The Great Open Source Vs. Closed Source Debate


New Member
It's clear that there are people here that have input on this topic, so rather than derail other topics any further, I thought it would be appropriate to start a thread just for this.

I'll make the first post in a pro and con format, feel free to coment no matter what side you take.

Pros: Familiar, wide hardware support, platform of choice for most major game titles and professional applications such as AutoCad and Photoshop.

Cons: Expensive, unstable, often requires faster machines, depends on profitability to improve, poor file system (fragmentation), Difficult to identify cause of malfunctions, resource hog, poor support for a commercial product, UI Not very customizable. Still relies on DLLs and a registry (frequent cause of conflicts). Target of viruses, spyware & malware.

Pros: Price, Free is the best possible price. Stability, runs well on older machines, Not dependent on profitability to improve. Reliable file system, Resistant (though not immune) to Viruses, Security requires very little user intervention. No DLL files, no registry, Basic functionality largely the same for since it's introduction. includes very powerful development/programming tools. Highly customizable. Updates include installed software. Command line interface is a powerful feature.

Cons: poorly adopted by game developers. sometimes hard to find support for third party hardware. Unfamiliar to average PC users. Requires users to relearn tasks on equivalent open source applications (Photoshop to GIMP). Command line interface usually a deal breaker for average PC users.

Feel free to add your opinion. What would it take for you to dump Windows for Linux? Assuming Linux offered you everything you needed, would you be willing to learn a new OS if it meant saving money? Do you think schools should make more effort to introduce Linux to students? Do you think Linux could save tax payers money if local state and federal government agencies made more of an attempt to use open source software?


New Member
I don't understand the stability comment.

I've used Linux for a long time and have had distros that are rock solid and distros that locked up on a regular basis. A well managed Windows install is no better or worse than a well managed Linux install.

I just recently switched from Arch Linux to Windows 7 on my desktop (kept Arch on my Eee though). Linux is fun to play with but when things break (and they will eventually) it can take a lot of time to fix.

Edit: Forgot to mention the sorry state that Linux sound is in. Alsa, OSS, Pulse? They're pretty hit or miss, depending on the individual's computer.


New Member
Edit: Forgot to mention the sorry state that Linux sound is in. Alsa, OSS, Pulse? They're pretty hit or miss, depending on the individual's computer.

Granted. Must add however, this is more a result of poor support from the manufacturers of audio hardware. I can understand where a small manufacturer doesn't have the money to maintain a development team for Linux support, but also third part hardware manufacturers are sort of at the mercy of Microsoft. If one of these manufacturers offers support for Linux or even simply publishes their driver source openly, Microsoft usualy forbids them from putting the windows compatibility logo on the product or in the drivers. If the average uneducated consumer has a choice of a product that has the compatibility logo and one that doesn't they will often lean towards the one with the logo. This causes the smaller upstart companies to fail and makes progress more difficult on the Linux side since the manufacturer cant take resources from sales to Windows users and funnel it into development for Linux users.

I will grant you that when your dealing with Linux, there are sometimes multiple standards. Mostly because one group wants to do something their way, and another will do it theirs. This is a downside of open source, but what usually ends up happening, just as the Compiz and Beryl projects, the two or more teams will merge and we get one very elegant working end product.

I don't understand the stability comment.

I've used Linux for a long time and have had distros that are rock solid and distros that locked up on a regular basis. A well managed Windows install is no better or worse than a well managed Linux install.

I've never ever had a Linux implementation fail as a result of a design flaw. None have ever crashed my machine. I've come across beta software that didn't behave properly, but that's to be expected with betas.


New Member
Sorry but it's not the hardware manufacturer's fault that the Linux community decided it needed 3 different implementations for sound. I'd love to see more support from manufacturers of all kinds of hardware (ATI, I'm looking at you) for Linux, but the ALSA/OSS/Pulseaudio mess can be laid squarely at the feet of Linux devs.

As for stability: I'm glad you've never had any problems. I have, and so have plenty of other people so let's not get into the "works for me" mantra that I hear so often.

Having said that: 32bit Arch on my Eee has been pretty solid from day one. I ended up writing a bash script to make hooking up to the various wireless networks that I use easier, but that wasn't really that painful.


New Member
Ubuntu is pure, unadulterated garbage.

I'm not making generalisations about Linux in general when I say that, either. I've been using Linux for 14 years now, and FreeBSD on and off as well.

Nearly all of Linux's previous technical advantages have been single-handedly destroyed within Ubuntu, although they still exist within other distros. To start with, Ubuntu is based on the single worst Linux distribution ever devised, Debian.

Stability? Gone. Six weeks using Ubuntu Intrepid, and I had constant kernel panics from video card drivers, and ALSA crashing as well. Don't give me the usual crap about it being upstream or anyone else's fault either; it isn't. I've never had a moment's trouble from nVidia drivers on any other UNIX or Windows system, before or since.

Then there was the issue where trying to remove GNOME, caused the rest of the system to entirely fall apart. The distribution is designed in such a way as to completely erradicate Linux's usual degree of modularity and orthoganality.

