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Saturday, November 11, 2006

About Linux

El Gee posted a couple days ago about Linux vs. Windows, and how many people expect that they can simply install Linux on their PC and continue life the same as with Windows. El Gee has almost completely converted himself to Linux, and I commend him for it.

I first learned about Linux in 1996, when I was in college. I'd had some exposure to UNIX previously, including the school's AIX servers, but never seen it as a desktop operating system. As I learned more, I decided I wanted to learn more, and in 1998 I switched over to it almost exclusively. In an academic environment, in a Computer Science program, it really wasn't that hard - the only software I had that "required" Windows was games.

I had become a Linux fanboy. This was back in the days of NT 4 and Windows 95/98. NT 4 was still clunky, but better than 3.51. Win9x was unstable and buggy as all get-out. Linux was terrific - I had uptimes measured in weeks, not hours.

I started my first post-college job in an all-Microsoft shop, but I kept using Linux at home. My rationale was "I want to come home to something that just works." I had Windows installed, but it was sluggish on my computer; it was there so I could use Quicken, and log onto the VPN for work. I got a lot of ribbing at work about my Linux fanboyism, but I shrugged it off. Some of the things I did in Linux were harder than their equivalents in Windows, but no matter - I'm a geek, and it just meant that I had more control, right?

After a while, a couple factors conspired against me. I found myself spending more and more time working from home, which required Windows. And I found myself becoming increasingly dependent upon Quicken to track my finances. I tried some of the other money-management software that worked on Linux, but couldn't find anything that I liked as much as Quicken - ease of use wasn't there, and features I wanted weren't there. Then, the last straw. I installed an upgrade to the distribution I was using, and my system was configured in a very weird way. Try as I might, I just could not get certain things working with this new version which had previously worked.

By this time, Windows 2000 had been out for a while and was very well-established. Windows was "good enough" and let me get things done easily - somehow, Linux and Windows had flipped positions for me. And so, I removed my Linux partition. I was able to do what I needed to do in Windows just fine. It was stable, it was usable, and that was good enough for me.

I still have a Linux box in the house - never was without one, really. But it's been relegated to strictly server duty. I know that Linux has advanced quite a bit since my last bad experience, but I just don't have a compelling reason to go back at this point. I don't want to have to tinker anymore - Windows XP is now that system that "just works" for me. Maybe things will change in the future, maybe they won't - we'll see what happens.

1 Comments:

  • I've decided to learn linux slowly but surely.

    Windows has become more stable with XP, however, I do like the concept of linux's open system.

    Linux's dot prompt reminds me of when I first learned dos in 1987.

    Keep learning...

    By Blogger Monty Loree, at 11/11/2006 10:55 PM  

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