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So Dell, is Ubuntu safer than Windows or not?

Dell Latitude Z

By Barry Collins

Posted on 16 Jun 2010 at 10:08

Dell appears to be back-tracking on a claim made on its website that Ubuntu is safer than Windows.

The PC maker's website contained a page listing the "top 10 things you should know about Ubuntu". At number six was the eyebrow-raising claim that "Ubuntu is safer than Windows".

"The vast majority of viruses and spyware written by hackers are not designed to target and attack Linux," Dell stated to back up its claim.

Dell's proclamation was immediately picked up on by bloggers and news aggregators such as Digg.com, no doubt attracting the attention of Microsoft's PR machine.

This morning, Dell appears to have taken down the Ubuntu page, although a copy of the original site (PDF) was saved by The VAR Guy website, in case Dell decided to pull it.

When PC Pro asked Dell what it's official position on the relative merits of Ubuntu and Windows were, a company spokesperson replied: "With regards to the information cited on the Ubuntu page on Dell’s website, it is not Dell’s intention to recommend one OS over another, but instead to offer some educational facts that may be of interest to customers considering a system with Ubuntu pre-installed."

"Dell has offered select consumer systems with Ubuntu for more than two years, in response to customer demand. Microsoft is a strategic partner for Dell, and together we are committed to creating a great PC experience that delivers easy and quick connectivity, immersive entertainment, and robust productivity options."

Dell has been one of the most high profile backers of Ubuntu, offering the operating system as a pre-installed option on a selection of its PCs since 2007.

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User comments

Dell and Ubuntu

Coincidentally I was looking for Dell Ubuntu laptops yesterday and found www.dell.co.uk/ubuntu which includes a spurious list of "advantages". The "Shop for Ubuntu Laptops" button actually brings up a list that contains no Ubuntu laptops. In fact, I couldn't find a single Linux powered computer on Dell's site.

By KevPartner on 16 Jun 2010

Does not Recommend??!

"...it is not Dell’s intention to recommend one OS over another".
Oh yea? The Dell website is always stating "Dell recommends Windows 7".

Sounds like a recommendation to me.

By adamgashead on 16 Jun 2010

Rubbish!

Rot! Take a look at this screenshot, the filthy liers! http://dl.dropbox.com/u/315875/dell.png

By Blazemore on 16 Jun 2010

Given that Dell was one of the suppliers who received backhanders from Intel not to use AMD processors it comes as no surprise that they have little interest in encouraging Linux.

By milliganp on 16 Jun 2010

Dell Ubuntu page still exists at dell.com/ubuntu

Dell's Statement is EXACTLY TRUE as written
By Shannon VanWagner (not verified) on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 11:24pm.

Dell.com/ubuntu STILL says:
"6) Ubuntu is safer than Microsoft Windows
The vast majority of viruses and spyware written by hackers are not designed to target and attack Linux."

That statement is EXACTLY TRUE as written - At least until such time that the statistics of Linux machines being infected, outnumbers that which is the number for Windows infections. Let me put it this way: Windows has already proven to be less safe than Linux. The number of infected windows systems both current and previously VASTLY, VASTLY outnumbers the total number of GNU+Linux systems infected by malware in the entire history of humankind.

Could Linux become less safe than Windows ever in the future, say, after it has a greater marketshare? Perhaps, and an asteroid could fall out of the sky and kill us all too! But, until then, the simple fact remains that a very large number of infected Linux machines would have to appear to change the current statistics, and the current fact - that is: GNU+Linux IS safer than Windows. Period.

Here are some interesting additional points:
-There are currently 671,013 virus signatures that can be downloaded and used for the FOSS Clam Antivirus program, and more are released everyday. Of those virus signature definitions, how many do you think only work on the Windows platform? In this scenario, starting with GNU+Linux is like starting with a fresh slate. How many decades would "Crackers" have to start writing GNU+Linux specific malware to catch up to the arsenal that they already have available for Windows?

-Most modern GNU+Linux distros use a packaging system that keeps the vast majority of installed software on the machine up-to-date with security patches and fixes. This is not true for windows.. In windows, programs like Adobe Reader, have to rely on the user to initiate an entirely separate update-mechanism to retrieve the critical update for that particular program, regardless of whether the windows operating system itself is up to date or not. For example, my Ubuntu systems(I'm typing on one of them now), already downloaded the latest flash-player (10.1). Has your windows system already updated the flash player? Note: if you have anything less than Flash Player 10.1, you are vulnerable to a serious security flaw that was identified by Adobe. You should update the Flash Player right now! The GNU+Linux package management system is superior to other systems in terms of keeping things up to date.

