Linux vs Windows (Part 2)

System performance

Let’s be clear about some thing: our experience of Windows 10 was plagued with bugs and annoyances. But we were testing a preview, and as such it wouldn’t be fair to give any credence to them. Bugs not withstanding, the new operating system, once installed on a suitably specified computer, is impressively quick in general use. Heeding the frustrations of so many Windows 7 users bemoaning lengthy startup and shutdown times, Microsoft has taken definitive action.

[caption id="attachment_37" align="aligncenter" width="1353"] The Borderlands series is one of a growing number of AAA titles available for Linux and is in good company with the recently ported Bioshock Infinite and Shadow of Mordor incoming.[/caption]

So in Windows 8 a new trick was introduced where system processes are summarily dumped to the disk on shutdown, so that they can be speedily reloaded during the next boot. This partial hibernation means that only user processes need to be loaded from scratch, so the time it takes to get to the login screen (assuming the user is not vulgar and passwordless) is slashed.

The technique is still in evidence with Windows 10, which managed to boot from an SSD in about six seconds, which is roughly the same time as it takes to get from Grub to the SDDM login manager on a slimline Arch installation. Day-to-day browsing and poking around the (still largely unpopulated) App Store, was also swift and responsive.

The difference is that we’ve only been using the Windows install for about a week, once a few apps and a few (thousand) obscurely titled runtime libraries are installed the age-old curse of Windows decline will kick in. Our Arch Linux install has been used nearly every day for over a year, has all manner of long-forgotten packages installed, and remains blazing fast. One exception used to be playing Flash videos, which rapidly crippled the system. This was easily solved by uninstalling the Flash plugin because its entirely unnecessary nowadays and serves only as a vector for the delivery of viruses.

A modern computer is required to enjoy a smooth-running Windows 10 (see the hardware section), running it on a virtual machine proved particularly painful. By comparison pretty much any computer built in the last 10 years will happily run a lightweight desktop, such as LXQt or Mate, with no fuss whatsoever.

Add to that a slightly more modern graphics card (being one that supports at least OpenGL 1.4 and has 128MB of video memory), and it will easily manage a standard Ubuntu installation (the stated minimum requirements are 1GB or RAM and a 1GHz CPU). One of the many strange things that Windows aficionados tend to get excited about is the up and coming DirectX 12. Microsoft announced it at GDC in March last year using words including “richer scenes, more objects, and full utilization of modern GPU hardware”.

Naturally this has implications for gaming, an area where Linux continues to be trumped by Windows. The situation is getting better – there are now over 1,000 Linux games available on Steam. Many triple-A titles have been ported to Linux, and popular FPS adventure game Dying Light even saw an unprecedented Linux launch at the same time as its Windows counterpart.

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Linux vs Windows (Part 1)

The latest iteration of Windows is here, impressing, confounding and upsetting early adopters. As has become traditional, we pit the Microsoft OS mano-a-mano with Linux to determine the ultimate operating system. Of course, in reality this is comparing apples and oranges (and scoring them with bananas): One is a free codebase which can run on most any hardware imaginable, the other is a proprietary product with an undecouple-able GUI that, until recently, has run only on x86 PCs.

Our approach will be to consider features from the Windows 10 build available at press time, together with Microsoft’s own PR announcements and compare them with like-for-like equivalents from various Linux distributions. Much of the pre-release hype spoke to Windows 10 heralding a paradigm shift across the Windows landscape.

Certainly there are a lot of changes and perhaps most notable is that Windows 10 will be the operating system’s last incarnation. That doesn’t mean the end of Windows, but rather the beginning of “Windows as a Service”.

Updates will be pushed to consumers once Microsoft deems them ready, while businesses will be offered a choice of two release channels, dubbed Current and Long Term which offer more rigid release cycles. Individuals who purchase (or are entitled to a free) copy of Windows will see it supported “for the lifetime of that device.” Another intriguing development is that users of the pre-release Technical Preview who enroll in the Windows Insider Program can continue to use that and will have the privilege [pain, surely? – ED] of testing new features – and won’t have to pay.

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