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So You Think Linux Ain’t Good Enough, Eh?

By on Sep 8, 2007 in Tech Takes | 11 comments

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Linux has been a passion for me a long time, and I do try to advocate it whenever possible. Guess what, people ARE waking up to the possibility of a world without Windows. That’s after the Windows Genuine (Dis)Advantage program they started. Some firms classify THAT as spyware. In fact, I came across this amazing article Windows Is Free. A highly non-technical, easy-to-understand language article which partly explores why Windows has a larger market share. I’ve loads of views on this too, but it’d take a whole book. Click here to download the article Windows Is Free (PDF).

One common misconception that people have when I speak to them is that Linux is difficult to use, or does not have a proper graphical user interface (GUI). That’s bullshit. You have as many Linux user interfaces as there are Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavours (and probably more) that you can choose from according to your needs – KDE, GNOME, Xfce, FluxBox, WindowMaker – there’s so much to choose from! And talking about the distributions (‘distros’) of Linux, there’s one for everything that you can think of – media editing distros, scientific distros, gaming distros, live distros, small distros, PlayStation distros, distros which run on some of the world’s fastest supercomputers, distros which run on the world’s oldest computers – there’s so much variety to choose from! So MANY of the Web’s servers are powered by Linux, because it’s so much more stable and secure. Have a look at the following desktop screenshots…

Freespire running KDEFreespire Linux with the KDE interface

Cool Ubuntu 6.06 desktopA really cool Ubuntu 6.06 GNOME desktop screenshot I came across

Ubuntu 7.04 GNOME desktopMy humble no-frills Ubuntu 7.04 desktop screenshot – yes, you can have plain vanilla too!

Back to GUIs, even if some people have the notion that Linux DOES have a GUI, they think that anybody with lower than 10 brains can’t decipher them. WRONG. Take the two major environments for example – KDE and GNOME. KDE is a complete Windows clone, down to settings control, menus, stuff like that; with more configuration abilities thrown in, and loads of built-in eye candy. GNOME on the other hand goes for the older Mac OS styles, and is geared towards simplicity and lower end systems.

So what some people say, Windows Vista with its Aero interface and Flip3D surely must leave Tux the penguin (the cute li’l Linux mascot) with his jaw dropped? Wrong again. Linux has had this stuff for quite some time now, and boy do you have variety there too! You can choose between XGL, AIGLX, Beryl, Compiz, Compiz Fusion – and most these projects are overlapping to some extent. Want to know what these can do? Have a look at this video by the major Linux distro maker Novell using Compiz…

Anyone still likes Vista Aero? What’s more, you really don’t need a supercomputer with multitudes of graphics and gazillion dozes of RAM to run the Linux stuff either, unlike Vista which starts crying for updates from day 1.

Comments and questions are welcome.



11 Comments

  1. Arjun Attam

    September 8, 2007

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    Having some hardware compatibility hiccups with Ubuntu 7; could you suggest another distro? Was thinking of Freespire 2, your take?

  2. Sports fan

    September 8, 2007

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    Really cool post.I logon to windows only to access VMC Testroom(based on .net framework) and VM Results(site runs only with IE).Other times-I’m always hooked to Ubuntu 7.04 and think that Gnome is much better than Windows.

  3. Abhishek Nandakumar

    September 8, 2007

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    I really hate people who are biased against Windows. Linux may be good but the number of extensions you get for Windows is no less than what you get for Linux.

    Also when it comes to using Adobe applications, playing games Linux is nowhere close to giving as many options as Windows does.

    Let’s face it people, Linux is not going to rise just because you write a short post about it. Such content is already there on millions of websites, there’s no point on posting stuff that’s already there.

    People always rant about the stuff they don’t have or what they can’t do. You may not be one of these people but I’m sure most people write about how bad Vista is just because there computers don’t support it.

    Let me tell you, Linux is no better. When I used Knoppix 1.0, it installed really well. And Ankur, if 256MB(I think I read that on some post of yours) is the amount of RAM you have I can assure you Freespire is a slower OS than Windows XP on your computer when you multi-task.

  4. frankzzsword

    September 9, 2007

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    waaaaah, you’ve made a category Linux Rules… now thats what I call BINGO.

    Superb Post.

  5. GQ

    September 10, 2007

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    @frankzzsword: Thanks!

    @SF: Yup, I know you’re a convert! ;)

    @Arjun: Freespire 2 is built using Ubuntu 7.04 as its base, but Freespire does have better out-of-the-box driver support than Ubuntu. Even I thought of installing Freespire 2, but then I thought that since Ubuntu 7.10 is coming out in October, I might as well install a distro with updated packages. It’s basically up to you, you might go in for a stable set of software on Freespire, or wait for the bleeding edge on Ubuntu.

  6. GQ

    September 10, 2007

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    @Abhishek: I felt that your comments needed a longer reply. These points are in the reverse order with respect to your comment.
    1. I’ve got 512 MB of RAM, and 256 MB might feel sluggish on Freespire not because it’s Freespire but because it’s KDE. Although I’ve friends who’ve run Freespire with 256 MB of RAM and they never complained about sluggishness about multi-tasking.
    2. ‘Let me tell you, Linux is no better. When I used Knoppix 1.0, it installed really well.’ – So what’s the point you were trying to make?
    3. Why should anyone use Vista when they can get better eye-candy (see video) for lesser resources AND no price? BTW, do read that ‘Windows Is Free’ article.
    4. Such content like this there on other sites, true. So why don’t you shut down revieware too, because similar things to the stuff there can be found on so many other sites on the Web. :p
    5. Ever heard of Cedega for gaming?
    6. Exactly. There are as many Linux software as there are for Windows, so why not use the free and more stable one?

