In this section, we will review 10 important reasons to make the switch to Linux rather than shelling out another $500 for Windows 8 and Office 2013. Hopefully after reading this article, you will have a better understanding of why we should all make the move to the Linux free open source operating system.
#1: Linux costs less... In fact, it is free!
In our previous article, we pointed out the “impending doom” of the Windows XP operating system in April 2014 and the fact that replacing Windows and Office with the newer versions will cost about $500. Meanwhile Linux Mint with Libre Office is free. Let’s say, you buy a new computer every couple of years. By this point, you have been through the ringer of MS DOS, through Windows 95, 98, ME, 2003, XP, Vista, 7 and now Windows 8. You have also been through many versions of Office. Each time Windows destroys your computer, you pay several hundred dollars for an upgrade that often worked worse than the version you could no longer use because it was “no longer supported.” Folks are starting to add up the cost of all of these new versions. In most cases, it comes to more than $200 per year just for software! If you have a family and several computers, or a small business with several computers, the cost quickly exceeds $1,000 per year.
Microsoft typically sells $70 billion in software every year – and makes more than $20 billion in profit every year! But instead of passing along some of these savings to their customers, Microsoft is now increasing prices in a very hidden way by moving to a “software as a service” (SAAS) model whereby you only rent their software for a month or a year at a time instead of buying it. Ironically, for all the money we are sinking into these over-priced products, we are getting a product that is worse than an open source option we can get for free. My mom had a saying: “Fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice, shame on me.”
#2: Linux is more dependable than Windows 8
We have already given many examples showing that Windows 8 is an unstable system with numerous technical problems which cause it to freeze or crash causing the Blue Screen of Death. The reason Windows 8 is so unstable is that Microsoft is trying to combine a “metro” Operating System with a traditional “Windows 7” desktop Operating System. These are fundamentally incompatible objectives and as incompatible as trying to combine water with oil. The Windows 8 operating system ends up not work well for either mobile or desktop usage. The Windows 8 underlying programming is so different from the Windows 7 desktop structure that Windows 8 has been plagued with a series of technical crashes right from the initial public launch. These are in addition to the ongoing technical problems with viruses and crashes that have plagued all past versions of Microsoft Windows.
Linux Mint Mate Start screen and menu
Linux Mint Mate does not suffer from any of these technical problems. You will therefore be able to get your work done without worrying about your computer crashing and losing all of your data. The following are all more examples of how undependable Windows 8 really is.
Windows 8 goes to sleep and will not wake up
Problems have continued to plague Windows 8. For example, this report from March 25, 2013 describes a new problem called the Sleep of Death bug.
“Now there's another entry to add to the list of Windows 8 problems: the sleep of death. Some Surface Pro Windows 8 tablets refuse to wake up from the standby mode. When the power button is pressed, the unit vibrates as though it's turning back on - but the screen remains dark. The only way to recover the system is to hold down the power button to hard-reset the device. Doing so closes all open applications - so if you haven't saved your work recently, it will all be lost.”
Windows 8 still has Boot Loop problems
A whole list of Windows 8 crash problems is posted on the following website:
This is the sarcastic comment from a computer repair analyst:
“Ah, woe be unto you. For you have fallen into the Secure Boot Loader loop due to a Firmware Panic. I weep for you. Please note that the terms Secure Boot Loader Loop (SBLL) and Firmware Panic are both arbitrary terms that I created to attach to these hardware failures. I feel they are the best description available with the information at hand. Microsoft has not stated what is actually happening when SBLL occurs. Most assume it is a dead SSD but who knows?”
#3: Linux is Faster... Windows 8 runs slow because it has bloated software
Check out the following comparison of three different tablet systems:
|Apple IPad 2
|Asus Android 3
The Windows 8 operating system uses an incredible 17 GB of disc space – over 4 times more than Apple or Android. This is why Apple and Android are many times faster than Windows 8. In addition, the MS Surface needs twice the working RAM as the Asus Android, (2 to 4 GB instead of 1 to 1 GB) but is much slower at everything. In other words, Apple and Android use 4 GB while Windows 8 uses 17 GB. This is a real problem if you are looking at video games and want to avoid latency issues. No dedicated gamer is going to want a slow, bloated operating system.
