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33.
Linux is a free (as in libre, not always as in gratis) kernel that, together with tools from the GNU project, forms a stable, high-performance, multi-user operating system.

Its advantages over Windows are mainly ideological; it's free, usually in both of the above senses of the word, and the license, the GNU GPL, prevents proprietary implementations from screwing you over (Linux "companies" sell support, not Linux itself, for this reason).

It's also much more stable than Windows, owing to its stricter memory management, access controls, and hardware abstraction policy, and its networking performance is better since it's really meant more for servers than for desktop usage. Linux has finer-grained access control at the user and device level, though to be fair, Windows has had Unix-style file permissions since NT. Reboot times for Linux, however, are measured in months, and the only reason you should ever need to reboot Linux is if you installed a new kernel.

The disadvantages of Linux compared to Windows are mainly issues of ease of use. Linux is hard compared to Windows, mostly because it tends not to detect certain devices. This is a circular problem, because the drivers tend to be written only for Windows to begin with. It also, despite what the makers claim, *does* require some work at the terminal in most cases, and this will scare away most Windows users who never worked with Dos and the 9x series. It shouldn't, because the terminal is much more powerful and easier to use than Dos ever was, but it does.

The other main issue is that, while there are a few hundred different flavors, referred to as "distros," most of them suck. There are a few big, well-supported distros, and many are based on them: RedHat, which is popular in the corporate world, Debian, which is minimalistic and tough by itself but forms the base for the popular Ubuntu, and Slackware, which is the oldest maintained distro and is closest to the "original" Linux philosophy. There are also a few oddballs like Gentoo, which is for experts only (forces you to compile *everything* but does the annoying work for you and gives you incredible performance), and Arch, which is a minimalist hybrid of Gentoo and Slackware.

Save yourself headaches: newbies should use Ubuntu, experts should use Gentoo or Slackware, purists should use Debian, and no one should use RedHat or any RedHat based distro unless you're corporate and need it, in which case you want CentOS (RedHat for free with no tech support). Just be prepared to get your hands a little dirty, and to search the web and your distro's forums for help. There is always, always an issue that pops up that will never be in the manual or installation docs.

Most of all, remember that Linux won't insult your intelligence, but it won't hold your hand either. You can't always breeze through a Linux install like you can with Windows (though Ubuntu and friends are changing that), but you will get a solid, stable, and working system. Linux rewards effort and inquisitiveness, and punishes laziness.
Linux is about choice. That means you're free to use it, or not to use it, but it will always be here for you.
by Hazuki April 22, 2007
 
99.
Wait while it compiles at the speed of light and windows users actually do things
Compiling a linux program takes longer then a windows crash and reboot...
by D January 14, 2004
 
100.
n. An OS that is awesome for geeky programmers. For everyone else, it is much too difficult to install and use.
Linux will always have a small installed base on desktop computers, because the only way it can become mainstream is if it loses the difficulty of installation and use. The only way to attain that is to completely change what linux is.
by truth teller December 29, 2003
 
101.
Many people think it is an OS, but it is actually just a clever trap devised to capture and mark elitist morons so normal people can avoid them.
"Nice to meet you, what operating system do you use?"

"Linux because it is so stable and it runs everything better then eveyrthing else and it is perfect and better then any other OS"

"Goodbye!"
by TheDog November 27, 2005
 
102.
If you want to see how crappy Linux is without having to waste your time installing it on your computer, try out a live CD of Knoppix or SLAX (Slackware-Live).
I agree with the few people who were brave enough to post the truth about Linux. It is just the same poorly-coded turd that the geeks tricked us into trying out a few years ago, only this time with more colorful GUIs.
by normal person May 04, 2004
 
103.
A operating system whose only superiorities versus Windows is its server stability and ability to be altered by its code, because its open-source software. Windows cannot be altered like this because learning C++, then butchering Window's code is illegal.

Windows is used by a common computer user who has no interest in running gaming/website servers or being a programmer. Windows is much more compatible, almost everything except Unix/Mac software. Windows is also made by capitalist pigs governed by a monsterous irresponsible behemoth called Bill Gates who failed to completely debug its software in the first place and only does something when somebody personally mails him a death threat.
The linuxers program, and the Windowers use. Enough said. Maccers, I don't know, don't care, only Space Command units use them for their ability to do math better than our common shit PCs.
by Chang Tan October 26, 2003
 
104.
A kernel made by Linux Torvalds; a product of consumption of an hilarious amount alcohol.
<oppstoppersnopp>Linux is the best
<femilh>STFU, or I'll rape your mother with a Hitlerjügend-knife
<oppstoppersnopp>But Linux is the best!
<femilh>No, BSD is the best.
<oppstoppersnopp>No
<femilh>Yes
<oppstoppersnopp>No
<femilh>Yes
<oppstoppersnopp>OK ALREADY! BSD RULES THE FSCKING EARTH!
by Mr. Charles Beastie IV.IV May 17, 2005
 
105.
A non-operating system that still hasn't lived up to its excessive hype, because the geeks in the community are;
(a) too busy arguing with each other over which distro is the best,
(b) blaming Microsoft even for ridiculous things such as huricanes, tsunamis, and last year's boom of aphids, and
(c) producing variants of Linux that are completely incompatible with each other.
While distros of Linux such as Mepis and Ubuntu are showing some promise, it would be logic-defying if the Linux community FINALLY produces something that actually is worth using on the desktop without any program installation hassles by 2010.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the REAL cost of running Linux on the desktop:

Linux distro: $0.00 to $99.99 if you have high-speed internet access, $9.99-$179.99 if you don't.
Linux manual: $19.99 to $79.99
New Modem (because "winmodems" don't run under Linux): $29.99 to $59.99
New Soundcard (because the soundcard you have is not supported): $19.99 to $89.99
New Internet Service Provider (because no popular ISP supports Linux) $7.99 to $39.99
(Note: The non-popular ISPs often don't have free minutes and will charge you like they would a regular phone call).
New graphics-card (because your integrated video card is not supported) $29.99 to $199.99
New printer (because your printer is not supported) $39.99 to $159.99
New scanner (very few are Linux-compatible) $49.99 to $199.99
The sheer frustration of finding out that, despite buying the new hardware and spending weeks of relaxation time tinkering with the command-line code, Linux STILL refuses to perform on the same level as OS-X or Windows XP: Priceless
Windows XP: $99.99 to $199.99
Cost of new hardware (all the hardware you bought for Linux is Windows-compatible) $0.00

And this, my friends is the true cost of running Linux on the desktop.
by former penguin May 14, 2005