Linux

Linux needs to play its own game and quit comparing itself to Windows

TechRepublic member dcolbert shares his frustration with Linux trying to compare itself to Microsoft in areas where Microsoft dominance is virtually insurmountable.
This post was written by TechRepublic member dcolbert.

I'm fairly frequently accused of being a Microsoft Fanboy or Corporate Stooge for what it seems many Linux fans mistake as an "anti-Linux" philosophy and outlook. In my own defense, I don't think I am "anti-Linux." I think the main problem is that the Linux community pictures itself as a looming threat directly to Microsoft "dominance."

Frankly, Linux spends too much time directly trying to compare itself to Microsoft in areas where Microsoft dominance is virtually insurmountable, and where Linux, despite significant advances, finds itself (relatively) lacking. If I were a politician, I wouldn't campaign by claiming:

"My opponent claims that I am inferior to him in foreign policy, and while this may be true, I have made SIGNIFICANT advances in my foreign policy skills. Certainly my opponent is the BETTER choice for foreign policy, but hey, I'm a NICER guy, and even if I'm not as good, I'm much better than I used to be".

Unfortunately, that is exactly what Linux does when it tries to compete directly with Windows on the desktop OS platform in areas like Plug-and-Play support for the widest variety of consumer accessories. I think it stings the Linux community to hear things like this put so bluntly.

I also think the Linux community has a natural desire to avoid facing these facts, and that as a community, it would often rather embrace a fantasy world where Ubuntu is really a compelling alternative to a Windows OS that could threaten to disrupt Microsoft dominance. Speaking the truth in the Church of Linux is an excellent way to get ex-communicated. But then again, people have been running into trouble by speaking the truth in religious organizations for centuries.

And therein lays another problem. I don't think the Linux community lies, but I don't think they make accurate or fair comparisons. Whenever I hear figures on the number of datacenters with huge Linux deployments, I always wonder where all of these data-centers are.

With 15 years of experience, I've seen Sun Solaris heavy data centers, I've seen HP-UX heavy data centers, and I've seen LOTS of big corporations with huge Windows deployments. But I've seen very little Linux, scattered here and there, and often in strange, supporting network and infrastructure roles.

Another (ironic) example I use is that when you see a giant LCD on the Vegas strip that has crashed, it isn't LINUX you see underneath it. When you're cable TV guide has crashed, it isn't Linux. When you're in the Build a Bear workshop and a PC is down, it isn't Gnome that the app crashes back to. And that isn't about Linux versus Windows reliability - it's about applications, and we all know Linux apps crash as frequently (or more than, in the case of KDE) as Windows apps.

Some people claim that I have conformational bias - that I see more Windows because I work in a Windows-biased segment of the industry. But I think it is clear, more than 9 out of 10 PCs you run into in the private and public sector outside of very narrow niche industries are going to be Windows-based. The number of Linux machines becomes grossly inflated through several methods, many of which do not compete with Microsoft technologies and actually assist Microsoft while keeping Microsoft's real competitors tied up worrying about additional competition.

For example, I've got a feeling that the Linux numbers we see count every embedded Linux device - consumer or otherwise - available on the market. I think the Linux community takes these artificially inflated numbers and compares them to Microsoft's Windows desktop and data center numbers. I think that Linux numbers we see count every download by every curious user who may or may not ever get around to installing their download on an actual physical machine.

Most importantly, once we get down to the nuts and bolts of it, I think Microsoft does very little competition on the infrastructure side of the enterprise, such as DNS, Active Directory, DHCP, and Web/IIS. You might also count FTP and e-mail.

It occurs to me that Microsoft really doesn't care when Linux "grows" enterprise market share, because it is the OS under the interface of the new IBM XIV storage solution. Effectively, Linux is an appliance in this role, and the LINUX is not as important as the role of the appliance.

Often, the Linux is so transparent that as a data-center administrator, you may not even know that Linux is in your data center. There is no conceivable way this is a threat to Microsoft. It isn't even really fair to use those numbers when comparing Windows installs to Linux installs. I said to a friend, regarding the Tom-Tom lawsuit,

"Linux is very popular, as long as no one needs to know it is there".

It's great that Linux can have this space and compete with products like Win CE/Mobile/Phone - or be in the enterprise providing supporting infrastructure roles that Microsoft doesn't want to compete with in the first place. Linux becomes a foundation on which companies transparently build other turn-key products as their core business for retail consumption.

Windows can be used in this role, but is generally used in a far different business model - as a component of productivity-enhancing business machine solutions running a variety of off-the-shelf, user-selectable applications. But when the Linux community speaks of "competing" with Windows, they‘re really talking about this second model - and it isn't, it absolutely isn't, the place where Linux performs the strongest. This is just plain silly. Who ignores what they do better while trying to compete on what they know they do worse? Republican candidates, in the last election, that is who.

