of ownership

• • • • • • • • •

• • • • •

o 1.1 Real world experience 2 Market share 3 User interface 4 Installation 5 Accessibility and usability 6 Stability 7 Performance 8 Support 9 Programs o 9.1 Gaming 10 Security o 10.1 Filesystem permissions  10.1.1 Linux and Unix-like systems  10.1.2 Windows 11 VLSI industry 12 Localization 13 See also 14 References

15 External links

[edit] Total cost of ownership
See also: Studies related to Microsoft In 2004, Microsoft launched a marketing campaign, "Get the Facts", to encourage users to switch from Linux to its Windows Server System.[7] Microsoft claims that its products have an overall lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than open source programs because of their ease of use, resulting in less work and lower staff wages.[8] However, a variety of Linux supporters, companies, and organizations, notably Linux distributor Novell, who produces SUSE Enterprise Linux and tech news outlet The Register, dispute Microsoft's figures.[9] One argument supporting the cost-effectiveness of Linux is that although Linux administrators are usually paid somewhat higher salaries than Windows administrators, a competent Linux administrator can take care of more computers than the latter. A study conducted by Chad Robinson, senior research analyst at tech/business researcher Robert Frances Group (RFG), supports this view.[10][11] In 2004, The UK's Advertising Standards Authority warned Microsoft that an advertisement using research that claimed "Linux was […] 10 times more expensive than Windows Server 2003", was "misleading", as the hardware chosen for the Linux server was needlessly expensive.[12]

[edit] Real world experience

The German Foreign Office said that the cost of open source desktop maintenance is by far the lowest it experienced.[13] The French Gendarmerie reported saving millions on license fees by switching to Linux desktops from Windows XP, following the success of roll-outs.[14][15]

[edit] Market share
The market share of Linux or Microsoft Windows is difficult to determine as users of the former are usually not required to register with any organization to use their copies; additionally, a large number of unlicensed (illegal) copies of Windows exist. The above desktop usage share data is estimated from web browser user agent strings, rather than actual sales information or detailed surveys. This is highly unreliable for many reasons including, but not limited to, web browsers that do not always provide accurate information to web servers, and selection bias: Different websites attract different audiences that may be more prone to using one OS or another. Also, desktop computers used for other tasks will be given a lower weight than computers mostly used for websurfing. Microsoft's own numbers for Linux share are higher.[16] More estimates of the market shares are available at Usage share of desktop operating systems. According to a survey by the Eclipse Foundation (an open-source foundation) in 2009, Linux was the most popular deployment choice for developers. There is a shift from Microsoft Windows to Linux and Apple's Mac OS X for their desktop development operating system. 26.9% of the respondents cited Linux as their primary desktop operating system, representing a 7% increase from 2007. Though Windows was still the dominant development OS at 64%, it had decreased 10% from 2007. The most popular Linux variant of choice for development use was Ubuntu, which accounted for over half of Linux respondents. Mac OS X had increased to 6.9% from 3.5% in 2007.[17] Windows Estimated 92.54%[18] Desktop Usage Share 1.02%[18] Linux Notes

October 2009


Pre-installed by default on Pre-installed by default on Microsoft's almost all new desktop PCs very few new desktop PCs. agreement However, Ubuntu is now with vendors available on all System76 to sell only the computers, some Dell Windows OS computers, and SUSE Linux is being Enterprise Desktop on some challenged in Lenovo ThinkPads.[19] court by Recently many more Linux- French

based low-end consumer laptops have been introduced.[20] See also: Comparison of Subnotebooks

consumer rights groups. [21] Such agreements by Microsoft were found illegal in the case United States v. Microsoft.

Server revenue 37.3%[2] market share Top 500 1.0% (absolute 5)[3] supercomputer operating system family share


First quarter, 2009

88.6% (absolute 443), the 14 fastest supercomputers run Linux[3]

June 2009

[edit] User interface
Windows Linux Notes

Graphical The Windows Shell. The user window manager is the interface Desktop Window Manager on Windows Vista, and a Stacking window manager built on top of GDI in older The KDE Plasma Desktop versions. The desktop environment may be modified A number of desktop environments are available, by a variety of third party of which GNOME and KDE products such as are the most widely used. By WindowBlinds; or default, they use as their completely replaced, for window managers Metacity example by Blackbox for Windows, or LiteStep. With and KWin respectively, though these can be replaced Windows Server 2008 and

later, there is also the option by other window managers of running "Server Core" such as Compiz Fusion. which replaces the standard window manager with the Other desktop environments command prompt [22]. The and window managers graphics drivers, subsystem, include Xfce, LXDE, and core widgets are included Enlightenment, Xmonad, with all installations, Openbox, Fluxbox, etc. The including those used as X Window system runs in servers. user-space and is optional.[23] Multiple X Window system instances can run at once, and it is a fully networked protocol. See Also: Comparison of X Window System desktop environments. Commandline interface A commandline interface, typically displayed in a system console or terminal emulator window, allows users to tell the computer to perform tasks ranging from A sample Bash session the simple (for example, Linux is strongly integrated copying a file) with the system console. The to the complex command line can be used to (compiling and recover the system if the installing new graphics subsystem fails.[24][25] software). A large number of Unix Shells are shells exists; with the powerful but majority being "Bourne shell can be compatible" shells, of which confusing to the most widely used is GNU new users. Bash. Alternatives include the Some complex feature-full Z shell; as well as tasks are more shells based on the syntax of easily other programming accomplished

A sample Windows PowerShell session The Command Prompt exists to provide direct communication between the user and the operating system. A .NET-based command line environment called Windows PowerShell has been developed. It varies from Unix/Linux shells in that, rather than using byte streams, the PowerShell pipeline is an object pipeline; that is, the data passed between cmdlets are fully typed objects. When data is

piped as objects, the elements they encapsulate retain their structure and types across cmdlets, without the need for any serialization or explicit parsing of the stream. Cygwin or MS's own Services for Unix provides a bash terminal for Windows. [citation needed] Posix subsystem is built in but not enabled by default. The Console can execute up to 4 kinds of environments, MSDOS scripts under NT or via runnung on NTVDM, NT shell scripts and OS/2 Console Scripts. Certainly NT3.1 to NT4.0 ran OS/2 console mode binaries also. Windows Script Host is included in Windows 98 and newer versions.

through shells than through a languages, such as the C shell, and Perl Shell. Many GUI, such as applications can be scripted piping, or through the system console, scripting. See [26] there are a lot of small and also: specialized utilities meant to Comparison of work together and to integrate computer shells. with other programs. This is called the toolbox principle.

