Ryan, I’ll try from my own limited perspective.
If you are not familiar with it, the group at raspberrypi.org was concerned with the lack of programming skills in British youth and developed a dirt-cheap microcomputer they called a Raspberry Pi (RPi), with an operating system based on Debian Unix. It quickly became a very popular platform for a variety of users. Somebody discovered that, with a few modifications, a very cheap R810T SDR tuner could be used to track ADS-B signals from aircraft. The two together, along with software released by other enthusiasts provided a very low cost platform to support the aircraft tracking community. Flightware was developing a hardware/software solution to provide tracking and upload to their company and both sold and distributed them to likely low-served areas.
Somebody discovered that the FA box was essentially an RPi at heart. FA released their tracking software and as the song said, “and now the thing’s completely out of hand”.
I learned of Flightaware when researching ways to identify aircraft in the approach pattern over my house. That led to Planeplotter from coaa.co.uk/planeplotter and going from just looking up aircraft to providing upload data to the larger community. Along with PP, it includes the ability to share data with other companies, among them Flightaware. I started out using a Windows laptop to share data. After DUMP1090 was published, I bought a Pi to play around with and relearn some Unix. I now have a RPi that captures traffic and passes it to my destop Windows PC that runs Planeplotter. The RPi also uploads directly to Flightware. When traveling, my laptop goes with me and shares wherever am when there is an Internet connection.
Which is better/worse advantage/disadvantage. From my experience and perspective - it’s 5 -6 and pick em. The RPi is a cheap fire and forget platform in the spare room.
Your Mileage May Vary
PP Sharer EQ