Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 23rd Jan 2008 22:07 UTC
Linux With Linux on the desktop going from a slow crawl to verging on an explosion, many have toiled with the question: How do we make this happen faster? A well-known Austin-based Linux Advocate thinks he has the answer.
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lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

I'm serious. Tell me one compelling reason to switch. Is it much faster? Is it much easier to use? Does it help everyone work much better? Does it have visual appeal? No. It's just cheaper than Windows and OSX.


Linux has the following advantages over Windows:
(1) Many eyes make bugs shallow
(2) You cannot hide malware in open source
(3) No DRM or WGA
(4) No single vendor lock-in, and so no monopoly prices
(5) No forced upgrades (after all, you do have the source for whatever version you are using)
(6) 1.5 million developers worldwide (equivalent full-time)
(7) guaranteed no call-home spyware
(8) you can remove anything you don't like, such as DRM
(9) developed in a meritocracy ... so it does what the people want, not what big business wants
(10) You have control over your own hardware

Some of those advantages you get with OSX, others not.

But it also has a cost: you must learn how to use it and you risk wasting time on it in case you don't like it (let's just ignore missing software and hardware support). Before you can even decide whether Linux is worth the discount when buying a computer you have to use it, which costs time that not everyone is willing to invest.


Myths. Linux is no harder to use and learn than Windows.

Seriously, from a user-experience point of view, Linux doesn't add any value to my life and work (maybe you like exploring geeky stuff, but many people don't).


So don't explore it, just use it. Enjoy.

What's the goal of Linux? Bringing *computer* open-source and *computer* freedom and *computer* choice to the masses? Who cares about that apart from a few geeks? You don't become a free person with political and personal freedom of choice. Stop fooling us with those bold statements. Many people get frightened when they have to choose something they don't know anything about (and actually don't want to learn anything about). You want to make Linux successful? Then create a paralyzing and real alternative. Really improve the way we use computers. Get rid of the applications concept and unlock our data from functionality [1]. Get rid of the folders and files concept and use semantic technologies [2] or whatever works better. Make software significantly faster and more responsive. Do something that really makes a difference! Stop copying others. Firefox innovates on its own and it makes a difference. People love it. Do the same for Linux.


What brought all that on?

Do yourself a favour ... pretend you had never seen Windows before. You are an utter newbie. Sit yourself down with two ASUS EEEPCs ... one with the default Linux install, and the other with Windows XP.

I guarantee you that you would get miles and miles further in a shorter time with the Linux variant than you would with the Windows XP one. You aren't going to be able to do all that much with Notepad, Calc and Paint, are you? And you are left a bit vulnerable without your extra security programs for Windows, aren't you?

To get anywhere near what you can do with the Linux EEEPC, you would have to spend on software two or three times the cost of the bare hardware for the Windows XP version of the EEEPC ... or you could run Firefox, GIMP and OpenOffice etc for a more reasonable outlay ... oh, wait. Those are in the Linux variant anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 9

wkornewald Member since:
2006-08-23

"I'm serious. Tell me one compelling reason to switch. Is it much faster? Is it much easier to use? Does it help everyone work much better? Does it have visual appeal? No. It's just cheaper than Windows and OSX.


Linux has the following advantages over Windows:
(1) Many eyes make bugs shallow
(2) You cannot hide malware in open source
(4) No single vendor lock-in, and so no monopoly prices
(5) No forced upgrades (after all, you do have the source for whatever version you are using)
(6) 1.5 million developers worldwide (equivalent full-time)
(7) guaranteed no call-home spyware
(8) you can remove anything you don't like, such as DRM
(9) developed in a meritocracy ... so it does what the people want, not what big business wants
(10) You have control over your own hardware
"

Most of your arguments are only interesting for geeks. It's also not true that businesses don't do what users want. If that were the case then people wouldn't be buying the products and new businesses would quickly replace the old ones. Also, Windows doesn't enforce upgrades, either. So that's not an argument.

(3) No DRM or WGA


While I think music should have no DRM lock the video-on-demand market depends on it. Lack of DRM is actually a disadvantage. It's a technology that creates new opportunities. The problem is that music-DRM left a bad impression in all of us, but DRM can and will be used positively and if Linux won't support DRM then it's just another reason to not use it.

"But it also has a cost: you must learn how to use it and you risk wasting time on it in case you don't like it (let's just ignore missing software and hardware support). Before you can even decide whether Linux is worth the discount when buying a computer you have to use it, which costs time that not everyone is willing to invest.


Myths. Linux is no harder to use and learn than Windows.
"

Where did I claim the opposite? I only said that if you already know Windows then you have to invest time to play with Linux before you can judge whether you want to use it. That's something not everybody wants to do.

"Seriously, from a user-experience point of view, Linux doesn't add any value to my life and work (maybe you like exploring geeky stuff, but many people don't).


