By Martin Jansen, Owner Jansen-PCINFO
As the owner of a computer business I am often asked to load a fresh install of an operating system on a computer. Sometimes operating systems like Windows 10 get corrupted or have been too damaged by viruses to recover. Windows does get what I call “garbaged up” over time slowing the system to a crawl. In this case, it is just better to reload the operating system to get a fresh start. For the purposes of this article I am going to download a new ISO from Microsoft and also download an ISO of Linux Mint Cinnamon to compare installation experiences.
When I download an ISO of Windows 10’s latest version 21H1 it is 5.8 GB in size. It takes a while to download. Linux Mint Cinnamon 20.1 is 2 GB. Being about ⅓ the size helps because the Linux Mint ISO easily writes to a 4 GB USB Stick. You better have at least an 8 GB Stick to write the Windows ISO.
Linux Mint is free to download and install on any number of computers. A licensed copy of Windows 10 Pro currently retails for $200 and can be installed on 1 computer.
After writing the ISO to the USB Stick, I set the computer to boot up via USB. There are many steps to successfully install Windows including a backup of data. I found a thorough guide here.
A fresh install of Linux Mint also requires backup of data, but Linux Mint provides a Backup Tool which can backup and restore personal data as well as the software selection on a computer. The moderator of this Youtube series shows how to install Linux Mint. He also installs and discusses other Linux operating systems.
Suffice it to say that Linux Mint, with its live mode, simplifies installation.
Windows 10, while being a complete operating system, does not come with much extra software. Microsoft 365 (formerly Microsoft Office) will cost a family of 2-6 people $100 per year. For businesses, you can rent the software for $12.50 per person per month. That’s right, Microsoft users no longer can own their Office software. This assures Microsoft of continuous income.
Meanwhile, Linux Mint comes installed with LibreOffice 7 which is completely open source and free.
Microsoft prefers Edge over Chrome and Bing over Google for search engines. Instead Linux Mint has Firefox as the default browser. Of course, installation of other browsers is possible through Mint’s Software Manager which contains thousands of apps. Chromium is an open source browser based on Google Chrome. Other software can be installed through packaged .deb files in Linux Mint.
For PDF viewing, rather than install Adobe Reader in Windows, Xreader is installed by default in Linux Mint.
The default media player in Linux Mint is Celluloid which can play just about any media file format out there. Windows Media Player won’t play .ogg files which is the open source answer to compressed .mp3 files. Of course, installing the popular VLC media player on both Windows and Linux Mint is quite easy. In Linux Mint go to the Software Manager, for Windows go to the VLC website. Download the EXE file. Go to the Download folder and double click on the EXE file to begin the installation process.
For graphics and photos, Linux Mint offers Pix which can offload your pictures from an SD card and Drawing for making original art. Windows is still keeping around the aging MS Paint due to popular demand. Adobe has followed the Microsoft paradigm by renting out their popular Creative Cloud software on a per month per user basis on Windows. Linux Mint offers GIMP, Inkscape and many other graphic packages at no cost to the user through the Software Manager.
Microsoft is on most computers because computer manufacturers must sell their computers with an operating system. Microsoft from early on has offered Windows to manufacturers at very little cost and collaborated with engineers to make sure everything worked through drivers. Despite many errors and inefficiencies along the way, Windows remains the most used operating system.
Open source Linux takes a different approach. It relies on a community of volunteers to develop and maintain an operating system and associated software. Profit is largely not a motivating factor in development. It’s about taking a loved project and making it better. In the early days, Linux was not very good and barely worked. It has become so much better over time and I would say, it has surpassed Windows in performance and efficiency.