[edit] Installation
The neutrality of this article is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (January




Varies greatly by Ease of Install On Windows Server 2003 distribution. Most and prior, the installation is distributions intended for divided into two stages; the new or intermediate users first, text-mode; the second, provide simple graphical graphical.[27] On Windows installers. Vista and newer, the installation is single stage, General purpose oriented and graphical. distributions offer a live CD or GUI installer (SuSE, Some older versions require Debian, Pardus, Pclinuxos, third party drivers (for Mandriva, Ubuntu, Fedora

example, by using driver etc.), others offer a menufloppies disks or driven installer (Vector slipstreaming the drivers and Linux, Slackware, Debian) creating a new installation while others, targeting more CD) if using a large number specialized groups, require of SATA or SATA2 drives source to be copied and or RAID arrays.[28] compiled (Gentoo). The system can also be built completely from scratch, directly from source code (Linux from Scratch). Drivers The Windows installation Linux kernels in most media usually contains distributions include the enough drivers to make the majority of drivers available OS functional. To this end, as modules, hardware is "generic" drivers may be detected and drivers loaded used to provide basic at boot with usually little or functionality. Drivers for no user interaction required. these devices can later be These drivers are generally upgraded from the written by someone working manufacturer. Windows for the hardware Update may also contain manufacturer or by someone updated drivers that can be in the user community installed after the base OS is skilled in doing so; usually in place. Drivers are almost the drivers are included in always closed-source, the kernel (open-source), maintained and published by and therefore do not require the manufacturer of their additional media or any user respective devices. Recent interaction. A few hardware version of 64-bit Windows manufactures (Broadcom, force all drivers to be signed, Nvidia) have proprietary giving Microsoft the sole drivers which require ability to authorize drivers; manual installation. this feature cannot be easily overridden by system Prior to introduction of [32][33] administrators. DKMS, third party kernel modules had to be manually updated when the kernel was upgraded.

Installation May be installed through the Almost all Linux via Live Windows Preinstallation distributions now have a live Environments Environment or BartPE. CD that may be used for However, only the former is testing, install or recovery.[34] endorsed by Microsoft. Only

Microsoft-certified System Builders (OEM companies) are allowed to use the WinPE disk for installation, by license. End-users are not allowed to use the WinPE installation environment. Pre-installed Some multimedia and home All main distributions software use software (IE, Media contain numerous programs: Player, Notepad, WordPad, multimedia, graphics, Paint…) plus OEM bundled internet, office suites, software. Windows Vista games, system utilities and Includes IE7, Windows alternative desktop Mail, Windows Media environments. Some Center, etc. depending on distributions specialise in which edition is purchased. education, games, or It does not include Office security. Most distributions suites or advanced give users the choice of multimedia software. which bundled programs to However, Microsoft has install, if any. licensed decoders for a number of patented audio and video coding methods, including the mp3 audio format, and Windows is able to play a number of patented formats by default. Not preinstalled software A massive pool of both proprietary software (including shareware and freeware) and free software. Programs usually come with the required libraries and are normally installed easily. Most programs must be individually installed. A massive pool of free software and some proprietary software covering a wide range of use. A Microsoft employee wrote in an internal report in 1998 that "Most of the primary apps that people require when they move to Linux are already available for free."[36] Using free Uninstallation can be of varying difficulty depending Windows-compatibility on which of many installer layers like Wine, some Windows software can also methods were used, be run, often to a lesser components and registry entries may be left behind. degree, on Linux. Thirdparty software is usually Windows has a built-in listed/integrated into a installer program, and Microsoft's methods of bundling software were deemed illegal in the case United States v. Microsoft.[35]

Linux distributions can not lawfully include MP3 or MPEG-4 file decoders in a majority of countries, as it would violate the Patent Cooperation Treaty. There is nothing preventing a user from installing these decoders,

packaging system, which is built into the OS. Less software that is to be popular programs, which are installed has an installer not in the distributions "wrapper" that interfaces with the Windows Installer repositories, are often to accomplish installation. provided in a form (such as Not all Windows software the DEB format or the RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) uses the install manager. format) which can be installed easily by the package manager. If no precompiled package exists, programs can be more or less automatically built from the source code. Most software is installed noninteractively to a default configuration.

however the user assumes all liability for installing said pieces of software. Media players (such as Rhythmbox)) for free alternative audio/video formats are available in Linux, but these players are unable to decode patented formats, such as MP3, without installing additional plugin(s).[37] In particular with the MP3 file format, many companies claim patents relevant to the format. See Patent issues with MP3 for more information.

Partitioning Expanding NTFS partitions is possible without problems, and on Vista it is possible to shrink partitions as well. Dynamic Disks provide dynamic partitioning. Third party tools are available that have more features than the builtin partitioning tools.

Most file systems support resizing partitions without losing data. LVM provide dynamic partitioning. All Linux distributions have bundled partitioning software such as fdisk or gparted

File systems Natively supported: NTFS, FAT, ISO 9660, UDF, and others; 3rd-party drivers available for ext2, ext3, reiserfs, HFS, and others

Natively supported: ext2, Windows can ext3, ext4, ReiserFS, FAT, read and write ISO 9660, UDF, NFS, NTFS with Ext2 and (incomplete), JFS, XFS and Ext3 file others; many additional systems with filesystems (most notably third-party NTFS using NTFS-3g, and drivers such as ZFS) are available using FS-driver or FUSE. Archives and FTP ext2fsd; and sites also can be mounted as ReiserFS filesystems. through rfstool and related programs.

