posted by Preston Liam Whels on Wed 16th Apr 2003 18:07 UTC

"Why Linux is not for You, Part 2"

Point number two: You should not use Linux if you want to do everything Windows users can do. Want a platform that has hardware accelerated drivers for every card that supports such a thing? Want a platform that plays every "PC" game you buy at EB? If you answered yes to either of these questions Linux is not for you. When a couple of my friends have asked me, "If I get Linux will I be able to play all the Games I play on Windows?" My answer is always "No, but there are games for Linux, and there will probably be more in the future." So what am I saying when I give them that answer... what I'm really saying is that Games aren't important to me, and I could care less if Linux is going to run the latest and greatest games because I could care less about the latest and greatest games. Does that mean Linux has no entertainment value? No. I can easily play Unreal Tournament 2003, Counter-Strike (Using Wine or WineX), and lots of other games both native and non-native to Linux. Unlike users who ask me this question though, I don't use my computer primarily for games. Games are the thing I do when I don't feel I have anything more important to do and know I can kill some of my free time. Games are my answer to what would normally be either naturally induced or laziness induced boredom. So why should you switch to Linux if you want to play all the latest and greatest games? You shouldn't; The same thing goes for any application which truly doesn't have a Linux alternative. That doesn't mean you can't support the idea of such a thing on Linux. I had a friend who was Windows only for some time and played tons of games, he was just as happy to see Quake III on Linux as I was. Why? Why Not? Just cause you use Windows for gaming doesn't mean you have to say "Windows is the only platform that should have games, Microsoft and gaming for life!!!"

Point number three: You should not use Linux if you want carefree, but you probably shouldn't use Windows either. One of the greatest arguments by technical writers, newbies, or first time Linux attempters is that Linux is not as easy and as care free when it comes to installing and maintaining. The major argument by Linux users is, "yes it is just as easy, you just don't know how to get it that way." Bad argument? I think not. Most Linux distributions that aim for desktop usage are just as easy to install as Windows, at least with the right hardware. Most versions of Windows aimed at desktop usage are just as easy to install as Linux, at least with the right hardware. I'm sure you all recall the long article written by the "technical writer" who tried to get Linux working on some legacy hardware that Windows was having trouble with and then complained because Linux couldn't do it. Well... like I said in point number one. Why were you switching to Linux in the first place? Did it fix that? In this case, it didn't, however, in another case it may have, and in yet another case it also may have not. There's no mystery to why some stuff works and why other stuff doesn't. Hardware works when A) There's a driver to use for it and B) There's a good driver to use for it. If you don't have a driver for it, don't expect it to work, no matter what OS you are on, and yes, using a generic driver on Windows is still a driver, which leads me to my second point. If you don't have a good driver, don't expect it to work completely, or all the time. One of my professors the other day mentioned that the image we were seeing on the TV was of poor quality because the computer he was using to display the image on there was using generic video drivers and could not get more than 16-bit color. So why do some people expect Linux to auto-detect hardware it doesn't have drivers for? Or auto-detect hardware with poor drivers or incomplete drivers. Certainly there are cases where there is a driver for it and it doesn't auto-detect, but there are also cases of this on Windows. I know that there are cases of this on windows cause I've used it, and have it on my system right now. What version you say? Windows 2000... So now I hear some Microsoft junkie saying "Well you shouldn't use Windows 2000, it has some poor driver support compared to Windows XP." And I say to them they shouldn't use Linux 2.4, it has poor driver support compared to Linux 2.5. Fact of the matter is newer versions of Linux will have better support and more support for hardware the same way newer versions of Windows will have. Granted 2.5 isn't considered "stable," but it doesn't change the issue of recent software having more support than it's predecessor.

Point number three continued: Updating Linux is more time consuming and in some ways more difficult than updating windows. First off, let's be clear that Linux as a piece of software is just a kernel, so as most Linux users are familiar with, updating it causes you to have to recompile that kernel, unless someone else compiles it for you and you simply put it on there. Either way, the same process has to be done with a Windows kernel, it's simply that the user may not see this because A) Microsoft doesn't really update or overhaul the kernel until they have a completely new version and B) The minor changes they do make are mostly distributed in upgrades where users don't know what it's fixing anyway. Users do one thing in windows to upgrade; that is of course to click a button that says "upgrade." Some Linux distributions make this possible. As we all know Debian's apt-get is great for upgrading and installing new software, and other so-called "desktop distributions" have their own method of automatically downloading necessary packages and installing them. So yes, Linux can just as quickly add new software and kernel as Windows, it just usually doesn't. You could load my Linux desktop with 1000s of buttons that all say "upgrade" and I'd avoid every one with a passion, why? Because I want to upgrade my system the way I want to. I want to know what I'm putting in, where I'm putting it, and why I'm putting it there. This is something I can do with Windows to some extent, but not fully, and particularly not on a kernel level. So when I update my Linux system it is quite often more time consuming than when I update Windows, but I wouldn't give that up for the world, because I'm in control, not an upgrade application.

Table of contents
  1. "Why Linux is not for You, Part 1"
  2. "Why Linux is not for You, Part 2"
  3. "Why Linux is not for You, Part 3"
  4. "Why Linux is not for You, Part 4"
  5. "Why Linux is not for You, Part 5"
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