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Linux has been the go-to development platform since its debut in the early 90s. Its developer-friendly features a powerful terminal and tons of preinstalled tools for the developer.
What’s more, its versatility and lightweight nature make it a suitable alternative for almost any machine – you can install Linux on older computers that have been outdated, and it will still work.
In this post, we’ll see the 5 reasons why Linux is better for programming.
1. Linux Is Secure
Linux (and Linux distros such as Qubes OS) is arguably the most secure OS today. It features strong immunity against worms, Trojans, and other malware. This is not to say that Linux cannot suffer from attacks. Technically, any computer can suffer from an attack so long as it’s connected to a network.
Windows is more prone to attacks due to its widespread use and file management system (more on that later). With its large scale use, the OS provides a maximum payload for hackers who focus their efforts on Windows-based systems. For this reason, Microsoft releases security patches every month on “Patch Tuesday.”
On the other hand, a mere 2.98% of the global population uses Linux, which makes it a less profitable venture for malicious hackers.
What’s more, Linux and Windows handle file management a little differently. What makes Linux special is its Virtual File System which is guarded by strict user permissions. Unlike Windows, the OS never grants admin privileges to root file access by normal users (e.g., by allowing them to run files as administrators, as seen on windows).
Instead, everything is treated as a file, and standard users get lower-level permissions, while administrators have to log in with a password.
2. Linux Has a Powerful Terminal
The power of the terminal can never be overstated in programming. Terminals provide greater control over system functions and file directories. Programmers use the command line since it’s faster and offers higher-level commands beyond just granting user file controls.
With the command line, programmers can:
- Use Git version control to track progress on their files with the help of remote repositories
- Easily change file directories
- Install important packages via the Node Package Manager (NPM) using the npm install command
Essentially, the command line is the preferred tool for running commands on the operating system over the GUI since it grants greater control over the system. However, Windows puts restrictions on its command line so that users don’t get exposed to complicated code and accidentally damage the operating system.
The Linux command line allows greater control over the operating system using the Sudo command. If you’re not familiar with the Linux command line, it is not too difficult to learn, and you can start with basic file/directory operations.
3. Better Workflow Management With Packet Manager
Getting what you need faster and more efficiently is key to any developer’s workflow. Linux operating systems use packet managers to ensure that applications have been correctly installed and updated.
Windows (and other operating systems) application installation processes are often long and tedious. Take this example, for instance. To install a basic normal use application (e.g., a text editor) on Windows, you would have to:
- Open your browser.
- Search for the application on the search bar.
- Scroll over hundreds of results to find the right download page.
- Select the preferred file folder to download the application.
- Install the application.
- Probably restart your computer.
This long and tedious process can be prone to errors. For example, what if you download malware from a malicious website or install the application to the wrong folder?
With Linux, the Sudo command saves the day – again. The installation process can be summed up by one command:
$sudo apt-get install ABC (Replace “ABC” with the application you want to install.)
In Linux, apt-get is a package manager that is used to install packages and their dependencies from authenticated sources and upgrade or remove them altogether. As a programmer, you install many items to get the system working. The package manager can help get these resources from a legitimate source in one go.
4. Stable, Reliable, and More Secure Servers for Backend Developers
Backend developers have it tough on stubborn Windows servers that need to be constantly rebooted every time to implement a new change. Currently, a large population of the world’s servers runs on Linux for their stability.
So, you do not necessarily have to reboot Linux servers whenever you modify the configuration file. However, you still have to reboot the server after a kernel update. The point is, rebooting the system is a part of the normal maintenance routine but not always mandatory after every little change.
With Linux, you also experience far fewer crashes that require you to reinstall the OS. On the rare occasion that the system crashes, you can switch to the text-mode console to fix the bug, add or remove modules, and end the crashed process.
What you need to watch out for, however, is the kernel panics (or BSOD equivalent), which may need more experienced hands on deck to stop the process and debug the system. Running the buggy application may harm the system or lead to data loss.
But security and stability are not the only advantages of Linux servers over Windows servers. There’s more:
- Linux servers are free and open-source, while Windows servers are licensed.
- Linux servers support Unix languages, Python, PHP, etc., while Windows servers support ASP and ASP.NET
- Linux servers are more secure than malware and attack-prone Windows servers.
On the downside, you need to be an experienced engineer to work around Linux servers. That’s because Linux server administrators leverage the command line, which requires you to be familiar with the commands.
So, if you’re working on computers with an operating system installed years ago, you might consider switching to Linux or an equivalent Unix-based system.
5. Lower Costs of Ownership and Maintenance
Looking back at the free and open-source Linux source code over Microsoft’s licensed software, it’s easy to see why Linux is the better option for new developers. In fact, it is estimated that the operational costs for Linux are 40-50% cheaper than Windows.
The operational cost is also affected by other aspects such as:
- Security: A secure system requires no antivirus programs, which would be bought upfront or need a monthly subscription. As such, phenomenal data breaches and loss of information wealth are kept at a minimum. This saves the developer and their company millions of dollars that would have been spent on lawsuit settlements for the data breaches.
- Maintenance – Server downtimes cost millions in missed revenue opportunities. Periodic maintenance is paramount to business operations, but it costs $150-$1,500 per month to maintain a server. With Linux server built-in security features and stability, you can expect to spend less on maintenance.
Windows servers, on the other hand, are licensed, which means you must pay to use them. The OS is not supported by a global gathering of developers actively looking to find and solve issues. For these reasons, Windows OS and servers often face lengthy debugging processes and patch releases, which could also contribute to longer downtimes.
Linux has a lot to offer in the world of programming. If you’re new to the platform, it may take a while to master the commands.