So don't explore it, just use it. Enjoy.
"

I'd love to use it, but currently hardware support sucks. Hibernation and standby don't work. Sane crashes after scanning and I had to install my scanner driver on the command line. My color printer doesn't work correctly with Linux and my laser printer doesn't print images except if I hack some printer settings with GIMP (all other apps don't work). My WiFi connection doesn't always work. I hate the fsck that pops up much too often on boot-up and takes *ages* (>15min) to finish (some people reported >40min on their bigger HDDs). The list goes on, but I've forgotten the other problems. So, you want to tell me to enjoy Linux? Hah! ;)

OK, those problems can be fixed, but even then, compared to Windows I still don't see a real advantage apart from cost savings. Which is my whole point: go beyond cost savings.

" What's the goal of Linux? Bringing *computer* open-source and *computer* freedom and *computer* choice to the masses? Who cares about that apart from a few geeks? You don't become a free person with political and personal freedom of choice. Stop fooling us with those bold statements. Many people get frightened when they have to choose something they don't know anything about (and actually don't want to learn anything about). You want to make Linux successful? Then create a paralyzing and real alternative. Really improve the way we use computers. Get rid of the applications concept and unlock our data from functionality [1]. Get rid of the folders and files concept and use semantic technologies [2] or whatever works better. Make software significantly faster and more responsive. Do something that really makes a difference! Stop copying others. Firefox innovates on its own and it makes a difference. People love it. Do the same for Linux.


What brought all that on?

Do yourself a favour ... pretend you had never seen Windows before. You are an utter newbie. Sit yourself down with two ASUS EEEPCs ... one with the default Linux install, and the other with Windows XP.

I guarantee you that you would get miles and miles further in a shorter time with the Linux variant than you would with the Windows XP one. You aren't going to be able to do all that much with Notepad, Calc and Paint, are you? And you are left a bit vulnerable without your extra security programs for Windows, aren't you?
"

Someone else could as well argue that Linux is overloaded with software and he'd rather choose what he needs manually. You have to put the same software on both systems to make a real comparison.

Also, Linux would have the same security problems as Windows if it were equally popular. It does absolutely nothing that prevents people from being stupid. Linux's advantage is just that it's not (yet?) a popular spyware platform.

To get anywhere near what you can do with the Linux EEEPC, you would have to spend on software two or three times the cost of the bare hardware for the Windows XP version of the EEEPC ... or you could run Firefox, GIMP and OpenOffice etc for a more reasonable outlay ... oh, wait. Those are in the Linux variant anyway.


I could also run Firefox and GIMP and OpenOffice on Windows. That's not a reason to switch to Linux.

Reply Parent Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I could also run Firefox and GIMP and OpenOffice on Windows. That's not a reason to switch to Linux.


It isn't a reason to switch to Windows, either.

All of your "reasons" for sticking with Windows actually depend on the point that you have already locked yourself in to Windows, to your own cost.

My point is that if you are considering a new purchase, where you don't necessarily already have a huge investment in and dependency on Windows (poor you), then Linux is actually compelling.

http://www.mbtmag.com/articleXml/LN731846314.html

You might even consider it if you do have a Microsoft dependency.

If you are looking to avoid lock-in, stay away from Microsoft is the clear message:
http://www.vnunet.com/crn/news/2207045/becta-rubs-salt-microsoft
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/11/becta_vista/

Reply Parent Score: 3

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Hibernation and standby don't work.


In all fairness, these two doesn't always work that well in Windows either.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

While I think music should have no DRM lock the video-on-demand market depends on it. Lack of DRM is actually a disadvantage. It's a technology that creates new opportunities. The problem is that music-DRM left a bad impression in all of us, but DRM can and will be used positively and if Linux won't support DRM then it's just another reason to not use it.

Do you care to elaborate? Just what "new opportunities" does video-on-demand DRM bring that don't have an equivalent in the already-played-out music-rental-DRM scenario? What makes you think that people will want to own (and by that I mean *fully* own, able to play on all devices) movies any less than they own music? Just because movies take up a lot of disk space? Because they take a long time to download? I doubt either of those arguments will last very long.

Btw, does this perchance have anything to do with you drinking Steve Jobs' kool-aid that "people love to listen to their music over and over again, but they only want to watch movies once"? Because I know plenty of people who watch movies over and over again.

A year or two ago Steve also claimed that people wouldn't want to download movies online because the file size would be too big; he also said that rental models would never work because people want to own their media. Now he's telling us that we really want to *rent our movies in HD* on the iTunes store. It's amazing how he always knows exactly what we want! (Oh wait, could it be that he just tells us what we are supposed to want to market whatever scheme the iTunes store is endorsing this time around.... Nah....)

Edited 2008-01-24 18:35 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Linux has the following advantages over Windows:
(1) Many eyes make bugs shallow

That's only true if the eyes looking at the code is actually any good. Not saying they arent but having many eyes doesn't automagicaly make things better.

(2) You cannot hide malware in open source

No, but you can run closed-source apps on OSS operating systems.

(3) No DRM or WGA

RHN.

(4) No single vendor lock-in, and so no monopoly prices

Closed source does not necessarily mean vendor lock-in. Closed and proprietary protocols and API's do.

(5) No forced upgrades (after all, you do have the source for whatever version you are using)

"You have the source" is not a good argument for the majority of computer users.

