January 25, 2001


EPIX Internet Services
MozillaQuest Magazine Front Page button

Internet & Web browsers button

custom Netscape & Mozilla themes & skins button

Digital Photography


IRC - Internet Relay Chat - Chat button

Linux buttonLinux for Windows Users

Mozilla button


Netscape button
network articles

tutorial - help - how to button

Web Page Design

Web Tools

Windows button

Article Index

(click the )


Linux As an Alternative to MS Windows

The Software Makes the Differences

Some Background Information for Novices

  • Linux & MS Windows Are Operating Systems
  • Linux Explained
  • X The Linux MS Windows-Like GUI
  • Linux Distribution Explained
  • Free Linux Distributions

Getting Started With Linux


Resources & Links

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: Introduction & Overview
page -2-

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.&nbsp

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 Explained

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.

Figure 3. The KDE start menu is called the K Panel.
For example, Figure 3 shows the KDE start menu. Notice how similar it is to the MS Windows start menu shown in Figure 4 (page 3). Even though these two start menus look and feel so similar, their names are quite different. The KDE start menu is called the K Panel.

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.

Copyright 2000, 2001 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved

Recent Articles

Mozilla Milestone 0.9.2 Browser-Suite Released

Caldera OpenLinux 3.1 - Open UNIX 8

Mozilla 0.9.2 Branches on Schedule, but with Many Bugs

Mozilla 0.9.2 Set for 25 June Release - More Mozilla Roadmap Plan Changes and Chaos

SuSE Linux 7.2 Ships

Netscape 6.1 PR 1 Browser-Suite Released - Coming Soon to a Desktop Near You?

Mozilla Milestone 0.9.1 Browser-Suite Released

Mozilla Milestone 0.9.1 Browser-Suite Sneak Preview

Mozilla 0.9.1, AKA Netscape 6.5 beta-1, Behind Schedule Already

Mozilla Roadmap Plan Changed Again - Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to Q4 2001

Is Netscape Losing the Browser Wars? Part II: Why Are Major Linux Distributions Rejecting Netscape 6?

Is Netscape losing browser war

Red Hat Linux drops Netscape browser

The Snail Moves: Mozilla Milestone 0.9 Browser-Suite Released

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users #5: Simple Number Crunching, Word Processing, & Photo Viewing with the Windows-Like Desktop for Linux

AbiWord - A Free, Decent, MS Word Clone for the Linux, MS Windows, & Other Platforms

Lizard On The Move: Mozilla Milestone 0.8.1 Browser-Suite Released

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: #4-- Getting Started Using the Windows-Like Desktop for Linux

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: #3 -- Making an MS Windows-Like Desktop for Red Hat Linux

Mozilla 1.0 Release Pushed Back -- Milestone 0.8.1 Inserted into Development Roadmap Schedule

Composer: The Netscape & Mozilla Graphical HTML Editor & Word Processor

Mozilla Milestone 0.8 Browser-Suite RPM Builds Released

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: #2 -Getting Started with The Linux MS Windows-Like Desktop

Netscape 6.01 Browser-Suite Released

Triple-Boot Caldera OpenLinux, Red Hat Linux, & MS Windows for Best of Three Worlds

Linux for Microsoft Windows Users: Introduction & Overview

Meet Bugzilla -- Mozilla's Secretary of Bug-Busting & Feature Requests Lizard

Computer Connections at Home, Office, & School

Some Basics for Computing & Networking Novices

dual-boot Linux & windows for best of both operating system worlds

New Browser War Heats Up -- But It's Netscape vs. Netscape

MozillaQuest the Series -- Building Your Own Mozilla-Based Web Browser:Branding your Lizard

How to Download,, Install, & Configure Netscape 6.0 Safely

MozillaQuest the Series -- Building Your Own Mozilla-Based Web Browser:Skinning the Lizard

MozillaQuest Magic: Enabling Changes Made to Mozilla-Based Browsers & Applications Chrome -- A Tutorial

Mozilla's ChatZilla, The Lizard Speaks:- IRC