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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Tue 22
Feb
2005

We’re not in Redmond any more, Toto

Max About nine months ago I switched from Microsoft Windows to Gentoo Linux. I wasn’t unhappy with Windows, but Linux is very handy when you’re designing a web site, and I got sick of rebooting all the time to switch from one to the other. So I decided to suck it up and go all the way.

This turned out to be a lot like moving to another country, both in the sense that I didn’t know where anything was or understand the local language, and because I realized things about the place I’d left. So here’s what I learned.

(Note: There are several different types of Linux, and they each do some things better than the others. Not all my comments apply to all Linux distributions. But I’m still going to just say “Linux.”)

  1. Linux is a religion. When you first hear about Linux, it’s from slightly creepy people whose eyes shine with a born-again fervor while they rattle on about all kinds of things you don’t understand. I have become one of those people. There really needs to be some kind of warning sticker on the CD: “May cause you to blog about the philosophies of operating systems.” I mention this up front because it helps to explain everything else.

  2. Windows thinks you’re an idiot; Linux thinks you’re a genius. What I love about Windows is that no matter what it asks you to do, you can choose the default and it works. You can actually install software by inserting the CD, closing your eyes, and hitting ENTER over and over again. You have no idea what you’re doing, but you don’t care.

    Linux, on the other hand, wouldn’t dare to assume it knows what you want. There’s hardly a default setting on anything, anywhere. Naturally you will want to do some in-depth reading about horizontal frequency rates before leaping into anything as advanced as displaying a picture on the screen, right? The first time you do anything in Linux, you come away with an education.

    Each approach is handy at different times. It’s very handy being treated as an idiot, until you want to do something smart. Then it’s annoying.

  3. Windows plays soccer; Linux plays rugby. In soccer (sorry, to me this is football), whenever one player makes the slightest contact with another, he collapses to ground, writhing in agony and clutching at his ankle. Everyone gathers around and looks very worried until the referee holds up a yellow card and then—amazing!—the player springs up again, completely cured. So too Windows: as soon as anything goes wrong with any program, the whole thing collapses in a screaming heap, and requires a reboot. Linux, on the other hand, shrugs off application failures like a rugby player ignores broken fingers. Programs crash, but Linux keeps going.

  4. Linux marketing sucks. Microsoft is a corporation with an overriding financial interest in persuading people to buy Windows. The people who make Linux, on the other hand, are mostly volunteers who simply love building good code. So while there are plenty of Microsoft advertisements and salespeople and lobbyists to tell the government that you can’t trust Linux, there is practically nobody on the other side. It’s always a bit creepy when you have a big corporation up against a non-profit or non-entity; you end up being told that sugared drinks are better for you than water, you wouldn’t dare breast-feed your baby when good old manufactured formula is available, and there’s no such thing as global warming. Linux people don’t merely lack the funding to match Microsoft’s marketing; they also don’t really want to. The Linux attitude is that they have built a magnificent operating system and if you can’t see that, well, that’s your problem. So Microsoft’s aim is to sell operating systems while Linux people focus on building them.

  1. Windows lets you, Linux unleashes you. Occasionally I see the phrase “lets you” in discussions of Windows software—as in, “This software lets you press C to get a preview.” The idea that you are not allowed to do anything to your computer unless it “lets you” is, I realized, very Microsoftian. Because in Linux, you can do whatever the hell you want to pretty much any piece of code: improve it, change it, or break it. Not that you need to, because everything is incredibly customizable already, but you can. If you complain about any piece of software in Linux, you stand a good chance of being told, “Well go make it better, then.” By comparison, Microsoft asks, “Where do you want to go today?” but then strongly recommends you select: “Default.”

  2. Windows gets in your face. Like an annoying four-year-old, Windows can’t go two minutes without attention. You boot, start to do something, and suddenly there windows are flying at your face. Everything is checking for updates or activating or deactivating or switching channels and IT HAS TO TELL YOU THIS RIGHT NOW. Linux puts its messages in the log, and you read them when and if you feel like it.