(6) 1.5 million developers worldwide (equivalent full-time)

I bet there are even more closed source programmers.

(7) guaranteed no call-home spyware

Really? Where do I sign up for this guarantee? And what do I get when it is violated, which it will be.

(8) you can remove anything you don't like, such as DRM

Just now you said there is no DRM so why would i need to remove something that isn't there?

(9) developed in a meritocracy ... so it does what the people want, not what big business wants

No, it means it does what the developers want and that is not necessarily the same as what the majority of the users want.

10) You have control over your own hardware

How do I not have control over my own hardware in closed source OS's and how does OSS magically give me control over it?

Reply Parent Score: 5

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

No, it means it does what the developers want and that is not necessarily the same as what the majority of the users want.


Not at all. Typically, as soon as a given application deviates from what users want, a group of users gets upset and starts their own fork. Ask XFree86 and then Xorg about this.

How do I not have control over my own hardware in closed source OS's and how does OSS magically give me control over it?


(1) Windows has a Microsoft-accessible backdoor.
(2) You do not own your copy of Windows. Microsoft reserves the right to alter the software running on your machine, or stop it working altogether.
(3) Microsoft reserves the right to walk in to your property/facility, examine your installed software, demand proof of purchase (acceptable to Microsoft), and (even though Microsoft and its agents are not the law) charge you a fortune if your records aren't 100% pristine.

See here for more details:
http://www.linuxworld.com/news/2008/012208-eben-moglen-on-open-sour...
"The primary desire that businesses have is for control over their own destinies, for avoidance of autonomy bottlenecks which put the fate of their business into the hands of someone else. The difficulty that they experience -- that they call vendor lock-in, or noninteroperability -- is a difficulty which is really a businessman's equivalent of [Free Software Foundation President Richard] Stallman's frustration at unfreedom. They are essentially the same recognition: In a world of complex, interdependent technology, if I don't control my technology, it will control me. Stallman's understanding of that proposition and Goldman Sachs' understanding [for example] needn't be as far apart as one might think. The desire to maintain autonomy -- the desire to avoid control of destiny by outside parties -- is as fierce in both cases as it can get. "


The whole article is worth a read, if you want some insight into the issue.

Edited 2008-01-25 00:32 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

james_parker Member since:
2005-06-29

Linux has the following advantages over Windows:
[...]
(2) You cannot hide malware in open source


This is not true. Back in 1984, Ken Thompson how to do so, and this specific "malware" was in fact present in Unix for many years before being discovered:

http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/ken/trust.html/

Reply Parent Score: 3

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

This is not true. Back in 1984, Ken Thompson how to do so, and this specific "malware" was in fact present in Unix for many years before being discovered

That was an interesting read but I think you misunderstood the point there: in this case it's not the source which has malware, it's the compiler which compiles that in at compilation time. It's an interesting idea to inject such code into the compiler itself but not very likely, atleast if we're talking about the most popular compilers in use. It is VERY difficult to get such a patch accepted on any of the official repositories of f.ex. GCC, and if you ran an app on your own PC which tried to do that then it would need the full sources to GCC, recompile it, and then install it over the previous version meaning it would need root access.

OTOH if the actual sources to the software had such a malware in them you might not notice it. But the more devs and users the software has the bigger the likelyhood it will be discovered. Sure, the more code there is the smaller percentage of that such malware would occupy, but with lots of users and devs someone is also bound to notice any weird behaviour. And as I said above, patches submitted for an app are usually checked before they are accepted into the repos.

So, anyway, as a conclusion, in _theory_ it might be possible but in practice it isn't.

Reply Parent Score: 2

tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

(1) Many eyes make bugs shallow

If the eyes are even looking, which is unlikely. The reality is that highly-valued components (ie. Linux kernel) get a lot of attention, but the majority of open source projects are poorly maintained.

(2) You cannot hide malware in open source

Nor can you hide it in closed source. No point.

(3) No DRM or WGA

This is actually a disadvantage: It means that media studios will not allow you to play their content. You have to resort to all kinds of hacks to get DVDs and other content playing, if you can even get it to play at all.

(4) No single vendor lock-in, and so no monopoly prices

As long as there are alternatives, there is no such thing as vendor lock-in. No point.

(5) No forced upgrades (after all, you do have the source for whatever version you are using)

I have a box running Windows NT that's over 10 years old. Strangely enough, nobody has forced me to upgrade it. It just sits there in the corner, running quietly and never complaining. No point.

(6) 1.5 million developers worldwide (equivalent full-time)

Are they working on code that you care about? Probably not. No point.

(7) guaranteed no call-home spyware

LOL. Here's where we get into hair-splitting contests on your side. I don't consider self-registration of software to be "call home spyware" like you probably do but, then again, I'm sane.

(8) you can remove anything you don't like, such as DRM

You're also free to completely hose yourself. No point.

(9) developed in a meritocracy ... so it does what the people want, not what big business wants

No, it does what the oligarchy of maintainers want, not what the people want. No point.

(10) You have control over your own hardware

This one is plain silly and meaningless. No point.

Reply Parent Score: 2