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PC Security question regarding dual Linux and Windows operating systems

I have been considering adding a Linux OS to both my laptop and desktop PCs, so that each has a dual operating system, with the intention of using the Linux OS while browsing the internet and the Windows OS when I need to use programs incompatible with Linux. What I want to know is whether doing this would really confer any advantage to me in terms of reducing the likelihood of picking up some form of malware while browsing. After reading a Myth Busting discussion from last year about whether or not Linux machines are immune to them, I now have doubts about it.

The reason I am considering it is that I have had two severe malware infections on my Windows desktop within less than a year -- the first one completely destroyed my hard drive, resulting in the loss of several very important files and the second one totally blocked my use of it, leaving only the Safe Mode with command prompt functional. I'm having to copy needed files individually in this mode -- a very time consuming process! I don't want this happening again, which is why I am considering Linux, but I also want to be able to continue to use certain of my Windows programs. I came across information to the effect that you can have both OSs and switch back and forth between them if needed. But now I am wondering if a dual system would still leave my machines vulnerable, so if anyone can shed some light on this subject, I would really appreciate it!

Comments

  • arochesterarochester Posts: 283
    Windows has lots of viruses. Linux has few viruses. Look at http://www.whylinuxisbetter.net/items/viruses/index.php?lang=
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    It is true that nearly all malware and viri are targeted at the windows platform. IF you choose to have a dual-boot system you can browse the internet without much restraint as some of the window based malware can be downloaded but will not run on a Linux based system.

    With that in mind ,the malware can still be on your system but inactive, this means that it will not hurt a Linux OS, but if the files are transferred to a windows computer without being scanned and cleaned by an AV tool then they can still affect your windows installation.

    If your windows based software does not require 3d video acceleration your best bet would be to install a Linux based OS as the primary OS, then installing the windows OS in a virtualbox virtual machine, this will allow you to set a snapshot of a clean state in windows and revert to it if an infection occurs.
  • geoburgeobur Posts: 1
    mfillpot wrote:
    With that in mind ,the malware can still be on your system but inactive, this means that it will not hurt a Linux OS, but if the files are transferred to a windows computer without being scanned and cleaned by an AV tool then they can still affect your windows installation.

    But the likely hood of that occuring if the installs are on seperate partitions is pretty low is it not? What would cause an infected file to transfer from some place on a Linux partition over to the Windows partition? and then proceed to run itself?
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    The likelyhood of the viri files being transferred is small because more of the infected files stay in your temporary internet files which are hidden in the core Os. but it is better to be safe than sorry which is why Linux based file servers and mail server usually run some kind of AV software to protect the windows clients.

    There are some free av apps like clamAv that you can schedule to run on your system and use to scan shared partitions and external media to help prevent spreading the viri to windows based hosts.
  • stargazerstargazer Posts: 3
    mfillpot wrote:
    If your windows based software does not require 3d video acceleration your best bet would be to install a Linux based OS as the primary OS, then installing the windows OS in a virtualbox virtual machine, this will allow you to set a snapshot of a clean state in windows and revert to it if an infection occurs.

    What is 3d video acceleration and how do you find out whether a particular software requires it?
    mfillpot wrote:
    your best bet would be to install a Linux based OS as the primary OS, then installing the windows OS in a virtualbox virtual machine...

    Will you please clarify just what you mean by this and explain how it is done?
  • stargazerstargazer Posts: 3
    edited July 2013
    mfillpot wrote:
    The likelyhood of the viri files being transferred is small because more of the infected files stay in your temporary internet files which are hidden in the core Os. but it is better to be safe than sorry which is why Linux based file servers and mail server usually run some kind of AV software to protect the windows clients.

    There are some free av apps like clamAv that you can schedule to run on your system and use to scan shared partitions and external media to help prevent spreading the viri to windows based hosts.

    Am I correct in understanding you to mean that clamAv is capable of scanning the Windows partition as well? How well does it compare to some of the top Windows-based security software like Bitdefender and Kaspersky Antivirus?
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    First I will comment on the virtual machine question that I overlooked. I virtual machine is a virtual computer with virtual hardware that you can run from within an operating system link a general application, some popular personal virtualization software are virtualbox, virtualpc, kvm. With this solution you can launch the windows based virtual host from within you Linux based OS, unless you chose otherwise the virtual machine is restricted from communicating with the primary OS data and hardware. Virtualbox has what is called a snapshot tool that allows you to save a virtual machine at a specific time and revert back to it when you need, in this was you can install a virtual machine with windows and set a snapshot from the initial install that can be reverted if an infection occurs.

    #d acceleration is used in video cards for things such as transparency effects and some video games, unfortunately the only was to find out if something needs it is when you gen an error message, however at least in virtuabox you can enable a guest machine to use 3d acceleration on specific hardware.

    ClamAv is used as the core for many of the commercial AV software because it is free, the protection is quite good and generally better than norton or mcafee which I have found to both be jokes. You can use ClamAV as a base in the Linux OS to catch most issues and still install a commercial AV product in the windows installation to accent your protection. I have never used bitdefender of Kaspersky, but for my friend and family with windows I always recommend Antivir because it is outperformed every other AV I have attempted to use for cleanup.
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