  3. Windows fails silently. Oh my God. Before, I never even noticed this. But now every time I have to use Windows I end up bug-eyed and yelling at the screen, “Just tell me what’s wrong!” When something goes wrong in Linux, it spews messages into the system log, which you can read through to see what it was doing. Then you copy a phrase or two into Google, click Search, and choose from a list of pages competing to tell you exactly what the problem is and how to fix it.

    Windows doesn’t do this. Windows doesn’t even have a system log, as far as I know. When things go wrong, they do so mysteriously and without complaint: you click buttons and nothing happens, or you try to run a program and it just vanishes. There’s no way to discover what the actual problem is. If you Google for the symptoms, you find endless pages complaining about the same thing, but no solutions. Or you do find solutions, but they all come down to the same thing: (1) Reboot (2) Reinstall. They should issue a Microsoft Support Manual that contains nothing except these two words, because that’s the solution to every single Windows problem. Even if you manage to fix it, you never find out what exactly the problem is; you just grope around blindly reinstalling things until suddenly and just as mysteriously things start working again. The other day I e-mailed a company’s tech support and their semi-automated advice was to reinstall their program and Windows XP. If that didn’t work, I was to e-mail again to get help from a human. That’s right, wiping my hard drive was the first step in their diagnoses process. This is like having to get a heart transplant before the doctor will see you about your hiccups.

    The end result is that even though Windows is simpler to get to grips with, I never felt really confident with it, because I couldn’t tell what it’s doing. Linux requires more understanding, but when you’ve got that, you’re more assured.

  4. Linux people rock. One day my Windows PC choked on an automatic security update, and thereafter every time it tried to update itself, it failed. Having an unpatched Windows computer connected to the internet is like walking through a bad neighborhood tossing your BMW car keys from hand to hand, so I wanted to do something about this. There was no error message, of course, aside from the gloriously unhelpful, “The update failed to install.” I ended up going through the maze of Microsoft’s technical support to send in a problem report. I received an automated e-mail back saying my report had been received, then nothing. Weeks went by. I tried again. Same thing. Then one day, it just started working again.

    Of course, this is not specific to Microsoft. Pretty much every company treats a support customer like something they just stepped in: their aim is to get rid of you with as little touching as possible. I can’t remember the last time I e-mailed a company for support and it didn’t go like this:
    1. Receive automated response suggesting I look in FAQs
    2. Receive response from alleged human being that consists of copy-and-pasted text from FAQ
    3. I write back thanking them for the information and expressing regret that none of it is remotely relevant to the problem I described
    4. Human being actually reads my e-mail starts being helpful.
    By which time I figure out the problem myself.

    The other day I had some trouble getting a piece of hardware working on my Linux machine, and found a web site by
    a guy who had written Linux drivers for it. Not because it was his job; he just felt like it. The hardware was Australian-specific and Google wasn’t helping much, so I e-mailed him a question, not really expecting a reply—because it’s a bit like e-mailing Bill Gates to ask what that DOS command is that displays all the directories. (Or would be if Gates actually wrote DOS. Bada boom! Sorry. I’m sorry. See point #1.) He wrote right back with the answer.

Comments

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Matthew (#16)

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Quote: "Unicorn on mountain top. Wind blowing through mane."
Posted: 3532 days ago

Max Barry: Author, part time Paris Hilton cell phone HAX0R.

Eh...

JonahC (#1083)

Location: DC Metro area
Quote: ""Scatalogical humour is very touch and go. Er, wait-- let me rephrase that.""
Posted: 3532 days ago

I can't believe I'm going to post a comment in defense of the Windows OS here because I've taken the OS X plunge at home. I'm pretty sure Windows NT/2K/XP keeps logs of system and error messages that are accessible through the Event Viewer application. Granted, several programs (usually written by third parties) for the Windows platform do not bother to write their error messages into those logs-- but that's the fault of the application developers, not Microsoft's. It's like blaming Honda when a driver fails to put on his blinker before coming in to your lane.

