Comparison of Linux / UNIX and Windows Operating Systems


    Recently, there has been a large influx of Linux users. As a rule, these are people who already have quite decent experience in communicating with a computer, but in most cases this experience is limited to one system. Naturally, this system is the most common Microsoft MS Windows operating system on desktops today. A large number of Windows users also install Linux, or run it from the "Live CD" "to see."

    And here there are several problems at once related to the fact that new Linux users expect to see "another Windows" in front of them. And Linux is not a Windows clone at all, it is a completely different system, with a different foundation, different traditions, other features and other requirements for the user.

    In my opinion, it is precisely this misunderstanding that is one of the sources of so many so-called "holy wars." Perhaps this article will allow, if not reduce the number of such wars, then at least give a greater understanding of the positions of opponents and reduce the intensity in wars.

    I think we don’t need to go very deep into the device of these two operating systems, we will consider them mainly from the point of view of the user.

    A tour of history (very brief)

    For comparison, I think it’s harmless to refresh a brief history of the compared operating systems in my memory.

    Unix History

    The UNIX operating system was created before the era of commercial software. It was written by engineers as a "for themselves" system. Therefore, advanced concepts of that time were laid in it. In its further development, when adding new features, it was usually believed that it was necessary to do it “correctly”. Those. for example, if you had to choose from two solutions, one of which was “wrong” from an engineering point of view, for example, it increased productivity today, but could bring difficulties in the future, as a rule, such a solution was rejected and a “right” solution was chosen, albeit from a certain loss of productivity.

    The first versions of UNIX were written in Assembler, then the system was rewritten in SI. This gave the system a unique portability. On PC, UNIX was ported, or rather re-written (Linux), as soon as the development of PC, or rather the release of PC on the i386 processor, allowed this to be done.

    In 1985, the POSIX project was launched. This is the standard for UNIX-like OS interfaces. Largely due to the presence of such a standard, Linux could so quickly be born and reach maturity - a free embodiment of UNIX.

    The development of the Internet from the very beginning to our time is inextricably linked with servers running UNIX. First with commercial, and now more and more with free.

    From the point of view of commercialization, the development of UNIX can be divided into three stages.

    1. Nonprofit distribution at universities.
    2. Distribution of commercial UNIX systems.
    3. The advent of free implementations (Linux, FreeBSD) and the crowding out of commercial systems (present).

    Before the advent of the X Window System, UNIX was a text-based system, then a graphical, but traditionally text-based, interface was added.

    It is very important that UNIX was a multi-tasking and multi-user system from the very beginning. Those. several users can work on one machine at once, and several programs can be executed simultaneously.

    The hallmark of all UNIX-like operating systems has been and remains reliability.


    YearEventA commentBitMultiple Crawl.Multitask
    1971The first version of UNIXIn assembler32there isthere is
    1973Third UNIX VersionIn C32there isthere is
    1983TCP / IP-32there isthere is
    1983GNU Project LaunchedPrepared a free binding for UNIX-like OS32there isthere is
    1984X Window SystemWindow system32there isthere is
    1985POSIX Project LaunchedInterface Standards for UNIX-Like Systems32there isthere is
    1991Linux AppearanceFirst free UNIX kernel implementation for PC, 32-bit, network32there isthere is
    1993The advent of FreeBSDAnother free UNIX kernel implementation for PC, 32 bit, network32there isthere is

    Windows History

    The origins of the Windows operating system should be sought in the previous operating system of the same company - DOS. All Microsoft operating systems are primarily commercial projects. This must always be remembered, especially when you try to understand the origins of certain solutions, both commercial and technical.

    The first OS of this family was DOS. It might seem that DOS itself is indirectly related to the subject under discussion. But, many traditions, the user and developer base, their habits, come from there.

    DOS was a single-task single-user text-based operating system. The first version of Windows was something unfit for work and did not receive distribution. It has become possible to work in Windows, starting with version 3. In the Windows For Workgroups 3.1 version, the opportunity to work with the network has appeared. Winodws Series 3 was a DOS-based system. Differ in low reliability.

    In 1995, a new version was released - Windows 95. The code was partially 32-bit, partially 16-bit, embedded network. Compared to Windows Series 3, this was a major step forward. Reliability increased, but the reliability of UNIX-like operating systems was still far away. As a workstation with a stretch of course, reliability was enough, as a server, no. Later, two more operating systems of this line were released, Windows 98 and Windows Me. After that, the line was closed.

    In 1993, a new version was released - Windows NT 3.1. It was already a fully 32 bit system. It was developed from scratch, well-known specialists were hired for its development. New concepts have been introduced. This has raised reliability almost to the level of reliability of UNIX-like systems. This OS could already work as a server. A continuation of this line, the operating systems Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista.

