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I want to know why people switch to linux or vice versa (back to windows)? Also why YOU choose to use what you use?

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closed as not constructive by BinaryMisfit Mar 8 '10 at 10:38

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10 Answers 10

up vote 5 down vote accepted

For myself, I use Linux (Ubuntu specifically). I have been a windows user for years. I make my living writing software for windows. Being a curious geek type I played around with Linux at home. After a few years of toying with GNU\LINUX and letting my family use both I noticed something very interesting. I was spending considerably less time futzing around with the Linux machines.

My home windows boxes were always requiring attention for virus scans, software crashes, malware removal, semi-annual wipe and rebuilds etc. My linux boxen on the other hand just worked. Always. No matter how I (or my teen-aged children) abused them the Linux boxen just kept on ticking.

Now, unless my family has a very specific need, new computers in my house always run Linux exclusively.

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This is what drove to Mac OS X; I was so tired of forcing Windows to meet my needs. Now I don't think very much at all about the OS, it just works. I think this is a general reason people switch away from Windows. Though, I have used Win 7 so I don't know if that would still be the case. – donut Mar 8 '10 at 1:50



I used this for my day-to-day video editing, because Mac was too expensive and not powerful enough and Linux isn't mature in terms of video editing yet. I "grew up" on Windows so I guess i have a sort of biased preference towards it, but believe me: I've had my issues with Windows. Edit: I've bought an iMac and am using it for most things now.


  • Most commonly used, hence most commonly supported.
  • Runs the software that I need.
  • Cheaper than Mac OS, while providing similar functionality in most areas


  • More expensive than Linux.
  • BSOD, need I say more? Blue Screen Of Death, or BSOD as it is called, is that horrible horrible error screen with the blue colored background that you get when Windows crashes. These are often caused by bad drivers or a virus trying to access memory that it is not supposed to be accessing. (A topic unto itself, system level memory management.)



Apple systems are pretty, (Or "sleek" as the critics call it) and are simple to use out of the box. They work fairly well and cost a relative fortune.


  • "Sleek" / pretty
  • An American product (for all of you patriotic folk).
  • Not subject to many viruses and worms (which were written for Windows OS).
  • Uses a Unix-like security model. (Ask for a password any time some important change is about to be done.)


  • Price. Apple marks up hardware by over 100% at times. The forthcoming iPad is reported to cost in the range of $230 to manufacture and yet Apple will charge upwards of $499 per unit. Also, see this price comparison that I did of three similar laptops. Two of them a PC and one a MacBook Pro.
  • Support. Support for Apple products is not cheap either. Even after you buy an AppleCare package, you need to convince them that your case is legit. If they don't agree with you, you'll be better off arguing with a Dell rep about your dead Mac. Edit: I've since bought an iMac and can say that Apple Support is not as bas I''ve previously suggested. The Genius bar is great. Schedule an appointment and you can bring in your Mac and they will help you with it. Dell doesn't do that!

  • Market Share. Apple products are less widely used, hence the lack of available software for Mac Os in most areas. In order for people to buy Mac OS, it needs to be able to file taxes and write reports (okay, it can do that much), but nobody will develop for an unpopular platform. It's a bit of a Catch-22, eh?



As is stands now, Linux is just barely breaking into the mainstream. It's a promising alternative, being that it is free, but until driver support gets better in an ever evolving world of hardware, only servers and geeks will use it.


  • Price. You can't get cheaper than free. Wait, you can. When will Canonical pay me to use Ubuntu?
  • Interface. While Gnome isn't the prettiest, KDE serves as a nice alternative. Neither Windows nor Mac OS offer options in terms of a graphical shell.
  • Geekism. Ubuntu is great for programmers and "enthusiasts" to develop on. (Just stay away from Mono please, okay?)


  • Driver support. Lack thereof.

  • Too many actions/fuctions still require some technical knowledge. My Grandma couldn't learn this as easily as she could learn Windows. Neither could my younger siblings.


Each OS has its place. I don't believe in fanboyism anymore, although I'm sure that Gates, Balmer, Jobs and Wozniak love it. It gives hype and hype == marketing.

( This answer may be somewhat biased, as it is based on personal experience. Edits are also based on said experience.)

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Thanks for your honest opinion, very good comparison, can you elaborate on BSOD, some of us aren't very good at decoding ancronyms/txting language! – palbakulich Mar 8 '10 at 3:17
BSOD (blue screen of death) means that Windows has just halted really, really hard. :-) – goblinbox Mar 8 '10 at 3:23
Yep, see my edit. – Moshe Mar 8 '10 at 3:25
Thanks... your edit just reminded me of VIRSUSES! Thanks for that! – palbakulich Mar 8 '10 at 3:50
american os. finnish os. german os. ALL HARDWARE MADE IN CHINA! ;p – Journeyman Geek Mar 8 '10 at 3:53

My main reason for switching to Linux is the freedom to choose the solution that fits my needs, and the ease to procure the software. Since I have some knowledge of Linux, I can make my way around the potential problems I can have under Linux. But the fact that software is free is a great plus. Also, most of the free software will speak standard protocols, especially for the open source ones. Open Source also means that I can work inside the program and tweak it if I want.

