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Discussion on: Switching To linux

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H • Edited

I've been using Windows for almost 30 years (started with 3.1) and Linux since 1999 (RH 6). I've used Fedora, Mint, and Ubuntu for client workstations.

That said, I agree with Ian Pride. Windows doesn't just get slow by itself. It is due to user behavior over time and if you do the same things on any Linux distro that you do on Windows, you'll see Linux getting sluggish over time, too. A great demonstration of this is any Android phone (which is Linux-based). A lot if people use their phones the way they used Windows - they download lots of software and remove things to make space, incrementally installing updates, etc... After a few years, ask any phone user if their phone is as fast as it was when they first got it.

Linux isn't magic. It just tends to attract the more veteran users who know how to maintain their systems better than the average user. If you know how to maintain Windows, it'll stay pretty fast. After several years, my Windows 10 rig still boots pretty fast, and I haven't had a BSOD or crash in years. Windows isn't magic, either, but trying to force yourself over to Linux just seems unnecessary (plus it might make you think that Linux is faster when it's really that you're just behaving differently due to a different software base).

I love both Linux and Windows. They are different tools for different jobs, though.

Personally, I think Linux is absolutely great for servers and low-power scenarios. I love CentOS (and am sad at it's recent cancellation). It's so resource-efficient, but it does require a higher amount of technical knowledge to use properly. Put an average person in front of a Linux workstation for a few years and you'll inevitably find bad practices like a bunch of files and folders with 777 permissions because "that's what made it work."

Windows is simply the best at a user-friendly operating system that does a lot to natively protect a user from himself/herself. I rarely have to worry about permissions but if I need to, I can set up permissions that are extremely granular (these 2 people who belong to different groups get full access, these 3 people get read only access, etc). The compatibility layer within WinSxS is insanely-smooth (compared to Linux compatibility issues).

Again, neither operating system is magic nor is bad if you use it right.

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oshankkashyap profile image
Oshank Kashyap

Hello sir!
The thing you are talking about is nuinsance. You are saying that Linux also gets slow after time.
This not the case, I'm using ubuntu 18.04.2 since April 2019, i do face some issues but the performace haven't dropped till now. I have vmware installed on that thing, blender (learning some 3d modelling), steam games and many others software which require some good amount of horse power. I use some scripts at startup which does make it a little bit slow at startup, but when they are finished loading the performace return back to normal.

And if you talk about Windows and Android. Those things have many applications and services running in the background. Linux only runs services which are required it to run properly, and you can also check which services and applications are running, not like windows and android where you can't see those services, and can even terminate them if you like.

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

No, I am saying that the performance -can- drop in Linux if you use it the same way that people often use Windows. People often install lots of things without any regard to the side effects.

For example, I've logged into a less-experienced admin's Linux web server, only to find a bunch of desktop services running that did not need to be installed. The admin had used a package manager to install a graphics library package, which had one dependency that triggered many other dependencies, including the whole X11 system, which was now starting up at boot and taking up valuable resources even though it wasn't even used. The admin was trying out something but didn't end up needing it, but he left it installed and running. On top of that, he hadn't disabled the unnecessary services like Bluetooth, so there were a few of those running for no reason, too.

Performance is not usually killed by one or two major things - it is an accumulation of very small things.

If you know what you're doing with Linux, you won't see performance drop. If you know what you're doing with Windows, you also won't see performance drop.

One last note:

not like windows and android where you can't see those services...

You can see every service and process on Windows. In fact, Windows.10 makes it even easier to see what processes map to which services.

Android tries harder to shield the user from the services but your average user doesn't even bother much with processes anyway. If Linux desktop became mainstream-popular tomorrow, you would see new app stores for Linux popping up everywhere, filled with games and apps that contain ads and their own copies of libraries, and apps that run in the background. And people wouldn't care until their system got slow and then they'd complain that Linux is slow.

My.point was not that Linux gets slow - it's that bad user practices will make the operating system slow no matter if it's Windows or Linux or Mac or whatever.

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oshankkashyap profile image
Oshank Kashyap

I agree with you, sir.
People usually don't care about what they are running inside their machines and complain that the os is slow. Even I use windows. I usually don't feel any hiccups when using it (but It feels slow after an update).

