There have been many debates over which OS is better and why. This isn't one of them.
I've created this thread to defend Linux a bit and not bash Windows. I want to defend it from many clueless ignorants who believe some stupid myths they've read somewhere and are highly offensive towards it. I'll try to show that Linux is in fact a user friendly OS, even for people considered to be 'computer illiterate'.
Note: From this point on, by Linux I mean the major mainstream distributions like openSUSE (my distro of choice), Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva etc. and not the minimalistic/hardcore/specialized distros that can be found out there.
Also, I'm going to look at everything from a perspective of an average person, unaware of all the intricacies of their OS.
The most basic arguments against Linux are:
a) you need a considerate knowledge about computers and Linux itself to be able to use it well
b) the UI and OS itself is unintuitive and complicated compared to Windows
Now, to go into the detail why above statements are false...
This WAS true long time ago. Right now, out of the box Linux is easier to install and operate than Windows. The GUI for the installer has been added which guides you through the process with ease and simplicity. It even has some advantages over Windows installer:
- it automatically divides the disc into 3 partitions (you can, of course change/set everything, including the filetype but I'll be talking only about the default settings): root (system) partition, home (user) partition and swap partition.
It's great for most people as in case of system reinstall you're not going to lose any of your vital data and unlike in Windows, swap is a completely different partition instead of a hidden file on your system partition.
- you are able to select one of many different languages for your OS.
The next major difference is that after a quick and easy process of system installation you're logging in into a fully operational OS with multimedia players, advanced graphic manipulation tools, pdf readers, games, torrent support, browser, cd/dvd burning tools, rss feed reader, discussion group reader, full office suite, mail client etc. right away. Basically, all the things a typical user might want, are already in there. And you don't have to install any drivers, yay! (You know all the discs with drivers that come with your computer when you buy it? You can just throw them out)
More advanced stuff
Now, that the system is installed, most people tend to add some new software to it to extend the functionality because of their line of work or other personal preferences.
You know how in Windows, to get some additional software you have to find the version you want on the internet, download it, then get through a setup installation wizard etc.
In Linux most of that is solved with repositories (which are truly an awesome thing). All you have to do is enter the software management screen, type in the keywords (partial software name etc.) in the search field and it's going to display all available things meeting your search criteria. Then you just select the things you want (install/remove/update), click on apply and all the things are being done automatically (including installation of dependencies).
Another big thing are security updates and bugfixes. In Linux you are automatically notified about them, you can review and install them with just 1 click and (surprise, surprise!) in 99,9% cases you won't need to reboot your system (technically, your Linux can run indefinitely without reboot, the only thing requiring that are major changes to the kernel - installing proprietary GPU drivers etc.) which are things average users do not do. I'm mentioning all that because Windows won't ask you about that, it's just going to install the updates and force you to reboot (with auto-update turned on, and that's the default setting).
To sum it all up, I can just use my wife as an example. She's your standard 'Partition? WTF is that?' user. She's been using Windows for most of her life and never even heard about Linux until I installed it for her.
It took her about 2 hours to find herself within it, configure the desktop and applications to her needs and just a couple of days to familiarize herself with most important stuff.
For the past couple of days she was forced to use Windows again (had to borrow a laptop from my father for her to have internet in the hospital) and she was raging all the time about how slow it is and how it lacks the most basic features she needs, how she had to download and install a lot of stuff and finally, how it was constantly nagging her about 'Do you really want to launch this application?'.
In her eyes (and mine too), modern day Linux is a much better choice for your average everyday user. Something being overlooked a lot.