  7. Abhishek Nandakumar

    September 10, 2007

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    Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s stable. I do use Firefox, and I never said I don’t support open source.

    About the Knoppix thing, version 4.0 just wouldn’t load fully. It reached the desktop only to suddenly shut down. Don’t what went wrong there.

    I’d like to quote the Economist “Microsoft is an iceberg. Icebergs melt, but very slowly”. Windows will be used for a very long time.

    I just said you post stuff blatantly against Windows for no good reason. I’ll make Linux my primary OS when Flash and Photoshop can be emulated at native speed.

    I think I may just shut down revieware if it generates only 100 hits a day.

    False accusations are what I hate, and Windows Vista is a great improvement over XP for those who’ve used it on a “capable” PC.

    You aren’t really achieving anything by posting the same stuff with different titles. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think you posted something like this earlier too. Posting new stuff is what I thought your blog was all about.

    I must say I have a strange attachment with Windows, and may just continue using it as long as it exists.

    Software piracy will probably continue forever. I’m no fan and am more than willing to pay for my copy of Windows. I purchased Vista Home Premium and just love it.

    About Linux security, I’d like to reiterate that virus writers aim to infect operating systems with a wide user base rather than aiming at something like Linux. Again viruses spread more through Unix servers, that’s kind of funny.

    The Transgaming emulation sucks. I’ve used Cider on Mac OS and games which usually work at 32fps on Windows go down to a mere 12fps. I want native speed. Is that asking for too much? Maybe.

    Support for Linux maybe cheap but it isn’t easy to get. People can’t afford to search through forums for possible solutions to problems. Windows has quite a decent help center. And when I report an application crash it almost always tells me the reason and how to prevent it in the future.

    System integration is never healthy when it’s not from the core. When Google wanted to install it’s search on Vista, it wasn’t originally possible. Vista’s built-in search is excellent to be very clear and using something else would require Microsoft to do more for ensuring the security remains at the same level.

    See Flip 3D is useless, but Windows Vista happens to have the best photo organiser there is, the best file manager there is. Mac OS doesn’t rule when it comes to file management. Linux, I don’t know to be honest.

  8. GQ

    September 11, 2007

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    @Abhishek: I’d like to make it clear that my point in the post was, that the general public is largely ignorant of Linux’s capabilities, and suffer from a fear of using the unknown. That’s what it was all about, NOT trashing Windows. I was trying to say that unlike what people think, and I’ve spoken to many people, they think Linux is all CLI and early 90s graphics. I think you missed the whole point of the post.
    1. I never said it’s stable because it’s free; I’m saying that from experience. I use Linux at home and Windows at school – and I’ve never had a system hang on Linux except for the time it happened due to mismatched RAM, which is a hardware issue.
    2. As for Knoppix, did you verify md5 after downloading? Stuff gets corrupted at times, or maybe the CD got scratched… My point is, I’ve not encountered problems as such with Knoppix.
    3. Windows WILL be used for a long time. I admit that. Stubborn iceberg…let’s hope global warming picks up. ;)
    4. Yes, Photoshop and Flash – stuff that Linux does lack. Agreed. But does even 95% of computer users need them? Geeks and professionals might, but that shouldn’t deter normal users!
    5. Of course Vista is an improvement over XP, nobody denies that. But my question is – for the general user, isn’t Linux a very strong alternative rather than spending hundreds of dollars?
    6. Cedega and Cider are from the same company – I can’t comment on Cider but with Cedega the general consensus is that it runs stuff 5fps below Windows on an average (I’m talking about latest version). Sometimes, it can outstrip Windows’ performance too. But the post wasn’t about what Cedega can do or can’t, it was about the fact that people should at least CONSIDER Linux as an option.
    7. When was the last time a program crashed on your PC on Linux? There’s a very good reason that Ctrl+Alt+Del isn’t used / present on Linux…

  9. Sports fan

    September 11, 2007

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    Good Point GQ!!!Under adverse conditions,I feel that the Force Quit button is 100 times simpler to use and faster than pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del and then ending a task.You are prompted once more and ultimately a stupid window pops out asking if you want to send the error report to microsucks.I don’t know if things are different with Vista coz I feel that it’s not worth spending Rs50 on a pirated vista cd.

  10. Abhishek Nandakumar

    September 11, 2007

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    In most cases application crashes are not caused because of Windows, they are usually because of some bug in the application.

    Yes, Linux is a recognised alternative for Windows. Dell, HCL and many other companies have realised that and by popular demand offer to install Linux even on high-end systems.

    @Sports fan: What I want to say holds good not just for you but for everyone reading this. You think it isn’t worth Rs.50 but when I paid $179 for Vista Home Premium, I paid for the development. People like you “feel” it isn’t worth Rs. 50 because you think it’s a free economy. When you open your software company(just an example), you’ll be as concerned about piracy as Microsoft.

  11. Sports fan

    September 11, 2007

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    @Abhishek:You might be right…but if people want to spend $179 then perhaps they could sponsor the Fedora free media program,a foundation which needs funds rather than paying it to an organization headed by the richest(not sure if he is the richest but definitely the greediest) man in the world.

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