    The NT line operating systems were multitasking, starting with Windows XP, several users were able to work, albeit more limited and much less convenient than UNIX-like OSs.


    YearEventA commentBitMultiple Crawl.Multitask
    1985Windows 1.0DOS add-on16NotNot
    1990Windows 3.0DOS add-on16Notthere is
    1992Windows For Workgroups 3.1DOS add-on network16Notthere is
    1995Windows 95network16/32Notthere is
    1993Windows NTnetwork32since 1998there is
    2000Windows 2000network32there isthere is
    2005Windows XPnetwork32there isthere is
    2007Windows Vistanetwork32there isthere is

    Technical device from the point of view of the user


    From a user perspective, UNIX is structured like this:

    1. Core. Works with devices, manages memory and processes.
    2. Text subsystem, work with the system through the terminal. Moreover, to control all the features of the OS, only the text subsystem is enough. Many users can log in through this subsystem. A rich set of both built-in utilities and text-based applications.
    3. Xwindow Graphics It starts as a process in the system.
    4. Remote access system in text mode. Allows full-fledged work with the OS in text mode. Consumes few resources. It allows tens and hundreds of users to work on relatively weak computers at the same time. The number of sessions is limited by computer resources.
    5. Remote access system in graphical mode. Allows multiple users to simultaneously work in graphical mode. The number of sessions is limited by computer resources.
    6. A system for transferring a graphical application window to another computer. Allows you to run the application on one computer, to control it from another computer, through the application window transferred to this other computer. The number of sessions is limited by computer resources.


    1. Core. It works with devices, manages memory and processes, manages the graphics subsystem.
    2. Graphic subsystem. Provides user interface. Priority system for user interface.
    3. Text subsystem. Provides a textual user interface. The text interface is quite stripped down. A set of text mode utilities, both built-in and other manufacturers, is very scanty. The syntax and composition of text mode commands varies from version to version. Runs only on top of the graphics mode.
    4. Remote access system. It appeared for the first time as a built-in system in Windows NT Server 4.0. Before that, there were only products from other companies. Due to the fact that a full-fledged graphical session is launched, it eats a lot of resources. The presence of a remote access system and the number of simultaneous sessions may be completely absent or may be limited in different versions for commercial reasons.

    Concept Comparison

    Let’s now look at how the approach to working in these two systems differs.

    UNIX: Toolbox Concept

    Since UNIX was developed by engineers and for engineers, it was based on the concept of toolbox (toolbox). What does it mean? This means that when creating software and built-in utilities for UNIX, they did not make universal programs, each of which would carry out all the actions necessary for the user, and for each small task its own utility was created that performed its task, only one, but it did well. The user's business was to use the set of these utilities to perform the operations that he needed to do.

    At the same time, chains and sequences of actions can be compiled from this set of utilities, which makes it easy to automate routine, frequently repeated operations.

    In order for the utilities to exchange the results of their work with each other, a text file was selected as the storage medium. To exchange information between utilities, "pipes" were invented. With the help of "pipes" the information from the output of one command can be transferred to the input of the second, it processes it, gives its information to the output, which can be transferred to the input of the third and so on.

    In general, as a result, UNIX allows the user to easily create simple software systems that perform repetitive actions both at the user's command and in offline mode.

    This approach has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it gives more control over the system, flexibility in configuration, but at the same time, the threshold for entering the system increases, or in simple words, before you do anything, as a rule, you need to learn the basics.

    Windows: Toaster Concept

    Windows is dominated by a different concept. This concept is to make it easier for the user to enter the task. Programs in Windows are usually large, for each action there is a menu item or icon. In systems, programs are usually associated with great difficulty.

    The situation about building complexes based on Windows is aggravated by the fact that most programs are commercial and use their own, binary and usually closed data and file formats. This approach turns the computer into a device that can perform a limited set of functions by the software manufacturer, ultimately into a kind of "toaster" that performs only what its manufacturer intended.

    The advantage of this approach is the ease of entry for an unprepared user. The downside is that the user, deceived by seeming lightness, does not want to learn anything or perform the necessary actions. Software manufacturers are also on the way. This is one of the reasons for such an abundance of documents formatted with spaces, neglect of security and, as a result, virus outbreaks.


    Of course, in both systems its approach is not 100 percent dominant. Just as in Windows there is an opportunity to use a text console and create .bat files, in UNIX there is a large set of programs with properties that are more inherent in the “toaster” approach. And yet there is a described difference in approaches and it is quite pronounced.


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