Growth of Microsoft Windows File Size over Time
Microsoft Windows has not always been so huge. Below is a table showing the increase in file size over time using data from Wikipedia.org.
on Hard Drive (MB)
||1992 to 1994
||1995 to 1997
||1998 to 1999
||2000 to 2001
||2002 to 2006
||2007 to 2008
||2009 to 2011
||2012 to 2015
||2015 to ???
Why has Windows grown so much bigger than any other operating system? And why is Windows 8 so much bigger than earlier versions of Windows? This does not even include the file size expansion due to all of the monthly updates. What is in all of this secret Windows coding? No one knows. But it can’t be good – especially for someone with an older computer that likely does not even have more than 1 GB of RAM. On many older computers, Windows 8 and Windows 10 will not even run!
Why does your Windows computer get slower day after day?
But as slow as Windows is when it is new, it gets even slower over time. Windows has a number of design flaws, resulting in it becoming slower and slower and not lasting very long. You've probably heard more than once someone say "My computer is getting sluggish". There are several things that cause Windows computers to slow down. One is all of the patches intended to protect the open back door from hackers. The other is fragmentation because Windows does not do a good job of using disc space efficiently. You may think this is just how computers work. Well, try Linux and you'll be surprised. Five years from now, your system will be just as fast as the day you installed it.
#4: Windows 8 Touch Screen causes Gorilla Arm...
Windows 8 Touch Screen causes ergonomic fatigue and injuries when used on a desktop or laptop. The ideal position for humans at work is eyes up and hands down. Linux Mint allows you to use your computer efficiently with your hands down at your side resting on the keyboard and your eyes looking straight ahead at the vertical monitor. Using Windows 8 touch with desktops and laptops requires lifting your arms to perform difficult hand motions on the touch screen straining your back and arms. Using Windows 8 touch with tablets forces your eyes and head to look down, straining your neck. In a recent study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at whether using a tablet in various seating configurations can cause head and neck strain.
They found that using a tablet on your lap for extended periods may raise the risk of neck and shoulder discomfort and potentially musculoskeletal problems because it forces the user to look down at a steep angle. This causes head and neck flexion and is a particularly hazardous for users who are doing a lot of typing. Using touch-screen computer tablets strains muscles in the head and neck more than a desktop or laptop computer would.
The ideal work configuration is eyes up and hands down.
Reaching up to a lap top with a vertical touch screen strains arms and wrists.
The worst work configuration is head down... it is a pain in the neck!
The ideal solution for getting work done is a vertical screen and a horizontal keyboard. This is why laptops and desktops are easier to use and less tiring. It is because they use a vertical screen for the eyes and a horizontal keyboard for the hands. Putting your hands on a vertical screen or putting your eyes on a horizontal tablet will eventually cause fatigue and chronic stress.
In other words, traditional laptops and desktops are better than tablets and touch screen laptops and desktops. New is not always better. Apple's Steve Jobs once said he'd never launch a touchscreen laptop because of what he called "gorilla arm". "We've done tons of user testing on this," he said back in 2010, "and it turns out it doesn't work. Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical. It gives great demo, but after a short period of time you start to fatigue, and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off."
Studies have shown that users of desktop touchscreens report a "significant increase of discomfort in the shoulder, neck and fingers; and that the electric signals from shoulder muscles tell the same story.” "We concluded that the more frequent use of their hands and fingers in unsupported – arms were off the chair armrests – and stretched arm postures, which was necessary to perform touch gestures on the display, could be the main cause of their greater body discomforts," says Gwanseob Shin of the Urban National Institute of Science and Technology.