Boot Loader May boot to multiple May boot to multiple versions of Windows operating systems through through the Windows Boot numerous bootloaders such Manager in Windows Vista as LILO and GRUB. With and newer; or the earlier these, it is possible to choose boot loader NTLDR in among multiple installed Windows Server 2003 and kernel images at boot time. prior. Graphical Graphical configuration configuration tools are tools for GRUB are available for both, such as available including EasyBCD for the Windows KGRUBEditor[39] (KDE) and Boot Manager and GrubConf [40] (GNOME). MSConfig for NTLDR, GRUB can also accept which can chain load arbitrary, one-time multiple non-NT configurations at boot time environments, including via the GRUB prompt. Linux, by referring to GRUB and LILO also volume boot records from support booting to non-Unix those environments saved on operating systems via chain the Windows partition.[38] loading; for a Windows and Linux dual-boot system, it is often easiest to install Windows first and then Linux because Linux installers such as Ubuntu's installer will easily and fully automatically detect and set up other operating systems for dual/multiple boot with Linux.[41] Linux distributions were said to be difficult for the average user to install.[citation needed] However, easy-to-use installers were becoming common on the major distributions

already by the beginning of the twenty-first century. The main Linux distributions include graphical package managers which assist the user in searching for packages and installing them graphically (e.g., Fedora's PackageKit, and Debian and Ubuntu's Synaptic Package Manager). When package managers are used the user saves time as there is no need of surfing to web pages, downloading the appropriate packages, and installing them; the package manager handles all downloading, installing, resolving of dependencies, and conflict resolution.[42] Today, most distributions[citation needed] have simplified the installation and offer a “Live CD” system allowing users to boot fully functional Linux systems directly from a CD or DVD with the option of installing them on the hard drive. This enables a user to evaluate a distribution for either software or hardware compatibility with no permanent modification to their computer. The Windows install process and most general-use Linux distributions use a wizard to guide users through the install process. Windows often comes pre-installed while a Linux distribution has to be chosen and installed, but one can argue that the installation of Linux nowadays is no more difficult than configuration of a pre-installed Windows.[citation needed]

[edit] Accessibility and usability
A study released in 2003 by Relevantive AG indicates that “The usability of Linux as a desktop system was judged to be nearly equal to that of Windows XP”.[43] Windows Linux

User Focus

Mostly consistent. Inconsistencies appear primarily through backports —software ported from newer operating systems to older ones. For example, software ported from Vista to XP must follow the Vista guidelines, those of the newer system (IE7 and Windows Media Player 11 are examples of this).[citation needed] However, Microsoft continually pushes for consistency between releases with guidelines for interface design. The latest

The quality of graphical design varies between desktop environments and distributions. The two biggest desktop environments (GNOME and KDE) have clearly defined interface guidelines, which tend to be followed consistently and clearly.[45][46] These provide consistency and a high grade of customizability in order to adapt to the needs of the user. Distributions such as Ubuntu, SuSE, Fedora or Mandriva take this one step

are Windows Vista User further, combining well[44] Experience guidelines. functioning usability and Their focus is on safety. However, consistency and usability, inconsistencies may appear, but with increased concern since GNOME-based for safety in new versions. programs, following Third-party applications different guidelines, look may or may not follow these notably different from KDE guidelines, may have their programs. There are other own guidelines, or may not environments/window follow any rules for managers, usually targeting interface design. professionals or minimalist users, featuring some very powerful programs with rudimentary, minimalist graphical front-ends, focusing much more on performance, small size and safety. WindowMaker and the Fluxbox/Openbox/Blackbox environments are such examples. Some other environments fit between the two models, giving both power, eye candy and simplicity (Enlightenment/E17, Xfce). Some graphical environments are targeted to mouse users only (Fluxbox), others to keyboard users only (Ratpoison), others to either. Certain graphical environments are also designed to be as resourceconservative as possible, so as to run on older machines.

Consistency User interaction with between software is usually versions consistent between versions, releases, and editions.

Consistency ranges from high to poor between distributions, versions, window managers/desktop environments, and programs.

Software is generally highly user-customizable, and the user may keep the customizations between versions.

Consistency All Microsoft software between follows the same guidelines applications for GUI, although not all software developed for Windows by third parties follows these GUI guidelines. As stated above, backports tend to follow the guidelines from the newer operating system.

Highly consistent within KDE and GNOME. However the vast amount of additional software that comes with a distribution is sourced from elsewhere; it may not follow the same GUI guidelines or it may cause inconsistencies (e.g. different look and feel between programs built with different widget toolkits).

Though Windows' GDI and most widget toolkits in Linux allow for applications to be created with a custom look and feel, most applications on both platforms simply use the default look and feel. However, there are exceptions like FL Studio for Windows, and LMMS for Linux.

Customization By default, Windows only offers customization of size and color of the graphical elements, and it is typically not possible to change how the interface reacts to user input.

Linux offers dozens of different user interfaces to choose from through numerous desktop environments and window managers. Different environment offers various levels of customizability, ranging from the basic A few third-party programs colors and size to extreme allow some more extensive customizability of user customization, like input, actions, and display. WindowBlinds or LiteStep, but radical changes are It is possible to switch from usually out of reach. It is not one to another interface at possible to customize the any time, though graphic

applications that do not use applications will generally the default look-and-feel need to be closed. beyond the options the specific application offers. Accessibility Both Windows and Linux offer accessibility options,[47] such as high contrast displays and larger text/icon size, text to speech and magnifiers.

[edit] Stability
Windows Linux Notes

General stability

Windows operating systems A Linux window manager, a Instability can based on the NT kernel key component of the X be caused by (including all currently Window-based GUI system, poorly written supported versions of can be highly stable or quite programs, desktop Windows) are buggy,[citation needed] but the aside from technically much more more common ones are intrinsic OS stable than some older stable. Mechanisms to stability, as versions (including terminate badly behaving Linux's Windows 3.1 and 95/98). applications exist at multiple graphics Installing unsigned or beta levels, such as Ksysguard system is drivers can lead to decreased and the kill command. decoupled system stability (see below). Because Linux can use a from the kernel text based system if the and the system. graphics system fails,[24][25] Linux's the graphics system can be graphics easily restarted following a system can crash without a whole usually be system reboot. restarted without affecting nongraphical programs and services running under other shells, and without restart.[48]

Device driver Device drivers are provided Some vendors contribute to Crashes can be


by Microsoft or written by the hardware manufacturer. Microsoft also runs a certification program, WHQL Testing, through which most drivers are digitally signed by Microsoft as compatible with the operating system, especially on 64-bit versions. This ensures a maximum level of stability.

free drivers (Intel, HP, etc.) caused by or provide proprietary hardware drivers (Nvidia, ATI, etc.). problems or Unlike Windows, however, poorly written kernel developers and device drivers. hobbyists write many or Both operating most device drivers; in these systems, drivers, any developer is utilizing potentially able to fix aspects of stability issues and other monolithic bugs. Kernel developers do kernel not support the use of architecture, drivers that are not openrun drivers in source, since only the the same manufacturer can fix address space stability issues in closedas the kernel, source drivers.[49] leading to crashes or hangs resulting from buggy device drivers.