Scott (#354)

Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Quote: "Max Barry tastes like awesome"
Posted: 3532 days ago

I've contemplated about getting Linux (a form of) for quite some time, but feel a bit uneasy in doing so. I'm almost completely computer illiterate (I know this and that, but nothing major)... and just worry making the jump will leave me completely clueless. Any advice? It should be noted that I'm also heavy into CPU gaming, and I don't think Linux offers much in that department. :-\

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 3532 days ago

I am a big MAC user now... what has your experience been with mac OSX, Max?
Once you go mac you don't go back. . .

Raena (#655)

Location: Tassie
Quote: "whiskey tango foxtrot?"
Posted: 3531 days ago

Pfft, Linux.

Not that WIndows is any better, but at least they've *tried* to think about real live normal humans in their design. Linux and OSS in general is still very much in the mindset of being by geeks, for geeks.

Alternately you can get a Mac and have the best of both worlds.

Aaron Doucet (#733)

Location: Canada (Sorry)
Quote: "He'd never seen so many expensive pairs of shoes in one place."
Posted: 3531 days ago

I'm currently using Linux, but I'm one of the few Linux users that doesn't recommend it to anyone. So far, the only distro that actually targets itself to non-geeks is Ubuntu; it magically makes everything easier and more user-friendly. I actually _prefer_ windows, however I can't currently dual boot so I've bene running ubuntu for about a month.

Max, you _started_ with gentoo? Ouch. You must either really know what you're doing or have smart friends. I tried installing gentoo once; I got past the install stage and then realized that installing gentoo was far more trouble then it was worth. Operating systems have evolved past a point where you shouldn't have to bootstrap your own system :p

Myrth (#22)

Location: London, UK
Quote: "A quote must have a beginning, a middle and an"
Posted: 3531 days ago

>>So far, the only distro that actually targets itself to non-geeks is Ubuntu

Not true at all. The largest distro targetting itself at the n00b population (so much so that Wal-Mart stock PCs preinstalled with it) is Linspire (ex-Lindows OS). Though Linspire is mainly a proprietary supplier and you can't get a free version of it.

I've dabbled in various distros, but I've always come crying back to Windoze. What bothers me is the lack of decent hardware support. With Windows (especially XP), I can go out and buy anything from a graphics card to a USB hard disk, plug it in, and 95% of the time it will work. With Linux, I can pray that my distro has some built in drivers, but if it's anything new or confusing (such as a wireless PCMCIA card for a laptop) it just sits there and does nothing. I then have to go through google trying to find others who have the same hardware, and download the drivers only to find I lack the software necessary to make use of these drivers so again I have to go back to google and find whatever it is. In the end, for what I need to do, Windows serves me best. I use FireFox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice, but for ease of use and convenience I use Windows.

As for OSX, I have tried it out on my PC through an emulator and am quite impressed by it. If I had more money than sense, I would probably buy a Mac. However, until Apple release OSX for x86 processors (they have created an x86 port, but won't sell it because they don't want to lose their hardware monopoly) I can't afford using it.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 3531 days ago

For me (also pretty much a PC illiterate) that whole thing sounds like that ancient discussion about PC games vs. video games. And I think that's how it's gonna end: Win and Linux as to products that are both very powerful, but not really competing with each other because their targets audience are in some ways the same one... and in others they're totally opposite to each other. Or am I talking gibberish?

People are cognitive misers, like psychologists found out 40 years ago. And Windows is a product for exactly that kind of people. Nobody wants to know how anything works as long as it can open his document files, get him to his workplace in time or show him re-runs of the first season of Gilligan's Island. That's why we don't have a clue how a TV or motor engine works.

I still wonder if this is a bad thing. I kinda think so.

SaraJane (#141)

Location: Vancouver, BC
Quote: "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
Posted: 3531 days ago

We recently switched from a total Windows environment to having both a Windows and a Linux box at work and I have to say that I have started to really like Linux. Yeah, it does take a little bit of learning to figure out, but I think it's definitely better.

Go Max!

