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Creed’s Comment

July 18, 2006

This was too good to keep buried, so I’m digging it out for a post.  I may comment and expand and extend it at a later time.

Hello, Dick

You have a great page here that I couldnt stop reading once I had found it. I, too, am an XP user interested in the philosophy behind Linux and open-source software. I have tried a few of the popular distro’s via live cd and spent a good anount of time researching different ‘flavors’ of the OS to find something to fit my needs.

In summary, my opinion at this stage is that Windows is in its rightful place at the top of the OS heap. Its not free to own or manipulate, but it WORKS. When you pay for a Windows platform you are pretty much assured that 99% of the hardware and software out there will be compatible, easily installed and easily executed. Alot of enthusiasts claim that Linux is ‘faster’ (whatever that means) and ‘more secure’. I dont see how one operating system can perform any faster than the next as speed would have more to do with your hardware spec, network connection and the application specific to the job. Linux can be perceived, maybe correctly so, to be more secure than Windows, but those statistics harbor many variables. For instance, when Joe Public waltzes into a retail computer outlet and gets totally ripped off paying for what he gets for his money, he gets a machine with Windows pre-installed. This becomes the OS that 100% of people who know nothing at all about computers, computer maintenence or security are involved with. They buy the latest Norton package and download loads of dodgy software trying to get rid of pop-ups and spyware problems and end up corrupting their registry, slowing their machines eventually to a halt and then next thing, they cant boot into windows. They are instructed by the atrocious ‘tech-support team’ from the retail outlet where they bought their machine to just use the restore cd that came with their pc, which means losing all their data, thus ‘I HATE WINDOWS’ syndrom sets in. Eventually they learn to make back ups or, better yet, dont even keep any sensitive data what-so-ever on your active partition. A seperate hard drive being better than that.. having a good, solid image routine in place, even better still.

Dont get me wrong, I totally subscribe to the idea of free software and beyond my OS, usually obtain good software for free. Its out there.

I built my new machine at the beggining of the year and XP is still flying right along. I use mozilla browser and have a good antiv in place, and a decent hardware firewall in my Netgear wireless router. Most of the problems people experience with Windows are actually problems with dodgy software, like Norton. Norton Antiv will eat your system alive setting dependancies and in some cases, flat-out lying to you about an infection to appear that its ‘doing its job well’, so youll continue to pay for updates and the next release.

When I was in school, we had a little p2p network set up on its own domain, not connected to the rest of the college or to the outside world at all. These machines were frequently formatted, partitioned, installed with OS’s from 95 to Server 03, so they were clean and not infected. We put Norton 05 on 5 of the machines… it wasnt long before virus and trojan alerts started to surface, conflicts with resources and software began and sharing resources between the machines went a bit mad. Lesson learned.. proprietary software will lie to you. Norton is also a very clingy, annoying application, constatly reminding you, ‘Im here! see?!! Im working.. See?!!’

Enough about Norton, back to Linux. The thing that bothers me most about Linux is support for wireless connectivity. After realising what it would take for me to use the drivers for my NIC, I got a taste of what installing new devices and even software is like in Linux.. me no likey.

When I put the Vista Beta next to XP and Mandriva Linux on my drive, Vista detected all my config and drivers.. the drivers it couldnt find, it went online (with no configuring or set up what-so-ever from me) and found the drivers, installed them, and my system worked. Proof to me that at this point in time that while you do pay for MS, you get so much more than Linux will offer. It just seems like any Linux distro ive tried turns out to be half an operating system, sitting their waiting for you to ‘command’ it into shape.. force it to be usable.

Yes, Im probably a bit less knowledgable about building kernels and making drivers than the Linux community. To be honest, whats the point in an OS being faster if you have to spend so long getting it to do what you need it to do? It kind of evens out I think. I dont want to do those kinds of things on a machine. I want my pc to work, so I can get on with mine.

Im only sharing this with you because for the longest time now Ive been on a relentless search for the perfect Linux version and so keen on making ‘the switch’ that I lost track of whats really important to my digital life. Also, from a moral stand point, I know now that I shouldnt feel like some Corporate Whore being oppressed by the Evil Empire… Microsoft make a good operating system that I am happy to know and use well. Im willing to pay for it because IT WORKS. Lifes too short for Linux.

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2 comments

  1. This is a very interesting point of view from a “normal person” who just wants things to work. I admire your frankness in coming out with these comments and I hope you don’t get attacked by the Linux community too much (they can be a self-righteous bunch sometimes).

    Personally, I’m a Computer Science student and I like Linux because I like to twiddle with things and to see how an operating system really works. But I think that more people in the Linux community should appreciate that your average Joe User isn’t like me and just wants their computer to work, and for this, Linux isn’t quite there yet.

    Having said this, a lot of Linux problems are due to it’s differences with Windows, and the fact that people have gotten used to the way that things work in Windows and aren’t willing to learn a new way of working. But on the other hand, why should they? I’m sure they have better things to do with their lives, after all, their computer is a “tool” to get things done, and not a toy to play with.

    Incidentally, the main issue with wireless drivers is that the hardware companies don’t write Linux versions, and don’t give the Linux community enough technical details to write their own drivers, which makes life very difficult for them. The twisted and contrived methods they come up with for making this hardware work get passed down to the end users. Personally, I don’t know the solution to this other than getting the hardware people to write Linux drivers.

    “Most of the problems people experience with Windows are actually problems with dodgy software, like Norton.” Absolutely. Windows is a good OS. If it wasn’t, millions of people all over the world wouldn’t be using it. Some people just don’t “get” this simple point.

    All in all, as a huge fan of Linux, I really like reading comments like this. It brings a healthy dose of relaism into the little Linux bubble that people like me have created for themselves. I have been using Linux since 1999 and I won’t be stopping any time soon, but if people want to sell Linux to the masses, it’s time they started listening to what the masses want. Microsoft have focus groups and market research to find out what people want, while Linux programmers do things “their way” and expect the world to re-learn everything they know. Fine, if that’s what you want. But most people don’t.


  2. Another interesting point I forgot to add, is that there is an open source implementation of Windows. Written from the ground up to be compatible with Windows XP device drivers and applications, and it’s totally free, and contains absolutely no Linux code. I think they’re destined for great things.

    It’s still beta software, but they have a release candidate out at the moment for people to play with. It’s not quite fully Windows-compatible or even stable, but I have to admire what they’re doing.

    Check it out at The ReactOS Project.



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