Comparing Windows and Linux stability

In my experience, Ubuntu 12.04 is less stable than Windows 8. Ubuntu is more likely to freeze, crash, or otherwise act badly than Windows.

When I say this, people point out that Ubuntu is not the Linux kernel and that the problems I see come from the GUI or from Ubuntu itself. I can believe that.

So Linux is really stable when you don’t run it on a desktop. But the same is true of Windows. If you set up a Windows server and treat it like a server — don’t install random consumer software, don’t browse the web on it, don’t play games on it, etc. — then Windows is really stable too.

When people compare the stability of Linux and Windows, they may be biased a couple ways. First, Linux is more often deployed on servers and Windows more often on desktops. So they may unintentionally be comparing Linux servers to Windows desktops. Second, they may be thinking that Linux users’ computers are more stable than Windows users’ computers, which is probably true. Linux users typically know more about computers than Windows users. They are more able to avoid problems and more able to fix them when they occur.

I suspect the most important factors for a computer’s stability are how it is being used and who is using it, not what OS it is running.

68 thoughts on “Comparing Windows and Linux stability

  1. In my experience
    Windows out of the box is not an Operating System as one cannot operate anything until extra interpreters compilers APIs are bought and installed (at the cost of stability – registry mess, dll version done wrong etc)
    Any GNU/Linux distro comes by default with a relative stable set of operating capabilities (sometimes at expense of hardware compatibility)
    OS X on the other hand is BSD++ on a single unified (defective by design) hardware – it does not play on the market but created a market.

    My conclusion:
    Ubuntu is more stable and operable than Windows in their default installation on the subset of standards compatible hardware space. One can keep that advantage when adding packages.

    This hold one the view that Operating System is to operate for software and humans. If you remove human from operating scope you might have a point.

  2. I am baffled by the comment by Vasco that Windows is not an OS. An OS is an environment that allows you to manage a computer and run software on it. A Windows server is extremely capable at doing that process right out of the box. What are these other compilers and API’s that are needed to run software on a Windows machine? Nothing! You install software and run it. Of course you need the software — that’s true on any OS. If you want to run Java you need to install a Java VM — again, true on any OS. If you want to compile C# programs then you need a C# compiler — true on any OS. This statement that Windows is not an OS is ludicrous and typical of the Mac/Linux people who are so jaded against Windows that they will never give it a fair shake. In my experience the RECENT versions of Windows servers are extremely stable. They run for months or years w/o a break, and on a stability test I’d put them against a Unix or Linux server any day.

  3. @Van: Of course, Windows is an operating system. We can’t just arbitrarily redefine a word.

    Windows provides the software layers that enable humans to manipulate hardware. That sounds like an operating system to me.

  4. Nice comparing, its clear and to the point . 🙂 Recent Ubuntu 12.10 & 13.04, are not that stable, but you should have considered other distros too , as your heading say Linux Vs windows.

  5. On the whole, I agree with John here.

    I don’t use Linux because of its stability. For the majority of its life, Linux has protected users from themselves far more effectively than Windows does, but from what I hear Windows 7 and 8 have made long strides in this area. Linux, due to its market share, is also largely (though not entirely) untargeted by malware. But Linux-as-desktop-OS is not noticeably more stable than Windows used in the same fashion, though I will say that Windows user programs (often the source of perceived instability) are often less stable than their Linux counterparts.

    Choosing a desktop OS for its stability is sort of like choosing a car for its reliability. You can make reasonable choices based on statistics (buy a Honda, not a Kia, for instance), but how you drive and maintain the car will make as much difference as how the car is made, once it’s passed the manufacturer’s QA and the government’s safety checks.

    I am hard on both cars and desktops. I choose a car because it’s fun to drive. And I choose an OS because it enables me to do what I want to do in the way I want to do it. The fact that my car doesn’t break down all the time and that my OS doesn’t crash all the time is nice — and certainly a point to its credit — but if a study comes out quantitatively proving that Windows is more stable than Linux, I will not care because that wasn’t the criteria of selection I used.

  6. By my experience with all of the operation systems are
    if you want to upgrade your system all times of being hacked use linux
    if you like worms virus spywares and always crash the system of wrong dll files blue screen of death use windows
    if you want to use a stable system without virus without crash without blue screens of death and stable for years use MAC

    MAC was created for easy GUI for experts and non experts as IT setup and use MAC
    any person with non experience can run MAC and setup a home or network server without any knowledge of IT Administrator
    setup DNS very easy GUI
    setup web server easy GUI
    manage the server easy GUI and much more with MAC

    windows needs experience to setup if you are not familiar with windows don’t use it

    Linux most Linux use cmd lines linux to be one of the best systems they need to use GUI as MAC

    this is why MAC is expensive and easy to use
    windows is cheaper and hard to use
    linux is open source not everyone knows how to use it

    this is the steps of this operation systems

    if MAC was compatible with universal motherboards like windows and linux all the servers around the world will exchange to use MAC as enterprise servers

    over 200 million enterprise servers use apache as webserver linux and MAC

    50 million uses windows as servers

    enterprise servers uses linux as operation systems to save money on software

    if linux was a paid software they will upgrade for use MAC

    MAC is always the best operation system of easy GUI and more stable

    with the new QUO compatible board for MAC more servers will upgrade for use MAC

    QUO computers nothing is impossible

  7. You’ve certainly been fair enough in saying that this is “in your experience”. While most maintainers work hard to make sure their distro works stably across a large variety of hardware, no operating system in history is entirely devoid of quirks, glitches, failures, and instability. That may be due to hardware configurations, user errors, or just flat-out bad programming practices. There are so many things that can get in the way of stability other than good or bad operating system design.

