Daily Archives: April 3, 2012

What is the difference between Android and Linux?

Earlier today, I wrote an article about why I feel that Linux is better with security than Windows. And when it was posted, I got a comment in reply from my cousin. That reply brought up a very valid point. He said this: “Lol…well Android is Linux and that market has had plenty of viruses”.   I was quite impressed with what he said, so I had no choice but to agree with him on that one. Yet, it got me thinking. I started really wondering that the differences between Android and Linux were. And why is one inherently less secure than the other? We’ll get to that in a moment. But before we get there understand that first of all Linux is not an operating system per se, but a family of operating systems that are all based on the same kernel. Think of it as if they all have the same common core, and from that core each operating system diverges into their own uniqueness. Now a case in point would be Ubuntu. It is likely that if you know anything about Linux you will also know about Ubuntu. After all it is the most widely talked about flavor of Linux. It also is the one that got me started.  And I tell the tale of that here. It is an operating system by its own right. And has been the inspiration for quite a few other Linux distributions or flavors, such as Linux Mint and Pinguy OS. Both are awesome projects that have their own take on how things should be done in certain respects. Now let’s go back to Android, which is an OS based on Linux more specifically one built for mobile devices. While it does have that ancestry, one difference that comes to mind is the Ubuntu Software Center. The Ubuntu Software Center is much more secure as a whole than the Android Market which has recently been renamed “Play Store”. Yes I know it sounds ridiculous but it is what it is! The reason for that comparative lack of security is that anyone can write an app and submit it and get accepted quite easily, whereas with the  Software Center, there is more to it. In fact, you have the option to have different levels of security depending on which repositories you choose. There are literally thousands of Ubuntu programs available to meet the needs of Ubuntu users. Many of these programs are stored in software archives commonly referred to as repositories. Repositories make it very easy to install new software onto Ubuntu using an internet connection, while also providing a high level of security, as each program available in the repositories is thoroughly tested and built specifically for each version of Ubuntu. The Ubuntu software repositories are organized into four separate areas or “components”, according to the level of support offered by Ubuntu and whether or not the program in question complies with Ubuntu’s Free Software Philosophy. The repository components are:

  • Main – Officially supported software.
  • Restricted – Supported software that is not available under a completely free license.
  • Universe – Community maintained software, i.e. not officially supported software.
  • Multiverse – Software that is not free

As you can see there is much choice as to what a person can choose to do, and you are not left alone to walk around in the dark. There is much assistance available every step of the way. Also by now you see that you can decide just how much of a chance you are willing to take when it comes to installing new programs. You can stick to what is officially supported or not. Now lets take a look at a couple pictures: This picture below shows the Ubuntu Software Center This picture shows Play Store Both offer quite a bit of selection when it comes to what you want.  Honestly, I look forward to Ubuntu being available natively on an Android device. I know there are plans to make such a thing happen. Until then, we will just have to wait, but I have no doubt that it will be totally worth it. Here are some videos, one for Ubuntu Software Center and one for Play Store One thing I am curious about, though, that I may very well discuss in a future post is:  Has security improved with the change from Android Market to Play Store or is it the same?

Why I feel that Linux has better security than Windows (updated version)

English: Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux ...

English: Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel. Deutsch: Linus Torvalds, Schöpfer des Linux Kernels. Français : Linus Torvalds, créateur du noyau Linux. Italiano: Linus Torvalds, l’ideatore del kernel Linux. Polski: Linus Torvalds, twórca jądra Linuksa. Русский: Линус Торвальдс, создатель ядра Linux. Українська: Лінус Торвальдс, творець ядра Linux. Српски / Srpski: Линус Торвалдс, творац језгра Linux. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Security is something we are hearing about more and more these days. And in the world of computers and operating systems in particular,  Windows based- computers are so likely to be a big target. They are constantly getting hit with this virus and that bug. It never ends. One would not be looked at funny if he felt as though security in windows was more of an afterthought than anything else. Yet it is so good to know that one has choices! In fact, there are two-As much as I hate to say this MAC, and Linux. Both are indeed choices, one that costs quite a bit of money and one that is free. And while normally I would be skeptical of something that is free, in this case experience has shown me that Linux is a pleasant surprise.

But now, how many of you have heard of a virus that has affected Linux? If you can come up with one I would be surprised, really really surprised.  I know there are those of you that have of the concept of “Security through obscurity” ?  Yet it is, in my humble opinion a lame excuse used by Windows fan-boys when they want to take some of the heat off of their beloved OS. In fact this very concept was something that one of my classmates once brought up and to be honest it carries a measure of merit, a smaller target is harder to hit after all. That just makes logical sense. Although as we went back and forth about the superiority when it comes to security of an operating system I had to hold back from falcon-punching him. Lol!

It is true that Linux isn’t used as much on peoples personal PC’s and can be looked at as a less-likely target than Windows is.  Yet it is not as obscure as you may think..for there are millions all over the world that are on the most popular website ever…yeah you guessed it. Facebook.

Some of the other organizations that trust Linux security are the US Department of Defense, the city of Munich Germany, Spain (yes the whole country) and Google just to name a few although there are really many more. Now If these various entities whether individual companies or even entire countries feel so much more secure as a result of their switch to the open-source Linux, vs. the proprietary company that is Windows then it really drives the point home when it comes to which is the more secure system does it not?

Now ask yourself how many times have we heard about patches being necessary for a windows system to solve serious problems or bugs that have been found in the system, and in fact is kernel or core program has in fact been damaged and even destroyed in some instances.  I will not say that Linux is completely impervious to security threats as that would be a lie, but it has to be admitted that the the kernel of Linux has never been cracked any damage from any viruses or whatever are limited as to the damage they can cause.One problem is that when a person sets up a Windows system they are automatically given administrative privileges while this may appear  to be an efficient way of doing things at first, it also opens up a can of worms since an infection is able to get to the very “core”of the operating system whereas with Linux, you are set up with more of a low-level account which helps to protect you from doing something catastrophic to your system. If an infection does occur which is already unlikely to start with the damage is limited to local files and programs.With Linux the very core component is known as the kernel and it is updated quite frequently, not to mention any patches that need to be done to the operating system are not limited to one company per se, but a community that is all over the world. The argument may be made that the ones that are responsible for maintaining the code and security updates are simply those who do so in their spare time but does that really matter? On that note PCWorld had this to say in part:

“Linus’ Law”–named for Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux–holds that, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” What that means is that the larger the group of developers and testers working on a set of code, the more likely any flaws will be caught and fixed quickly. This, in other words, is essentially the polar opposite of the “security through obscurity” argument. With Windows,  it’s a limited set of paid developers who are trying to find problems in the code.  They adhere to their own set timetables, and they don’t generally tell anyone about the problems until they’ve already created a solution, leaving the door open to exploits until that happens. Not a very comforting thought for the businesses that depend on that technology”. Check out the rest of that awesome article here

So in conclusion, am I telling you not to use Windows on your PCs or other devices?  Not at all, I am simply bringing to your attention some things that you might want to take into consideration.

We live in a time where security is more of an issue than ever before so make sure you know what you are dealing with.