Linux vs. Windows - my 2 cents
Sunday, November 01st, 2009 | Author: Ozzik


So as you ALL know - Ubuntu 9.10 is out. Also, as you ALL know - Win7 is out. Actually, so is Snow Leopard, but I’m not an apple fanboy, so I don’t care much about that.

If you google any of these 2 words (win7 and ubuntu), you’ll find 7 billion posts telling you about all the new features, bug fixes, comparisons between the previous versions and of course, the most popular topic is the comparison between these two OS’s. And the most obnoxious eternal question is “Will this Ubuntu version be the windows killer?”
And since I’m being asked about this topic once every few days myself, I decided to post my personal opinion on this. Don’t expect it to be too objective, cuz I’m obviously a Linux fan. But don’t expect me to defend it no matter what, too.

First of all, if you’ve read my previous posts, you’d know that I’m using Linux Mint 7, based on Ubuntu 9.04. Plus, I run win7 in VirtualBox. I should also tell you that I only tried Ubuntu 9.10 for 15 minutes running in VMWare server on WinXP at work, so I don’t have much to say about this particular version. I’m waiting for Mint 8, since I like its polishing better than original Ubuntu’s.

So I’ll rather express my opinion regarding the general Linux vs. Windows issue than Ubuntu 9.10 vs. Win7.

As far as I see it, the issue can be divided by few categories:
-Office users
-Home users

Let’s analyze these. Gamers.
I really know nothing about them. I’m not a gamer and I think the only game I ever played (since Mario, before I even had a PC) is minesweeper:) But I do know that Linux is not for gamers. Although I’ve heard that some games do run on Linux, some under Wine, but still - every gamer will tell you - Linux for gamers is a joke. Is this Linux’s fault? No, of course not. The problem is that the “gaming” companies don’t create any games for Linux. Can you blame them? Windows has more than 90% of the market. It’s just business, nothing personal.

Professionals. It doesn’t matter whether you work with photoshop, premier, after effects, visual studio, or any other specific software - you have no other option, but to work with windows. I know you can run photoshop under Wine, but there are a lot of others that you can’t. And while there are a lot of alternatives, and some even better than windows-based programs, it would be pretty difficult for a graphic designer for example to just drop everything he’s used to and start learning from the start. Linux’s fault? Once again - no. It’s pretty much the same story as with the gamers.

Office users. It seems like here we have some potential. Or do we?
What do they need? Office and browser. Oh, and IM client.
Now, don’t rush jumping up and down - it ain’t that easy. Since I myself work as an IT manager in a medium sized company, I can tell you - not so fast. I thought about it a lot, but I don’t really see how I can ever transfer them to my beloved OS.

First of all, let’s face it: Open Office is not MS Office. Period. I actually did install it on about 50 PC’s instead of the MS office. The result? For the first 2 weeks people were crying about how it’s not the same and they have to get used to it. I predicted that and ignored all the whining. And then it came - it’s not very compatible with MS office. I mean, yeah, you can open MS docs in it and save in their format, but a lot of times the formatting got all screwed up and you can’t have that in the office where you work with other companies.

Thunderbird was no Outlook either, especially with meeting invitations sent to Outlook users. So while most of them did stay with OpenOfiice, everyone that worked more or less serious with the suite - was rolled back to MS.

And then there’s the browser. I know all about the web standards and how MS has its own standards and all that. But here’s the deal. There are a lot of websites written especially for IE. And it doesn’t even matter for what reasons it was done and why are they still in that format. It’s a fact. It’s also a fact that most of these websites are pretty important. Like the banks, or the government sites or just some popular web portals people are used too. Firefox or any other browser can’t handle them. Only IE can. There’s not even an IE7 for Linux. You can’t ignore that.

Luckily, we see some changes being done in that area, since Firefox popularity is growing pretty fast and with Safari, Opera and now Chrome we’ll definitely see some changes in the near future.
So, to sum up with the office users - still no. Who’s fault? Don’t want to point fingers, but it seems to me that with a lot of hard work on OpenOffice and IE integration - we could definitely make a step forward in this area. And I do believe it’s an important one.

The last one - users at home.
This one’s actually getting closer by the “version”. I believe we’re only a few steps back from winning here. Those steps are:
Flash - hopefully gnash will answer that some time in the near future.
Nvidia and ATI drivers - hopes on the nouveau and ATI open source driver.
IE and OpenOffice, just like in the previous category.
A better skype client would be nice, but that’s up to them.
Themes and styling - it’s true that you can do whatever you please with the distro later, but the default look is often the one that gives the wrong impression. Say what you will, but Ubuntu’s default theme/style is still something most of us are changing first thing after installation.

Other than that - we’re pretty much there I think.
Obviously I could go on and on about how Linux is million times better than its opponent, but you can read all about it in every other blog on the web.
Basically, I believe we should learn from MS about the way they climbed to the top: be as friendly as you can to the regular user, give him whatever he wants. That same user will come to the office and use the same stuff he uses at home.

So I think that when the desktop problems described above will be solved, and the office solutions will be ready - the professionals and the gamers are going to be a piece of cake, since they (the industry) will come to us themselves.
Oh, and the OEMs will follow.

Prove me wrong. I dare you.


P.S. I allow myself to say “we” when it comes to open source, although I’m not a developer. But when it comes to contribution, I think that even trying to use as much open source software as you can and try to persuade others to use it as well, should also be considered contribution.

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Category: Linux at home, Misc  | Tags: , , ,