Companies should ditch Windows for Linux • The Register


Opinion I’ve been preaching the gospel of the Linux desktop for more years than some of you are alive. However, unless you argue that the Linux desktop includes Android smartphones and ChromeOS laptops, there won’t be a year of the Linux desktop.

But there should be. For example, as GitLab recently revealed in its employee onboarding document, staff members can run macOS and they can run Linux on their desktops. But Windows? Forget that!

Why? GitLab explained, “Due to Microsoft Windows’ dominance in desktop operating systems, Windows is the most targeted platform for spyware, viruses, and ransomware.”

Indeed, it is. But Windows security mess was never just because Windows is more popular. I would say Windows is not secure by design.

Windows today is still built on a standalone PC operating system foundation. It was never about working in a networked world. So the security vulnerabilities that existed at the time of Windows for Workgroups, 1991, are still present today in 2022 and Windows 11.

Most of these problems stem from the fact that Windows has interprocess communications (IPC) that moves information from one program to another, which has no security by design. Windows and its applications rely on these procedures to get work done. Over the years, they have included dynamic link libraries (DLLs), object linking and embedding (OLE) control extensions (OCX), and ActiveX. No matter what their name is, they do the same job, and they do it without worrying about safety.

Adding insult to injury, Microsoft’s data formats may contain programming macros. This is why Microsoft Office formats are commonly used to transmit malware. Microsoft finally bought a hint that they should stop Office from running macros by default. I mean, it’s only been a major security breach since Melissa wreaked havoc on the Windows world in 1999.

But guess what? Showing that Microsoft still doesn’t know how to fix this fundamental security issue, the Redmond HQ team rolled back the Office macro block. Why? Because people use these CPIs to do their jobs. Given the choice between security and running applications as intended, Microsoft often chooses the insecure status quo.

Worse yet, another problem with Windows single-user ancestry is that the default Windows user too often has to function as the all-powerful PC administrator. This means, of course, that when malware gets in – and it will – it clutters everything and everything on a user’s PC.

Not all versions of Microsoft are equally horrible. As GitLab points out, “Windows Home Edition is notoriously difficult to secure.”

Now you might be wondering, but which company uses Windows Home for work? The cheaper ones do. And, if your employees are working from home with their own PCs, as is often the case these days, they certainly aren’t running Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise E5. And, even if your company reimburses your remote employees, what do you think they will buy? As GitLab sadly knows, they will usually buy a laptop preloaded with Windows Home Edition.

So instead, GitLab requires its employees to use macOS or a Dell Linux laptop. As a longtime fan of Dell’s XPS 13 developer Linux laptops, this works for me. Now you don’t need to run Ubuntu, which is the default Dell XPS 13 operating system, because Dell also supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) workstation, also a good operating system. office operation. Or you can go with Arch Linux, or FreeBSD, or what have you, as long as it’s actively updated and supported.

But, I’m sorry to say, GitLab won’t support you with your Linux desktop. You will have to do it yourself. Thin.

I and many other Linux users can do this, but not everyone can. I understand why GitLab does it this way. Supporting end users is expensive. I’m sure most of their users work with Macs.

But, let’s say you haven’t decided to go with Macs, which are, after all, expensive. Let’s say you’re still using Windows. It is a safe bet. But if you really want security and stability, Linux is your best bet. So take a look at what you’re paying for Windows licensing, support, and your often unsuccessful attempts to secure it. Next, look at what it would cost to use an enterprise-supported Linux distribution, such as RHEL Workstation, Canonical Ubuntu Desktop for the Enterprise, or SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED).

Chances are it will be cheaper to go with Linux. And no matter how the numbers work, I can guarantee it will be much safer. ®


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