-Most modern GNU+Linux distros get security updates AS SOON AS THEY ARE RELEASED... There's no waiting for "Patch Tuesday"... In GNU+Linux, when there's an update/patch/fix/improved feature in the pipe, you get it as soon as it's available. There's no "business case" reason to wait to have the best with GNU+Linux. What's nice is that most of the time you don't even have to reboot after installing updates.

-UnrealIRCD is not even available in the Ubuntu GNU+Linux repositories (although there are several other IRCDs available in there). This means I would have to go and manually download and install (as root), that program in the first place. Ubuntu is considered a Desktop operating system (although server version is available), and it's also the "majority Desktop " in recent surveys of GNU+Linux distros on the Desktop. So this "infected" package wasn't even available in the software packaging system for the "majority" GNU+Linux desktop in the first place.

-GNU+Linux was created as a multi-user+networked system from the start. This means that GNU+Linux was built with security as paramount from day one.. and GNU+Linux continues to exemplify that end, magnificently.
Any self-respecting technologist or scientist cannot truthfully tell someone they are not safer for using GNU+Linux.. It's just not a logical argument.

Linux IS safer than windows - it's true!

Shannon VanWagner
humans-enabled.com

By Shannon_VanWagner on 17 Jun 2010

simple truth

Who would 'raise eyebrows' when Windows' vulnerability is pointed out? There is a thriving industry based on trying to protect Windows users from viruses and malware but Ubuntu users seem to get along OK without extra help.

By pictonic on 17 Jun 2010

http://www.dell.co.uk/ubuntu is so badly written:

UBUNTU is an open source operating system – so is not compatible with Microsoft WINDOWS or any WINDOWS based programs (Microsoft Office, iTunes etc ).

Just because it's Open Source doesn't make in incompatible. Haven't they heard of Wine?


Advantages of UBUNTU
They can be more reliable and more flexible than Microsoft programs

They?


Mind you, they don't even seem to know that there's no apostrophe in TVs so it's not exactly a surprise, is it?

As has already been pointed out, clicking on the 'Shop for Ubuntu laptops' link takes you to a page with no Ubuntu laptops. Ubuntu doesn't even make it into the 'Operating System' list under 'Narrow your selection'!

By Zebedee1 on 17 Jun 2010

Immediate patch release? Please say not...

"Most modern GNU+Linux distros get security updates AS SOON AS THEY ARE RELEASED... There's no 'business case' reason to wait to have the best with GNU+Linux"

I sincerely hope that immediate download mechanism can be switched off. Any Change Control Manager in a corporate body would go ballistic at the idea of desktops updating themselves without any intervention.

There is a business case to wait - it's called Change Control and is a fundamental building block of corporate processes. You get your patches and you test first. THEN you patch the organisation.

By AdrianB on 17 Jun 2010

LINUX SAFER THANWINDOWS

IF LINUX WAS USED BY THE MAJORITY I'M SURE THE VIRUS WRITERS WOULD ATTACK IT TO THE SAME EXTENT AS WINDOWS

By IMACOMPUTERBUDD1 on 17 Jun 2010

not so sure imacomputerbudd1

the real world agument against this goes that IIS has less market share on the web than Apache yet IIS is exploited more often. whether this has to do with it needing windows to run instead of the basic lamp set up I'm not too sure. If you don't believe me please have a quick google and there are a whole host of people making this point.

AdrianB have to agree with you there, anything else is just stupid if you are dealing with enterprise numbers of clients, and yes there are ways of turning it off.

By SimonCorlett on 18 Jun 2010

Safer? More Secure?

The main difference between a MS based system and a Ubuntu os is the user used for running process.

MS runs a lot of things using the "System" user (the only user withh all the rights). Ubuntu's users will run most services under their names.

So basicaly a user(or a software started by the user) can not harm the system. He can crash his own desktop but not the system.

On the Windows side, a simple software can be a major threat. The screensaver hack in Windows is a good exemple. An other one would be ActiveX - A darn powerful small app. So powerful that it can blow your Windows away.

Anyway, the biggest security flaw remains to be the operator - regardless of the OS

I think that I crashed my computer way more often that any viruses ever did...

:)

By Marcus12 on 2 Jul 2010

Dell's most misleading page

http://www1.euro.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.
aspx/windows_or_ubuntu?c=uk&cs=ukdhs1&l=en&s=dhs

UNBELIEVABLE!!
Basically they are suggesting "just stick to MSWindows" - surely there is an advertizing/web agency that can deal with this sort of biased advice.

By rob997 on 19 Jul 2010

Dell's Windows vs Ubuntu

Rob997,

That's quite brilliant. I've knocked out a blog post on the topic here: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2010/07/19/windows-vs
-ubuntu-in-a-nutshell/

Barry Collins
Online Editor - PC Pro

By Barry_Collins on 19 Jul 2010

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