Linux vs Windows: What’s the Difference?

It’s time for your Windows or Mac OS operating system to make a major move.
A UNIX core is used on Mac OS. It’ll make your transition from Mac OS to Linux relatively smooth.
Windows users are the ones who will need any modifications. The Linux OS will be implemented and compared to Windows in this tutorial.

Windows Vs. File System for Linux

Microsoft Windows stores files in directories on various data drives, such as C:D:E:

But in Linux, files are ordered, starting with the root directory, in a tree structure.
This root directory can be considered to be the origin of the file system, and other subdirectories are further branched out. With a forward slash ‘/’, the root is denoted.
A general tree file system can look like this on your UNIX.


Linux is an open source operating system so that users can alter the source code as necessary, while Windows OS is a commercial operating system so that users do not have access to the source code.
Linux is very secure, as it is easy to find and repair bugs, while Windows has a large user base, so targeting the Windows system becomes a priority for hackers.
And with older hardware, Linux runs faster, while Windows is slower compared to Linux.
Linux devices such as hard drives, CD-ROMs and printers are known as files, whereas Windows, hard drives, CD-ROMs and printers are known as devices.
Linux files are arranged in a tree structure beginning with the root directory, while Windows stores files in directories on various data drives, such as C:D:E:
You can have 2 files with the same name in the same directory under Linux, although you can’t have 2 files with the same name in the same folder under Windows.
In Linux, the system and application files can be found in various directories

Kinds of Files
Anything on Linux and UNIX is a file. Files are folders, files are files, and devices such as a printer, mouse, keyboard, etc.

Let’s look at the types of files in greater detail.

General Files

General files are also referred to as regular files. They may include a picture, a video, a program, or only text. They may be in the format of ASCII or Binary. These are the files that Linux users most often use.

Data in directory

For other file types, these archives are a warehouse. In a directory (sub-directory), you can have a directory register. You can take them as ‘Folders’ found on the Windows operating system.

Files for Devices:

Devices such as printers, CD-ROMs, and hard drives are represented as drive letters like G:H:. in MS Windows. They are represented as files in Linux. For example, if there were three primary partitions on the first SATA hard drive, they would be called and numbered as /dev/sda1, /dev/sda2 and /dev/sda3.

Note: All system files are stored in the /dev/ directory


All of the file types (including devices) mentioned above have permissions that allow a user to read, edit, or run them. This is a potent aspect of Linux/Unix. By modifying permissions, access limits may be extended to various categories of users.

Linux vs Windows: Users

There are 3 types of users in Linux.

  1. Regular
  2. Administrative(root)
  3. Service

When you install Ubuntu

Regular User

A regular user account is created for you when you install Ubuntu on your system. All your files and folders are stored in /home/ which is your home directory. As a regular user, you do not have access to directories of other users.

Root User

Other than your regular account another user account called root is created at the time of installation. The root account is a superuser who can access restricted files, install software and has administrative privileges. Whenever you want to install software, make changes to system files or perform any administrative task on Linux; you need to log in as a root user. Otherwise, for general tasks like playing music and browsing the internet, you can use your regular account.

Service user

Linux is widely used as a Server Operating System. Services such as Apache, Squid, email, etc. have their own individual service accounts.  Having service accounts increases the security of your computer. Linux can allow or deny access to various resources depending on the service.

Windows Vs. Linux: HOME Directory

For every user in Linux, a directory is created as /home/

Consider, a regular user account “Tom”. He can store his personal files and directories in the directory “/home/tom”. He can’t save files outside his user directory and does not have access to directories of other users. For instance, he cannot access directory “/home/jerry” of another user account”Jerry”.

The concept is similar to C:\Documents and Settings in Windows.

When you boot the Linux operating system, your user directory (from the above example /home/tom) is the default working directory. Hence the directory “/home/tom is also called the Home directory which is a misnomer.

The working directory can be changed using some commands which we will learn later.

Windows Vs. Linux: Other Directories

In Windows, System and Program files are usually saved in C: drive. But, in Linux, you would find the system and program files in different directories. For example, the boot files are stored in the /boot directory, and program and software files can be found under /bin, device files in /dev. Below are important Linux Directories and a short description of what they contain.

These are most striking differences between Linux and other Operating Systems.  There are more variations you will observe when switching to Linux and we will discuss them as we move along in our tutorials.

Windows Vs. Linux:

Windows Linux
Windows uses different data drives like C: D: E to stored files and folders. Unix/Linux uses a tree like a hierarchical file system.
Windows has different drives like C: D: E There are no drives in Linux
Hard drives, CD-ROMs, printers are considered as devices Peripherals like hard drives, CD-ROMs, printers are also considered files in Linux/Unix
There are 4 types of user account types 1) Administrator, 2) Standard, 3) Child, 4) Guest There are 3 types of user account types 1) Regular, 2) Root and 3) Service Account
Administrator user has all administrative privileges of computers. Root user is the super user and has all administrative privileges.
In Windows, you cannot have 2 files with the same name in the same folder Linux file naming convention is case sensitive. Thus, sample and SAMPLE are 2 different files in Linux/Unix operating system.
In windows, My Documents is default home directory. For every user /home/username directory is created which is called his home directory.