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Old 10-23-2003, 12:16 AM   #1
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fundamental differences bewteen linux and windows

Hi guys, this is my first post here. I should be getting my new HD in the next couple of days and I plan to install mandrake 9.1 on it, mainly to try out linphone. I've been reading about how linux is more secure than windows,etc. but I haven't found out an indepth answer why it is more secure,etc. Should I expect the same organization as DOS and Windows (directories, etc.) or something totally different? I would like to know the basics of linux as an OS to understand it better whenever I start to experiment with it.
Thanks for any help

Old 10-23-2003, 12:28 AM   #2
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Welcome! One way in which MS and *nix differ is that, in *nix, a lot of reading and self-motivation is expected. *g* Don't take the above as gospel, but there's some good stuff in there for you. Quick thing - Linux has a stricter concept of users and permissions than MS, and the open source model provides a completely different method of disclosure and bugfixing than the proprietary model - and the filesystem structure is very different.
Old 10-23-2003, 12:31 AM   #3
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Linux and Windows are very different paradigms. As a former Windows user, I found that getting used to the filesystem and the concept of file permissions were the trickiest issues. Also, devices such as floppy drives and CD-ROM drives must be mounted and unmounted in linux.

See my sig, below, for two reference books on linux. The Linux Cookbook is oriented for newbies, while the RUTE textbook offers a very thorough and comprehensive review of linux.
Old 10-23-2003, 12:35 AM   #4
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if you have worked on unix b4, it shouldnt be a problem. if youre coming from a dos/win32 background, as i did, then it will be, umm .. fun.

if the mandrake is like redhat (i think its even more friendlier), then most everything can be done within some gui. i first downloaded debian - couldnt install it and lost lot of hair over it. then i downloaded redhat8, and it was a cinch. install was easy, everything could be done from a gui, and it was good.
so, i used rh8 for a while, read up on the redhat manuals (, the tldp howtos (, rute ( and then decided to switch to somethin else (i tried debian again, cos well the cd was still with me). and everything was muuuuch better.
i still consider myself a newbie, but i think i know a bit more than before.

you'll find the answers to all ur questions there. and well, secure mainly cos there is a distinct separation what the admin can do and what the user (you) can do. every single file/dir/object is associated to a user/group and only members of that group can make any changes to them. apart from this, they all have access permissions (read, write, exec), and well, same as what i said before. so installs are done by root (admin), unless you get the source code and compile everything by yourself (in which case you know what you are doing), and a program run by you cannot go and execute and write stuff into the system files or whatever files that were installed by the admin.

i dont know if i made things better/worse there.
Old 10-23-2003, 12:51 AM   #5
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Linux vs Windows

Grab an armload of patience, because you're about to enter a different world. It's a little different so it can be a little difficult at first if you've been a long time Windows user. If you're an old fart that's comfortable with batch files you've got a leg up imho.

I'll take a shot at a thumbnail sketch just for kicks...

Security, in Windows normally you will run as an administrator. Having full permission to read, execute, delete, whatever, anything on the hard drive. That's one reason virii can be so destructive. Also all the interoperability provided by Windows, Windows scripting, Visual Basic for applications, many tools that are on pretty much any Windows machine make them an easy target.

Linux on the other hand is inherently more secure for several reasons.

1. You don't normally run with administrative rights, that's considered a bad thing for several reasons. You can really screw things up if you don't have a clue. Running as a user protects you from your self, as well as nasties from the internet. All you have access to destroy is your home directory.

2. There is no truly standard Linux setup, there are a lot of similarities but you can't really count on a particular tool being available other than the basic command line programming, which is quite a bit more capable than in Windows. The interoperability just isn't there on the scale of windows.

The file systems are noticibly different. There are no 'drive letters' in Linux, rather you mount a device with a file system. There's a very good newbie description of the Linux file system, and a basic description of devices here.

Hit the web and do a little searching, and read, read, read. You'll be off to a better start if you do. It's not actually difficult, just a tad different. There's a ton of documentation in the default Linux install, but some of the 'man pages' seem to be written in greek at first. Your basic Newbie documentation is usually included as well, but that usually only gives you enough to 'get by'.

If you put some effort into it, you'll probably love it. But if you just expect to dive in and swim, it's a little rocky at first. Keep after it, it's worth it...
Old 10-23-2003, 01:31 AM   #6
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Re: Linux vs Windows

Originally posted by Psycho
If you're an old fart that's comfortable with batch files you've got a leg up imho.

I agree, though - DOS was CLI-based with plenty of seemingly cryptic commands and with the main things configured through text files (often 'executable' as batch files) with an optional GUI slapped on. Linux is like a different, hugely powerful, hugely complex DOS 6x/Win3x in those respects, and I think it's an advantage to be familiar with that vs. a strict Windows/NT user. DOS 2x and up borrowed a lot from the Unix of the day. Edlin's a hell of a lot like ed. *g*


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