Reboots are usually required Linux itself needs to restart after system and driver only for kernel updates.[51] updates. Microsoft has its However, a special utility hotpatching[50] technology, can be used to load the new designed to reduce kernel and execute it downtimes. without a hardware reset (kexec) and hence can stay up for years without a single hardware reboot, reducing downtime. For minor updates such as security fixes, Ksplice allows the linux kernel to be patched without a reboot. System libraries, services and applications can mostly be upgraded without restarting running software (old instances use the "replaced" versions)


All processes except for init and processes in D or Z state may be terminated from the command line. If the GUI hangs, on most distributions, CTRL+ALT+F1 takes the user to the terminal, where the process can be killed, and the GUI restored. Should this fail, other third- Applications can also be party applications can also closed via the GUI. The be used. However, if a badly optional SysRQ allows lowbehaving application hangs level system manipulation the entire GUI, it is difficult and crash recovery. The or impossible to recover entire graphical subsystem without restarting the entire can be restarted without the computer, since there is no need for a whole system text-based management shutdown. Reboots are console independent of the seldom required.[52][53] GUI to resort to. Additionally, Live CDs of Linux, if equipped with the correct tools, can work to repair a broken OS if the hard drive is mountable.[54] In modern, NT-based versions of Windows, programs that crash may be forcibly ended through the task manager by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC or CTRL+ALT+DEL.

Unrecoverable If the kernel or a driver The Unix equivalent of the errors running in kernel mode Windows blue screen is encounters an error under known as a kernel panic. circumstances whereby The kernel routines that Windows cannot continue to handle panics are usually operate safely, a "bug designed to output an error check" (colloquially known message to the console, as a "stop error" or "Blue create a memory dump, and Screen of Death") is thrown. then either halt the system or A memory dump is created restart automatically. and, depending on the configuration, the computer may then automatically restart. Additionally, automatic restart can be applied to services. For an operating system to be subjectively “stable”, numerous components must operate synchronously. Not all of these components are under the control of OS vendor; while Linux and Windows kernels may be stable, poorly written applications and drivers can

hamstring both. Much of stability, then, is the extent to which the operating system is structured to thwart the consequences of bad behavior of third party installations. Much of the reputation Windows has for instability can be traced to Windows 95, 98, and ME, which were notorious for displaying the blue screen of death (BSOD) upon crashing. Three weaknesses with these particular Windows versions increased the likelihood such a crash would occur:

Full 16-bit compatibility. When memory management of the DOS subsystem failed, it would often prompt a BSOD. NT based Windows versions have no true 16-bit support; they contain legacy, 16-bit programs within an emulated sandbox that denies direct hardware access. The 64-bit versions even lack 16-bit support entirely. Direct hardware access. Unlike Windows NT, Windows 9x had no hardware abstraction layer. A program or driver that attempted to access protected memory, or interfaced poorly with the hardware, could cause a BSOD. Poor DLL management. DLLs are external libraries of functions that prevent unnecessary repetition in a program. Windows 9x had no protections on system DLLs, and poorly written programs would often overwrite them at will with incorrect versions. Over time, the general stability of the system would decrease. Windows 2000 and later versions have a routine called Windows File Protection that prevents the replacement of important system files.

These are not the exclusive causes of instability, but their correction in the Windows NT codebase has dramatically improved the stability of all subsequent Windows variants: Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003 and Vista.

[edit] Performance
Windows Linux Linux kernel 2.6 once used a scheduling algorithm favoring interactive processes. Here "interactive" is defined as a process that has short bursts of CPU usage rather than long ones. It is said that a process without root privilege can take advantage of this to monopolize the CPU,[57] Notes

Process Scheduling

NT-based versions of Windows use a CPU scheduler based on a multilevel feedback queue, with 32 priority levels defined. The kernel may change the priority level of a thread depending on its I/O and CPU usage and whether it is interactive (i.e. accepts and responds to input from humans),

when the CPU time raising the priority of accounting precision is interactive and I/O low. However, bounded processes and Completely Fair lowering that of CPU Scheduler, now the bound processes, to standard scheduler, increase the responsiveness addresses this problem. of interactive applications.

The scheduler was modified in Windows Vista to use the cycle counter register of modern processors to keep track of exactly how many CPU cycles a thread has executed, rather than just using an interval-timer interrupt routine.[56] This section of this table is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. WikiProject Computing or the Computing Portal may be able to help recruit one. (April 2009) Memory Windows NT family Most hard drive The ideal solution Management/ (including 2000, XP, Vista, installations of Linux performance-wise Disk Paging Win7) most commonly utilize a "swap partition", is to have the employs a dynamically where the disk space pagefile on its own allocated pagefile for allocated for paging is hard drive, which memory management. A separate from general eliminates both pagefile is allocated on data, and is used strictly fragmentation and disk, for less frequently for paging operations. I/O issues. accessed objects in This reduces slowdown memory, leaving more due to disk fragmentation RAM available to actively from general use. As with used objects. This scheme Windows, for best suffers from slow-downs performance the swap due to disk fragmentation partition should be placed (if a variable size paging on a hard drive separate file is specified), which from the primary one. hampers the speed at which Linux also allows to the objects can be brought adjust "swappiness" e.g. back into memory when the amount of data it they are needed. Windows needs to buffer (this is not

XP and later can equivalent to adjusting defragment the pagefile, the virtual memory size). and on NTFS filesystems, Windows does not intelligently allocate blocks support such features. to avoid this problem. Windows can be configured to place the pagefile on a separate disk or partition.[58] However, this is not default behavior, because if the pagefile is on a separate partition, then Windows cannot create a memory dump in the event of a Stop Error. On the NT family, executed programs become part of the paging system (to improve performance). Programs cannot normally access each others address space. It is possible to configure the OS to have no additional paging file.
[clarification needed]

The Windows 3.1/95/98/ME family does not have true virtual memory and uses a simpler swapping scheme easily leading to needless swaps and disc fragmentation. Programs on this family can access each other's address space. [59]

[edit] Support
This section needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2008)

Please help improve this article by expanding it. Further information might be found on the talk page. (March 2007)




Community Microsoft Developer Most support is provided by support Network (MSDN), advanced users and Microsoft TechNet: developers over online Resources for IT forums, and other free Professionals, and community based venues. multitudes of user driven Professional support is support forums are available available, but most at no charge. Additional commonly only utilized by support is available by 3rd large-scale businesses, and party services. server dependent organizations.