I have Linux in my Windows environment. Cisco Call Center Manager for VoIP is a Linux-based utility. I'm in very critical discussions right now that will likely result in a migration from EMC to IBM network storage solutions - and that solution is Linux-based. In both cases, I do not need to know how to compile kernels, how to grep, how to use package managers, how to use VI to edit config files in the /etc directory. As a matter of fact, with the IBM XIV solution, I couldn't do that if I wanted to.

These solutions do not displace a single Windows solution in my environment. They facilitate better delivery of my Windows-based solutions and improve the experience for my end users. The IBM XIV solution is called disruptive technology, and it may very well be.

Linux is the foundation of a disruptive technology that threatens a current giant in the technology marketplace. Unfortunately, it isn't Microsoft, it is EMC - and I imagine that Microsoft has no strong feelings one way or the other about that. It is certainly a huge win for Linux, and it illustrates that Linux has a viable place in the technology sector. What it does not do is show that Linux is, or ever will be, a threat to Microsoft dominance of the back office, plus corporate and end-user desktop.

Ultimately, I am not married to Microsoft technologies. I support Microsoft because that is where the significant amount of business demand is. In my own data center, I'll deploy the best, least expensive, most reliable solution in every case, regardless of what OS platform underlies that solution.

So, I am certainly not vocally anti-Linux. I'm opposed to forcing a square peg into a round hole because you think the square peg is actually the superior round peg, or because you think the round peg maker isn't a very nice businessman, or because you think that the philosophy of the square-peg community is more forward-thinking than the philosophy of the round peg community.

I don't like it when musicians and actors preach science and political philosophy to me. I don't want my business solutions to be based on making productivity sacrifices that make me less able to compete.

Ultimately, I think this is what Linux versus Windows debates come down to - are you open source and willing to sacrifice in order to support open source, or are you in business to make a profit and be the most competitive force possible in your market? Political, ideological, and philosophical differences are at issue here, because clearly, Windows solutions dominate and are superior for desktop, back office, and application-hosting solutions on the enterprise.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

103 comments
pgit
pgit

I just received this in an email from a client I have moved from Vista to Mandriva Linux 2009.1 on his primary use machines: "My God, an os that's actually useful/usable!" The opinion of a typical end user, certainly no 'geek' of any kind of a 'fanboi,' just a fellow trying to get his work done with his computer.

keepitsimpleengineer
keepitsimpleengineer

After over forty years in IT, 90% of UI with MS, I say that my 32bit Ubuntu desktop hands down beats 32bit WinXP, and 64bit XP & Vista. This has just happened in the last few months-- I've spent over 10 years with Linux, more if you add Unix. Nobody's really more or less better than another, it's just evolution. New technology favors open-source, collaborative development, pretty soon MS won't have a legacy to stand on.

Here2serveu
Here2serveu

I think what really happens is that some bloger or site needs to drive some traffic. Most Linux types are a passionate bunch so tech mag or bloggers start with a comparison and get lots of hits and comments. I won't click on any link that pits Win and Linux but then I see a title like yours and oops clicked the link to just another FUD site looking for traffic by stiring the pot.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

look at the membership date of those participating in this discussion. Few of them are new to TR.

dcolbert
dcolbert

The overwhelmingly pro-Linux editorial staff here at Tech Republic CONSTANTLY publishes controversial pro-Linux FUD here. But that isn't what this thread is. There is no uncertainty or doubt in my claims - just the facts, sir.

Slayer_
Slayer_

But these topics entertaining as well

Richard.Vickery
Richard.Vickery

First of all, I want to comment on the idea that "Linux crashes": Linux does NOT crash; certain programs that you have running may "crash" or misbehave that may appear to make the OS crash, but the new versions of Fedora allow users to add a program to the program bar that "force a misbehaving application to quit". Linux never crashes and never has to be rebooted, and those who are very good at the command line know this. Second, the author neglected to touch on that Linux is king over Microsoft at file management: if Microsoft platforms are SO great at what they do, why does every little peripheral device need to have a driver? In January picked us an external hard drive that was formatted NTFS. Well, in a couple of days I unintentionally killed it by removing the driver. After replacing it with the same model, I quickly reformatted the hard drive to the Linux ext3 format and have since not had, nor will I ever have that problem of it "crashing" again. I'd like to hear dcolbert's explanation of these corrections to her/his insane idea that MS Windoze is somehow "superior" to what Linux has to offer. The only reason that your precious OS is more popular is that Billy Gates has bought the OEM's and bought the computer game industry.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I've used Windows since 1995 and have never broken it so bad that it could not boot. Only took me 10 minutes to get Mandriva non bootable. And all I did was check off a single checkbox. One that said makes your display faster. Amazing. Oh and Mandriva safemode is an epic failure. Windows safemode will, 99 times out of 100 allow you to boot into your OS and undo whatever you have done. in Mandriva, this seems to be the opposite. 99times out of 100, you either need to reinstall, or use a WINDOWS machine to spend endless hours googling how to undo whatever you have done via command line. Edit... Sorry, forgot to mention I broke Ubuntu 3 times before I finally got it to work as a webserver and FTP server, to then find the functionality gimped compared to the Windows counterpart, and when i got sick of the sloth and incompatibilites and security frustrations, I reinstalled Windows, which took a grand total of a half hour to get all drivers setup and the system running and as a web/ftp server with no issues. Ubuntu took me a week to do the same...