    That being said, my experience with Windows 8 was not a savory one. When I first bought my HP Pavilion G6 laptop, I swore I would at least give it a fair shot. The interface was lousy, so I worked around that. The speed was okay, so I tolerated that. The stability, however, was some of the worst I’ve ever experienced. Crashing was a daily experience, generally without any warning or indication of something I was doing wrong. Being primarily a GNU/Linux user, I was willing to give Microsoft a fair shot again for the sake of compatibility with all my university’s web services (I needed Silverlight to work well). Windows 8, however, lost its one advantage for me with the constant instability. Now I virtualize on those rare occasions when Silverlight is necessary.

    Barring some early trouble with UEFI (which now has much better support under GNU/Linux), this laptop has been running like a champ on Xubuntu for almost a year. It’s not my ideal distro by any means, but it gave me the fewest hiccups. I’m looking forward to the day when Debian doesn’t detest this laptop’s sound card – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

    Simply put, GNU/Linux is my preference for many reasons after years of use, it continues to do exactly what I need the vast majority of the time, and it’s achieved stability on the vast majority of my hardware. That’s all I can fairly say, and that’s enough for me to stick with it.

  8. I switched window managers from Unity to xfce, and Ubuntu now behaves much better. The file manager has crashed numerous times, but other than that the system is stable.

  9. So in my little experience with openSUSE/ubuntu/Fedora/Debian/Mint and Windows i came to a single conclusion. There is not a linux version that i didnt manage to crash in 1 or 2 months trying to install software that i need it and not to mention the agony to figure out what was wrong with most of these software. Now how does windows works? hmm lets say that i find it hard to crash it since windows xp came around. how about software? well lets say that i havent have a problem installing a software from xp to windows 7 and some works still on windows 8.1. Drivers? hmm never had a problem.
    So please some1 tell me: why people says linux is more stable than windows? if you don’t touch the computer than both are stable. but if you actually try to use it…well then…im still waiting for a linux distro that actually can keep it together. So far from linux i like linux mint cinnamon edition. But compared to windows 8.1 its not even close.
    The biggest problem that i found about linux are the lack of drivers. Second are the softwares that are meant for linux looks like crap works like crap and crash lots of times. and last the opensource part is one big problem. too many forks that does not work well.
    But i’m still trying this attempt of an operating sytem. I have nothing to lose but time. Maybe one day i will come to the conclusion that linux is finally stable.

  10. linux is for people who know what they are doing!
    i totaly agree that linux is not for noobs.
    so if someone install a bad and buggy version of a package/software/distro or have a misconfiguration.it’s not linux’s fault.it’s his fault
    in linux,a crash can be easily managed and fixed by user.and more important than anything.it has a clear reason and there is easy solutions to fix it by a good user.
    but in windows.there is no difference between an experienced user and a newbie.they both should restart windows and they will never know why the hell caused that problem and finally should reinstall that windows.because it continue its crashes and be more broken they after day.(unlike linux).
    windows continuously gets heavier until it dies.don’t you believe me?go and ask of C:\Windows\WinSxS

  11. I wonder what people with linux do that they crash windows repeatedly when they buy it… i can’t remember when last time happened and I use and abuse several devices every day.

    I wonder what people with linux would know about windows that allows them to comment if they say “from what I hear Windows 7 and 8…” so they have not even used them.

    Look, I tried Linux, I wanted it to be better. It just isn’t. Add drivers, GUIs, window managers etc. on top and it all goes to hell. It’s not that “linux is not more stable” – there is a 1-2 orders of magnitude difference between linux and windows, with the latter winning.

    Case closed.

  12. I agree that Windows’ stability is based on use. I run Windows machines inside a broadcast environment, and they are up 24/7 without issue for months (I take them done quarterly for inspection). Few things come to mind. First, we use custom build, rack mounted machines that comprise quality hardware. Second, our software is expensive, well-coded software. Finally, and probably most importantly, we configure our machines as “appliances.” That is, they are custom built and configured to complete one task only (and usually have only one program installed and running). We have absolutely no issues at all, even in 24/7 environment over months.

  13. Guys you have to remember that Linux and Windows are two completely different Operating Systems and are both used for different tasks. Linux has become a lot more stable over the year (yes it still has it’s negatives).

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