Enterprise Linux Log

Apr 17 2008   10:48AM GMT

Microsoft Vista vs. Linux desktops: An IT pro sounds off

Suzanne Wheeler Suzanne Wheeler Profile: Suzanne Wheeler

The thought of moving to Microsoft Vista has put many Windows users into a panic, writes Ubuntu Linux user and IT pro Fred Marsico, the chief technology officer of Quantum Mechanics R&D in Corvallis, Ore., in this guest blog post.

In trade mags and blogs, I have read about the Vista-versus-Linux issue, and it’s now my turn to say something.

Since December, I have used Ubuntu Desktop. Aside from the fact that I have no virus warnings, no malware and no bots downloading themselves, it has been business as usual. I use Open Office and have no problems with reading and writing MS Office documents. My old Windows Me PC would not let me do that with a new version of MS Office, and of course that meant upgrading to XP as a prerequisite before installing Office. Total cost would have been about $300.

My wife has an older HP notebook running Windows XP Media Center. I chuckle as she reboots each time she gets an update or adds and removes programs. I have been running nonstop with only one required restart for a patch to the Linux kernel.

I read all of these horror stories about Vista on the blogs and comments on many sites about the same. I also see many intentionally derogatory messages posted by Windows users on the open source sites. According to them, Linux is for geeks; “normal” people don’t need to constantly tweak settings and such, as Windows is “automated.” This means that all of Windows software installs without much intervention.

In an honest comparison, it is true that Linux would greatly benefit from an Install Shield application that would make software installs and removal ubiquitous, but I also remember when Windows users complained about the same things.

Another point to ponder is that most of the back-end computers handling banking and ATMs are running Linux. And regarding security, if the banks trust Linux, we should have no problem doing so too.

With faster and multiple-core processors used today, I would have thought that Vista would have been written from the ground up with optimization in mind. With the hefty hardware requirements, it seems Vista is now the most bloated version Microsoft has rolled out to date. Just because I have 2 GB DDR RAM and a 100 GB HDD does not mean that I want my OS to hog most of them. I thought it would make having several applications running concurrently faster, and cause less hangs and crashes.

With the end of the software’s service life rapidly approaching, Windows XP users are panicked. They dread the thought of moving to Vista . Many are starting to look at the Mac OS or Linux as an alternative. Perhaps Bill Gates stepped down because he could foretell the future, and it begins to look like Microsoft is faltering.

With the state of affairs as it is, software developers should move to open source in droves. They can still write proprietary code, and can still sell it at retailers and online.

They just won’t have to pay homage to Microsoft. Monopoly software is dead; long live open source!