James (#1022)

Location: England - or similar
Posted: 3531 days ago

Switching to linux would be nice simply because im so anti big co-orperation (its a british thing), but to be honest windows xp may be mindnumbingly annoying but it seems to work ok to me.

EM3 USN (#821)

Location: navstanorva (naval station norfolk, norfolk, va)
Posted: 3531 days ago

ok to get the windows log thing in xp do this
go to control panel->Administrative Tools->event eiewer->system

this shows some sort of system log

Aaron Doucet (#733)

Location: Canada (Sorry)
Quote: "He'd never seen so many expensive pairs of shoes in one place."
Posted: 3531 days ago

>>>>So far, the only distro that actually targets itself to non-geeks is Ubuntu

>>Not true at all. The largest distro targetting itself at the n00b population (so much so that Wal-Mart stock PCs preinstalled with it) is Linspire (ex-Lindows OS). Though Linspire is mainly a proprietary supplier and you can't get a free version of it.

Correction: the only GOOD distro that actually targets itself to non-geeks ;)

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 3531 days ago

>> what has your experience been with mac OSX, Max? Once you go mac you don't go back. . .

My last experience was playing Lode Runner on a friend's Apple IIe in 1984. I understand that they don't all have monochrome green screens now.

>> Max, you _started_ with gentoo? Ouch. You must either really know what you're doing or have smart friends.

I tried Mandrake and Red Hat when I was dual-booting, but I didn't like them as much as Gentoo. Gentoo doesn't pretend to be like Windows, so I didn't get caught out thinking, "Mmm, this probably works in Linux like it does in Windows." And it doesn't put a pretty point-and-click GUI over the top of its utilities: it expects you to type. I like typing.

JJ MacMillan (#819)

Location: Austin, TX
Quote: "I just wanted you to see what bad planning looked like."
Posted: 3531 days ago

Run->Programs->Administrative Tools->Event Viewer

And these are logs that are extremely helpful to anyone who can read hex or who happened to write the driver that failed.

I spent last weekend putting two computers on my home network. A PC for me and a Mac for my daughter.

Let me rephrase that: I spent the weekend setting up the PC and an hour setting up the Mac.

Seppuku (Dont call me Chris) (#1056)

Location: Maryland
Quote: "I may have failed you as your hero, but I will triumph as your conquerer."
Posted: 3531 days ago

That's pretty deep, for a rant on operating systems.

Chris (#816)

Location: Quebec, Canada
Posted: 3531 days ago

>>I still wonder if this is a bad thing. I kinda think so.

It's a very bad thing. I like to at least make an EFFORT to learn about what I'm using every day. (Which reminds me, I need to read about how telephones work.) At the moment, I can build my own computer. As in "Put the parts together and make it go", not "make the parts, put them together and make it go", unfortunately.

I've been meaning to try Linux for a while, now. I tried Mandrake once, but it wouldn't load KDE or Gnome, so I was kinda stuck. Then it got pissed off when I tried to format the drive and killed the drive. Completely. I might try Mandrake again some time and possibly work my way up to Gentoo. But until releasing a Linux version of video games is the standard, I won't be making the switch. (I'd rather not use an emulator like Cedega, because of performance drops that using an emulator would cause.)

Dan (#1004)

Location: Seattle, WA
Quote: ""Another day in paradise. Wish I were there...""
Posted: 3531 days ago

This world needs more Eunochs. ...umm, make that UNIX. ...eh, half of one, six dozen of the other, really...

Robert (#413)

Location: Los Angeles
Quote: "A positive attitude will not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Posted: 3531 days ago

I refuse to give in to your Linux propaganda.

Leo (#846)

Location: florida
Quote: "Get up you son of a bitch, cause Mickey loves ya."
Posted: 3530 days ago

Oh Max, Windows isn't nearly as bad as you make it out to be. For starters that soccer/rugby analogy was really terrible man, it sounds like you're running Win95 or something, as those supposed overwhelming system crashes are a thing of the past. I currently run WinXP for my main PC, and I've never been forced to reboot the system (except when installing new software) in order to get something to function correctly. Now that I mention it, my current up time is roughly 9 days.