This problem was also covered in the January 2013 issue of Scientific American:
|“In late 2012 Microsoft broke from the pack. It made a billion-dollar gamble that personal computing is taking a new direction. The gamble was Windows 8, and the direction is touch. At first, you might think, “Touch has been incredibly successful on our phones, tablets, airport kiosks and cash machines. Why not on our computers?... I'll tell you why not: because of “gorilla arm.” There are three big differences between these handy touch screens and a PC's screen: angle, distance and time interval...You're not just tapping big, finger-friendly icons. You're trying to make tiny, precise movements on the glass, on a vertical surface, at arm's length.”
The public might dismiss Steve Jobs as just someone saying bad stuff about Microsoft. But when ergonomics experts start writing in Scientific American, the public is going to at some point find out that Windows 8 Touch laptops are a fundamentally flawed design. There is no “patch” for such a glaring flaw.
#5: Windows 8 Hand Gestures are Error Prone
Windows 8 introduces a bunch of complicated finger gestures that are very erratic and easy to get wrong. I often have to do the same motion three times to get it to work. If something doesn't work, users don't know whether they did the gesture wrong, or if the gesture doesn't work in the current context, or if they need to do a different gesture entirely. This makes it hard to learn and remember the gestures. And it makes actual use highly error-prone and more time-consuming than necessary.
Above are eight of the Windows 8 new hand gestures. It was the erratic nature of the hand motions and hidden hot corners that got me worried about whether my students would be able to learn Windows 8. I think many of them will not be able to do these hand motions because they are hard to memorize and do not always work. Many are not even going to get a touch screen as they prefer to use a mouse and keyboard. So the new Metro interface did not make any sense at all. If you want to use your mouse and keyboard to open or close almost anything, you need to learn about what is hidden behind the new hot spots in the four corners of your computer screen. You also need to learn more than a dozen shortcuts using a combination of keys on your keyboard. You also need a lot of patience. The interface is littered with swipe ambiguity, where similar (or identical) gestures have different outcomes depending on subtle details in how they're activated or executed. Believe it or not, the following is a real Windows 8 command to open an application: To reveal the list of currently running applications: you need to first swipe from the screen's left edge, and then immediately reverse direction and do a small swipe the other way, and finally make a 90-degree turn to move your finger to a thumbnail of the desired application. The slightest mistake in any of these steps gives you a different result. For example, start swiping from the right to the left and you will either scroll the screen horizontally or reveal the charm bar, depending on exactly where your finger first touched the screen.
This is simply a very bad design that as users give up will drive them away from Microsoft and force them to look for other options. Below is an example of how Windows 8 replaces simple commands with complex finger motions.
#6: Linux comes with a fully functioning free Word Processing program.
Linux comes with a fully functioning Word Processing program called Libre Office – which can be used to open, edit and send Microsoft Word documents. Microsoft Windows does not come with anything – as Microsoft Office costs hundreds of dollars EXTRA.
#7 Linux offers hundreds of additional free tools
Linux Mint also comes with a software center which allows you to download hundreds of additional free tools with just the click of a button.
This is one of the biggest advantages of Linux over Windows. If you want to add special abilities to your computer, you do not need to buy them – as thousands of free programs can be added to your Linux operating system with just the click of a button. These free programs include image editors such as GIMP, desktop recorders, video players and video editors. All of these tools are nicely organized by category – with reviews – in the Software Manager.
#8: Linux brings your old computer back to life
Because its code is so bloated to begin with and gets even worse over time with all of the patches, Windows uses much more hardware power just to make it work. But for most users, who surf the web, read and write emails, there is really no need to be buying a new computer every three years. Linux runs very well on older computers – making them faster than the day they were new.
#9: Linux Promotes Personal Freedom
Linux and "Open Source" software are "free". This means their license is a "free license", and the most common is the GPL (General Public License). This license states that anyone is allowed to copy the software, see the source code, modify it, and redistribute it as long as it remains licensed with the GPL.