dcolbert
dcolbert

I must have broken and reinstalled Ubuntu from scratch more than a dozen times between 7.04 and 8.10, before 1: I finally started getting the hang of what NOT to do 2: 8.10 addressed some of the GROSSEST offenders causing crashes in their distros.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I won't say it's not possible though either. Anyhow, when you get over the frustraition and give it a go again, I'd answer any questions or follow alone if it helps. Mind you, I also haven't installed WINE in years. The last time was to play around with running mIRC so that should indicate a timeline. What little I need windows for, I boot to windows for. the 98% remaining is easily provided for me by native software; maybe not everybody's 98% of needs, but mine.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've had lots of dirty shutdowns with the worst result being a file system check during bootup. Unless I'm missing what the journaling restored, it seems to have bounced back every time. I can see how a failing drive would cook the system though. Thanks to Red Hat's flakey past, my approach to building systems seems to result in pretty solid machines now though. I've done nothing but update 2008.1 since it was installed.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I think it was called, for a 'supported' version of Outlook, and had lots of crashes/hangs when performing some actions. Cedega used Wine, (Wine was running), and the app would hang, and not close (even with the kill command) unless I killed both Wine and Cedega as well. If one didnt know better, it may seem like a Windows hang which requires a reboot. As for hosing it so bad that it wont boot, I only had that happen when the disk was going out. However, if it was shutdown improperly, this may be the cause as well.

brian
brian

I have no doubt I could crash the server if I tried. The point is that it is the right machine for the job I use it for, AND I have enough knowledge of what I am doing to keep it running. The machine is designed to do higher end computational calculations on 8 CPU's. That's it. Things I would not be able to efficiently do on my PC. My PC is for running a business. That's it's purpose. I wouldn't want to try and run my analytical applications on it, that's not it's purpose or it's strength. Why did you install Mandriva? To learn the OS or did you have a specific application in mind? Do you know Linux/Unix? I don't care WHAT the Linux community says, it's not plug-and-play. It's a great OS, but not for everyone. Ditto for any OS. This whole discussion is comparing apples to oranges.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Are you suggesting that Win32 is not optimized for or capable of running Multi-Processor, Multi-Core computational processes? My multiple, complex, large SQL DBs would strongly disagree with you that they're not as efficient in this regard as a Linux machine is. I believe there is a reason *nix and Oracle went from dominating RDBM solutions, especially LARGE ones, to being #2. Which is another HUGE loss for *nix in the Enterprise that no one ever wants to talk about in these discussions. MS-SQL was only 2nd because it was only really a two horse race - and then all of the sudden, Oracle is trailing by a half a track. How did THAT happen?

---TK---
---TK---

"I've used Windows since 1995 and have never broken it so bad that it could not boot" Did you skip Win ME? lol... That OS was a total nightmare...

dcolbert
dcolbert

Never let you get far enough to break it so bad that it couldn't boot. It would almost always beat you to it. :)

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

requiring a reboot. However, I suspect that it should read that application crashes rarely take down a Linux box. However, My Win box can need a reboot because Outlook couldnt open an email the first time round. Usually, kill the app and it is fine. Some apps though, seem to wanna hang after the process kill command is ordered. Not sure why ?:| However Win does the same thing. Installing devices, changing drivers, and other things may cause Linux to take a dump. As for never needing rebooting, it does need less reboots, however, it still may need rebooting on many tasks.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

Most things do not require a reboot, and applications rarely take down the system itself (if ever). Opening an email, or other Office application should not take down the system completely. Yet, it happens frequently (along with dozens of other apps). Yesterday, I closed a .pdf file and Windows went haywire on me (XP) just from closing an app. After 10 minutes of trying to recover, I rebooted to fix it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

kernel updates definately need a reboot and it's always recommened to reboot after something major is updated. Things that are deep in the startup process are good examples. I think UDev falls into that category. I don't miss the need to reboot simply because I've been using my machine though. Some days I'd have to reboot a number of times because IE or Excel blew-up baking the rest of the system in the process.