I know that you can kill and see services in Windows. That line was for Android only.
Thanks for your reply
And, sorry for my aggressiveness :)

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

No worries. Aggressiveness is pretty common when talking about Linux and Windows. :)

FWIW, I think updates are definitely smoother in Linux than in Windows. Windows has had a pretty rough time trying to get them right and it's still not perfect.

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brandonwallace profile image
brandon_wallace • Edited

I have never seen Linux getting slow or sluggish over time. I have used it for more than a decade for server and desktop.

Linux runs fabulously on hardware with low resources and does not slow down. What is nice about Linux is that you do not even need a graphical user interface on a server which will let it run even better.

Look at this headless (no GUI installed) Linux server with 512MB ram. It is using 68MB of ram.

brandon@fedora:~$ free -m
              total        used
Mem:            488          68
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Some of the many benefits to Linux are:

  • I can use one Linux CD and install it on 1 server or 5000 servers (or 5000 desktops).
  • I can use the same Linux CD to configure a router, a server, or a desktop/laptop.
  • I have freedom to change anything I want.
  • I do not have to update if I do not want to.
  • The graphical user interface is optional.
  • It does not slow down after time.
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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

Linux is indeed great. My point was that if you take average, less-technical users and set them in front of a Linux desktop with enough knowledge to install new apps and launch them, THEY are going to eventually see the same kinds of problems on Linux.

There is a reason we technical folks remove unnecessary packages. Why load up the
Bluetooth service on a server that doesn't use it? Why load up KDE on a simple web server? We remove them because they have small impacts on system performance and we can make Linux run even faster without them. The opposite is true - if you are one of those users that installs a ton of packages, you're eventually going to run into problems. You'll have users who remove package X that also removes a dependency package that breaks another app and you'll have those users complaining about how Linux is terrible, when it's really just user behavior.

As far as your list of benefits go, a couple of those overlap with Windows. For example, you don't -need- to update Windows if you don't want to. You can even spin up XP and use it today if you wanted to. The catch is that you'll have a hard time finding drivers and your system will not receive critical patches. However, that's the same problem with Linux. If you never update, you'll eventually be left with a system that is not patched. I have a client right now who has a really old Fedora server that is so out of date that its openssl libraries are too old to allow it to communicate with most other modern servers, which means I cannot update it through a package manager like yum anymore. I could certainly manually compile openssl and swap that out, but that's a headache and a half. There are always workarounds but that's the same story with Windows. My point here is that if you truly dive down into the comparisons, there is not a huge difference if you are technically savvy on both platforms. They each have their strengths and weaknesses.

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heliommsfilho profile image
Hélio Márcio Filho • Edited

Totally agree. Windows after 7 is a pretty decent Operating System. Windows 10 became the most productive OS for many kinds of development workloads due WSL. I never had sluggish in Windows 10. And I had a Core i5 8GB of RAM. Not a high-end machine.

In Reddit I see many, many histories of migrations to Linux. It's a interesting history to tell, but just a small number of people really stays there. Nobody want to admit that came back to Windows because sounds like a "shame".

And in this history I can't feel a strong motivation from the author. He didn't pointed the specific problem and just said it was because "he have problems that everyone has". Every OS have its problems. And some Linux problems are ridiculous in my opinion. Real example: In my Dell Inspiron 7550 everytime that I close the lid with some player playing music, after the system come back from suspension there's no audio. I have to do a "pulseaudio -k" in Terminal to restart the service.

For sure another temporary migration. But we'll never know. Nobody wants to tell that are coming back to Windows.

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sodjanathan profile image
nat_souljah

Hey how do you use wsl, been wondering when I met need it, what use case?

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heliommsfilho profile image
Hélio Márcio Filho

In my case, I use WSL as development server machine. I have Docker, Postgres, MySQL , MongoDB and all those stuff which are much easier to get installed on Linux than in Windows inside WSL. And even better, I have totally isolated environments. There's no server stuff in my personal machine that I use for common tasks, just the IDE.

I avoid to keep my Windows installation bloated with services starting automatically. I start WSL on-demand.

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adithyarafk profile image
AdithyaR-afk

Don't agree with you at all here. Linux doesn't get slower at all compared to Windows which I notice it every single time. Also the reason for it's slowness is not apparent as well. There is sufficient RAM , CPU power and disk space still it becomes every laggy. However linux for me is always on top of it's game and only hangs right untill the RAM runs out which is quite rare

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

Again, it's about comparing apples to apples. All things being equal, you'll run into the same end result. But most people who compare Linux to Windows are not comparing apples to apples.

