I started my scientific consulting business in 2000. Since my business inherited my personal computer, the first DSB Scientific computer ran Windows 98. The purchase of a new computer came with Windows Millenium Edition (which did not last long, a month or two perhaps) and ultimately served with Windows 2000 Professional Edition. This computer operated in dual boot mode with Red Hat Linux, but did spend most time booted into Windows. In 2004, it was the last of DSB Scientific's computers to become 'full-time' Linux; it is now running Mandrake Linux nearly full time, and is the only computer in the stable with any version of Windows even installed.
The purpose of this brief historical account is to provide contrast in how productive this particular computer was when running as a Windows box versus running as Linux box. The role of this computer has not changed: it is a development platform and an office computer (word processing, accounting, email client, etc).
While running Windows, at least two low level crashes occurred per year that resulted in OS reinstalls. The computer ran Adaware to catch spyware, Norton Antivirus (annual subscriptions required to keep up to date), MailWasher antispam tool and required several hours per week just to maintain the OS in good working order. Printer and modem drivers crashed anywhere from once per month to every couple of months. If I wanted either a hardware or software firewall, I would have had to buy one. Backups were accomplished using a simple copy of files to CD, but due to certain files being 'flagged' by the OS, certain directories could not be copied en masse. Therefore, backups were difficult to automate (note: the size of the backup space was too large for the Backup Tool that came with Windows; it always crashed). The bottom line was the computer itself was a productivity sink, not a productivity producer.
In contrast, the same computer running Linux has, on the other hand, become a tool that allows the author to get work done. No longer is simple, day-to-day maintenance of the computer a tremendous time sink. For example, the printer driver has not crashed once in over a year of hard use (note: this is not some obscure printer; it is a popular business class HP Inkjet). No longer are half a dozen 'utilities' needed to run full time (consuming CPU and memory resources) to protect my system from malware. The kernel level IP packet filtering makes a powerful firewall and was included (and installed) with the OS. Installation of the OS and secondary software was accomplished in about 1/3 the time with much less user interaction. Boot time is quicker than with Windows, and networking with the other systems on the network has been much more reliable. Backups are done with the tar utility that has 'complained' about neither the size of the archive nor the backup of 'protected' files in the user's home directory.