dcolbert
dcolbert

From my original article: "And that isn't about Linux versus Windows reliability - its about applications, and we all know Linux apps crash as frequently (or more than, in the case of KDE) as Windows apps." We won't even get into Kernel panics. Linux doesn't CRASH? It doesn't reboot? A Kernel panic is somehow DIFFERENT than a Windows BSOD? Please, I'd love to hear the Linux-centric justification of how this is so. I'm not enough of an expert at OS engineering and architecture to really speak to the difference between how Win32 interfaces with peripherals via drivers versus the *nix approach of having every device appear as a "file" managed by the kernel file system. I'm clear on that difference, I just don't understand the where or why of it. I do know that if Linux doesn't support a peripheral, and the module wasn't present when you compiled the kernel, it used to be a ROYAL PITA to compile kernel support for the module in AFTER the fact, as opposed to just installing the driver (usually via PnP) in Win32. It seems like Ubuntu and other distros have made some significant progress forward in this regard, from an end-user "ease-of-use" perspective (although for all I know, from an "engineering beauty" perspective, it may make modern Ubuntu type distros more Win-like and LESS desirable from a Linux "purist" perspective). I've had my days running mod-probe and adding custom support for modules and recompiling and all that fun. I never understood the arguments on how this was somehow superior to "Please insert the disk with file 'oem.inf' in drive A: and hit return now" when trying to add a new peripheral or expansion card.

brian
brian

I will say this about Linux. I am working with some research code that was running in the background so i had a minute to read this thread. Lo and behold: [brianm@helix hiv_alignments]$ ssaha2 -output aln -save hiv_ref seqs/ab221005.fasta Reading hashtable hiv_ref to memory. Hashtable size : 0.000004 GB Segmentation fault OOPS. On the other hand the server is still chugging along (CentOS 5.2), uptime is 28 days, last reboot was when I physically moved the machine. Vista simply isn't as stable. But, I wouldn't give up Excel, Word, etc. on my laptop for anything. I just save frequently :)

dcolbert
dcolbert

Linux is more stable. I'll say it. But, Win32 has become incredibly stable, especially when well configured. My Thinkpad T61 laptop is infamous for having driver issues that cause BSODs out of the box - and I had a bunch of issues for awhile. Once everything was all patched up or the worst offenders were disabled, it has been rock solid. I can't remember the last time I had a BSOD. Same thing with my data-center full of servers. VERY VERY Rarely do we have a stop error BSOD or have memory leaks slow a system so badly that it needs a reboot, anymore. Most of the servers chug and chug away. I just don't think there is enough of a difference to draw a meaningful distinction anymore. Especially for the BENEFITS that Win32 grants in light of the theoretically slightly worse stability.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Windows is simply better in all repsects when it comes to hardware compatibility.

noogrub
noogrub

I generally agree with your assessment. Linux comparing itself to Windows all the time can be silly, and gets tiring. But are you really seeing Linux overall, or just the boasting of the loud and the proud? My 20-year career experience has been with managing small family-owned companies (typically 10-35 employees, a few $million in sales), volunteering in an experimental high school (400 students), and in supporting a research department at a major university. In each of these cases, we used Linux machines because we did not need/could not afford new hardware, expensive software, etc. In the research department, we used Linux machines with Mac OSX machines depending on programmer preference. Our production website and database environment was built with a blend of RedHat enterprise, Rails, and LAMP. My point is that for large companies and major production environments, I agree with you. But there are many small situations that are likely under the radar. Developing countries are beginning to be major players in business, and many of them are doing it without expensive servers and software. Linux development supporters need to constantly set their bar high, and Windows is that bar. While Linux might find other ways to excel, I see no harm in them continuing to promote themselves and aspiring to achieve the kind of excellence that Microsoft achieved. I suggest that much of the Linux community braggadacio is useful in keeping an underdog image alive, which is a major motivational factor for many contributors. Let them have their ferocity! In the meanwhile we can keep an eye on experiments such as we saw in Massachusetts. Rome didn't get built in a day, and it didn't get built by people who decided that other cities were already big enough.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think this has been the most logical, rational, and well thought out rebuttal to my points that I've yet seen. There is no doubt that Linux has a ripe segment and advantage in small, cash strapped business situations. My only concern, then remaining, would be, "SHOULD *nix set Windows features and achievements as the bar to which it aspires". I've noted, with some aprehension, that the more Linux approaches Windows levels of expected performance, the more like Windows Linux behaves. System crashes, application crashes, resource hogging, slow performance, updates breaking things, steep entry level requirements just to install the OS. I think what we'll find is that a Windows-like OS, necessarily operates a lot like Windows, including a lot of the traditional complaints about Windows. The disadvantage for Linux remains, that while it has adopted a lot of the FEATURES of Windows, which have come with a lot of the PROBLEMS associated with Windows, it still brings many of the challenges, issues and problems associated with the traditional Linux foundation it is built on. Part of me worries that Linux has a golden opportunity to become "The Worst of Both Worlds". :)

lewis
lewis

Yeah, Linux should certainly not try to in any way emulate windows...i wouldn't want my linux box as buggy as my windoze box is...