Windows is substantially more restricting than Linux, but that's the nature of all proprietary software, if the source for NationStates was readily available, I would imagine that it'd become a much more lavish (not that there's anything wrong with NationStates as is :P) work of code.

You must have been the butt of a disgruntled employee's malicious coding if you received a message telling you to reinstall Windows in order to get a third party's piece of software to function. The scenario you described is hardly the case with most companies and is even further off base when describing the seemingly endless cornucopia of technical support available through the web. On it's own, experts-exchange.com has enough information to quell even the most obscure, nail biting, hair pulling, wrist slitting, windows dilemmas.

While it's true that avid Linux users usually do know what they’re doing, they're definitely nowhere near as amiable as the mature windows community. Linux zealots are like cops: as individuals they can be very helpful and supportive, but when they flock together they become a bunch of pretentious, know-it-all, elitist, bastards who'd relish the thought of helpless newbies writhing like they need an exorcism as they ponder why their PCI videocard won't fit into the AGP slot. Ok, well, not exactly like cops, but you get the picture.

I'm not trying to suggest that Windows is better, many aspects of Linux are shamelessly superior to Windows, but the advantages afforded by Linux generally don't come in to play for your average user.

teh Hack (#931)

Location: Elsewhere
Quote: "Admit Nothing, Deny Everything, Make Counter-Accusations"
Posted: 3530 days ago

Oh, Max... I weep for you.

Linux users always struck me as being rather like Goths. You're independant and anti-mainstream. Just like every other Goth. From talking to Linux users on IRC, all I seem to see is they saying Linux is "better" but never how. "Windows sucks!" isn't a sufficient arguement. I know it sucks, but so do computers. They're tempermental little bastards, but if you kick hard enough, they do what you want.

Besides, if more people would take the time to learn how Windows works, they wouldn't have any complaints. It's amazing how nice Windows is when you understand the fine art of hacking the registry...

Machine Man subscriber M.I.Minter (#347)

Location: Houston Texas, USA
Quote: "When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
Posted: 3527 days ago

Why don't you try to sell your little tiraids like this to a magazine, like wired or a wired wanna-be. You are a famous author now, time to start cashing in. Why are you giving this away for free? Not that I don't enjoy it or appreciate it but come on. You know, for a guy who used to teach business I shouldn't have to tell you simple things like "Let us preorder your book" or "Sell your writing to magazines." One little question though, did you read Darkly Dreaming Dexter?


Out4Blood (#1049)

Posted: 3527 days ago

"Why don't you try to sell your little tiraids like this to a magazine, like wired or a wired wanna-be."

Because it's an open source "tiraid."

Adam Messinger (#1124)

Location: Kansas, USA
Quote: "www.adammessinger.com"
Posted: 3523 days ago

I've tried Linux, and I admire it for several reasons. Max has covered a lot of the good things about it already, so I'll stick to playing devil's advocate here and list some of the things that keep Linux from becoming my only OS.

1. There's a saying that goes, "Linux is only free if your time is worthless." This is very true. Some distros of Linux are getting good enough to be useful out of the box, but many still require too much fiddling and expertise to set up. And, when things go wrong, fixing them can be an exercise in frustration.

2. The applications aren't there. Granted, it's getting better all the time. OpenOffice.org is so good that I was able to switch a friend's 60-something parents over to it with no problems, and Evolution is now a mature and full-featured PIM. If you're interested in graphic design or web design, however, you're out of luck. No Photoshop, no Illustrator, no Fireworks or CorelDRAW. And no, GIMP and Inkscape don't cut it.

3. Game support sucks. It's even worse than the Mac. WineX is an interesting development, but it's not really "there" yet. God bless Id Software for their continued commitment to cross-platform development. Their relatively rapid Linux port for Doom 3 shows that it CAN be done.