16  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    Ubuntu/Debian does have installer, or a near proximity to one -- apt-get. It also has GUI frontend ends to that tool as well. If the software you need is in the repositories or can be added to same then the install is pretty straight forward. The key is that developers need to agree to provide .debs to ease that process. We switched most everything in our household to Ubuntu. I got tired of the whole patch/virus/upgrade cycle. Have more important things to do. Updates are run as cron jobs every other week. Have not looked back since.
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    Quote: In an honest comparison, it is true that Linux would greatly benefit from an Install Shield application that would make software installs and removal ubiquitous, but I also remember when Windows users complained about the same things.... What about something like synaptic or add/remove? Can´t be made much easier..
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    yeah same here. only reason MS is still alive is : 1. games that only run on windows. 2. shitty drivers (nvidia, ati, etc.) on linux. but the scenario is changing very fast. 3. tons of legacy apps on windows. really painfull. this too is changing. 4. few apps like corel, photoshop, gtalk, google earth etc. that still are windows only. Maybe two more years and Linux will match Windows feature to feature. Bill gates chickened out when faced with a competitor. Remember that they have virtually no competition since so many years and they had ridiculous high profit margins (more than 95%). M$ cannot even stand a single competition. LOL.
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    "In an honest comparison, it is true that Linux would greatly benefit from an Install Shield application that would make software installs and removal ubiquitous, but I also remember when Windows users complained about the same things." Why would we want to take three steps backward? Synaptic?!
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    Welcome to the future! I find the apt-system and the synaptic package manager to be much better than any old install shield. Consider using a linux distribution that is based on apt-repositories. I concur with you note about the derogatory remarks from the MS astroturfers. However, even getting all their numerous employees posting on msdn blogs and comment trolling around the web won't save MS now. The Vista is a huge embarrassment, substandard even judging by their own mediocre record of production. I have seen top of the line Vista PCs stuttering along like a 386. For me, the hardware upgrade cycle is actually over. My 2003 laptop is running efficiently and stable on ubuntu linux. I, like most people installing linux now, am actually forfeiting MS licenses I paid for with my product, due to the inferior quality of said software. The actual problem for MS is not even their dire software or the high prices; rather, its the historical/philosophical change to free software initiated by Richard Stallman et al. The proprietary model with 80%+ profit margins and expenses largely in the marketing area just cannot compete with the free software / paid support value proposition. Are you an MS-shareholder? Sell, sell, sell!
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    Since 17 months now, since Vista announced a tenfold in hardware requirements and an additional $ 300 to acquire, I look for the right Linux OS. Don't think I'm a geek: since 1986 I've always been a WinKid. Linux was for Nerds. Now I think and act differently. I have 6 pc's to run, from Athlon2000 over Semrpon2600 to P4DC, with both ATI and NVIDIA video. I run several distro's for the moment, always in dual boot with WinXP[e]Pro: - MINT 4.0 - MEPIS 7.0 - MANDRIVA 2008.1 - GRANULAR 1.0 These are the distro's that install easily, recognize 1440x900, give me logical and full control, don't trouble with CrossOver. WinXP is still the favorite of my wife and daughter, because of silly reasons I as a man don't understand but respect. For banking (!) they MUST and SHALL use MINT, and they comply. And down here in the living room, MEPIS 7.0 rules, and they use it as easily as WinXP, because it is neat, simple, straightforward and logical.
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    I think Linux scores some points over Microsoft Vista because it is better in security and don't face any problems like system hanging.And vista is more of complicated and not so user friendly, I think its time for a change.
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    > Windows is “automated.” This means that all of Windows software > installs without much intervention. Are you kidding? Have you ever seen the number of popups in the lower-right corner when various apps want to be updated? Or the Windows Update or even the more-complete Microsoft Update, which only updates security-related items but doesn't update the applications otherwise, requiring that you go to update.microsoft.com and click a few dozen things and let it think for a long while and then select updates and WOW its a lot of work. Automated??
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    For application and package management there's also yum, yumex and the pup/pirut tools. It's a little difficult for me to judge the Lin/Win battle because I haven't really used Windows since about '94 or '95. The last time I used Win was in the WFW 3.11 days.
