Sure there will be some differences and limits imposed by the OS used. But Netscape 6, which is based on the Mozilla Web browser suite, is proof in the pudding that both MS Windows and Linux are so sufficiently broad and powerful that for the most part any software one can develop for one OS can be developed for the other OS. Of course there are limits to that, but you have to go some to reach those limits.
See for yourself. If you have not already done so, download, install, and try both the Linux and MS Windows versions of Netscape 6.0 (or better yet, Mozilla 0.7).
If you are new to computers or new to Linux please read the Background Information section immediately below. If you are a more experienced computer user or already familiar with Linux, you might want to skip the Background Information section and skip directly down to the Getting Started With Linux section further down.
Some Background Information for Novices
Linux & MS Windows Are Operating Systems
DOS, MS Windows, UNIX, Mac OS, Linux, and so forth are computer operating systems (OSs). An OS can be thought of as an interpreter that on one hand speaks the machine language of a computer's hardware and on the other hand speaks the more human-like languages of computer software and computer users.
The most popular personal computer OS is Microsoft Windows in its several variations. Likely 85% to 90% or more of the personal computers in use today have MS Windows installed on them. Most new personal computers come with MS Windows as the pre-installed OS. Technical purists consider Windows 3.x and Windows 9.x a GUI (graphical user interface) desktop shell operating on top of Microsoft DOS.
To compare Linux to Windows 3.x and Windows 9.x, think of Linux as being like DOS. Then think of Windows 3.x and Windows 9.x as special programs, shells, which run on top of DOS and provide the familiar, easy-to-use GUI, MS Windows desktop.
Linux is a variation of UNIX, the powerful mainframe computer operating system, specially adapted to run on personal computers. The basic Linux OS, the kernel, is free and most UNIX programs will run on Linux. Add Linux's native multi-user and multitasking abilities. Such a powerful and free personal computer OS has lots of potential.
However as with DOS, Linux by itself (command-line Linux) is not user friendly. That's no problem for computer professionals who want to use Linux for its power and its economy.
Many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) use plain, command-line Linux-based computer systems to connect computer users to the Internet, to handle e-mail and news, to provide IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and World Wide Web services, and so forth. Computer professionals also use plain, command-line Linux for LANs (Local Area Networks) and WANs (Wide Area Networks).
Command-line Linux is handy if you are into programming and software development or if you want to learn programming. Free C, BASIC, and FORTRAN compilers are available for Linux. The availability of good, free software for Linux attracts many people to Linux.
X -- The Linux MS Windows-Like GUI
Just as command-line DOS has an MS Windows shell for an easy to use GUI, command-line Linux also has an easy to use GUI windows shell too.
Figures 1 and 2 (page 1) show just how similar are the MS Windows and Linux X Window windowing systems. They both show the new Netscape 6.0 Web browser desktop. It's very difficult to tell which figure, 1 or 2, is the Linux screen shot and which is the MS Windows screen shot. Check the Conclusion section below to learn which is which.
The X Window system, often just called X, is the Linux industry standard GUI engine. The original X was developed at MIT in 1984. It has evolved into the current version, X version 11 revision 6 -- X11R6. The X Window system serves as the foundation for Linux, MS Windows-like, GUI desktops and GUI software such as word processors, spreadsheets, and so forth.
KDE, often just called K, is a very popular windowing desktop environment for the X windowing system. It looks and feels lots like the MS Windows windowing system.
Perhaps you noticed that in this article Microsoft Windows is specifically referred to as MS Windows or Windows x.x. That's done because MS Windows is not the only GUI windowing system. X Window also is a GUI windowing system.
So we take the position here that one should specify to which Window(s) GUI one is referring by stating either MS Windows or X Window.
Linux Distribution Explained
Simply put, a Linux distribution is the basic (free) Linux kernel packaged with an installation module, handy utilities, and other stuff so that you can get up and running with Linux.
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