There are paid local Windows techs. Fewer for Linux. Most OEM's offer support along with their products, which include both hardware and software technical support.

Phone support By Microsoft or OEM. Usually for a fee.

Red Hat, Canonical, Novell and other major distributors have support available as well for a fee. Most documentation is available online, either in FAQ form or Wiki pages on developers websites. Detailed documentation for specific commands, programs, functions, libraries, files, and file formats are available through the man pages, which are accessed through the command line, or through graphical viewers. Large applications often come with separate documentation. Some major distributions have books written by 3rd party authors, mainly for server admins, or application development. Source code is available for all free software.

Documentation A wealth of information is available free online, or in books, as well as on Microsoft's own support page.


Many IT courses are written Linux is taught in many

computing university courses in programming and computer science.[citation needed] for participants to learn how Linux diplomas and to use and manage Windows certificates are rarely systems and networks. Most offered. Courses for computer assistance experts certifications are provided have Windows training and by Linux Professional qualifications. Institute and some distributions, such as Red Hat and Ubuntu. As Windows has the majority of the market share, most producers of Third Party software and hardware will Documentation give Windows specific instructions for the installation and operation of their programs and drivers. Most non-Linux-specific products give little to no instructions to install or use software on Linux. Indeed, some Linux laptops have shipped with superfluous Windows documentation.
[citation needed]

[edit] Programs
This section needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2007)




Binary Emulation, Alternative API

There are many programs that will setup a Unix-like environments that run in Windows. Microsoft supports SUA. SUA may be used to compile raw Linux source code, which will run in a console. In order to run through Program Manager/Explorer, installation of other libraries and a suitable

Cedega, CrossOver, and Wine can be used to run many Windows programs on Linux with varying degrees of reliability. While these programs technically do not emulate Windows, and instead provide an alternate Windows API, the practical effect is the same. Some windows software may not run correctly since API implementation provided by these software packages is not complete. Wine and

With binary emulation (or alternative API implementation) user is able to run software designed to run on different operating system or hardware platform.

X server program are similar approaches often required. Microsoft require less cpu power than does not support Hardware emulation or LINA, Cygwin, and Virtualization where a whole MinGW, but these Microsoft Windows open source programs operating system must be will run on Windows run. to set up a Unix-like environment. Windows is capable of running any enterprise application.

Hardware emulation and Virtualization

VMware, VirtualBox, Virtual PC, Virtual Server, Hyper-V (only available on 64-bit versions of Vista SP2, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008), Parallels, QEMU on new hardware.

VMware, VirtualBox, Xen, Parallels, Linux-VServer, OpenVZ, Win4Lin, KVM. VirtualBox and QEMU can be used to run Microsoft Windows as guest operating system.

With virtualization you may run an operating system within another operating system.

Operating Several linux User-mode Linux allows systems run distributions can be run users to run Linux kernel as as application inside windows as userland application. userland application using Cooperative Linux as kernel and Xming as X server. There exist userfriendly easy to install software packages based on this approach (Andlinux , TopologiLinux, Portable Ubuntu). A Linux distribution installed in this way has binary compatibility with other x86 linux

Andlinux and TopologiLinux are the simplest ways of running linux software on windows.

distributions, the only difference is a special kernel modification – allowing it to run on top of windows. Linux programs are PM simplifies the Package Windows programs are sometimes dependent on process of installing management not tied to specific exact kernel and library new software, system library or kernel version (or ranges of updating it, and versions and the versions). Such programs managing original developer of a will only function properly dependencies (See program can therefore on a specific (or very Dependency hell). distribute a single similar) version of the In Linux package that can work distribution they were built distributions the on multiple versions of for. In order to manage the type of package Windows. This complicated dependencies manager is preobviates any problem that arise, most distributions determined by what comparable to what have a package manager, the distribution was exists in the Linux often based upon RPM, originally derived ecosystem where it's APT, or Gentoo Ebuild from though more necessary to maintain metapackages (source). modern distributions large repositories of Sometimes an installation can import other packages compiled for can have a second package package formats. exact versions of the management system which is operating system, and incompatible with the to manage complicated primary system. Numerous dependencies between distribution-specific frontdifferent package ends exist on top of the core versions and repository formats allowing for GUI or sources, however in command-line package some cases it raises the installation e.g. aptitude, need to update large Synaptic, Portage, YaST and numbers of programs YUM. Though rare, some in case of a security or distributions create their own otherwise important formats e.g. Pardus PiSi or update. Pacman. Modern versions of Most package managers Windows rely on the have a form of package Windows Installer to signing usually based on install and manage PGP e.g. OpenPGP for software. This registers Debian packages. It is also what components are possible to create a GUI installed where on the installation package not

user's system. Microsoft's guidelines strongly suggest that software vendors use the Windows Installer. However, many applications are still deployed with alternative installers. One example is NSIS. Applications are typically installed into the Program Files directory by an executable file.

depending on the distributions by using Autopackage. Software can also be compiled from source code, which does not require any kind of packagemanagement system. However, compiling software from its source code can be time-consuming and difficult. Source code is also typically tied to specific library versions, and in many cases, source code can not be compiled without updating system libraries, which can disable existing installed software that is dependent on exact builds of those libraries. In some cases, conflicts arise where the latest version of one program depends on having an older version of a specific library, and another program will depend on having a newer version of the same library.

