Joined: July 2004
||Posted: Mar. 10 2006,16:23
The Linux Is Not Windows article brings up many points that new Linux users often either ignore or just don't understand. I'm a Windows-to-Linux convert myself, and I admit that I had some troubles when I first started with Linux. However, after a few weeks of occasionally booting up Linux things began to make sense. I continued using Windows primarily, but one day i just decided to try the immersion technique and removed Windows. Within days i began to lose my desire for Windows, without any serious withdrawal symptoms, and now I've been Windows-free for nearly 2 1/2 years (sounds like a WA* meeting...).
Linux is different than Windows...that in no way says that it is not as good, or not better. In some cases the new Linux user might just have to get over his crutches and become accustomed to new ways of doing things. In other cases, there are distros and desktop environments available that make the transition from Win to Lin almost painless (DSL is not one of those, by the way). If distros such as Suse or Mandriva are not as easy to use as Windows for the new user, it's my belief that the problems are not the fault of Linux. They are either the result of the user becoming too easily confused by a slightly different gui and filesystem, or, more commonly, problems resulting from hardware manufacturers that focus mainly (or entirely) on Windows. If the manufacturer does not release specs for its products, there is no way for Linux developers to support that hardware, short of doing a lot of guesswork about how the hardware works. With hardware that fully supports Linux, these distros i mentioned would, for the most part, work right out of the box.
One other large difference between Linux and Windows, which some people like and others seem to either dislike or have no opinion of, is that Windows no longer has an interactive shell under the GUI. The GUI is the Windows system. What this means to me is that Linux is more flexible, and more powerful. The graphical system in Linux is just another application that can be controlled like any other. What this also means is that if you want to really harness the power and flexibility of Linux, you must learn things that you would never need to know in Windows. Sure it's theoretically possible to build graphical interfaces for every part of a Linux system, but you are trading off when you do that. The easier-to-use an application becomes, the more difficult it is to program, and the more likely there are to be bugs (that's not 100% accurate, but i believe it's a logical conclusion)...hence greater instability. There is a trade-off of flexibility and reliability anytime you put more focus on clickability, in my opinion.
Back to DSL, I don't think DSL is a very good example of Windows-to-Linux transition system. The 50mb size limit pretty much dictates that not everything will be available as a windows-user-friendly interface, so you are sometimes left with practicing the ancient art of Learning Something New**.
I can't speak much about the people who claim they want a system that "just works" so that they can get on with their work with no hassles. I've heard this argument from several people, and I can see the logic in it. However, I'm not one of these people, and never have been. While I consider myself a hard worker, I'm not productive or efficient in the business/marketing sense of the words...I take my time, and usually only do well with things that interest me. And I like to tinker with stuff. So this concept of simply getting on with the task at hand is foreign to me, and I can't justify a debate against it. This concept, as far as I can see, may be the number one issue against using Linux. Perhaps if you don't like to dig into your system, maybe Linux is not for you, and maybe it will be many more years (or never) before it has any enormous presence on the desktop. I really couldn't say, and personally don't care one way or another. What I do know is that I like Linux, and there are enough other people who do that it makes it worthwhile to come to places like this to share ideas and knowledge. Beyond that, I have no interest in promoting Linux or seeing it become a major competitor. If it does, fine....good for Linus.
EDIT: One more point....if you think Those last couple of sentences are me being "elitist", you are mistaken. When I say things like "maybe you should just stick with windows" I mean only that you're probably too focused on making your system behave like Windows, so why not just use Windows? Ok...that really didn't explain it any better, did it....
Anyway, I like Linux, and I don't care what happens with it as long as it remains open and flexible.
* Windows-users Anonymous
** The practice of gaining knowledge of an unfamiliar topic.