Take a look at Adobe's creative cloud, which runs on *NIX and Windows. Both implementations use update services (core sync) and a node.js service. The update process in its entirety isn't all that lightweight and can sometimes make the OS hang for a moment, and this happens on both operating systems.

Windows makes a lot of cruddy software easily available to the masses. People install massive software packages for printers and scanners, they install shell extensions, webcam apps that add fancy frames around pictures, trial versions of software, photo-organizing software, note-syncing software, hardware-support services, plugins for Outlook and Word, meeting apps galore (Teams, Zoom, Chime, Webex, etc), anti-cheating services for online gaming, and the list just goes on. Again, Windows simply makes a TON of software available to the masses, and so they consume a lot of it.

Linux doesn't do that. Linux has its distro-specific package managers that focus on fast, lean, efficient apps. BUT if we're comparing apples to apples, then you have to consider the average Windows user who wants to install all that stuff, and imagine a future where it's ALL available on Linux. If the user installs all the same software that ends up loading up their system with small services, it's going to start making the system slow. And if there's massive mainstream interest in Linux, then you can bet that you'll see far more malicious software targeting Linux, making it more important to have security software installed (which further slows down the system).

At the end of the day, you have a finite amount of system resources (CPU, RAM, etc), and no operating system will be able to save a user from themselves if the user wants to load up their system with a ton of junk.

It's also very difficult to compare the two perfectly, because it's more than just a couple of kernels. For example, you have things like the ext3/4 filesystems in Linux that rarely need defragmentation, compared to FAT or NTFS running on a mechanical HDD. However, since SSDs are mostly mainstream, you don't run into the same fragmentation-slowness on NTFS.

As far as the "the reason for it's slowness is not apparent" goes, yes, there's always a reason and it's almost always apparent if you know where to look. Not a lot of Windows users are that savvy, so there's still a lot of them that will fill up their systems with junk and not maintain things properly, and they'll end up seeing slownesss. That's why I said, if you know how to use either operating system well, then you won't see the slowness on them.

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adithyarafk profile image
AdithyaR-afk

Also your argument against android users are not valid or atleast it's not the linux base which is at fault but rather a consequence of planned obsolescence by the manufacturer through software updates

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

Go install 100 random apps on your Android phone, launch them and use them for a little bit, then close them and keep a record of how many different notifications you get in a week without having the app fully running. Then go check your process list, and you'll probably see half of them still running MOSTLY idle. But a few fractions of a percent here and there will end up adding up quickly, and suddenly your phone is constantly churning out another 5% to 10% of its CPU all day long. That's not software updates, that's just a bunch of apps thinking that they each are important enough to keep running in the background.

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rbok6 profile image
Mayckoll de Abreu

Blaming Linux because of Google's terrible OS is not fair IMO. Android has been a terrible OS since its inception, yeah it might be the most popular mobile OS right now but it started very sluggish and only the most recent versions of Android have been addressing memory usage and process priority. And not I mention that most phone manufacturers assmble their devices with modified Android versions and all of those behave and perform very differently. So I think your opinion is very unfair.

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H • Edited

I'm not blaming Linux. I'm blaming user behavior. I'm saying that -ANY- operating system can be made slow by users who install a lot of junk. And for that matter, just about any major modern operating system can perform well if you don't abuse it and know how to use it well.

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redcreator37 profile image
RedCreator37

I agree, but there's also the fact that most new Windows computers ship with an unbelievable amount of bloat preinstalled. Even drivers are bundled with all kinds of useless tray programs. Most of this is set to run at login, check for updates every time, do some magic in the background etc. Many power users will know what to do, but some random granny won't and will just think their computer is as fast as it can possibly be.

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

Yep. Printers and scanners are also pretty bad. I can't think of a single major brand that hasn't tried to shove a 300-megabyte "driver" package onto my system. It's like a shifty guy on the street corner, "Hey, man, wanna buy a watch? I'll throw in Paperport for free."

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nowruz profile image
Mohsen Nowruzi • Edited

Exactly. When people talk about Windows crashing and update problems and ... I always think: what do they do with their system?
Specially Windows 7 and 10 have been very stable both on my laptop and my desktop. And I too have been a Linux user for almost 10 years and I enjoy both Windows and Linux, each one in their own way.