Windows vs Linux

(To Antonio Ledda)

The article that I am about to write wants to emphasize some aspect of two different and at the same time similar visions of the idea of Operating system.

It is mandatory to make a brief historical note regarding thetechnological evolution of computing computers.

The end of the years' 60 and the following decade are characterized by the presence of automatic calculation systems capable of processing and producing data on paper.

- years' 80 are marked by the gradual emergence of computer systems equipped with memory, based on an electronic component called processor.

Technological evolution favors the birth of 32-bit memory processors and subsequently of 64-bit processors, the salient feature that differentiates them is the amount of "volatile" memory, the so-called RAM that both technologies can handle. The former are able to support up to 4 GiB while the latter up to 16 EiB. In 1985 the Microsoft company buys DOS whose acronym means Disk Operating System, is the first operating system capable of reading and writing data on a hardware device. Thus it was born MS-DOS.

1993 is characterized by the presence of Windows 1.0 with a graphical interface, from 1995 to the present day 20 versions follow one another arriving at the current Windows 11. The peculiar characteristic that distinguishes them is the implementation of NT technology (New Technology) which allows process multiple jobs at once.

At this point in the narrative it is necessary to make an aside and try to explain the concept of process. From our point of view that is "standard" users in using the PC we are used to the idea of ​​applications eg. text editor, calculator, email manager, Internet browser and more as tools to meet our daily work or leisure needs but from a computer point of view the above are nothing more than one or more tasks, processes that the operating system must manage in memory to return a result to the user.

in 1991 Linus Torvalds, a student of the University of Helsinki, inspired first by Unix, an operating system created in 1970 by AT&T Bell labs and then by Mimix, a version of Unix designed for study and research reasons, decides to write his own code thus giving life to Linux.

Both Operating Systems are based on 32/64 bit hardware technology.

The question that deserves an answer now is: What is an Operating System and what elements does it consist of?

Il Operating system it is the intermediary who puts man in relation with the machine and is characterized by three fundamental components:

  • Kernel
  • File System
  • shell

In an abstract sense it defines the Kernel the heart of the operating system and can be compared to a control tower found in airports and which manages air traffic by marking the ways and times of how planes occupy and clear the runways. In the same way, the Kernel manages methods and times for accessing the memory of a system by applications, initializes and terminates processes, processes the instructions given by the user to execute simple processes such as displaying text on the monitor.

Il file system it is nothing more than the organization of files and directories present in a storage device.

La Shell it is an interface, which allows the user to interact with the physical machine through the operating system and has been conceived in two distinct ways, known respectively as CLI (Command Line Interface) and GUI (Graphical Unit Interface).

Windows and Linux are two Operating Systems, therefore both have the characteristics outlined above and for this reason they are similar; the element that differentiates them is conceptual and concerns the source code which is the founding basis of the same. The vision of Windows is based on the inaccessibility of the aforementioned source code while Linux draws its strength by making it available to anyone who wants to modify it to fit their needs.

Two different approaches but, apparently, both successful!