4. I want to be productive, not dink around with my computer. Linux still requires too much dinking to make it do what you want. I'm no computer "guru," but I do consider myself a power user. I'm perfectly capable of diagnosing and fixing problems with Windows and PC applications that have made my employer's IT department go into reformat-and-reinstall mode. I don't *like* doing those things, however, and I have to do less of them on Windows than on Linux.

That said, I think Linux is almost ready for the average user. Over the next three years or so, I think it will reach the point where some distributions will be as easy for the average person to install and run as Windows or Macintosh operating systems are now.

For people like Scott, who are considering a trial run at Linux but are uneasy about it, I recommend Mandrake Linux. It has some of the best hardware detection and compatibility I've ever seen (far better than Ubuntu, which I'm currently using). Windows users never realize how important this is until they experience its absence. Mandrake's setup is quick and dead simple, they have an up-to-date free version, and there is a large and helpful user community. It's easy to use as well.

I'd also recommend the GNOME desktop environment over KDE. KDE is too clunky and over-loaded with options for my taste. By keeping things clean and simple, GNOME goes a long way toward making Linux friendly.

Anyway, that's my two cents. :-)

-- Adam, reluctant Windows user

William S (#485)

Location: North Carolina
Quote: "When the time comes, cut the green one."
Posted: 3515 days ago

"I might try Mandrake again some time and possibly work my way up to Gentoo."
I wouldn't try Mandrake. From most reports I've heard, it's crap. For a first-timer, try Fedorafedora.redhat.com or SuSEsuse.com.
" But until releasing a Linux version of video games is the standard, I won't be making the switch. (I'd rather not use an emulator like Cedega, because of performance drops that using an emulator would cause.) "
I still dualboot for Windows games. Although if you have the money, you could buy another computer for Linux. Linux doesn't need near as much hardware power and Windows to run efficiently.

Brian Drell (#1150)

Location: Austin, TX
Posted: 3512 days ago

Okay, everybody always says the same thing about GNU/Linux -- no application support. Well, if you're looking for the exact same applications as for Windows, then yeah, you'll have a hard time. However, for everything I do, there is an application for GNU/Linux (Sorry, I'm a Debian user, so I have to be a stickler and give Stallman his due) that functions fine. I'm missing a couple of things, like Photoshop, Adobe GoLive, etc. but I can run both of those under Crossover Office. I can do email, write documents in LaTeX, surf the web, watch movies and downloaded TV shows, use spreadsheets, listen to music, sync my wife's iPod, rip music for the iPod, and play Doom3. There are a few games for which I dual boot Windows, but that rebooting is a small price to pay.

Ubuntu is Debian based, and I run it on my laptop. It required absolutely NO hardware configuration on my part, everything just works. I've also heard some people complain about the lack of hardware support under Linux, but it's really simple to figure out what hardware to buy -- look at your kernel configuration and see if Linux supports your hardware. If the hardware is older than 6 months or so, it's pretty likely that it'll work. However, it does take a little work, you know, like typing "google" and hitting ctrl-enter in Firefox. Tough, I know. :)

So, if you've installed Linux and left it on there for 48 hours before running home to Bill Gates, I don't think that's quite an adequate experience to be saying what GNU/Linux can or can't do.

If you want to switch, do like Max did, and just wipe Windows from your hard drive for a while. Also try running an advanced distro like Gentoo, Debian, or Slackware. I cut my Linux teeth on Slack, and it's great for learning. Gentoo isn't so bad either, but it's by far the most time consuming distro I've ever used. When you get confortable enough with Linux, dual-boot again, if you feel the need.

Sorry about the rant. :)

Wenke Li (#1208)

Location: near NYC
Quote: "Procrastination is not laziness."
Posted: 3493 days ago

As to someone's comment that "Operating systems have evolved past a point where you shouldn't have to bootstrap your own system :p", I must say, gentoo's advantage is about choice. Lots of choices, if you want to bootstrap the system to your likings, go ahead, if you don't want to, that's fine too. (unless you didn't pay attention to the excellent documentation they provided)

Chris (#1228)

Location: London, UK
Posted: 3485 days ago

You describe your experience with email helpdesks as a number of [semi-]automated emails, by the end of which you've figured the problem out for yourself. Don't you think that's the whole point? :-) By frustrating you enough to make you *really* look hard for the solution, they got the problem solved at minimum effort to themselves.

