Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Why Run Linux on a Home PC

1. It's promoted by users, not marketing executives.
2. You get software written by people who love writing software.
3. Security vulnerabilities are fixed within days of discovery, rather than waiting months before the software company admits they exist.
4. You don't need anti-virus software and you don't get viruses.
5. You don't get spy-ware.
6. You can buy a better machine for half the price.
7. You get literally thousands of pounds worth of enterprise level software free.

Here are a few more thoughts on why you might choose to use Linux at home.

By the way, did you know that computers hardly ever crash? It's software that crashes. But Linux typically runs for years without crashing.


Peter said...

In regards to...

4. You don't need anti-virus software and you don't get viruses.
5. You don't get spy-ware.

Why? I thought there was no such thing as 100% security. If viruses and spyware are propagated by the malicious at heart, why do they not target Linux? That's like robbers not targetting houses on one side of the street.

Onyx Stone said...

Some suggest it is because of Windows popularity that it is targeted - if Linux were as common, it would be hit too. This is a lie. You don't get viruses and spyware in Linux for four reasons (off the top of my head):

1. Linux (and Unix before it) were designed for security. The user interface was layered on top later. This is the reverse with Windows.
In Linux, each user's permissions and each process's memory space is distinct and managed. In Windows, this distinction is a bit of shakey afterthought. So the malicious find vulnerabilities fairly quickly.

2. When a vulnerability is found in Linux, people pride themselves on patching and distributing the fix. Hundreds of brilliant minds immediately give it priority. When a similar thing happens in Windows (which is far more frequent), there are commercial pressures to keep it quiet. Hundreds of brilliant minds are excluded from finding a solution because it is closed.

3. Viruses and the like have a bit of mystique associated with them. But really, they are just programs. You have to run them. Windows helpfully runs them for you. Linux doesn't.

4. Because of the above three reasons, there is very little incentive for a malicious virus writer to target Linux. Basic rules of bio-diversity tell you that Linux viruses will not survive. They rarely get written, and if they do, they don't spread. I've run Linux for about 5 years without virus protection, and I've never seen a Linux virus. (I've heard rumours that one existed once.)

Onyx Stone said...

Another myth, perhaps hinted at in your "other side of the street" comment, is that virus are written by malicious Linux programmers.

Almost by definition the reverse is true. Windows viruses and spyware are written by Windows programmers.

Linux does not have 100% security. The most common attack I have seen (with many customer sites running Linux servers) is unauthorised hacking in. This usually happens when people are sloppy with passwords on machines that are always connected to the internet. If someone hacks into a Linux machine, they are certainly a knowledgeable Linux user. But basic security measures such as a hardware firewall (or router) should mean that a home user never sees such a thing.