Thursday, May 22, 2008

.Nix v. Windows

Interesting title, aye?

Well, I'd like to get some opinions from various people in the Hi-Tech Investigation Arena as to which OS you prefer to work from, and why?

I'll go first...

I use both Operating Systems, Linux and Windows. And both have their advantages and disadvantages..

The Windows OS:

I find that nothing beats Microsoft when it comes to "out of the box" usage. I also find the Office Suite offered by Microsoft absolutely unbeatable. The range of software that one can download with a Windows systems and the ease in which this can be done is also second to none. All of these factors add up to a powerful, user friendly Operating System.

I also find that Windows is very vulnerable to viruses. Most people believe that this has to do with the popularity of the Windows OS, but this is not really the case. While Windows is currently the most popular OS on the market hands down; .nix systems still have a HUGE following, and are popular enough to be targeted by virus makers. The fact is, it is far more difficult to make a virus that would execute it's payload as effectively on a .nix system than it would on a Windows System. It is simply a matter of kernel differences and differences in how the two Operating Systems are set up. Don't misinterpret this, there ARE viruses written for the .nix platforms and they ARE effective. But, they are fewer and further between, and there has to be quite a bit more work in getting them to successfully deliver their payload; below is a saying that illustrates my point: (click to see the article this is quoted from)

"To mess up a Linux box, you need to work at it; to mess up your Windows box, you just need to work on it."

Windows also takes away some of the control over the Operating System by making it more user friendly, and that is fine for the casual computer user, but not so fine for the "power user". Most people can live with this.

The .nix OSs.

I like knowing that I am working in a fairly secure environment, and I like knowing that I have COMPLETE control over my Operating System. Linux meets both of these issues pretty well. I am less concerned with viruses, and I can get to EVERY part of my OS and alter it as needed; when working on my Linux Boxes.

Pretty, Pretty, Pretty... When the .nix systems were first developed, the emphasis was on security, stability, and functionality; it did not have to be pretty, it just had to work well. Back in the day, most "nixers" did not even use a gui (Graphical User Interface - the pretty windows), they used terminal and did everything in command line, BASH being the most popular (BASH; a variant of the Bourne Terminal - Bourne Again SHell). Now the .nix system has come a long way, and have some very beautiful Graphical User Interfaces, and some darned nice "eye candy" like Compiz. So, we are seeing improvements.

And despite a heavy emphasis on the Graphical User Interfaces for .nix systems these days, still nothing beats them for stability, raw computing power, security, and functionality, like how the .nix systems takes better advantage of the hardware layer than Window's systems do.

Software is not quite as abundant for Linux as it is Windows, and might be a little harder to install. But there are still TONs of programs out there for the .nix systems, and the installation is becoming less and less of a problem with RPM Packaging, Apt, and YAST, the developers of the various types of .nix system have realized a need for making installation easier for the people that might want to explore making the switch from Windows, and they are addressing this issue in leaps and bounds.

On the other hand, .nix systems can "crush the faint of heart". The learning curve for using .nix systems is a little steeper than it is with Windows Systems. But the .nix systems are getting better and better in this regard all of the time. I HIGHLY recommend the Linux flavor known as Kubuntu for people that have no experience with .nix systems, but want to see what they are all about.

Well, that's my take. Anyone else?

Rick Gurley: Best Cyber Investigator

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