What is so important about freedom? Imagine if Microsoft doubles the price for a Windows or Office license to $1,000 per year per computer. Or imagine if the NSA decides to shut down your computer. If you're tied to Windows, there's nothing you can do. You and your business are stuck with a single monopoly and Microsoft can charge whatever they want and you will have to pay it.
With Open Source, if a particular project or support company dies, or even takes their project in a direction you do not like, all the code remains open to the community and people can keep improving it. If this project is especially useful to you, you can even do this yourself. You're free to do whatever you want with open source software.
#10: Linux is much safer and more secure than Windows
Given the Snowden revelations, you might wonder whether it is possible to free ourselves from mass surveillance by the NSA even if we switched from Microsoft to Linux. It is true that the NSA will still be able to monitor our internet and phone activity. But in switching to Linux, the NSA will no longer be able to reach right inside of our computers. The NSA will not be able to copy data that is in our computers, they will no longer be able to look at our personal files and they will no longer have the power to shut down our computers or alter the programs in our computers.
Big Brother is watching over all of us
Why Linux is More Secure than Windows
|“Comparing the security of Linux with that of Microsoft Windows is not very instructive. Microsoft has done such a terrible job with security that it is not really a fair comparison.”
Bruce Schneier Open Source and Security 1999
The primary reason Linux is more secure than Windows is because Linux does not have an open back door which allows anyone other than you to stop or modify your computer without your permission. So moving to Linux is at least a partial step in the right direction.
Open Source is a more secure developmental model
A second reason open source is more secure than Microsoft is that it is a bottom up, community driven development model rather than a top down corporate driven development model. Throughout history, very little innovation has come from the top down. The top mainly want to protect the status quo. They are set up to actively discourage change and innovation.
Meanwhile, open source is bottom up in that programmers are coming up with solutions for their own problems. They then share these solutions with others and the whole community benefits and moves forward in a rapid cycle of innovation – all due to a developmental model which encourages multiple points of view.
In a 2007 presentation sponsored by Google, Linus Torvalds, the originator of the Linux operating system, used the following diagram to illustrate the difference between open source and closed source program development:
Linus explained that open source program development creates more branches to the tree which leads to more checks and balances, better decisions, more efficient merging of new ideas and a stronger, faster and more secure program. You build a better community by empowering everyone in the community.
A family is always stronger and more secure than any individual.
Open source programs like Linux do not have to worry about bloating their programs with complex code intended solely to maintain a monopoly. They are free to write simple codes that are easier to make compatible with other software and run faster in your computer. The result is that Linux uses eight different “security modules' which protect your computer from hacker attacks.
How the Linux Security System Works
The Linux operating system consists of a “core” which is surrounded by up to 8 security modules to which are attached dozens of application extensions like the Firefox Web Browser or the Libre Office Word Processing program.
8 different security modules or 8 walls to protect the Linux Core
This means that even if a hacker is able to break through one of the security walls, they simply run into another security wall. Because different “families” of Linux operating systems uses different combinations of walls, the diversity of Linux operating systems makes it difficult for hackers to break into a Linux computer.
Doesn’t Linux use a security system developed by the NSA?
In 2001, the NSA developed a security module which was eventually incorporated as one of 8 security modules available in the Linux core. This has been misreported in the press as indicating that the NSA somehow controls Linux. However, this module is simply a “permissions” system which has three levels of permissions to gain access to the Linux core. Moreover, it is only one of eight different security modules which protects the Linux operating system. It is nothing at all like the NSA Key which allows the NSA to directly access the Microsoft Windows operating system and change programs inside of your computer.
Security Competitions... Linux 2, Apple 0, Microsoft 0
There has only been a couple of official “level playing field” competitions comparing the security of Linux with Microsoft and Apple. The first was held at a Hackers conference called CanSecWest in 2008. The competition, called Pwn2Own, offered free computers and a cash prize to anyone who could hack into an Apple, Microsoft or Linux computer that was placed in public view at the conference. On the second day of the three day competition, one of the 400 attendees was able to crack the Mac security system – winning $20,000 and an Apple computer. On the third day, another hacker was able to crack the Microsoft computer – winning $10,000 and the Windows computer. No one was ever able to crack the Linux Ubuntu computer.