dcolbert
dcolbert

It works great for everything I want, including WINE emulation for Fallout II for Windows gaming... But since I got an S10, I hardly EVER power on the Eee PC and am considering selling it. It is really a sweet setup, too. Booting Ubuntu off the SD card, a 32gb SD. The 4gb SSD inside is completely empty. I also have a 32 GB USB thumb drive, so it has 68GB of data storage available to it, and 2gb of RAM. If I wasn't well off enough to afford the S10 with a 500gb hard drive, it would work fine for me for the majority of things I want to do. So, for someone on a *real* tight budget looking for something like this, it is certainly a viable alternative. But, with the Lenovo S10, I have XP, and that means way less hassles all around. It makes it a "why bother" situation. I had Ubuntu on the S10 via Wubi, but removed it because I was never using it. I'll tell you one of my GREATEST reservations about SELLING the EEE PC 701. I don't want to have to support an end user I sell a PC with Linux on - especially installed on a bootable, removable SD card. It sounds like a nightmare unless I sell it to someone as highly technical as me. And someone as highly technical as me, isn't going to want to pay a fair price for an Eee PC 701. They're going to want such a bargain, it isn't worth selling, now, is it? Either way, I lose.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Actually, I'd have suggested a VM for you right off the start if you hadn't already been soured by the experience. But then, I don't even install test software on my Windows box without first checking it under VMware. A dualboot would be teh second level of testing and suggestion for ongoing use for your personal machine; after all, no one woke up one morning and knew Windows either.

Slayer_
Slayer_

So far the koolaide has required beer goggles to drink, and it still tastes terriable. I seem to require a lot of sobering up infront of my "windoze" machine. ....And yes, I still haven't gotten around to reinstalling Mandriva, after lots of soul searching, Nix on any machine in my house seems completely worthless, especially since after I finally had a working install (Which lasted 10 minutes before it was wrecked) the first package I looked for was Wine... which wasn't their oddly enough (Epic fail!). Back to "Windoze" with that machine so I can make it usable again.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Say 10 Hail-Penguins and take a sacrament to the Holy Linus. You are clearly among the faithful. The Linux community thanks you for your ability to contribute nothing useful.

IT_Analyst-Admin
IT_Analyst-Admin

Perhaps the two main areas that Linux would like to compete in is the Desktop & Server areas. For a year I tried to use Linux as a desktop replacement using OpenOffice along with some other apps on various OS's like Fedora Core, RHEL, SUSE, etc. The bottom line is that while it could possibly be used for a person using simpler word processing tasks, email, and word processing; it just isn't ready for the enterprise. And from a support point of view Linux may never be a viable option. On the server side Linux it can and has, in some implementations, replaced Windows based servers. But, again, at the enterprise level, we don't have a support model for it. Additionally it is still difficult to implement in a Windows Active Directory environment and takes some special expertise. In the cost arena... when you factor in using a supported OS like RHEL and the cost of your local enterprise support model (like techs), Linux is not cheaper to use than Windows and in some cases can be more expensive. So in those two instances - Linux still has some work to do if it wants to catch up.

jmatty72
jmatty72

I was about to say "I'll show you a data center with all Linux...until I kept reading. Yeah it's mostly SUN and HP. Your right!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Far too much focus on XYZ vs Microsoft or why XYZ will never replace Microsoft. I'd love to see more discussions avoid devolving to a comparison with Microsoft products.

seanferd
seanferd

of loudmouths and zealots who give the entire Linux gestalt this appearance. There is an equal and opposite force of Microsoft fans who will claim all sorts of incorrect things about Microsoft, however, the big, obvious marketshare issue is not a problem for them. I wish they'd all STFU, or actually know what they are talking about, and get on with it.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I agree there is misinformation on both sides, but can I offer this theory: Linux "Fanboys" exist because of Linux. The true fanaticism and "identity" that grows around something as silly as an OS choice begins in the Linux community. The Linux community has borne onto the PC industry a segment that is almost comparable to the door-to-door evangelist who feels compelled by their belief system to go out and spread the word and actually *convert* people, for their own good. You don't see a lot of THAT among Win32 proponents. And you didn't really see it at all until the Linux community started making such extraordinary claims about Win32 (many which they still perpetuate, for example, that Win32 is bloatware. Have you installed a full Ubuntu distro lately and compared the space and memory requirements to a like XP install?)- but you might see some more vocal Win32 "fanatics" now. I'd say that is a response, though, and one that wouldn't exist if not for the Linux camp. I mean, granted, you've always had computer flame wars, PC versus Mac versus Atari versus Commodore, going back to the dark ages of 8 bit PC computing - and those segments have always had their fanboys. But it takes on a disturbing quality with the Linux community. Win32 people, and even to a lesser extent, a lot of Apple guys, seem content to live and let live, more or less. They have an opinion, they have a preference, but mostly, they're interested in the specific things that a PC can deliver. In particular with Win32 users, they're not drawing any significant part of their identity from their OS. Which is probably why the "I'm a PC" campaign didn't really resonate. Now, from a marketing perspective, having "fans" who are "rabid" over your product doesn't hurt at all. BMW, Apple, Chevy, Ford, and Linux, Coke, Pepsi, all have a huge segment of people who would call themselves "[Brand X] people" - and they mean, I fully support and believe in this brand and prefer it to all others. They say it the same way they would say I am a Democrat/Republican, Lutheran/Protestant, Doctor/Lawyer. It is part of their self image and self definition. When is the last time you heard someone say "I am a Windows person" like that? I often actually hear a disclaimer, "I guess I am a Windows person". Meaning, "I don't really usually even think about defining myself by what OS I use to get my PC work done". It does NOT mean that they have DOUBTS abut Windows as their prefered OS, it means they don't really think about themselves in terms of what OS they prefer. It is like asking someone if they are a 210v or 110v AC person. They don't really care, or even know, as long as their lights turn on. But to Linux users, it becomes more of a "Are you a COAL generated electricity person or GEOTHERMAL generated electricity person" question - and while you would find very few people willing to draw a distinction on the electricity question posed as 110/220, you would start to find a lot more people crawling out of the woodwork with an opinion on electricity when you frame it as coal versus geothermal. Not surprisngly, the people who WOULD draw a distinction, are a bit fanatical and often kind of strange and annoying to be around for any length of time. They also think that their opinion isn't just right for THEM, it should be right for EVERYONE. See a trend, a pattern, a reoccuring theme, there? I do... MAN... that is a good analogy. .