ALSA was an obscenity. I've never seen anything more poorly engineered or excessively complex. The configuration file was absolutely horrifying.

Wide hardware support? Maybe you should start paying some attention to the number of users on Ubuntu's own forums, and elsewhere, who have had no end of problems with video hardware of various kinds, not to mention sound.

If Canonical had any semblance of genuine competence, they'd release a supported hardware list, like the BSDs do, so a new user could know for sure whether their hardware was going to work with Ubuntu or not.

Also, be honest and tell the people here about the number of Ubuntu users who end up in the support forum complaining about having been dumped out at an entirely non-functional black screen, which they can't get past, troubleshoot, or do anything with.

Then, as the icing on the cake, we could go into the real reason why you're here. The true reason why Linux evangelism exists at all; purely in order to gain more recruits for your cult leader, Richard Stallman.

Get out of this forum, and take your lies with you.


New Member
My prefered audio software doesn't work with Linux, and I don't feel that Windows 7 is expensive for what you get, so I'll be sticking with Windows.


New Member
Feel free to add your opinion. What would it take for you to dump Windows for Linux? Assuming Linux offered you everything you needed, would you be willing to learn a new OS if it meant saving money? Do you think schools should make more effort to introduce Linux to students? Do you think Linux could save tax payers money if local state and federal government agencies made more of an attempt to use open source software?

I've used Linux for 8 years and would NEVER recommend it replace Windows in it's current state.

What you and a lot of new Linux users fail to understand is that this isn't going to save money at all in the long run. I mean all companies I've known to switch to Linux have gone for the horrible mess which is Ubuntu because it's what they've heard most about (hype). When they deploy this they will find the following issues:

It may break with updates (I mean Kernel Panics, Applications Crashing, X Crashing)
Applications may be updated incorrectly and not work again.
The package manager may break if the system is turned off during an update marking the package "broken" which sometimes is impossible to fix without either editing a lot of configuration files or doing a complete reinstall.

LTS versions are NOT suitable either because it is then up to the user to go and download newer versions of apps such as Firefox, OpenOffice etc manually. These are not as simple to install as on Windows and sometimes don't work at all.

If you haven't seen my point so far, to do this you're going to have to either hire a new Tech team or train the old one. Considering how much more often Ubuntu would go wrong compared to Windows [New versions are unsupported within 18 months] it's going to cost a lot more money in man hours so in the end it's going to end up costing much more than Windows.

You also need to consider that Microsoft gives out special licenses to companies so they get Windows for a fraction of the price you'd think they would.


New Member
Richard who?

I promote Linux because IN MY OPPINION it's simply better. Now I will grant you this, Open source has it's pit falls. For instance, The only reason you have so many distros is because everyone wants to have their own "brand" if you will. The same reason there is a starbucks on 3 out of 4 corners on an intersection. There is no central and final authority for standards.

I think the biggest reason the average user is afraid of Linux is two things, the big bad Terminal, and the fact that configuration is done largely with an editor rather that a GUI with radio buttons, check boxes, sliders and drop down menus.

For now at least, Linux is not dumbed down enough for the average person.


Honorable Member
djarrum: "I promote Linux because IN MY OPPINION it's simply better." That was obvious in your original post but it goes further. Debating pros and cons can't be done when the disciple defines the pros and cons for both sides. You rate a con for Windows as a poor file system and then you say Linux has a reliable file system as a pro. I've had no problems with NTFS so I'd have to rate it okay for reliability and if defragmenting is the only complaint you have with NTFS, it isn't much of a complaint.

You said with Windows it's difficult to diagnose malfunctions. Perhaps but I usually seem to manage. I have very few malfunctions so I spend less time on them with Windows than I did with Linux.

I am probably closer to "average" than most users posting in this thread. I tried Linux a bit three years ago and went back to Windows.

My major issues:
Convenience. Some people enjoy playing with the computer.
Software. I have software I want/need and a reasonable replacement isn't available with Linux.

One thing I appreciate with Windows is the lack of proselytizing.


New Member
The truth always hurts

The truth is, that windows does not and will never allow the user to have full control over his system.Take it from me. I am not inexperienced with MS operating systems. I have been using them since MSDOS 3.3

Most people think their computers should obey them, not obey someone else. Yet, with a plan they call "trusted computing" and software they call Windows Genuine Advantage, Microsoft and others are planning to make your next computer obey them instead of you, and this has serious consequences for your privacy.

WGA has caused a number privacy related problems, including deletion of software. WGA gets automatically updated as part of Microsoft's critical update procedures, giving users little choice but to accept changes to the systems Microsoft can monitor. Many have claimed that WGA is spyware, and although Microsoft have denied such intent, they retain the power to decide what counts as an invasion of your privacy.
For Windows 7 they are changing the name of the product to Windows 7 Activation Technologies (WAT), but the functionality remains the same.

Windows has a long history of security vulnerabilities, enabling the spread of viruses and allowing remote users to take over people's computers for use in spam-sending botnets. Because the software is secret, all users are dependent on Microsoft to fix these problems -- but Microsoft has its own security interests at heart, not those of its users.

