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XPe Vs Linux in the mediaBOX

In the past few years Windows XP and Linux (specifically Ubuntu) have been fighting for Desktop domination. And it goes without saying that Windows is the leader as it runs over 90% of the World’s Desktop and Laptop PCs. However, when it comes to embedded devices and peripherals, Linux is the leader as it powers everything from setup boxes to mobile phones. And since Digital Signage is really a mix of both; a mutation between desktop operating system as well as an integrated peripheral; we feel it’s important to compare and contrast the two, specifically in the application of Kiosk & Digital Signage.

The MediaSignage mediaBOX is available pre-loaded with Windows XP embedded (also known as WES or Windows Embedded Standard) as well as a special flavor of the Ubuntu OS. Windows XPe is compiled specifically against our hardware and includes all drivers as it ships as a plug and play device.  Ubuntu, just like Windows, is compiled with all special drivers and additional Kernel enhancements to insure the best performance and deliver smooth, uninterrupted playback.

So which one is best for you? Well it depends on price and feature specifications. In the following table we broke down each category so you can compared the two operating systems and decide for yourself, which OS is the right solution to power your Digital Signage network.



Ubuntu Linux




Microsoft Windows



For many this is the most dominant factor. Ubuntu is completely FREE, and thus wins hands down (you know how we love FREE)




Yes, you do need to give Microsoft a piece of the Action.
Windows costs $95 per embedded license

Video Performance


Very good performance. But no hardware acceleration.




A major victory here for Windows as Flash 10.1 runs all H.264 FLV Videos on the GPU and thus offloads from the CPU.
This is a major game changer and pushes Windows above it all.

SWF Performance


Very good performance. Under extreme heavy load may be “jumpy” but only when pushed beyond the CPU capacity.




Great performance. Will run till it’s dead if it has to.



Although the majority Ubuntu variants have improved dramatically in ease of use, Windows is still much easier to use for new computer users. We do add custom Context menu (Desktop right click) to ease on the management of the mediaBOX.




The mediaBOX comes with no desktop and so all control and management is done from the Task Manager. And so it’s really a “break even” between Ubuntu and Windows when it comes to Ease of use.



Notoriously reliable and can often run for months and years without needing to be rebooted. But XPe is just as reliable so we will call it a draw.




Windows had gotten a bad rap for not being stable. However, the XPe (embedded) is an ultra light flavor and so its just as reliable as Linux.
So again, a break even in this category.



Linux supports the major component of the Digital Signage platform including Adobe AIR and Adobe Flash. The Player is also pre-loaded with Special Firerox browser (for embedding) and VLC Player.




Windows supports the major component of the Digital Signage platform including Adobe AIR and Adobe Flash. The Player is also pre-loaded with Special Firerox browser (for embedding) and VLC Player. Windows is the winner in this category as driver maintenance is much better in Windows.

Software cost


The price per license for a mediaBOX is identical for both operating systems.




The price per license for a mediaBOX is identical for both operating systems.



Ubuntu companies and hardware manufacturers have made great advancements in hardware support for Linux and today Linux will support most hardware devices. However, many companies still do not offer drivers or support for their hardware in Linux.




Because of the amount of Microsoft Windows users and the broader driver support, Windows has a much larger support for hardware devices and a good majority of hardware manufacturers will support their products in Microsoft Windows. So extra brownie points for Windows.



Ubuntu is and has always been a very secure operating system. Although it still can be attacked when compared to Windows, it is more secure.




Although Microsoft has made great improvements over the years with security on their operating system, their operating system continues to be the most vulnerable to viruses and other attacks.

Open source


Many of the Ubuntu variants and many Linux programs are open source and enable users to customize or modify the code however they wish to.




Microsoft Windows is not open source and the majority of Windows programs are not open source.



Although it may be more difficult to find users familiar with all Linux variants, there are vast amounts of available online documentation and help, available books, and support available for Linux.




Microsoft Windows includes its own help section, has vast amount of available online documentation and help, as well as books on each of the versions of Windows.

Balloon Messages


Ubuntu is the star here as it does not have annoying messages like “Install updates”, “Wireless connections”, “Firewall disabled” etc. So Ubuntu has the home run here.




Windows loves to let you know of anything and everything through balloons messages so clearly the looser as you don’t need these in a dedicated Digital Signage machine. HOWEVER, in our mediaBOX we disabled all messages so you do not have to bother with any of it.



Linux can detect and fix errors.




Windows is also very good in recovering from failures

Boot time


Ubuntu is the superstar when it comes to bootup as it comes up in about 30 seconds, now that’s WOW!




Windows is not as nearly as bootup friendly as it can takes over 2 minutes to boot from a clean start up

Live TV


Ubuntu does support Live TV, but due to lack of industry standards it sometimes has issues with certain binding of capture cards to the display.




All hands down winner here, Windows is flawless and fully support both standard and high definition. It just keeps going and going...



Practically maintenance free as all logs and internal cache is well maintained.




Just like Ubuntu Linux, no spacial maintenance needed.

Remote Login


The mediaBOX comes with VNC and the default Ubuntu remote desktop software which is good. However, it requirers a static IP or special port forwarding router configuration. No Support (too bad).




Windows fully supports as well as TeamViewer which are amazing and best of all, you guessed it; its FREE. So Windows picks up 5 stars in this category.








So we hope we did not confuse you even more. But as you can see, each operating system has it’s own advantages and disadvantages so its really comes down to what is it that you are after. For example, if money is the most important determining factor, of course Ubuntu Linux is the way to go. If you want SD or HD Live TV and capture card support, Windows is it. If you need easy remote access, again, Windows. If you are all about open Source, go for Ubuntu.

So at least now you know and have all the facts so you can make the right decision as to which operating system is right for you!

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