dcolbert
dcolbert

I *wish* Microsoft was kicking me down some money for the good arguments I present on their behalf. God knows they SHOULD feel obligated to give me a little kick-down. I'm in no way affiliated with Microsoft. I don't even own stock. I am a former Intel employee and current stockholder - which is why I often reassure Linux advocates that the "WinTel Duopoly" is a myth. I once got to visit the Microsoft store as a corporate guest and got a $50 coupon to buy merchandise - and they sent me a T-shirt and a usb mouse for attending their Win XP Media Center Edition seminar, once. I don't think Microsoft is a monopoly, although they are superior and therefore dominant. I'd *love* to see more genuine competition. But, I'd say that this paranoia, that almost approaches conspiracy theory is another thing that disturbs me coming from the Linux camp. "Shills". Really? I mean, I guess so - maybe. But why bother, when there are enough genuine opinions out there. If anything, the idea that you think there are shills points to the idea that you think that nobody could possibly believe there is anything redeeming in Microsoft's products. Otherwise, why would you need shills? Which again, points to an unreasonable bias against Microsoft. Because obviously there are a ton of redeeming qualities to Microsoft's products, which is (at least one reason) why they are a dominant market leader. It just seems to lack credibility to claim that Microsoft sends people out there into the blogsphere and into forums to stir up anti-Linux flame wars. No? I don't know. I've worked at any number of businesses where a poll or legislation or something else seeking input has shown up and the company has urged employees to go out and express their pro-company view. But, I don't see anything necessarily wrong with that. What you're suggesting sounds more sinister than that, though. I know companies sometimes have blogsphere "wars" about products or services. EMC and IBM are rumored to be in one right now over the IBM XIV. But again, this seems different, that Microsoft would pay or otherwise encourage otherwise unaffiliated writers to go out and create pro-Microsoft, anti-Linux threads and documents. Seriously, there are enough people willing to do this for free, just because they believe it is the truth. Microsoft doesn't need to ENCOURAGE this behavior.

wzrobin
wzrobin

Perhaps I'm too much of a cynic, but whenever I see something written that I might classify as a Win32 fanatic, my first thought isn't fanatic or fanboy, but shill... or as microsoft prefers to have them called evangelist. Microsoft pours way too much money into "grassroots" movements for me not to assume any purely one sided view of their products isn't a thinly veiled advertisement. I'm not a follower of any specific OS, on a daily basis at work I use AIX, Linux, OSX, Windows (2k and xp) and Z-OS. I do however think any competition for Microsoft is a good thing, because their "insurmountable" lead (awfully close to anti-trust bariers to trade there) isn't good for their customers. They need competition to drive them to try and return to meeting customer needs first, instead of trying to stifle competition as a business model. Monopolies only benefit monopolists... not their customers. It's basic economics.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I can't get Windows to do XYZ - "you should have baught a Mac" I can't get my Ubuntu to do XYZ - "buy a Mac" How often has some snide Cult of Mac member dumped out that steaming piece? Many in all fan camps are happy to live and let live. I wouldn't say that Windows or Apple zealots are a response to FOSS or Linux platform specific zealots. Apple's fans have been pimping snobbery for a long time. Heck, I can remember when it was Win98se vs winXP and the snobbery was between two major releases of the same brand name. How is that a reaction to FOSS proponents? How many times have you seen "I can't get Windows to do XYZ" responded by "well, XYZ Linux can do that for you". It's simply stating that the function can be obtained from another platform; each being better at something. Then the third in the string pops up with a slap in the face "but Linux isn't even 1% of the market, why cosider it for that use?" I can't speak for everyone but my personal enthusiasm is from years and years and years of working with only Windows machines only to have the limitations of my computing blown wide open by access to other platforms though specifically Red Hat -> Mandriva -> Mandriva/Debian/Maemo. It's not unique to my windows experience either. After years of living with a PalmOS symbiot and all kinds of hack arounds to expand it's interoperability with my systems, I now have a Maemo Linux based PDA which integrates seamlessly thanks to native SSH. This is only my personal experience though and it's long past the highschool X is better than Y because I use X level of debate.