Standards are important. With standards, users of various computing platforms can share information. It also removes users from the barrier of vendor lock-in. This is most prevalent in the area of Office documents, where entire governments, at both a state and national level, have made decisions based on the future proofing of their information.
Microsoft is attempting to block an established, free and open format by heavily pushing one they have much more control over, and they're using all their lobbying power to try and fast track it through the standards process, destroying the reputations of the very standards bodies they seek approval from. Microsoft challenges the existing OpenDocument standards for Office documents with its own Office OpenXML format, which specifically implements Microsoft Office, rather than a more general standard.
Unlike OpenDocument, which is well-supported and cross-platform, Microsoft's format is only supported by proprietary software from one vendor, and because it has been designed to implement every bug, glitch and historical feature from Microsoft's Office software, the specification to implement OOXML is over 6000 pages long, making it much harder for other software to implement the format.
Office documents are not the only area where Microsoft has railed against standards. Microsoft has abused its monopoly position on the internet, by making its Internet Explorer browser support only a subset of the published web standards, whilst submitting users to an inferior experience when an alternative browser was used. In Europe, Microsoft has been forced to offer a 'ballot screen' of alternative web browsers to the user upon installation of Windows 7 to force Microsoft's browser monopoly to end.

Microsoft regularly attempts to force upgrades on its customers, by removing support for older versions of Windows and Office, whilst changing the file formats used by its desktop applications, leaving many businesses in a position where they are forced to upgrade to continue to use the software and document formats they've invested time in.

Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) are technology measures that restrict what people can do with their computers. DRM is built into the heart of Windows 7, and many Microsoft services push DRM on users. In some cases, Microsoft has added these restrictions at the behest of TV companies, Hollywood and the music industry. In other cases, Microsoft DRM goes way beyond these companies' demands, suggesting that Microsoft is using DRM simply to create lock-in. Whether Microsoft is merely a co-conspirator with big media companies or an advocate for DRM in their own right, the result for software users is the same...
The monomaniacal fear of big media companies is that people will share digital media with their friends, building a free public library of cultural works. Public libraries are wonderful institutions, and in a digital age they become almost miraculous: we can now provide universal access to human knowledge and cultureâ€â€￾or at least anything that's been publishedâ€â€￾at little or no cost. The amazing thing is that it's almost automatic: once people can share freely with their friends over a global network, you get a digital public library. P2P networks are one example of a digital library, and the web is another. The value of these libraries to the public is historic and immeasurable. But media companies serve shareholders, not the public, and are therefore very ready to destroy in its infancy any public resource that might interfere with their profits. The personal computer is built from the ground up to make sharing information fast and easy, so for media companies to restrict sharing they need the full cooperation of software makers at the deepest level. Enter Microsoft.

Microsoft has been found guilty of monopolistic behavior all over the world. With Windows Vista, Microsoft worked with PC manufacturers to significantly increase the hardware specifications for the standard user-experience, causing people to require new computers to run the updated OS.
Early versions of Windows 3.1, relying on an underlying version of the DOS operating system would throw an error if non-Microsoft DOS, such as Digital Research's DR-DOS, were detected. At one point, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, in an internal memo said "You never sent me a response on the question of what things an app would do that would make it run with MS-DOS and not run with DR-DOS. Is there [sic] feature they have that might get in our way?" with Microsoft Senior Vice President Brad Silverberg later sent another memo, stating: "What the [user] is supposed to do is feel uncomfortable, and when he has bugs, suspect that the problem is DR-DOS and then go out to buy MS-DOS."
Microsoft recently tried to sell a bunch of patents which would threaten GNU/Linux to patent-trolls, but the patents were eventually purchased by the Open Innovation Network, a group with patents to protect free software.
In recent months, we've seen is starting to make Windows refunds quick and easy for GNU/Linux users buying netbook computers. Whether this will become a growing trend, who knows?
Worse, most PC manufacturers still do not offer you the opportunity to buy a machine without Windows.
Traditionally, building your own machine was a way to get around the Windows tax. Microsoft has managed to hurt this, too. Sites such as NewEgg have many of their best deals tied to a purchase of an OEM copy of Windows, penalizing those who actively seek to avoid Microsoft and other proprietary software companies in the name of freedom.
The monopoly of Windows isn't just limited to the direct influence of Microsoft's products: many computer manufacturers only ship machines with Windows, because of bundling deals with other software companies, loading up the machine with a variety of proprietary software, including trial offers for Internet providers and other junkware.


Honorable Member
You made it clear with your original post that you prefer Linux. That's fine. You listed pros and cons that were not valid to support your personal preference. That's fine, too. It's what fans are supposed to do. But, considering your opinions and ramblings truth is quite presumptuous.

You prefer Linux. I'm happy with that. I don't "hate" Linux but I choose not to use it now. Truth doesn't hurt but your post didn't contain enough to be significant. FWIW, and I realize it isn't much, I never used Windows3.1. I stuck with DOS for a variety of reasons that suited me. My introduction was Windows95.

In many ways I'd prefer a command driven system but not enough to suffer with Linux. Of all the things I want to do with my computer now, fiddling endlessly and being relegated to software that's good enough isn't on the list.