Pat (#393)

Location: Northern Virginia
Quote: ""Linux wasn't started as any kind of rebellion against the 'evil Microsoft empire.' I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect." --Linus Torvalds (to the New York Times)"
Posted: 3481 days ago

Ok, first off I would like to thank Max for bringing up Linux in the first place. I have dabbled in different distros over the past (Suse, Novell, Mandrake, Linspire) and when I saw this post I decided to give it another go. I am now a happy user of Fedora Core 3 and I love everything about it. Windows still sits on the other end of my drive, but it has only seen daylight once in the past month as everything I need I can find in Linux. In fact I'm on Fedora w/firefox writing this. A comment to those who don't use Linux because it is harder to set up than Windows - to me thats kind of the point. I love being able to control every aspect of my computer, I love the control I have, and I am not afraid to use emulators to run proprietary software. I use cedega to run Anarchy Online (MMORPG) and Steam w/CS Source and Half-Life 2 and I see NO loss in performance. Everything runs perfectly. I also have the rare privelege of saying that I succesfully set up my wireless usb adapter and connect to my wireless network flawlessly with each boot. At first setting it up took a weekend to figure out, but I can set it up in less than 5 minutes now. The only difference I can see between Linux and Windows is that everyone is use to the steps of setting up new harware in Windows and so it only takes a few minutes to get things going. If people took the time to learn how things get set up in Linux they could set them up in just as little time. The one boot this month I made to windows was to use my TI calc w/ usb plug and windows software and it took me an hour to track down and install the right drivers and software, because when I plugged in the device Windows did not just work and it didn't even sit in peaceful bliss - no it sent me error messages and things I didn't want to see. Proof again that windows doesn't "just work" and usb still has not been perfected. In short I am a convert to Linux and I do not see Windows for me anywhere in the future. Thank you once again Max for your post that has led me to where I am and congrats on moving to Linux yourself.

Donnie (#1282)

Location: Etobicoke, close to where the passenger pigeons used to migrate
Quote: "Mockery is the highest form of flattery."
Posted: 3463 days ago

First of all, before I comment on this particular topic, I want to say that Max Barry is really cool, and that I'm extremely jealous of him and think that he steals all of my ideas and makes money off of them before I get a chance. I don't know how he's doing it, maybe some form of mental telepathy, witchcraft, or some electronic device that he's created and isn't telling us about. I don't trust him, and you shouldn't either.

Anyway, I have to say that I have had very similar experiences in crossing the Windows/Linux divide. I too installed Gentoo on my PC (it was a year ago, Max, I did it first!) Now, for control freaks like myself, Linux is the best thing in the world. But, I have an unfair advantage, I also have a 12" Apple iBook that has become an extension of my consciousness and so I have never been too dependent on the Linux computer for critical tasks. I played with a Linux/Windows dual-boot system in 2000-2001, and then got the iBook right when OS X came out. In my brain, the Apple systems and the Linux Systems are very similar. I learned how to use the command line when tinkering with Mandrake Linux first, and have devolped that knowledge over time with OS X and now with Gentoo.

My biggest problem with Linux is the same problem that I have with life in general, and it is a problem of TIME. When I play with the Gentoo computer I feel like I could make it do anything I want, if only I had enough time. I don't mind learning about configuring the kernel or installing drivers for my videocard or any of the millions of things you have to learn about in order to get the computer to work properly, but sometimes I just want it to work. I don't have time to read about all of these things. For me Apple is the best of both worlds. Access to open-source stuff as well the best graphical desktop out there.

Right now, my Gentoo computer is sitting in the corner, humming but not doing what I want it to do. Its been a couple weeks since I messed it up by trying to recompile the kernel, I was trying to get MediaWiki to run on it and had to upgrade a bunch of stuff. I've just been too busy to get it to work again. I know that it is possible, but it will take time. I also have the tendency to procrastinate so I'm writing in here instead of working on it.

