Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Response to Top 10 Responses to Why Should I Use Linux?


In the article 'Top 10 Responses to Why Should I Use Linux?', it runs through a selection of the most debated points to computers making the switch to using Linux instead of Microsoft Windows operating systems.

It is written by a Linux enthusiast who has written down 10 key points why they think you should at least not fear the Linux operating system. However, I myself was a Linux enthusiast and at a stage of my life attempted to "convert" a selection of windows user, but to no success.

Although primarily I am a Windows user, I do also own and Apple Mac while also use a Linux web server. Reason I disclose this is outline any suspected bias that my rebuttal might draw.

I will now go through each point and explain why each point isn't exactly as straight forward as perceived.

1. Linux helps you get rid of viruses, worms, and other computer infections
Although it is possible to get infected even with Linux (malware is mainly written for Windows), its system architecture, based on a server-client relationship makes it difficult for a virus to do any damage.
This is where the heading doesn't match the content. Though it's false that Linux help you get rid of viruses etc. the operating system itself is not as susceptible to virus and worms. As the paragraph mentions, due to the way Linux core is design and developed any negative software that is trying infect an Linux system require Administrator access to the system before it can cause damage. Having said that, Apple Mac OS X is exactly the same.
This first point is probably the actual a reasonable point if you are paranoid regarding PC Security.

2. Linux is fast and will stay fast

Unfortunately, I don't believe this at all. In this paragraph, the author claims that the operating system does not require extensive amounts of RAM or other hardware to run the operating system. There are also claims that Windows XP and Windows Vista are resource 'hogs'. However from my experience I would agree the Windows Vista was memory hungry upon release however some issue have since been resolved. Windows XP is not resource hungry as long as it is maintained. Most Linux don't need alot to run, but once you start using Graphical interfaces like GNOME or KDE, then running Firefox, OpenOffice, and more you start using up what little RAM you have. So its true to say that the operating system doesn't need much, but will need more to start using it.

3. Linux is easier to use than Windows.
This statement is all about opinion. Some would say that Mac is easier than Windows or Linux. Some might say that SCO Unix is their OS of choice. To say that Linux is easier to use than windows is inaccurate. What makes it harder to claim this statement is that there is not ONE version/edition of Linux. Linux comes in hundreds of different "flavours" or distribution which means that one distribution is completely different to another. Ubuntu Linux has been dubbed the most user friendly version of Linux out there. From my perspective on the other hand, couldn't find another more difficult OS. Like anything, different things take time to get used to just like it was with the transition between Windows XP and Windows Vista. This point should not be made as a benefit to use Linux. This is a personal statement of preference.

4. Linux is free as in free beer AND as in free speech.
I agree and have long understood this benefit of Linux since I was first introduced to the operating system. It is true that 99% of the Linux distributions are free to download, use, copy and redistribute as one likes thanks to the GPL Licence. however the comment made in the paragraph for this point got me thinking.

Ain’t it great to have a whole operating system and not be afraid you’ll get fined?
"Fined"? Why would any be fined for using an operating system? This could only occur if the user was caught with illegal copies of the software i.e. illegitimate copy of Windows XP. But this should not be a benefit of using Linux. Users shouldn't afraid of using their OS as long as they're doing the right thing. This statement only makes me think that the only way the author might use Windows (or other software) is illegally, and the only way they can feel better is to use free, open-source software (though there is nothing wrong with that).

5. Your porn collection is safe with Linux

That's good to know. Isn't it? Take a read of the paragraph to go with this "benefit".

Don’t laugh. I’m not a big fan of porn, but it has a big market share on the Internet. On Linux, (which is Trojan, virus etc. free), every user gets a password, and you can see the source code so you know that FBI isn’t checking you out, like on Windows.
This point is really a two-for-one deal. Let's break it down.
"On Linux, (which is Trojan, virus etc. free), every user gets a password" re-visits the point about the security of Linux. Its a known fact that majority of the porn sites on the Internet contain viruses, worms, and other malware. And in most cases a computer is infected by the exploits of insecurity of Internet Explorer. In windows, this can be prevented by keeping security updates up-to-date through Windows Update or using an alternate web browser (i.e. Firefox).

"...You can see the source code so you know that FBI isn’t checking you out, like on Windows" opens up a characteristic with most hardcore Linux users/advocates. Most Linux enthusiasts believe in Anti-Microsoft conspiracy theories that claim Microsoft have hidden agendas trading user privacy with government control.
There is belief that Microsoft have hidden code that allow various US Government agencies to monitor user activity. Because the operating system's code is closed-source meaning that the programming source code which is used to develop and construct the operating system is unavailable to the public. Unlike Microsoft closed-source code, all Linux distributions offer open-source code allowing anybody to evaluate and modify the operating system in anyway the user/developer see fit.
At present, this is nothing but a conspiracy theory and not to be taken seriously.

The FBI doesn't give a shit about you looking up porn. And if they are, they arn't going to go through Microsoft to get it.

6. Thousands of Windows-only applications (even Photoshop CS3) and games work with Linux

This is true and I myself have been able to accomplish it. Using a technology called WINE (recursive acronym for WINE Is Not Emulator), Windows API can be execute in the Linux desktop environment. However, although the technology is always being developed, it is a gamble whether or not your chosen application will work as it should. Popular applications like MS Office and some versions of photoshop have proven to work but still from my experience not 100%. Company call Codeweavers have developed a commercial version which has more selection of tested applications but isn't free unlike WINE. WINE does take an amount of configuration before you application will work. Be prepared.

7. Linux looks better than Windows Vista or Mac OS X

Nothing more or less than the author's opinion. Just like Windows and Mac OS X you are free to make it look the way you want it to. So to say it looks better is useless for the users looking to convert. If their program won't work, they won't if its better looking or not.

8. Linux is fun

Linux users have the power to expand their system for free, they are free to modify the system exactly to their needs.

If its fun to spend your time configuring and constantly working on you computer and its operating system then absolutely Linux is for. I have spent, back in the day, many days mucking around with the Linux OS. But in the same fashion, Windows is fun. So is Mac OS.

9. You can help improve Linux

Because Linux distributions rely on community feedback, its up to you whether or not you want to give feedback. But certainly not a reason to move to Linux.

10. Linux makes you give your computer a name

This is final and probably the most ridiculous reason to use Linux. Why? As you go through to installation process of any operating system you will at some stage give the computer a name. Not all that important for the home user, but more important for the network administrator of a company as such. This is not a benefit of using Linux. You can do this with all Operating Systems.
No Special feature and I will go as far as to say, forget number 10. For the geeks that like spending lots of time on the computer typing away, Linux is your answer. I would recommend Fedora, Ubuntu, or even Slackware distributions of Linux. Long running and developed OSs'. Good place to start. But you just need to use you PC every day and are happy with using Windows and Mac, then stick with it. This list doesn't articulately explains reason for using Linux, nor does it have any target audience. Although it aims to answer questions by newcomers to Linux, it vague on whether its long time computer users or novice computer users.

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