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The Lone Geek Blog

One geek in a sea of nerds.

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Linux vs Windows

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Today, I’m going to talk about a little comparison of Windows and Linux. Specifically, Microsoft Windows 10 and Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon.

For the past few weeks, I have been using both systems - Linux on my Desktop, Windows on my Laptop. I find both to be lacking features that could otherwise make a very nice system. You don’t notice these differences if you stick to one or the other but I want to attempt to describe these subtle differences.

Windows 10

An otherwise, stable system. Very reliable for day to day work provided you’re not running stuff to ruin it’s stability. :P It has a few features I wish Linux had. Namely, easy switching of the monitors and a much cleaner UI. I do wish windows had better support for foreign file systems but it’s a commercial product and it’d be difficult to simply ask for that inclusion. I do like the modern UI and various colors I can change it to without too much fuss. Simple but effective.

I find it uses less resources than it’s predecessors and seems overall more efficient. Even seems to boot faster than Linux, an efficient system itself. This isn’t the official requirements but a system with say, a dual core processor, 2 gigs of ram, 64gb ssd, would happily run it without too much difficulty. You could run an older system on those specs but it might seem a little slower in some ways. Windows 7 seems to do well on 4gb of ram but struggles with just 2gb. Windows 8 and 8.1 seems to be about the same. A solid state device helps in that area, a hard drive would be overworked with the limited resources. Just in my experience anyway, your mileage may vary.

Linux Mint 17.1

A stable operating system as well. No major problems, just lacks features that I come to enjoy on windows. I don’t use it for gaming, just casual web browsing and messing about on the file systems.

Desktop Switching

Windows 8 and above has this neat feature that by pressing Win + P, you get a pop out from the left side for switching between Primary, Mirrored, Extended, and Secondary. Each of these modes can be programmed in a way. For example, my desktop has 3 monitors, two on my desk and my TV. My video card is limited to 2 displays active at once. I have the Secondary mode set to disable the desk monitors and enable the TV as well as switching the audio output to the TV. If I want to move to the desk, I simply change it to Extend. Very nice.

Linux Mint 17.1 seems to have issues on this, I can click buttons but they don’t seem to want to apply when they should. If you have more monitors than officially supported by the video card, they don’t appear in the applet. My secondary monitor on my desk doesn’t appear in this applet, actually, it doesn’t even appear in the windows 10 settings. I have to use the NVidia control panel which doesn’t seem to save it’s settings properly in Linux but at least works and saves the config on windows. Anyway, it could be better. Maybe if Linux still used xorg.conf files for it’s display config instead of whatever the applet is saving it’s settings to.

Theming

On Windows 10, it has a cool feature that sets various UI accents to colors based on your wallpaper. This can be done manually but I let it change on it’s own.

On Linux, I find the theming aspect to be less than trivial for the average user who’d just end up using the defaults or downloading a remade theme. How can you expect someone to take the contents of your zip file and dump them into a hidden folder called ~/.themes? They will struggle to even find this folder, let alone think to log out of their desktop to load the file after clicking on it in the theme manager. You don’t even get a message to do so. It’ll just silently fail or partially apply, appearing broken.

Conclusion

Each operating system is not without it’s merits but each one can compliment the other. If I need the unique capabilities of one over the other, I can simply switch within a minute or so. Linux and Windows living in together on my machine. They both run from their own SSD and easily switchable. My brief comparison is just from my latest findings, a few issues I’ve discovered. So to any readers, use whatever you need. It wouldn’t cost much to add Linux as a backup. :)

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