But the most important is the freedom to choose, and he ease to get the software, even if it is only to try. No licensing, timing, or serial number issues.


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Choice of software availability is a common reason, though usually for choosing Windows. There is some software, though, that wasn't ported to Windows or done in such an unusable way that it's better to natively use on a UNIX-like OS.

A preference for freedom often leads to choosing Linux or BSD.

In times where most people can easily get their hands on pirated copies of software, cost is usually not a very large issue, so I don't consider that a very valid argument for most individuals (corporations or people caring more about buying software are exempt, though).

To me I don't particularly care. I'm a Windows user proficient with command line tools and a software developer. I never was very comfortable with UNIX-like operating systems. To me it's not a way of living but rather something to get done what I want to get done and the tools I choose aren't particularly based on ideological reasons.

However, I consider some UNIX alternatives to tools I use daily to be inferior to the ones I am using right now—at least for my uses and habits; this includes Far and Windows PowerShell.

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For myself, I use OS X. I love it because it is a multi-user system, because it was build on the BSD UNIX system. There is still root command line support when I need it. But on the other hand, it has a single, system-wide desktop manager (Finder), program launchers (Dock, Spotlight), and package installer (Installer).

It is the best of both worlds for me. Plus there is so many sources of freeware and shareware available, it's hard not to go with it.

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It is actually based on a bsd kernel, which is not linux. The kernel source trees are very very different. – spowers Mar 8 '10 at 1:35
Sorry spowers! I removed my comment about Mac OS X being 'linux' cause I felt like such a 'noob'. No hard feelings ok! – palbakulich Mar 8 '10 at 2:25
Not a fan of Mac fanboysim. (I am using a Mac now for iPod dev.) Linux, Windows and Mac are multi-user systems and all three have sonme sort of root. Linux uses Gnome or KDE and Windows uses Explorer. Program paunchers (icons and the start menu) and package installers. (Windows doesn't have a software repository, but that's because it is much more widely developed for so it's sort of unnecessary.) What "both worlds" do you refer to? Computing and computing? Please. I use Windows on my desktop, Linux and Windows on my laptop and I'm using a MacBook for iPhone development. Ptooey, fanboyism. – Moshe Mar 8 '10 at 2:39
I think everyone here is entitled to their own opinion... this question was asked in the spirit of freedom of speech. BTW - I think your comment should be separated into comment and answer. <br> Thanks for posting! – palbakulich Mar 8 '10 at 2:47
@paulhomebus - my comment? – Moshe Mar 8 '10 at 3:04

I find that linux/BSD systems are much easier to develop on. That is a big thing for me. In addition having the source code for the kernel is great since I can learn about device drivers, kernels, and systems software. Also, there is much more flexibility as far as file systems, so I can play around with distributed filesystems (like hadoop). Also it is much easier to build clusters for writing distributed code in linux. Also I find that for securing servers freeBSD works wonderfully with the bsd jails.

My laptop and general workstation are Ubuntu, however when it comes to my servers I tend to go with freeBSD. Occasionally I use ubuntu server edition. There are some Solaris and Irix boxes kicking around in the rack as well.

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IMHO & from my own experience...
I find that the Linux users in general are far more knowledgeable, helpful.
The free applications & support in the Linux distros, (especially the big ones) outweigh all my experiences with both Windows and Macs.

I also note that the support between operating systems seems to much higher on the Linux side... ie Samba for windows shares, NTFS support (even down to creating Linux type permissions on a NTFS drive) as examples.

Also to stay on top of things nowadays, I reckon you have to know about Open Source alternatives AND Linux seems to be gaining traction in areas where the Enterprise Operating System Developers used to have a strangle-hold.

So to concisely state MY reasons for being a Linux user... No. 1 IT's Free, and it's at the top for development purposes, easier to keep up to date, has less viruses designed to hijack/infiltrate it, supports a broad range of people.... It's great for Security Administration, Education, Video & Graphics editing, or if you want to customize, all of the above!

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The main benefit of being a Linux user over a Windows user is knowing the answer to the question you asked in the first place :-)

And no, this is not a pun. Being an open system, Linux makes it easier for you to understand how it works.

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I have try Ubuntu a little time, but I got back to Windows.

Because I'm used to it and don't have found polished applications like: foobar2000, notepad++, everything, mIRC, find & run robot, KMPlayer, µTorrent, Office...

Additionally even if I play less and less, I like to have a big choice...

The things I'm missing from linux: the open source spirit, bash and compiz.

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You mean besides being sexier? (Ref: Sex Tips For Geeks: How To Be Sexy)

Well, first being use to a multi-user system that has a longer history of usage as a server, more experience with operating and maintaining network services (DNS, mail, FTP, WWW, ssh) and the related security issues.

As well as historically having to know more about the hardware to install and configure the system (i.e. soundcards, non-mainline source device drivers, patching kernel source), so I know more about computers from the registers in the CPU to the PCI bus speeds for a more complete understanding of the complete system.

Finally more programmer friendly (complete development environment is normal to be found on a Linux desktop / workstation or server) with free (libre / gratis) development tools to encourage administrators to know at least some programming / scripting skills (i.e. Perl), as well as a rich, long history of an abundance of development languages and tools available for programmers to diversify as well as hone their skills.

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