Open Source Software and Linux

Apr 7 2009   12:23AM GMT

Does the Operating System really matter?

John Little Profile: Xjlittle

After reading this article I started asking myself if the Operating System really does matter for most users. I finally reached the conclusion that it does. Here’s why.

For my own vote I asked myself if I would switch from Linux to Windows or Mac. After giving this some thought I decided that I would not switch.

First of all I am a firm believer in voting with my wallet. Now while I might be tempted to buy a Mac no such temptation exists with Windows. Quite simply I just do not like Microsoft as a company. Hence I have no desire to use any of their products let alone the way to expensive Windows operating system. I really, really, don’t like having to purchase the associated software that runs on Windows that I have to purchase to get the operating system to do what I want..

I like having the ability to choose which distribution of Linux and the associated open source applications that I like and downloading them via yum, zypper, Yast or what have you. I have a choice without spending a dime. Free as in freedom to choose and free as in beer. I have a choice to support the software that I use, financially or helping in some way with the project. No such choice exists with either Mac or Windows.

The article points out that most users are only concerned with web browsing, writing and generally getting their work done. From purely a corporate standpoint I agree. However I think most users today expect more out of their computers at home.

I believe multimedia is a big one. Whether it’s creating video, listening to mp3s or editing pictures most people at some point are going to do one at least one of the three.

Another point that I agree with in the article is that Windows 7 is not much more than a face lift. Users are told that it will be better than Vista and so they believe that it will. That belief alone will make it better whether or not it really is. (What administrator among us hasn’t faced this dilemma with users who thought something was “slow” and so it was slow – regardless of whether or not it was?)

The big question is this: If what they say is true that all users want to do is browse the web, write documents and generally get their work done why are they not demanding a lower cost from Microsoft or, better yet, demanding Linux from the hardware vendors or downloading and installing it themselves?

I think the operating system does matter on some level to just about everyone. Sure there are users out there that only use email, browse the web and write documents without giving any more thought to the operating system. I don’t however think that they are in the majority.

-j

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