dcolbert
dcolbert

The Linux "Nyah Nyah Nyah"... approach. I just don't get this. Why does DISAGREEING that Linux has any shot at ever being a mainstream desktop or corprorate OS contender as things stand make me a Win32 fanboy? It is such a false dichotomy - which is just ANOTHER great example of the fanaticism. "If you're not with us, you're against us". "If you're not saved, you're damned". I don't see Win32 people painting choices in absolutes. I certainly am not. I'm giving Linux its due, recognizing where it makes sense, where it makes sense, where it excels. But I sure get painted as being clearly on one side of the fence, by the Linux community around here. It is amazing that Linux attracts such logical, rational, analytical people, yet all reason, logic and analysis seems to fly out the window when it comes to discussing their favorite OS.

OxfordRob
OxfordRob

Except you meet the core requirement for a WIN32 fanboy.

funbowhunter
funbowhunter

A BETTER game. I switched about 6 months ago. I Love it, techi NOT, old geezer? Yeah. Since my switch, first on my laptop, then on the kids desktop. NO MORE CRASHES. No more virus checks, no more registry scans, no more registry cleanups, and still after six months, boot time in under a minute. My kids XP machine was taking 10 minutes, or more. I bought an old pentium 2 dell laptop from work for my oldest daughter after she had an article published and put Xubuntu on it. Runs fast and clean and has eye candy to boot. I am also preaching to others, since you broght up the religious aspect. A friends MS desktop took a dump, wouldn't boot and the geeky guys told him to throw it away, I said, give this a try. Guess what, he is not out $500 for a new computer. Raise the dead I say. Oh yeah, I don't have to take the advice of MS hard cores and reinstall my windows every 6 months in order to keep it fast. It's just.... FAST. And will be even faster still in 2 days when I get the new distro......FOR FREE. Guess what else? I convinced IT to give it a try. Now the guy testing it has already gotten his father on it. NOT LOOKING GOOD FOR WINDOWS. It was inevitable, MS opened the door to this with Vista, gave Mac a chance to focus on what seemed to be MS's dominant market- business - which made windows speed up the 7 development using off the shelf code. Now I sit back and just smile and watch and tell and convert. Yes, linux should focus on what it is good at--- it just works.

brian
brian

I've been using some flavor of Linux since the 0.92 kernel back in something like 1993. And, as long as I've had machines running Linux, I've had a desktop machine running MS Windows (except for a period when I was using a Mac). Right now I have 4 Linux-based computers and a laptop running Vista (blah!). What do I use Linux for? I do computational biology, so I use it for programming, databases, algorithm development, and cluster computing. I also run the web server for my business on a Linux machine. Oh, and I just installed a Western Digital NAS that runs on embedded Linux. What do I use the PC for? Running a business, meaning Office apps, email, surfing, and ssh access to the Linux machines. My point is, I use Linux in a specific environment for a specific set of tasks, just as I use my desktop to perform a specific set of tasks. No doubt I could migrate to a single platform, but why?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

There isn't a day I don't touch at least three different OS. Only one OS would bore me to death. offhand, are you just using putty/winscp on your Vista machine to contact your servers? You might like to try a Debian or similar VM giving you a native SSH environment to hit your servers through. Much nicer than all the mouse work involved too when you can sftp/scp/ssh/sshfs from the command line. ;) In the end, whatever works though.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

between Webmin and SSH/Putty, it doesn't much matter what platform your client station is running. I've had two cases that demand a *nix local workstation though: - "thinclient" type work where my desktop remains in it's place and forwards Firefox and other X apps to me and my notebook. SSH with X forwarding on a local network is very handy. - client's server where "with GUI admin tools for me to use" was part of the criteria and better way to manage the distro. Mandriva is great but it's not like managing a Debian box when limited to command line and Webmin. But Debian is very well thought out and I've yet to have a reason to install X on top of it let alone admin through anything beyond Webmin and SSH. The only Debian with X I have installed actually is my VM since it runs things like Netdiscover better than mandriva. (one's a desktop easy use distro, the other is a server and security distro. I have Backtrack for heavy security work too though)