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    > What about something like > synaptic or add/remove? > Can´t be made much easier.. Absolutely if you install the package/solfware on repository. On Debian/Ubuntu Linux just run; # apt-get remove package_name/software_name On Fedora/CentOS Linux # yum remove package_name/software_name On Archlinux # pacman -R package_name/software_name OR # pacman -Rs package_name/software_name (To remove all of the packages dependencies which aren't used by any other installed package/software) On Gentoo Linux # emerge --unmerger package_name/software_name etc. NOT necessary to reboot the PC each time after install/remove a package/software. NOT like Windows. Why Windows still survive? If my boss has no knowledge on Linux/Unix but Windows, I recommend Linux/Unix to company that means I'm going to put him/her out off job OR asking him/her to retire. Forturnately I started migrating to Linux/Unix since about 6 years ago. Otherwise I'm still clicking around on screen with the mouse, knowing nothing. Now I run 100% Linux/Unix on server and workstation PC both in office and at home. Ubuntu is a GUI Linux distro easy to learn and user friendly. There are some other user friendly Linux distro. Please look for desktop Linux/Unix. You'll find tons of treasure on Internet. However the best Linux distro is the Linux built by yourself, LFS (LinuxFromScratch). You can build your own Linux OS. Enjoy the Open Source World. We help each others on Open Source World. There is no boundary there. We are working 24/365 round the Globe.
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    As a CTO, I would think that you would know about the existence of Synaptic and other package managers, if not actually have used them. The repository model of software update and installation is a far better model than that used in the M$ world. For Linux on the desktop to become ubiquitous, I believe two things are necessary: 1) Porting of existing popular small business applications like Quick Books 2) Marketing! (how many of your non-tech coworkers know about Linux?) The technical issues of device drivers are slowly being solved. When the lack of mainstream business apps ported for business is solved, the hardware vendors will flock to build robust device drivers. The M$ model of software engineering has always been to increase hardware requirements to make up for poor coding and sloppy program management. This model has left a legacy of toxic trash and wanton waste of resources. The lean hardware requirements for a robust operating system like Linux are a welcome change.
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    I recently switched over to Ubuntu 8.04b. I love it! Being in beta, the updates come a little too often, but I know that will change when it goes stable. I found software called Click-N-Run (www.cnr.com. It is a FREE one-click installer. Works great for when you don't want to deal with BIN files and such. Aside from a few legacy programs my school requires, I don't need my WinXP partition of my laptop anymore.
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    I am a long time fan of the WIN XP. Microsoft is saying with Windows XP Service Pack 3, you're going to get the usual performance, stability and security updates. It includes all the patches and hotfixes dating back to the SP2 era in 2004. (Can you believe it's been that long?) Some of the updates have been available for a while via Windows Update; some others are unique to SP3. You will, however, have to be running XP SP1 in order to install SP3. There are some new features built into SP3 that, before now, were only available in Vista. For instance, XP SP3 will include NAP support. I suspect this is to help clear any roadblocks for migrating to Server 2008. If NAP takes off, I can see this technology really helping admins with security standardization and policy enforcement, and it should reduce the number of vulnerabilities uncovered by internal security assessments. (I'm looking forward to the "NAP" jokes as well.)
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    But I must admit that Ubuntu looks cool. But once you run into some sort of trouble, it's kinda hard to solve or get help. No matter how many issues I have with Windows, at least it can install itself with just a couple of clicks from the user. The rest of the issues can usually be sorted out later with updates and patches. Kevin http://www.virtela.com
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    Thank you all for your comments and support of Linux. Yes, I too use both the Add/remove and synaptic package manager. And they do work BETTER than install shield in many ways. for one, when uninstalling applications, there is no garbage (usually) to clean up afterwards. My wife's notebook came with Windows XP Media Center Edition. Recently she wanted to upgrade to get the new features of Media Center 2005 (hers was originally 2002) and contacted HP per my recommendation, as it seemed like a arduous process, which having been in technical support roles for over 25 years (supporting Windows and mainframe systems) I knew was not as straight forward as they (HP) tried to make it out to be. Now we are engaged in a battle with both HP and Microsoft to get her system back to some semblance of stability. I recommended that she seriously consider running Linux, but she wasn't sure about the functions of Media Center being capable of running under a Linux distro. Aha! I said that there IS a version of Linux that IS a Media Center Edition. Turn Your Rig into a Linux Home Theater PC (for free): LinuxMCE http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2197831,00.asp Then I showed her this video http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2176025602905109829&hl=en And while impressed, she as others commented on, doesn't want to give up the games that only run under Windows.So what about running duel boot? Or WINE? A friend who is in marketing emailed me just this morning and wanted to know if there was a replacement for Outlook. I suggested Firefox/Thunderbird. They are using Firefox now and will be trying T-Bird. Ding-dong the witch is dead!
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  • Suzanne Wheeler
    In my country we can not afford to spend much on getting a new license for vista and scrap the old PC hardware because of Vista.So, many in my community are opting for Linux. Some are using OpenSuse,some using Ubuntu. I can see the momentum getting towards Linux.
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