Friday, June 15, 2007

The Microsoft VS Linux debate.

I guess the root question has to be can I do all the things in Linux as I can in MS Windows? I don't know. You can not account for all the hardware/software situations that people have in any Operating system. Can I do the basic things that people do on their computers? Yes. Is there a Linux answer for every piece of MS Windows software. No. Why should Linux or Open Source software be saddled with competing in that kind of way? Linux and Open Source has provided free solutions to many computing needs but there doesn't seem to be a push to compete with Microsoft. I think people compare stuff and hope for point for point alternatives. Microsoft has said that Open Source software, Open Office in particular, is not as advanced as their office suite.
Yet how many of those advanced features do you really use? The same with comparing Photoshop to the GIMP that comes with Linux. How much of Photoshop does the average person really use? And what do you want for free? A lot of persons are critical of assumed limitations and "lack of features". They never quite get across to folks that you get a lot of usefulness for free. They only see that it doesn't match up, therefore it is not good stuff. How on earth can you compare a $500 program with a free one and hold them to the same standard.
You get the feeling that people are saying that they would take the free one only if it were like the $500 one. They would even pirate the $500 one rather than use the free one. I really don't understand user logic. I myself would have a computer full of pirated software if it weren't for Open Source. The software I received with my PC was dismal. I got a trial version of MS Office and MS Works. MS Works while useful is not even compatible with MS Office let alone other productivity suites. How could you waste my money, time and disk space with that junk? I don't believe Microsoft or my hardware vendor had me in mind when they packaged that system. They assumed that what ever I buy I will use and not ask for more.
OK, I will admit that there are some things that only run on Windows that are desirable to have. When I was doing drafting AutoCAD was a hot program for instance. And I hear of folks who need Windows for other professional type programs. I am exploring the use of virtual machines where you can run other operating systems inside of the main one. That might be a solution, but will it answer the Microsoft or Linux question? I don't know but, I like Linux. I like the history of it, the progress of it and the look and feel of it on the desktop. I am still comparing the two OS's in my present computer. Linux is winning. Why should I have to pay so much just to do the basic stuff? Then, why should I have to rely on one companies' whims and wiles? I'm talking about the software/hardware upgrade dilemma when new versions come out. Can I really afford to learn the ins and outs of a new operating system? Well , it really hasn't been that painful. And I have been watching Linux for some time now. Linux has grown up. Linux is more ready for the desktop than critics think. I think since the computer has become "popular" with people who are use to turning appliances off and on, the expected results of plug and play, portability and the idea of anyone having access, the reality that a computer is a complex piece of machinery is being lost. The cry for standardization and dumbing things down (user-friendliness) so that even you can use it has been made. Linux has done a lot to accommodate easier use and offers a lot at a price that can not be beat. Why not give it a try? Once the smoke of marketing and user inertia clears, I think Linux will come up in the average users realm of choice.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Linux or Microsoft, where do you stand?

Linux or Microsoft, where do you stand? Why, is it that the choice of a computer operating system and its associated products, support services, and even user base becomes a question as to wither or not you are the proper kind of person or country? I have been reading a few blogs lately and it seems that some alarmist are quite convinced that Linux is anti-American, anti-capitalism, the choice of terrorist, a threat to national security and the work of godless people. These types of opinions are leaking into the "FUD" machinery of Microsoft supporters. Some have even claimed that using Microsoft products as opposed to Linux is the god approved way to live.
Well, I don't have the words to defend Linux from all the various attacks. It seems to me that some folks see conspiracy in everything that didn't originate in America. I myself believe that America has not always provided the best ways to deal with things, the history of slavery and immigration comes to mind. You can also see that America has not always produced products suited for use by the whole world. There are in the world, other products and other solutions to problems.
Some have rallied against global competition by this notion of protecting "American technology secrets" and "Intellectual Property". It seems America is always leery of anything dubbed international in scope. We still have a hard time with co-operating with other countries. America, as a government and as a business is always seeking an economic or political advantage.
I can make any number of observations and pronouncements but what has all this to do with Linux? Does using Linux really make you anti-American, or even ungodly? Well just whose side am I on anyway? I myself never thought that using an operating system was a matter of loyalty to my country. I never thought using Linux meant I was participating in undermining the American way or that using Linux was equal to being anti-Christ. I can't see what is so right about using Microsoft products in lieu of some other choice. I don't think that the history of Microsoft's growth and development or its dominance in the marketplace qualifies it a kind of sainthood. There is nothing American about using only Microsoft products. We import products from just about every producing nation on earth. We really need to see that, especially when it comes to electronics, we import just about everything.
The obvious thing is that Linux is not a child of our American economic model and has been a solution produced and provided by the very people of the world who use computers. It is an amazing thing that an idea freely communicated across the internet has grown into a workable operating system. Linux is the work of thousands of programmers and users in a world wide effort to produce a free alternative to what is on the market. Linux has been free from many of the barriers imposed by businesses and governments and language. It is in its own medium of exchange in the world. It has become a "Rosetta Stone" of sorts. I can understand the mistrust of some who must be concerned with property rights and protecting the rights and liberties of their countrymen. Linux does not fit into the vision of controlled access and deployment. Linux does not fit well into the profit motive or the political/legal leverage ideal.
Linux is not owned or developed by one person or company but is a solution produced by world wide collaboration. This is dream stuff. We have always talked about this kind of effort among the nations whose governments can never agree on anything. I think it is a pretty good effort and a pretty good product. I don't think you can compare the Linux world to the Microsoft world point for point and come up level and clean. It is comparing a nonprofit endeavor to a for profit operation. In the whole world of computing, who meets your needs? In a whole world of choices, will you pay, pirate or choose the free one? I don't think you can account for all the reasons and motives behind the things we deal with in life. I don't think everything can stand up to that kind of scrutiny. The best things in computing have been used to harm people whither it is paid for or pirated or freely accessed. Linux is a choice and has been a choice from the beginning. Choosing Linux does not mean you are anti-American, a satanist, a queer, or any such thing. The world is full of choices that are good ones.