Thursday, June 05, 2008
Back home in Linuxville
My present tech job is ending and I relish the experience. Even the chance to pick at a few Macs allows me to fatten my resume. But I am still left with some after thoughts. If you have made the commitment to Macs or Microsoft in cash investments I'm sure you are in no mood to change. If you are taking a new direction you might want to add Linux into your figuring things out. Apple has done a good job at convincing people that Macs are easier to use than MS or Linux and you pay the price for the tour guide to stay on the path prescribed. If you stray off the path even a little bit, Macs are no different than Linux or MS other than a more polished interface. Staying with the applications your user experience is indeed something to boast about. If you need to be more powerful than the average computer user you have to deal with a more complex Mac. It is similar to Linux in that respect except that Linux is more understandable than the BSD Unix that Macs are based on (from this user's view). But since most Mac users never venture too deeply into the Mac, it is regarded as a point and click appliance. The truth is that Linux can be that way also. You can point and click Linux and you can script and program also. My great discovery is that what Macs have can be had in Linux for free. The advantage of Macs are some presumed polish and a single company behind it (if that is a real advantage). Linux is really the sum of parts compiled to run on various platforms and configured for targeted purposes and customized for the types of users. While out of the box setups have gotten better, the real treasure of Linux is that it can and most often is customized by the users. Then to top it all off, the Apple people are turning to the Intel PC platform. If you are a Mac user you will slowly see your present Mac hardware get old and obsolete. No upgrade path means you will have to buy new stuff if you want to continue to use the Mac OS. You have to note that Mr. Jobs in order to retain the tight market he has will continue to lock the hardware in some way so that other OS's won't run on the same, now common hardware that OS X runs on. In a perfect world you would buy the hardware you want and also the OS you want and go for it. This is not happening. It is too bad that Linux doesn't have a great marketing machine behind it. In another thought I am glad it doesn't. It is kind of hard to summarize Linux in a defined package. The Linux parts can be compiled and assembled in a vast assortment of combinations. So while distributions may be a company's or a person's choices, along with the naming convention, there are gangs of users who agree with those choices and rave about their superior distro. Marketing people and the tech mags are all waiting for the Linux market to shake out and one distro to take the lead. This is not in the nature of the Linux culture because Linux is not a single trademarked product. As long as folks consider Linux by the same measure as Macs and MS, they will miss the point of Linux. Linux is free, about freedom and about choice. Having made these choices, one is amazed at how it still works together. Then the nature of Linux extends into the community that develops it, supports it and uses it. Linux can be a great break glass emergency tool kit or a full time server or desktop OS, your choice. But, be at peace if your brand name loyalty prevents you from wondering or wandering. The sights, the sounds, the smells and the invitation to Linuxville is waiting here for you, if you choose.