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Windows Vs. Linux (not what you're thinking)

Started by Aetre, August 18, 2007, 04:53:19 PM

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This is by far the most interesting article on piracy that i've ever seen. Long, but definitely worth a read.

That said, I'm running a legal Windows 2000 that I paid for specifically to get Linux off of my machine, I have legal versions of Dreamweaver and Office, and all the programs on my machine that are free are legally free downloads (the free versions of AVG and ZoneAlarm, for example). And I have enough experience over two years with multiple versions of Linux that I feel I could take up the writer of the article on his challenge in the last paragraph.

Your thoughts?
"Not even the Human can stop me now..."


When I read this article numerous people come to mind for me right away.

I, however, know the advantages and disadvantages of Linux vs Windows in my case. Thus at home I run Windows XP Pro (legitimate copy that I did purchase) and at the office I run Ubuntu Feisty with the nice suite of free office stuff that it has on it.  ;D

However, things this document fails to go over are a few other particular downsides to Linux which he fails to touch base on. That's software installation. Linux has this little issue of no standard installer, which makes the learning process for using it all that much harder. Ok so maybe us geeky types know how to "apt-get" or "yum" or whatever it's called in the distribution you use, or if we don't are willing to learn it. But the standard user has no friggin idea how to do that shit. They wanna download an installation program, and it just "work". This is something that Windows does very well, yet Linux fails to do release after release.

Lets not forget the issue of non-backwards compatibility. Ok, yes, it helps Linux maintain that bleeding edge in your face outlook on things... but people WANT their old POS hardware to work on their system. Which is something else Windows does very well in each new release, yet Linux fails at over time. Same goes for running older software.

Finally, you have the issue of how the Linux shared libraries are set up. Yeah you all know what I'm talking about if you've used any flavor of Linux, ever. It at times becomes a total pain in the ass if you have two copies of software which use two completely different versions of a shared library. Ok so we may understand the workaround for shit like that, but the average consumer doesn't, and doesn't want to. Again, they want it to just "work" as they intend it to.
(\_/)    ~Relakuyae D'Selemae
(")_(")  [Libre Office] [Chrome]


I agree, that with windows also being "free" in the sense of easily and frequently pirated, it makes no sense to say that linux can't even win with a $200 price advantage. So that part of the article makes sense... Compare them on equal ground, assuming no cost difference. The rest of the article, well, it's an old argument, and Neal Stephenson summed it up best with an example from his article "In the Beginning was The Command Line"

Full article is at

The relevant section is quoted below though.

QuoteImagine a crossroads where four competing auto dealerships are situated. One of them (Microsoft) is much, much bigger than the others. It started out years ago selling three-speed bicycles (MS-DOS); these were not perfect, but they worked, and when they broke you could easily fix them.

There was a competing bicycle dealership next door (Apple) that one day began selling motorized vehicles--expensive but attractively styled cars with their innards hermetically sealed, so that how they worked was something of a mystery.

The big dealership responded by rushing a moped upgrade kit (the original Windows) onto the market. This was a Rube Goldberg contraption that, when bolted onto a three-speed bicycle, enabled it to keep up, just barely, with Apple-cars. The users had to wear goggles and were always picking bugs out of their teeth while Apple owners sped along in hermetically sealed comfort, sneering out the windows. But the Micro-mopeds were cheap, and easy to fix compared with the Apple-cars, and their market share waxed.

Eventually the big dealership came out with a full-fledged car: a colossal station wagon (Windows 95). It had all the aesthetic appeal of a Soviet worker housing block, it leaked oil and blew gaskets, and it was an enormous success. A little later, they also came out with a hulking off-road vehicle intended for industrial users (Windows NT) which was no more beautiful than the station wagon, and only a little more reliable.

Since then there has been a lot of noise and shouting, but little has changed. The smaller dealership continues to sell sleek Euro-styled sedans and to spend a lot of money on advertising campaigns. They have had GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! signs taped up in their windows for so long that they have gotten all yellow and curly. The big one keeps making bigger and bigger station wagons and ORVs.

On the other side of the road are two competitors that have come along more recently.

One of them (Be, Inc.) is selling fully operational Batmobiles (the BeOS). They are more beautiful and stylish even than the Euro-sedans, better designed, more technologically advanced, and at least as reliable as anything else on the market--and yet cheaper than the others.