brian
brian

Most of the time I use putty. It does the job pretty well for me. I don't write too much code, mostly Perl scripts to munge data formats, but I do run R and computationally intensive analytical routines. I have a Fedora development box if I want to run applications that require X, and to be honest I really despise X emulators on Windows. It's like the rest of the thread, use the right tool for the job instead of trying to make it something it is not - or claim that it is.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think a huge part of the Linux Advocacy community tends to be developers (and/or people in the scientific fields who are often also developing custom applications). I'm not a developer, but clearly there are huge aspects of *nix that appeal to developers, so I figure there must be some significant advantage there. But I think whatever the advantage is, it inevitably *must* be lost on the average joe. The other posts so far have been so full of non-factual rhetoric (Windows Update differs significant from how Apt handles updates in Debian/Ubunut? Seriously? Really?!? And Vista costs $400 USD? What planet is this on?) that I can't even bring myself to respond to them directly. But here again, in your last paragraph, I think you make a decent point. I'm not advocating a single platform, either. As it clearly states in the post, I use both platforms myself. My point is that where the Linux community (as a GROUP of politicians, I'll buy that this clears up the analogy somewhat) tries to sell Linux as a solution that it isn't, as a threat that it isn't, as a competitor that it isn't - and that large segments of the tech-press pick up this ball and run with it. After nearly 20 years of running with that particular ball, Linux isn't really even out of the end zone (if you want to talk about competition as a desktop OS). Linux has found niches - which is good, but OS X is far ahead of Linux as a desktop OS contender, after far less time on market. It is time for the Linux community, as an ideological plank, to quit running a race that it needs to concede, and focus on growing itself where it is strong. And that is *not* as a desktop OS alternative. That WD embedded Linux NAS isn't a "WorldBook" is it? You mean an embeded Linux NAS that can't even drive the 10/100/1000gb NIC at full 100mb speeds? That isn't the fault of *nix, it is the hardware - but the problems with SMB transfer between *nix and Win32 across a Gb network *are* a *nix issue (Samba issue, anyhow). But in either case, this is another example of where Linux does well - for the average consumer, the *nix of the worldbook is completely hidden, and it is well suited to people with no significant technical knowledge who want a plug-and-play solution. It is like a $200 version of an IBM XIV. The *Linux* is hidden, and the appliance is single-purposed... which is when Linux does best. This is SO the opposite of "competing with Microsoft for Desktop OS share". Which was my point.

dcolbert
dcolbert

My experience was with the WorldBook, which was, by all accounts, a horrible implementation. Either way, it kind of proves my point. I suppose with "Windows Home Server" and the HP box, it is arguable that Microsoft IS competing in this space now, but I think this more than proves my point. Linux is great as an embeded (and *hidden*) OS that underlies a nice, pretty consumer GUI interface - but those don't -compete- with Win32 on the DESKTOP (home or corporate) or the Back Office. So your WD Linux based NAS really shouldn't be part of this discussion. Let me try to find a point to compare with. Your DVD, your television, your BluRay player, your portable DVD - they've all, always had some sort of basic, custom OS underlying them. All of your personal electronics. And that basic OS has usually had some GUI built on top of it for the consumer. How it responds to the buttons you hit or the menus you scroll through and select. This has, outside of a few narrow examples, never been a place where Microsoft competes, or where they enjoy a significant dominance of the market share. In fact, I would argue that embedded consumer OS platforms is not Microsoft's core competency, and logically so. It may SEEM like a logical extension of their business model, but in reality, it isn't. Now Linux has made a nice home for itself in this space, and found a good niche. That niche itself, and the way Linux has grown it, has PROBABLY resulted in Microsoft paying MORE attention to this possible, largely untapped market segment over the last 10 years. But any GROWTH that Linux has enjoyed here has not come at the EXPENSE of Microsoft market-share. In fact, it is arguable that both Microsoft and Linux have been beneficiaries of this growing market - that is, they both exist in this segment without damaging the other's overall numbers. So it is really irrelevent if your phone, portable video game system, GPS unit, or car's entertainment system is Linux based - ESPECIALLY if you'll NEVER actually get down to the actual OS that is hidden behind a custom shell GUI. But in any case, I'm glad that you're having a better experience with your WD NAS than I had with mine. I ended up gutting it and putting the 500gb SATA into a Win32 PC. The case with embedded Linux card on it is still in my basement, awaiting a good project or someone who wants to try and make something useful out of it.

brian
brian

It's a WD ShareSpace. I have read complaints about transfer speed, but I have had nothing but good experience with the product. I needed 4Tb to hold the public domain biological databases. For $649 it was a good decision. I have that and my main compute server (8cpu) on a gigabit switch and 250gb scratch space on the server itself as buffer. It took about 15 minutes to set up, including mapping it as a drive to my PC. Of that 15 minutes, 10 of it were spent figuring out that NFS is OFF my default, which is why I couldn't mount it to the Linux server. Crappy documentation, good NAS.

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