Saturday, November 08, 2003

Yes, it has been a while since my last post. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more difficult to find time for blogging now that I have a job. Lucky for me, I wasn't scheduled to work this weekend so I can do some posting. While I may not have been posting for more than a month, I have done quite a bit of thinking about what direction I would like to go with this blog. I think the best approach would be to post stories about my experiences with technology in general and computers specifically. Since there may not be enough problems to post more than once per month, I will also include my comments and thoughts on technology. Once in a while, if something is really eating away at me, I might even publish something a little more personal.

To inaugurate this new direction, I'll add my two cents worth to the Linux vs. Windows debate. Please don't write nasty comments about this post. I realize that many people, especially Linux die-hards, will disagree with some of the things I say, but it is my personal opinion. Having worked with both OS's and watched others of various skill levels work with with both, I think my opinion is somewhat valid. Let the reader be warned: This is not a well thought out essay, just my thoughts on the subject.

First, let me briefly describe my computing history. When I began exploring the world of computing, it was with a Commodore 64 my dad purchased in 1984. I was only three years old at the time, but I was curious none the less. When I was in fifth grade, I began learning how to program the beast. Then, when I was in seventh grade (maybe it was eighth, or even ninth, I don't really remember), my father bought the family a PC equipped with MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1. From there, the progression went something like this: Windows 95, purchased my own computer, Windows 98 SE, major hardware upgrades, Windows XP Pro. Windows XP found its way into my life last Thanksgiving, and it was the following Christmas that I installed Mandrake Linux 9.0 so that I was dual-booting between the two operating systems.

To be perfectly honest, my experience with Linux has helped me to develop a taste for crow. You see, before I actually installed Linux on my own system, my experiences with the OS had been limited to the two or three times I had used the computer labs at school. My head was full of forum postings by avid Linux fans and comments by various TV personalities espousing the virtues of Linux. Thus, I went around to all my friends and family making comments like, "Linux is great", "Linux is so much better than Windows", and "You really need to get Linux." Then, with more than a little bit of anticipation, I opened the small DVD sized Christmas gift underneath the tree. After going through the installation process for Linux several times and using Linux at least as much as Windows for the past year, I have been forced to reevaluated my views. Yes, I've come to the conclusion that, great as Linux may be to advanced computer users, it is far from becoming mainstream and taking a sizable chunk out of Microsoft's grip on the market.

Windows may be buggy, short on customization, unstable, etc. but it is much easier for the average user to install and navigate than Linux. My dad has watched me install Linux and use it on a number of occasions and has remarked several times about how difficult it would be for him to properly maintain a Linux system. I don't blame him. I myself have had to do quite a bit of reading on the internet to get everything up and running, and I still have more to do. I don't think the rest of my family, or most of the people I've ever met could easily make the switch.

Were I to be approached on the street and asked, "Should I switch to Linux?" I would have to respond that it depends on one's situation. If you feel as though you've outgrown Windows and need to take your computing to the next level, then you should seriously think about Linux. However, if you're comfortable with Windows, it does everything you ask of it, and you're more comfortable with a GUI than a CLI, you'll be better off sticking with Windows. Until someone begins selling a distro of Linux as easy to use as Windows, I don't think I'll be changing my opinion (From what I hear, MacOS X is great, but you have to buy a whole new computer to use it. Also, I have no experience with Macs whatsoever, thus I cannot comment on MacOS X).

As a side note, there are still a few things which I prefer to use Windows for however, I find myself spending more and more time in Linux. That's for another post though...