With one exception, that is: Linux, which is right next door, and which is not a business at all. It's a bunch of RVs, yurts, tepees, and geodesic domes set up in a field and organized by consensus. The people who live there are making tanks. These are not old-fashioned, cast-iron Soviet tanks; these are more like the M1 tanks of the U.S. Army, made of space-age materials and jammed with sophisticated technology from one end to the other. But they are better than Army tanks. They've been modified in such a way that they never, ever break down, are light and maneuverable enough to use on ordinary streets, and use no more fuel than a subcompact car. These tanks are being cranked out, on the spot, at a terrific pace, and a vast number of them are lined up along the edge of the road with keys in the ignition. Anyone who wants can simply climb into one and drive it away for free.

Customers come to this crossroads in throngs, day and night. Ninety percent of them go straight to the biggest dealership and buy station wagons or off-road vehicles. They do not even look at the other dealerships.

Of the remaining ten percent, most go and buy a sleek Euro-sedan, pausing only to turn up their noses at the philistines going to buy the station wagons and ORVs. If they even notice the people on the opposite side of the road, selling the cheaper, technically superior vehicles, these customers deride them cranks and half-wits.

The Batmobile outlet sells a few vehicles to the occasional car nut who wants a second vehicle to go with his station wagon, but seems to accept, at least for now, that it's a fringe player.

The group giving away the free tanks only stays alive because it is staffed by volunteers, who are lined up at the edge of the street with bullhorns, trying to draw customers' attention to this incredible situation. A typical conversation goes something like this:

Hacker with bullhorn: "Save your money! Accept one of our free tanks! It is invulnerable, and can drive across rocks and swamps at ninety miles an hour while getting a hundred miles to the gallon!"

Prospective station wagon buyer: "I know what you say is don't know how to maintain a tank!"

Bullhorn: "You don't know how to maintain a station wagon either!"

Buyer: "But this dealership has mechanics on staff. If something goes wrong with my station wagon, I can take a day off work, bring it here, and pay them to work on it while I sit in the waiting room for hours, listening to elevator music."

Bullhorn: "But if you accept one of our free tanks we will send volunteers to your house to fix it for free while you sleep!"

Buyer: "Stay away from my house, you freak!"

Bullhorn: "But..."

Buyer: "Can't you see that everyone is buying station wagons?"

It really is a great analogy. People are just more comfortable with windows, because it's what everyone else uses. The installer situation, for example. There are actually great, GUI-based package managers for all the RPM distros. Ubuntu is no exception. The catch is that it's DIFFERENT than the way you install/manage software in windows, not that it's harder or easier. The shared libraries issue isn't really a big deal either. Unreal Tournament 2004 uses several binary-specific versions of libraries, but it simply comes with it's own copy of those that it installs right in with the rest of the game. I played ut2k3 out of the box, using it's own GUI installer on linux, the day it came out. I can take that same disc today, and use the same on-disc installer, and it will still work/play just fine on my current (bleeding edge) distro. Now, granted, not all binary/proprietary software is packaged as neatly as UT is, but that's an issue of companies making a poor product, not technical limitations of the OS or platform.

I know I've brought up this example before, but my mom uses linux exclusively, and has for years now. Like a lot of stereotypical mothers, she's not very tech-savvy, and just wants things to work. She was also a late comer to the computer revolution, and had only been using an old hand-me-down computer for about a year when I decided she needed something halfway decent. Of course I put linux on it, since I'd be the one having to maintain it, and also because I knew my cheapskate parents weren't going to spring for the cost of buying all the legit software they'd actually need (especially yearly antivirus subscriptions.) Anyway, she's been using it for several years now. She does the basic web/email stuff, writes letters, does accounting, syncs her digital camera, manages photo albums, burns cds, etc. All of it "just works" for her, and continues to just work. She doesn't get viruses, her programs don't crash, and she's just happy with it. Now that she's gotten decently comfortable with computers, she's started trying to use them other places, like a friend's house to show them some article online, or things like that. She actually finds windows to be awkward and needlessly complicated. She asked me the other day how you're supposed to install software in windows, since a friend of her's hadn't had some photoviewer or something. When I explained you had to go find the website of the software you want, and download an installer from them, then run it, she asked me, "Well how are you supposed to know what you need or where to look for it? Can't I just search the package descriptions like I always do?" "No Mom," I replied, "Windows doesn't work that way." "Well it should!"

Anyway, this post is long enough. You all know I'm a big fan of linux, but when it really comes down to it, I always tell people to use whatever works best for you. If the advantages of switching aren't worth the learning curve, then don't do it. There's a dozen different hammers out there, and they all bang the nail into the board just fine. :-)