This competition was repeated in March 2013 – but this time with over $3 million in prizes available. Both the Apple and Microsoft computers were hacked. But even with millions of dollars in prizes at stake, no one was successful in taking down the Linux-based Chrome OS. Linux remains the best choice for security-conscious desktop users. What is impressive about this result is that two different versions of Linux operating systems were able to withstand three days of highly motivated attacks of some of the world’s best hackers. https://www.zdnet.com/linux-triumphant-chrome-os-resists-cracking-attempts-7000012331/
Why is Linux so much secure than Microsoft?
There are many problems with the Microsoft business model. One of them is that Microsoft wants (needs) access to your computer to make sure you are not using a pirated version of their software. They therefore allow programs to be changed or disabled without “root” access. One of the first steps in installing a Linux operating system on your computer is creating a unique password that only you know. This is called the “root” access password. Without this password, there is no way to add or change any of the programs. However, Windows programs can be installed or uninstalled without the consent of the administrator (that is you) and without any root password. This seems to be related to the Microsoft policy of keeping an open back door to your computer.
Community Security Development is Stronger than Top Down Security
Security development is much more robust in an open development model than in a closed secret model. Linux is safer because it is open source. On September 15, 1999, one of nation’s leading security experts, Bruce Schneier wrote an important article, called Open Source and Security, which explains why open source programming will always result in a more secure system than closed source programming. Bruce uses the term “algorithm.” You can think of this as being the passwords by which programmers protect programs from hackers. “Cryptographic” refers to processes for securing data such as encryption.
What Bruce points out in this article is that open source development provides more feedback to close the weaknesses in a security system. Bruce has written many books and articles on this subject since 1999 and I encourage you to visit his website and read some of them here: https://www.schneier.com/
The problem with the Microsoft model is that it is done in secrecy. There is very little feedback and no checks and balances. It therefore results in programs which are easily hacked. This is why I have maintained throughout this book that the entire Microsoft business model is fatally flawed. The Microsoft Monopoly model may make billions of dollars. But it results in extremely poor – and even dangerous - products such as Windows 8, UEFI and Secure Boot.
Windows also leaves identity and security information exposed to hackers. Linus Mint doesn’t. You are therefore less likely to suffer from identity theft or being attacked by viruses if you switch to Linux Mint. The reason Windows computers are so easily attacked is because they are designed to be attacked.
Why Windows is much more likely to get Viruses than Linux
The biggest problem with Windows is that Microsoft leaves the “back door” open to your computer so that they can reduce pirating (and help the NSA). The back door is a link between Windows and Internet Explorer. Because this back door is open, hackers have learned how to go in the same back door that Microsoft uses to access your computer for updates. This is why Windows computers are so vulnerable to viruses, ad ware, and spy ware. It has been estimated that the average Windows computer is infected within 40 minutes of going online.
This is also why you need antiviral programs if you are using Windows. Thanks to the “open back door” in the Windows operating system, any person or any business with a Windows computer is now faced with the ever present danger of super viruses and cyber warfare.
Linux does not leave the back door open because they do not care where you got your copy of Linux from. But there are other features that make Linux more dependable than Windows. For example, Linux uses folder, file and program authorization management. There are thus several levels of security in Linux. In Windows you can do pretty much anything to the system. You can go inside the system folder and delete whatever you want: Windows won't complain even if you delete critical files. Linux doesn't allow that. Every time you request to do something that has to do with the system, an administrator password is required. Many important files are hidden from view and you have to turn off file hiding even to see them. This means that viruses can't delete or modify what they want in the Linux system as easily as they can in the Windows system.
Hopefully, you now better understand why Microsoft’s days for dominating the world’s computer operating systems are numbered. In the next section, we will look at little deeper at the fatal flaws in the Microsoft Windows Monopoly.