Adding New Thousands of programs In addition to website Programs are available for downloads, thousands of download from many programs are available from websites and for repositories maintained by purchase on CD/DVD each distribution and are in retail shops. generally considered "trusted" and require review before new additions will be Programs must be accepted. Access to the downloaded (or repositories is usually purchased on without cost. Installing new CD/DVD) and installed individually. software typically needs only The user has to search its name, and sophisticated for the package they tools help the user finding the name of the software need, and track dependencies (if any) they need. by hand. The package manager

automatically handles download and installation of selected packages, and automatically upgrades or patches software when a newer version appears in the repository. For some distributions, however, it's normal not to update the applications released together with the distribution to new versions. In these cases, only security updates are provided.[60] Third-party software rarely (if ever) contains adware/spyware/viruses, and does not require as much discretion in that regard. Driver Windows provides Few working specifications development extensive, wellexist for Linux driver documented programming interfaces, and programming no model for consistent interfaces that enable binary driver support exists. third parties to develop In fact, a compiled Linux kernel software that driver is tied to builds extends and modifies similar to the kernel running system behavior. on the machine where the Microsoft provides its driver was compiled. This Windows Driver Kit at process is facilitated by the no cost, which includes fact that the kernel source thorough code is available. However, documentation, historically, kernel internals samples, and tools for typically change over time, building, testing, and and source code for many deploying drivers. modules must be Windows driver periodically updated in order programming for it to continue to function. interfaces are based on This also means that standards and modifications that work on specifications, often one machine will sometimes the product of a fail to work on another process involving machine if their kernel leading players in the versions are different. applicable industry. However, these difficulties

While Windows drivers are compiled based on specifications, and are not tied to a specific version of Windows, source code for a specific version of Windows may, in theory, be purchased for modification in some circumstances (restrictive), or thirdparty tools may create modifications. In practice, the availability of Windows source code is generally heavily restricted or extremely expensive, if available at all. However, even where source is available, modification to the operating system can break the EULA, and in turn be prohibited or even illegal. Updates

are for the most part restricted to graphics drivers. In cases where the drivers are Free Software, the driver is actually considered part of the kernel itself. The source code to most such drivers are included along with the source code of the Linux kernel, and developers of these drivers are considered to be part of the community of kernel developers.

Windows Update handles only updates to Microsoft software and can deploy driver updates if present on Windows update site. Some third party software has its own separate update manager. Windows

The Package Gentoo goes further and allows different manager handles updates for software versions of software that was installed via and libraries to be the package manager. installed in separate “SLOTS” so a Updates generally do system can have not require a system different versions of the same software restart, with the exception of kernel installed. GoboLinux uses a updates. There are multiple (but seldom radically different used) ways around approach where "the filesystem is the the need of a hard reboot even after a package manager" kernel upgrade; it is which allows even

Installer (See Package management system above) does not manage updates.

Windows security updates typically require a restart.

possible to load the different versions of kernel into memory, a program to be run update it, and commit concurrently.[61] to memory Ksplice. Updates to applications or libraries require restarting the applications to take effect, but there is usually no need to restart immediately (new instances of the program use the new version). In the case of X loging out and back in usually restarts also the server. Different versions of an application can usually coexist at least by installing other versions without the package manager (in separate directories, with some care). Where there is a common need for several versions, these are usually handled by the package manager as different programs.

Crossplatform (software)

Many programs are written for the Windows API, and depend on an implementation of that API. Source compatibility with some

Linux is a UNIX-like Some companies, operating system, and such as Id software, make versions of can run programs their products to written for UNIX work on both programming standards. However, Windows and Linux. These few programs are programs are written for the various frameworks generally not dependent on either that are specific to Linux, and those that framework. Instead,

UNIX programs is done via POSIX subsystem (Windows NT and 2000), or Subsystem for UNIX applications (formerly Interix) (2000, XP, 2003, Vista).

are usually have a the installation is Windows port. such that there is an Compatibility "interpreter" layer between Unix-like and the actual program binary operating systems (such as BSD Unix, files. The interpreter Solaris, and Mac OS layer runs on-the-fly X) through various to deliver the standards, such as the appropriate program experience to POSIX thread whichever platform standard. is running. Using this method, Wine allows some Windows programs software can be created independent to run on Linux, although sometimes of the platform, and with some glitches. only the interpreter layer needs to be configured for the OS. OpenGL is cross-platform. The GNU toolchain has been ported on Windows, as well as GTK, Qt and many other libraries. Many projects already have Windows builds Software that is written in crossplatform languages and frameworks are usually easily ported.

Crossplatform (development)

Many Microsoft libraries have not been ported to other operating systems Many of Microsoft's frameworks can be replaced by counterparts in other operating systems

CrossWindows client and i386, x86-64, PowerPC platform server OS come in x86 32/64, SPARC, DEC Alpha, (hardware) and x64 editions. The ARM, MIPS, PA-RISC, target platforms for S390, IA-64, SuperH and Windows CE / m68k, and many PDAs and Windows XP embedded systems. Embedded are ARM, MIPS, x86-64, SuperH. The target platforms

Historically, GNU began working on 68000 but always had a strong multiplatfor m vocation.

for Windows Mobile are PDAs.


The first version of Linux was developed for the i386.

Software Windows programs are Extensive compatibility Compatibility compiled against issues exist in Linux generalized, software that tie specific specification-based versions of source code and header files and are not binary packages to specific tied to the local distributions, library machine where they versions, and kernel are compiled. That fact versions. For example, combined with a well- binary drivers are almost documented effort by always tied to an exact Microsoft to maintain kernel build, and binary binary compatibility driver distribution is has resulted in therefore quite rare. Windows programs Common practice in Linux typically being usable and open source in general is on a variety of to configure compiler and Windows versions. library packages so that compiled binaries will be tied to a specific version of the package. For example, the same source code may successfully compile with two different versions of glibc, but each resulting binary will be tied to the respective version of glibc. Therefore, a binary compiled on a given Linux machine will typically only be compatible with the specific version of the specific distribution that is running on that machine. As a result, distributions and third parties maintain extensive repositories with many compilations of the same source code in order to provide users of different

distributions with access to binaries that will work on their machines. Backwards Compatibility Has historically been a between very high priority.[63] releases However, exceptions do exist, even within Microsoft's own applications (particularly with respect to Windows Vista).[64] IDEs & Compilers Programs that use Linux Standard Base functions will work for at least six years on any LSB-compliant distribution.[65] Non-LSB frameworks and libraries have other compatibility policies This refers to the backwards compatibility of the operating system between releases.

