[opensource] Linux vs. Windows

Ann Elliott elliott.222 at osu.edu
Wed Oct 25 22:39:41 EDT 2006


My personal short essay on why I like OSS, which may or may not apply 
to your situation:

I use FreeBSD, Windows, and MacOSX on my home machines. I was rather 
familiar with Windows (been using it since 3.1, the first computer I 
owned ran 98) before I started using *nix. I kept up with security 
(updates, firewalls, anti-spyware) stuff on the Windows side and never 
had any problems. I prefer *nix because I am a control freak, and I 
like text files better than digging through GUI window after GUI window 
in hopes that the developer had the same concept I do about what 
features should go where. I also like the easy installs of hordes of 
free software. There is plenty of good OSS for Windows, but it takes 
slightly more effort to find and (being an unfortunate dial-up user) I 
can look for software in my ports tree without getting on the internet.

My main computer runs dual-boot with XP and FreeBSD because I have yet 
to get CorelDraw12 working in WINE (I really haven't bothered to put 
the effort into it yet), printer support in *nix for the Canon S900 is 
shoddy (it's kinda there, but not full featured), and my sound card 
(Audigy2 Platinum) has some nice software on the Windows side (like 
plugging the RCA turntable directly into the front panel and cleaning 
up the pops and such in real time without spending any time configuring 
open source programs). The dangerous part about this is that since I'm 
not in XP very often I don't keep up on the security updates, so it's a 
bit risky every time I reboot and get online. That lack of keeping up 
with updates is why the tech support people I work with discourage dual 
booting.

There are plenty of ways to make *nix easy to use, but I don't know 
what half of them are because I installed it as a learning process. My 
favorite new install game is to start with the most ridiculously 
minimal install the CD offers and specifically choose each program that 
I want. It makes me feel like I have power over my own computer. I much 
prefer that to having a base install of XP and trying to figure out how 
to delete things I don't want (like Messenger). My FreeBSD machine is 
slightly harder to maintain because the learning curve is much larger, 
but I wanted it that way. FreeBSD is easier to maintain in that I can 
pick software and updates I want, feed my computer the appropriate 
commands from a console, go to bed, and have shiny new programs in the 
morning. Windows has a bunch of clicky boxes to go through and huge 
updates for several major programs (the OS, Office, Corel, Adobe....). 
Mostly though, BSD does what I tell it to when I tell it to. Anything 
bad that happens is probably because I am ignorant and/or stupid, not 
because I am the helpless victim of bad software. That means there is a 
chance I can fix it (or at least learn something valuable as I break it 
more) instead of ranting for a bit and waiting for someone else to fix 
it.

OSX is... the creepy inbetween. I hate fluffy GUIs, and Apple excels at 
that. Most of that can be turned off, though I can never fully escape 
Aqua and just use a terminal. When the mac works, it works 
automagically. When it doesn't work, it's a real pain to figure out 
what's wrong. OSX and Windows both tend to have moving "informational" 
messages show up on my screen when I don't want them. Bright moving 
colors are very distracting.

Alright, that was long enough and I'm bored. Hope that provided some 
insight.

-Ann



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