If you are planning to operate a cloud, whether public or private, you’ll have to decide which operating system you want your cloud to run on. Your choices are Windows, Linux, or other. I’m not going to say that the “other” is automatically bad, but I am going to compare Windows and Linux. Which is better?

I think it depends. Both have their proponents. Linux fans seem to be more vocal than Windows fans, but the Windows fans are out there.

There is really one significant difference between the two. Linux is open source, though not always free. Windows, however, is proprietary and never free (unless you use a bootleg copy).

That’s a big distinction and it’s not all about economics. Don’t choose Linux just because you can snag a free copy. You can also purchase different version of Linux that offer you more resources and support than the free version. But that’s another blog post. What I’m going to stress upon you right now is that the free version isn’t better just because it’s free.

Here’s an example. Dynamic web pages are web pages that interact with the web server in a special way. Windows offers ASP, a proprietary web language that is quite capable of building dynamic web pages. You’ll never be able to use ASP with Linux, however, because it is proprietary. That’s how Microsoft made it. PHP, on the other hand, the Linux-based language that is often used for building dynamic web pages does have a version that you can use on Windows.

Let’s say you want the benefit of a Windows environment, but you don’t want the proprietary ASP, which you have to shell out money for. You can still use PHP on Windows. Ah! But if you want to use ASP or the ASP.NET framework, then you must use Windows. You have no choice.

In some sense, Linux is more flexible. It has its benefits. But in quite another sense, Windows is more flexible. So which do you choose? It really depends on your goals.