Several commercial Several commercial IDEs IDEs for sale, such as and compilers for sale such Microsoft's Visual as PGI, Intel, and Absoft's Studio. Multiple free or Fortran compilers.[66][67] gratis IDEs and Multiple free IDEs and compilers, including compilers, the most common the GNU Compiler of which are often included Collection, Eclipse, in distributions;[68] including NetBeans, Pelles C, the GNU Compiler lcc32, Borland C++, Collection, Eclipse, Visual Studio Express NetBeans, Mono, (Visual C++, C#, and MonoDevelop, Geany, VB.NET Anjuta, KDevelop, Free compilers), .NET Pascal, OpenLDev, compilers freely Codeblocks included in .NET Framework, Sharpdevelop, Free Pascal

Linux distributions come with a great deal of software which can be installed for free, with an especially large collection of computer programming software.[69] Debian comes with more than 18,000 software packages.[68] Microsoft has had a longstanding emphasis on backwards compatibility.[63] In general, the Windows API is consistent over time, with new features added;[citation needed] programs designed for earlier versions of Windows often run without issues on later versions.[citation needed] For the sake of progress, however, Microsoft sometimes draws a line precluding support of very old programs. That first happened with Windows 95, where some purely 16 bit Windows 3.1 applications would not work, and again with Windows XP, where certain mixed-bit applications would not work. 64-bit versions of Windows (XP-64 and Vista-64) drop 16-bit support completely. However, 16 bit emulation and the enormous

array of application-specific tweaks (“shims”) within new Windows versions[70] ensure that compatibility with old applications remains very high.[71] In the Linux world, the landscape differs. As most (if not all) parts of the operating system is open source and many Linux programs are open source, when a Linux distribution breaks backward compatibility, anyone willing might write a patch to the operating system or the program itself that would allow the older software to work. In reality though, since many popular Linux distributions uses software repository and all of the most popular programs exists in the repository, the programs provided in the repository is guaranteed to be compatible with (depends on the distros) the most recent version of the operating system.

[edit] Gaming
A major attraction of Windows is the large library of video games available for purchase. The majority of current major games natively support Windows and are released first (and often only) for the Windows platform. Some of these games can be run on Linux with a compatibility layer like Wine or Cedega. Those that rely on copy protection or undocumented features require much more effort in order to work properly. Since Wine is not an emulator it can, and does, obtain native speed, sometimes surpassing that of Windows.[72] There are notable exceptions, such as id Software's Doom and Quake series. When a developer chooses to write graphics code in OpenGL instead of DirectX, Linux ports become much easier. In addition, games such as the Unreal Tournament series are written in 3 parts: The core 'engine' of the game, the graphical display system, and the actual game data itself. The first two, typically being compiled programs, require porting, however only the graphical display system will often require much work (Windows to X Window, DirectX to OpenGL, etc). The third part, the game data itself, is typically written in system-independent file formats and scripting languages. This allows the game developer to separate the actual game experience from platform compatibility. This also serves to reduce the cost of development in 2 ways.
• •

There is no need to port the game data to another platform, which eliminates the need to compile and bug-fix the game data for each platform. Future releases of the software can use the same "engine" and graphical display system. This allows game developers to focus more on the game experience, and less on compatibility issues.

There are Open Source games designed first for Linux.[73] While most of these are small casual games like Kolf or Pingus, there are also larger "hardcore" games, such as Nexuiz, Freeciv, and The Battle for Wesnoth. Many have been ported to work on Windows as well.

Some gamers opt to dual boot Windows and Linux, using the Windows partition for gaming and other applications, while using the Linux partition for the needs it addresses better.

[edit] Security
Windows Linux Notes

Malware According to Kaspersky As of 2006, more than A true comparison Lab, more than 11,000 800 pieces of Linux between Windows and malware programs for malware have been Linux on the values of the [74] Windows were discovered. Some inherent security of each discovered just in the malware has propagated operating system is hard second half of 2005.[74] through the Internet.[76] to obtain. Windows runs However, it is common However, in practice, nearly 90% of desktop for anti-malware software reports of bonafide computers in the to have more than 1,000 malware presence on consumer market, and is signatures against which Linux-based systems are the main operating system potentially malicious extremely rare.[citation needed] of the vast majority of components can be Nonetheless, anticommercial and compared. Botnets – malware tools such as institutional users.[78] This networks of infected ClamAV and Panda makes Windowscomputers controlled by Security's DesktopSecure equipped machines a malicious persons – with for Linux do exist. These larger target for malware, more than one million programs are mainly which is written by coders computers have been intended to filter who desire to cause as [75] witnessed. Once Windows malware from much damage as possible. malicious software is emails and network traffic Furthermore, the ubiquity present on a Windows- traveling through Linux- of Windows means that based system, it can based servers. The more sensitive sometimes be incredibly extreme rarity of this type information- credit card difficult to locate and of occurrence is such that numbers, medical records, remove. As such, users it is not usually necessary financial data- is likely to are advised to install and to use anti-malware be found on a Windows run anti-malware programs. The exception network. Simply put, the programs. to this would be if the number of malicious Linux-based system is programs available for connected to Windows- Windows is not always based systems, and only due to flaws in the to mitigate the spread of security of the operating Windows malware.[77] system, but can instead be attributed to the widespread use of

Windows. Claims its platform is more secure because all of its code is reviewed by so many people that bugs are detected (referred to as Linus's law). Microsoft claims that Windows Vista is more secure than other operating systems.[81] However, security vulnerabilities have been found in Windows Vista.

Open vs. Claims its platform is Closed more secure because of a comprehensive approach to security using the Security Development Lifecycle.[79][80]

[82] Anyone with However, because programming experience Windows is closedis free to fix bugs and Security issues are also source, only Microsoft- submit them for inclusion reported for Linux [83] employed programmers in future releases and (or licensed third-parties) updates. can fix bugs. Because the software is closed-source, consumers have to trust that Microsoft is not doing anything against them. (See security through obscurity.)

Response Claims closed source speed offers a faster and more effective response to security issues,[84] though critical bug fixes are only released once a month after extensive programming and testing[85][86] and certain bugs have been known to go unpatched for months or even years.

Bugs can be fixed and rolled out within a day of being reported (often within hours), though usually it takes a few weeks before the patch is available on all distributions.

