Re: The Linux option
by rbsjrx - 10/26/08 8:24 AM
In Reply to: The Linux option by jdbaldwin23
Just a thought, how much of your Linux support issues are Linux desktop issues and how much are market share issues? For example, I doubt if I could ever wean my daughter and granddaughter from Windows because they're trained to use it and everything else (even Mac) seems alien to them. OTOH, my wife is a relative newcomer to PCs and Linux has never been that much of a problem for her.
Despite appearances, I'm an OS agnostic. My position has always been to use whatever tool is the best for the job. Back in the early 90's that was Windows 3.11 running over OS/2. Later it became Win2k. I moved from Win2k to WinXP once WinXP stabilized (i.e. after SP1). Although I've been using Debian Linux without a desktop environment (i.e. command line only) on my server for years, it's only been in recent years as Windows has become more bloated and more of a resource hog that I started using Linux on some of my desktop machines. The contrast between Linux and Windows is remarkable. I always knew Linux was more stable, reliable, and efficient, but I never appreciated just how much more stable, reliable, and efficient until I was running it 24/7 side-by-side with Windows.
As I approach retirement age and no longer need to use Windows for business reasons, I've made the commitment to migrate almost entirely to Linux. I'll still be involved with Windows to maintain my daughter's and granddaughter's machines (as well as those of various other relatives and friends), but I'm through fighting Windows support issues on my own machine. And Mac? Well, it sure is pretty and seductive, but while it has the technology edge over Windows, it's just another proprietary system sold by a kinder, gentler monopolistic evil empire. When I'm retired and living on a fixed income, I don't want to have spend money on OS and software updates every time Redmond or Cupertino tells me to.
But, let's get back to the market share issue... Windows and, to a lesser degree, Mac have achieved critical mass in the market. Almost everyone who says they know how to use a computer really means they know how to use Windows. Good or ill, Windows is the lingua franca of PC operating systems. Linux has an uphill battle since its free status is also its weakness - without massive license fee supported advertising campaigns to try to convince everyone how wonderful it is, the perception is that it's a geek's toy when in truth it's just as usable as a mainstream OS as Windows or OS X.
Linux is also hampered by the bewildering array of distributions. Although the underlying bits are all the same, each distro represents someone's idea of the "right" way to build a Linux system. Whenever I'm trying to wean someone from Windows, I usually steer them to PCLinuxOS. It offers about the best balance of Windows familiarity and traditional Linux benefits and most Windows users find it instantly comfortable. OTOH, to get the best out of Linux, you should probably go with one of the distros in the Ubuntu family (Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu, Mint, et al). Then there's the desktop environment - the "look and feel" layer that provides the primary user interface. The most powerful is Gnome, but KDE will feel more at home to a Windows refugee.
With Linux, the simple truth is, "If you've seen one Linux, you've seen one Linux." Even closely-related variants can present wildly different user experiences. There are very few resources to objectively help erstwhile Windows (or Mac) refugees find the distro which would be most comfortable for them.
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