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Linux Vs Windows: Which Is The Best OS For Data Scientists?

Linux Vs Windows: Which Is The Best OS For Data Scientists?


There is no conflict that Linux is a better option than Windows for programmers. But in this article, we will talk about which of the two operating systems is better for the role of a data scientist.

1. Speed

90% of the world’s fastest supercomputers run on Linux, compared to the 1% on Windows. The computing power of Linux is much more than that of Windows, plus it comes with excellent hardware support. Data scientists run data so large in number that it gets difficult to handle. Windows is not a very good platform as it fails on the computing speed compared to Linux.



Another aspect is the use of Docker which lets one develop experiments that can run simultaneously without interfering with each other. It helps to create independent containers to run the algorithms, some of which are capable of running at a fast speed only on GPUs and not CPUs. To run the Docker containers on NVIDIA Docker, which is an NVIDIA GPU, one can only use a Linux host machine. For GPU-accelerated algorithms, Linux definitely wins.

2. Software

Linux has many software choices when it comes to doing a specific task compared to Windows. One could search for a text editor on Freshmeat and get a number of results. Software on Linux comes with more features and greater usability than software on Windows. 

3. Flexibility

Linux is highly flexible. It can be made to run on almost anything and everything. It has great flexibility of functionality. The amount of resources that it takes to run is much less than that of Windows. If Windows is given 8 gigs of RAM it runs poorly for functions as heavy as the job of a data scientist. Linux can use much less than this. Because of this, one can run on older hardware for longer without having to worry about new resources being available to one’s applications. Accessing, scrubbing and deploying data is far easier in Linux than in Windows. 

4. Free Applications

The Linux OS is free. Moreover, it is open-sourced. So data scientists, who are also generally avid enthusiasts of open-source projects, can contribute to the Linux community and suggest changes according to the work of data scientists. It has many applications and features suitable for the data science community. Not only one is getting the software for no charge but also has the option to modify the source code and add more features if you understand the programming language. Linux has all of the features you can need in an OS and it is fully hardware compatible. Regular users and programmers contribute applications all the time. The open source contribution could be a small modification or feature enhancement of an already existing software or it can even be a completely new application. Compared to Linux, Windows has considerably less number of free products. Windows is not free or open-sourced. Majority of the Linux software is free and open source. 

5. Presentations And Work Sheets

Linux has Libre Office but Windows’ Microsoft Office is much more powerful. When dealing with metadata, which is what data scientists are popularly known to do in their daily work life, there needs to be a good tool or set of tools for arranging data. Windows wins here with its Excel and easy presentation techniques. Word processing and handling spreadsheets is much easier in Windows.

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6. Job Demand

Because of the speed of Linux, it is in high demand in data scientist’s or any software role’s job profile. Most data science companies use Linux because of the obvious advantages that it provides with analysing data. Most data scientists have their codes developed and deployed on the Linux OS. Having said that, there are also companies that use Windows as their OS so one should be flexible enough to adapt to both OSs. 

7. Conclusion

Broadly speaking, it is not the OS that matters for efficient work in data science, but the tools and the environment that an OS provides for the work of a data scientist. A good OS will have a better number of tools. 

Apart from considering the similarity or differences in the number of tools available, other factors like speed also matter to decide what OS to go choose. To be on the safer side it is always better to go with a Linux system, over Windows. Linux is built to be more developer-friendly and gives much more flexibility over Windows.


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