Although there is a hype right now about Vista, where you can find at least a dozen articles on every news site about the new and latest Microsoft OS, I am not going to be part of that, but instead explain why i don’t take part of this celebration and calmly continue using my good old Linux OS.
A lot has been said about “free as in speech not beer”. Well, The freedom I’m enjoying on Linux is the freedom to install only programs _I_ choose, and not some manufacture who doesn’t care about my own (free) will. The freedom to play any media files i want, without even the slightest concern about DRM or equivalent. The freedom to do WHAT I want, WHEN I want, to EVERYTHING I want in the OS.
Linux is free in many ways, and it also includes cost – most Linux distributions doesn’t cost a penny, and some only require payment for customer service which you can get for free if you’re not technically-challenged. I do believe getting paid for service and support is totally valid, and that’s the proper way to handle software. I once said, that charging money for bytes and bits is ridiculous, as this is nothing your can hold, nor pass on to your child when your day comes. I know it’s a bit too extreme, but that’s my point of view – this is why i usually code for free, but charge money for my consulting.
- Window Manager (Desktop Environment)
I do think KDE is superior over any other WM/DE out there. Allowing me to customize everything on it, the suit my habits and mood in any particular time. There is nothing I can’t do with KDE, and although Windows allows much customization too, much of it is hidden and requires me using 3rd party tools (TweakUI, etc) or registry hacking – which brings me to the next point.
- Registry horror
After years of using Windows, I kinda grew up on the registry – it seems natural for me to hack it when things got crazy or when i needed to change some non-standard settings (I still remember my last month on Windows when i played with network settings to change some dhcp settings i needed for testing my network). No one knows exactly what is going on in the registry, not even many of Microsoft employees. And Linux? well, nothing is hidden in an obscure way – everything is in textual configuration files, most with comments explaining you what is what, and if not – google will.
Ever tried installing Windows on one machine, and then moving the harddisk to another machine? Well, I have, and of-course, many times windows won’t even boot up, and on other times it will boot only into safe-mode, leaving me with a crippled OS. And Linux? I can move the hard-disk to any machine I want, and Linux won’t know the difference (well, it would, but I won’t feel it). This is because Windows binary drivers are so tight with the hardware it runs on, while Linux loads dynamically the drivers it needs upon startup, depending on the machine it runs on. This is the way to go, and Windows with it’s “driver database” simply can’t do it (well, it might, but it will take longer then reinstalling the OS on the new machine).
- Old hardware
I have many pc’s in my house, some are as 10 years old. Old I say? I’m sorry, but 10 years SHOULDN’T be considered old! I know now-days everyone thinks a good pc should be less than 6 months old, but I disagree. I don’t know where this idea of “must buy a new pc” came from (well, I believe its “thanks” to the Microsoft/Intel relationship) but it shouldn’t be this way! A 4-5 years computer should be perfectly fine for a desktop, and older ones can be used as terminals, firewalls, or very simple desktops (XFCE, OpenBox, etc). Windows, while cutting off Windows 95/98 out of the support line, won’t let me enjoy latest gimmicks and tools for those old OS’s, and many 3rd party tools won’t even consider compiling their software for such “old” computers. And Linux? As long as I am willing to execute the program on my computer, the program will be willing to be executed on my computer. Simple as that.
Yes, beryl. I enjoy showing off my friends the neat graphics effects while their mouth is opened wide and with a short breath they ask (unbelievably) “This is Linux?”. I don’t use beryl daily, but i like having it sometimes. I mostly enjoy comparing the amazing graphic effects of beryl with it’s standard hardware requirements to Aero and its crazy/non-realistic (in my book) requirements. As most Vista articles described, in order to enjoy the new Aero look, you will most likely need to buy a new machine with a brand-new-top-of-the-line graphics card. Beryl runs smoothly on my 4 years desktop testing machine, on my 2 years main desktop, and on my good ol’ 3 years laptop. Smoothly. without a hitch.
I’m sure others has their reasons for using this or the other. Well, that’s great! But since I know that in my country most people doesn’t even know Windows costs money (many people I know has non legit copy of Windows, which the neighbours’ son or similar had installed it for them after downloading it from amule) and think Windows “is free”, I am compelled to say that there is an alternative, which IS free, and which _I_ believe this alternative is superior.