People like Windows because it allows them to function without knowing all of the workings of the OS. For most people, there is a trade-off between having to learn all of the ins and outs of a computer operating system and the security of knowing that you don't have to have a degree in computer engineering to get the printer to work. Paranoid people love Linux, it gives them a sense of independence and control. I love to be able to type in a command that shows me all of the processes running on my computer. I can look in the logs to see what's been going over the course of a day. I like the transparency. At times its a bit like looking over the edge of a high cliff. It can trigger feelings of nausea.



Max (#1314)

Location: South Africa
Posted: 3449 days ago

From the replies I have read.. I suspect most are admirers from Bill him-self. I have used XP and have no real problems other than the expense and the feeling of being straight-jacketed by Microsoft.

I purchased a Linux mag (Linux-user issue 48) with a copy of Xandros 3(it wouldn't bother me if it was Suse, Mandrake or Fedora to name a few). The load was much like XP but I was given choices of what apps I wanted now or later... that was what impressed me and it was free and that I was running a Pentium 2 with some outdated drivers and some new HP and graphic drivers. Albiet it came with Crossover 4.1 trial which would load Coreldraw 12 and Adobe assortments along with MS Office.. but Open Office 2.0 is bliss compared to Office 2003 which I paid $400.00 and more dollars for.

But the great idea of opening programs from Windows XP in Xandros really gave me reason to leave the MS lemming community.

If you are happy with paying overpriced OS from MS then carry on. But if you are using Firefox to browse, thunderbird to email then try Linux, with Crossover you can install almost all your *.exe's you own.

To mention Xandros with crossover allows you to install Microsoft Mediaplayer 9.

As for Mac's I can't disagree but I have seen Linux Yellowdog for Mac perform much the same.

My 2cents worth.

Mark LaFlamme (#1327)

Location: Maine
Quote: "It wasn't me, it was some other guy."
Posted: 3444 days ago

How does Windows work in Linux? (Kidding! I'm kidding! Geesh.)

Mr. Anonymous (#1356)

Location: Anonymous, Anonymous
Quote: "Anonymity is key to survival."
Posted: 3349 days ago

My favorite thing about Linux is xbill; a game in which you can squash Bill Gates as many times as you want. And now there's a Windows version.

Benjamin (#1543)

Location: Nebraska
Quote: "Over the river and through the woods.... Where the hell are we bob?"
Posted: 3347 days ago

Wow.. This is only about half a year late but what the heck. First I need to say my experience with Unix, Lunix or whatever shootoffs are out there. Ive worked a little with RedHat and a little with Mandrake. Both installs were quite fast. Here are somethings I would like to point out.

1> People are stupid. If you walked down and street how many people would know more than how to turn a computer on and click the mouse? We've all seen the commercial. People are making a killing on tutorial CDs. And like you said "Windows thinks you’re an idiot; Linux thinks you’re a genius"

2> Cannibals don't hunt sheep. How many versions of Windows are out at the same time? Maybe one or two generations. (OS generations mind you) And Linux? Who knows how many distros. The point? All Linux children are classified as linux and are said to be "better" than windows. However you cant really say fruit is better than carrots ( or if you dont like carrots choose something else :P )

3> Hindsight is 20/20. Without Microsoft the world of computer would be like, well like linux. Everyone would have their own way of doin stuff. Sure some stuff might be compatible but those in the computer bussiness dont like to hear might. And before I get the usual 'If they didnt someone else woulda', if I said 'If I dont kick ya in the nads someone else will' would you walk around eyeballing everone waiting to get kicked in the nads?

- Yar! Zoli -

Nanakaland (#953)

Location: Baltimore, MD, USA
Quote: "Do you have magical powers? [last question on MaxChat 3.0]"
Posted: 3299 days ago

Heh. Interesting points. I especially agree with the "Linux is a religion" bit. Linux people all seem like weirdos at first, then (if) one switches to Linux, and the whole perspective is changed. Kind of like converting to a religion.

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