I have many friends which are Windows users and I wont to keep my system and my flash drives virus-free for obvious reasons.

Recently, after I posted a question on Ask Ubuntu, I was encouraged to try Bitdefender for Unices. I have installed Bitdefender via command line, because it is easier. And also, I have installed Comodo Antivirus. Both of them are interesting apps and I was able to clean my flash drives. Still, I wont to try other Antivirus software as well.

So my questions are:

  • Can I keep both antiviruses installed (and install others too)? I know that when I was on Windows I was told that I should keep only one antivirus installed because two such software can enter in some conflict. I remember that I had once two antiviruses installed, but one of them was set on inactive. In order to scan the PC I used them alternatively, each of them avoiding the quarantine folder of the other software.

  • So, having in mind my Windows experience regarding these Antivirus apps, what attitude should I have when I'm on Linux? Is is OK to install several such apps (in order to use them paranoically to scan flash drives?).

  • And if this is OK, what settings should I have in order to avoid conflicts between them?

  • Should I ask them to avoid the quarantine folder as I did in Windows?

Sorry for the complex question, but I don't think is worthy to ask several tiny things when I can ask all of them considering the fact that they are inter-related. thank you in advance for your patience and explications!

closed as too broad by scouser73, Rinzwind, belacqua, Braiam, BuZZ-dEE Jan 14 '14 at 8:10

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1 advice: forget EVERYTHING you where taught when using Windows. Linux/Ubuntu is fundamentally so different virusses targeting Linux are are non-existant. If there is something nasty it will be something targetted specifically to ONE machine and with a dedicated goal (and that's is an attack, not a virus ;) ). – Rinzwind Jan 13 '14 at 15:40
  • @Rinzwind I'm afraid you did not understood my dilemma. I am a Linux user, my friends are not. But they do call me to help them solve PC-related problems. In order to that, I often have to use my flash drives. So I have to keep my drives clean in order to avoid infecting my friends' machines. Im not afraid for myself, as I know that Linux has no problems with viruses. I'm afraid that I may have dormant viruses on my drives, viruses that I might unwillingly and unknowingly send to my Windows users friends. I know that can happen because it has already happened and this has opened my eyes. – Cristiana Nicolae Jan 13 '14 at 17:08

Windows viruses will in most of the cases do nothing in Linux, so seen statistically you will be as safe as you are now without installing any antivirus software. I personally consider antivirus software to be on its own a kind of virus: you have no control what it really does and to whom they report your private data, they can delete files they do not like at will and just tell you it was virus (by mistake, or because someone pays them to do that), they spread around and multiply themselves using social fear, they form a net you cannot control and that runs arbitrary code.

This being said, if you trust these antivirus software programs and you find them good, there is nothing technically that prevents you to install as many different antivirus software programs as you like at the same time. They will compete with each other for system resources, for file access (file access is less an issue on Linux than on Windows), and may detect each other hooks as viruses, but if they are coded properly they will handle any special errors correctly. The more you install the more false positives you may get - that is, something that is no really a virus will be identified wrongly as such. However, for some people, it is always better to kill 10 innocents more, than leave one that is possibly guilty escape - same applies to hunting for computer viruses. You can of course always report any issues as bugs to the antivirus vendors.

So as long as your system runs fast and you are happy with the results, you can install two or more antivirus software programs at the same time - if that makes you feel safer. For sure, you should give each of them another quarantine folder location and exclude that one from each other scans.

  • Thank you for the detailed answer! I'm glad that you have confirmed me that I should avoid to scan the quarantine folder. Killing innocences, as you say, is a risk I have to take. Otherwise, the risk of infecting my friends' PCs is even greater, and so it is the risk to loose my good reputation as PC-skilled person. Besides of that I have made myself a Linux evangelist, and if they (my friends) notice that my "virus-proof" Linux flash drives infects their PCs, they will become even more suspicious about Linux (and believe me, some of them are a packet of fears when is about non-MS OS!). – Cristiana Nicolae Jan 13 '14 at 17:47

I am a Linux user, my friends are not. But they do call me to help them solve PC-related problems. In order to that, I often have to use my flash drives. So I have to keep my drives clean in order to avoid infecting my friends' machines.

You normally should just need Clam-AV and just scan your memory while swapping from a friend to the next or better yet, don't store personal/important stuff while helping your friend, if you plug the memory in your system and find some files that weren't there, is pretty obvious that that friends is infected. It doesn't matter that you keep the flash drive clean since the source/root of the viruses are not cleaned (Windows). The flash drives are only transmission agents and keeping them clean is just trying to hide the sun with a finger.

Fix your friends viruses (maybe total re-installation) and then keep them clean with a good antivirus, aka Linux.

  • Thanks for the answer! The problem is that I have a very bad experience with ClamAV and I don't intend to try this app again too soon. First time I did a scan with ClamAV, I was on a dual boot PC with a Linux and a Windows partition. And I did a routine scan of Windows with ClamAV from inside Linux. The reult was that after deleting some "infected" files, Windows started to have erratic behaviour and, at the end, I had to reinstall it. The most annoying thing it was that I had also to reinstall Linux because it was behaving odd and, at the end the boot manager vanished. – Cristiana Nicolae Jan 14 '14 at 10:14
  • I know that I have to solve the root of the viruses, aka the Windows PCs, but, I still need to clean my flash drives for the following reason. I was so sure that my flash drives are OK (due to my Linux OS) that I become unaware of the possible dangers I may carry with me. So, I accidentally carried viruses from infected Windows PC (but who was apparently behaving OK) to other clean Windows machine. The second one had an old antivirus and no Internet connection, so it was unable to "see" the viruses from my drive. Only after both PCs felt down under virus attack I did the connection in my mind. – Cristiana Nicolae Jan 14 '14 at 10:21

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