User In Windows Vista, all Users typically run as A malicious program Accounts logged-in sessions (even limited accounts, having executed under a limited for those of created both administrator account in both Linux and "administrator" users) run (commonly called Windows is limited to with standard user "superuser" and named that user's data. The use permissions, preventing "root", has UID 0) and at of sudo on some Linux malicious programs (and least one user account configurations asks for inexperienced users) from during install, preventing the user's password only gaining total control of malicious programs from once for a set amount of the system. Processes that gaining total control of time (in Ubuntu, 10

require administrator the system. Note that the minutes). During this privileges can be run user "root" is not the time, the user is able to do using the User Account same thing as the root anything root could do Control framework. For level of the filesystem, without entering a standard users, this indicated by "/" alone. In password and actually presents a credentials most Linux distributions, becoming root (assuming dialogue (example) that there are commands (su, sudo is configured this requires the password of a sudo) that will way; the stated intent of member of the temporarily grant sudo is to allow users to administrators group root/administrator run select commands as (who are listed). For users privileges to processes root). The su command who are already logged in that need it. In practice, requires the root password an administrator, only the sudo command is every time, and is confirmation is necessary. generally far less of an therefore more secure; The first user account annoyance, leading to its malware(which can enter created during the setup use over su in a system in a variety of process is automatically a distributions like Ubuntu, ways, such as browser member of the in spite of the additional exploits) cannot exploit a administrators group. The security risk. In addition, passwordless period to majority of users did not a user can log into the PC hijack the system. User change to an account type as the "root" or Access Controls in with fewer rights, temporarily become root Windows only grants meaning that, in with su (normal console administrator privileges to Windows versions prior logout returns the user to the user for each process to the introduction of normal permissions). No as a one-time-shot. Each UAC, malicious programs elevated permissions are process that needs would have full control needed for anything when elevated privileges over the system. logged in as root. In spawns a new prompt to practice, this can be very the user (often more than dangerous, as a simple one) for the user to typo error at the accept. command line can wipe a hard drive clean or clear the contents of system RAM. Unlike Vista's UAC, a privileged process has complete, unrestricted access to the system. For graphical programs containing thousands of lines of code, this creates a larger opportunity for something to go wrong. New frameworks such as PolicyKit seek to rectify

this problem by splitting the privileged program into two parts: A light daemon program with the privileges necessary to carry out the task and the GUI front-end that uses PolicyKit to communicate with the daemon. However, as of Feb. 2009, PolicyKit is not in widespread use. Other frameworks such as AppArmor and SELinux ensure that a program can only carry out specific tasks (for example, a web server is not allowed to change critical system files).

[edit] Filesystem permissions
Both Windows NT-based systems and Linux-based systems support permissions on their default filesystems. DOS/Win3.x/Win9x original FAT filesystem, however, does not support permissions. This filesystem is available for use in both operating systems, although Microsoft has sued companies that try to use the FAT filesystem on a Linuxbased appliance.[87] The DOS based Windows ME, Windows 98, Windows 95, and previous versions of non-NT Windows only operated on the FAT filesystem, and therefore do not support permissions natively. NT since inception supported token based permissions and streams on NTFS and up until NT4.0 supported creation of the OS/2 HPFS at install time. The token based system on NTFS is more similar to VMS security and can be very much more powerful, flexible and complex than the default three level flag system on UNIX/Linux. However, few organisations have taken advantage of the richness of the Token based system of NTFS which can be applied to almost all NT OS objects[citation needed]. [edit] Linux and Unix-like systems

File system permissions on a Linux system running GNOME. Linux—and Unix-like systems in general—have a “user, group, other” approach to filesystem permissions at a minimum.[88] Access Control Lists are available on some filesystems, which extends the traditional Unix-like permissions system. Security patches like SELinux and PaX add Role-Based Access Controls, which add even finer-grained controls over which users and programs can access certain resources or perform certain operations. Some distributions, such as Fedora, CentOS, and Red Hat use SELinux out of the box, although most do not.[89] Most Linux distributions provide different user accounts for the various daemons.[90] In common practice, user applications are run on unprivileged accounts, to provide least user access. In some distributions, administrative tasks can only be performed through explicit switching from the user account to the root account, using tools such as su and sudo. [edit] Windows

File system permissions on a Windows Vista system. Windows NT and subsequent NT-based versions of Windows use NTFS-based Access Control Lists to administer permissions, using tokens.[91] On Windows XP and prior versions, most home users still ran all of their software with Administrator accounts, as

this is the default setup upon installation. The existence of software that would not run under limited accounts and the cumbersome "Run As..." mechanism forced many users to use administrative accounts. This gives users full read and write access to all files on the filesystem. Windows Vista changes this[92] by introducing a privilege elevation system called User Account Control that works on the principle of Least user access. When logging in as a standard user, a logon session is created and a token containing only the most basic privileges is assigned. In this way, the new logon session is incapable of making changes that would affect the entire system. When logging in as a user in the Administrators group, two separate tokens are assigned. The first token contains all privileges typically awarded to an administrator, and the second is a restricted token similar to what a standard user would receive. User applications, including the Windows Shell, are then started with the restricted token, resulting in a reduced privilege environment even under an Administrator account. When an application requests higher privileges or "Run as administrator" is clicked, UAC will prompt for confirmation and, if consent is given, starts the process using the unrestricted token.[93] For more information on the differences between the Linux su/sudo approach and Vista's User Account Control, see Comparison of privilege authorization features.

[edit] VLSI industry
This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2009)

The VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration, IC design & manufacturing technology) industry uses Linux. These companies usually have servers and Solaris/Linux installed. Most of the VLSI tools are designed for Linux and there are no ports available for Windows making Linux dominant in VLSI industry.

[edit] Localization
This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2009)

It is easy to have multiple languages installed in both operating systems and to switch between them while the user is logging in. In MS Windows, localization can be provided by a separate installation of the operating system, the Multilingual User Interface (MUI) can be used to provide multiple languages on one installation, in certain more expensive versions of Windows (such as Ultimate) it is possible to switch languages from the control panel.

In Linux the language can be chosen separately for any subsession and any instance of a program (by setting environment variables), separately for different aspects of the locale (date format, collation, message language etc.). Not all programs honour this traditional approach.

[edit] See also
Free software portal Microsoft portal • •

Comparison of operating systems Comparison of open source and closed source

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful