David and Goliath

A side-by-side look at Windows and Linux.

If the recent cyberattacks have you worried about using a Windows computer and Macs are just too expensive, you might be thinking about moving to a Linux operating system. But, how do you know if Linux will be right for you?

In this article Adam Shepherd, of ITPro in the U.K., pits the mighty Microsoft Windows operating system against the open-source Linux operating system. Shepherd explains some of the basics about Linux, such as the various distributions, or "distros", and measures the two operating systems in seven different categories. Shepherd compares installations, security, software availability, user-friendliness, and other important aspects of the two systems. Ultimately, there is no clear-cut answer - both operating systems have their pros and cons, and the right system depends upon your needs and abilities.

Supporting Web Links
Discussion Questions/Activities
  1.  Poll the class to see what operating system students currently use. Do they know what version of the OS they are using? This might be a good time to show them how to determine this information. Do any of the students have any experience with Linux? If so, ask them to share their opinion with the class.
  2. Divide the class into three groups. Ask each group to research one of the three desktop operating systems - Microsoft Windows, Apple's macOS, and Linux. Each group should create a presentation outlining the pros and cons of their OS. What are its features and benefits? What are the disadvantages? Where and how is this OS primarily used? Is it more popular with a particular group or audience? Groups should discuss costs, availability, customization options, and anything else they think is pertinent. 
  3. Many mainstream software programs are not compatible with Linux. As an individual project, ask students to research two or three alternative software products that will work in the Linux environment. What popular programs do these products replace? How do they compare? Would students be able to do the things they need to do using Linux and these alternate products? Why or why not? Students should write a brief essay or create a presentation to share their findings with the class.

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