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Is Linux server more secure than Windows server?

Many new Linux user / admin asks:

Is Linux more secure than Windows?

That depends. ;-) Let me explain:

Fan boys on both sides argue to the death that their religion operating system is the best and safest to use.

Windows is harder to secure than Linux. It is the simple truth. Many IT professionals including RHCEs and MCSEs believe that Linux is more secure than Windows. However you cannot blindly accept Linux is more secure than Windows. On both operating systems you need to:
a) Restrict user access
b) Restrict service access
c) Restrict network access
d) Create backup / restore policy
e) Install and manage app level security
f) Continuously install, configure, and patch the system etc

As you see both Windows and Linux administrators requires same levels of skills. Linux is secure by design i.e. Linux is inherently more secure than Windows. Linux designed as a multi-use, network operating system from day one. For example IE / FF bug can take down entire windows computer. However, if there were the same bug in FF it won't take down entire Linux computer. Under windows almost any app level bug (read as vulnerability) can be used to take down the entire system and turn into a zombie computer.

In short,

  1. No operating system is secure
  2. Both Linux / Windows admin requires same level of skills
  3. By default Linux is more secure than Windows, but it is also open to attack.
  4. You can just make attackers job hard.
  5. Remember, security is an on going process and nothing is secure once connected to network, period.

This is based upon my own experience. I don't have a good answer here. What do you think? Do you run Windows and Linux? Please add your experience in the comments.

This is an interesting review on PC-BSD and to be honest it looks like a decent alternative to desktop Linux.

I’ve already written about Linux vs FreeBSD on server with lots of interesting commentary from both FreeBSD and Linux fan boys users. I'm using Linux desktop since 1999 and I will never go back to Windows. Many of my friends and coworkers owns Mac OS X but I don't have any plan to jump into it either. However Dru Lavigne offers another alternative PC-BSD ~ the other open source Unix descendant:

Ubuntu is known as Linux for Human Beings, because it's driven by the philosophy that "software should be available free of charge, software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit" (Ubuntu Documentation).

PC-BSD, on the other hand, "has been designed with the casual computer user in mind. Installing the system is simply a matter of a few clicks and a few minutes for the installation process to finish. Hardware such as video, sound, network, and other devices will be auto-detected and available at the first system startup. Home users will immediately feel comfortable with PC-BSD's desktop interface, with KDE 3.5 running under the hood. Software installation has also been designed to be as painless as possible, simply double-click and software will be installed...

=> Linux vs. BSD, What's the Difference? [linuxdevcenter.com]

There's an old saying that goes, if it's not broken, don't fix it! My main concern is hardware compatibility especially wireless card. What do you think? Are you going for a test drive?