Why Choose Linux Over Windows?

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Windows has evolved over the many years of its existence. It has become both a source of wonder and of disappointment. MS Word was a great product as it allowed one tp organize thoughts on paper and to dress it up with fancy fonts and formatting. As with Windows, it evolved. Office emerged as a suite of programs to cover what we now consider to be the ultimate in tools for business. It evolved again. It added the Ribbon Bar. What a horrible way to access your menus. Some people enjoyed it, claiming it as revolutionary. Most accepted it and continued on.

At the same time, Windows evolved from 95 to 98 to 2000 to XP, then Vista, and Windows7. Were these later versions better? Do not look at the numbers published by Microsoft. A lot of these are padded by OEM agreements with hardware vendors. Vendors have a problem selling laptops and desks with no operating systems installed, so they choose to support what has long been the standard. Nothing wrong with that, except they have decided to wear blinders. Windows is often the only system they support. Only in the past few years have some started to offer support for Mac and linux.

Everyone is aware of viruses and malware. A friend runs a PC repair business. He has a love / hate relationship with Windows. he is often called upon to fix spyware issues. He gets repeat customers because the kids get involved. They tend to drop firewalls and disable virus protection measures so they can download games or music. Some customers have fallen prey to bogus reports of corrupt systems and have invited the spyware onto their system in the hope that it can be cleaned.

Other more interesting cases involved customers that have grown dependent on a particular piece of software. Their business has grown, yet the software has not. One piece was written in Visual BASIC 3 and uses a serial port. Now as many know, the serial port is going the way of the dodo bird. It is still available, but sometimes the software is not able to use an add-on card as the ports may be at a different address. The software may have to be rewritten for the changes. As well, how does one buy a copy of VB3 that they can use? Other customers have had similar experiences. If they have access to the source and I repeat if , the theory exists that the software can be modified to either add new features or to fix issues.

Have you purchased a new printer lately? Its not unusual for the driver to be over 50MB in size! It includes not only the driver, but bug reporting software, special tools for imaging, and even database / picture management. Do people need these when all they want is to print a picture or document?

Going back to the previously mentioned MS Word, when the ribbon interface was introduced, there were choices available, such as Open Office. It still has a "classic" appearance, yet people still stayed away. It was not from Microsoft. It was free, not only in cost, but in terms of liberty. The source code for the entire Open Office suite is available and although most people would not know what to do with it, it ias available. People tended to ignore it as they were not familiar with it. Sometimes the appearance changed from a Word document to an Open Office document. Early versions could not load the docx format. It looked different from the ribbon interface people were getting used to, etc. Although people hated change, what they hated more often than they realized was to abandon a product for which they paid money to start using and enjoying something that was free.

Cost is a mighty deterrent. Once you've paid your money, its hard to throw away that product. When people upgrade to a new desktop or laptop, they expect to get something newer and faster. It helps that a familiar operating system is installed for free (they do not see the hidden cost of Windows pre-installed). The vendor has hunted down all the drivers necessary for this new computer. OK so they version they were using before was Windows XP and the new one is Windows 7. It came installed for free! So what if it is a little different from what they were used to; its still Windows, they will learn. They do not realize that to keep it working, they have to install anti-virus software, scan for malware on a regular basis. Setup a personal firewall, keep all of these packages updated on a regular basis. To top it all off, these products consume computing time. Their new system needs a lot of extra horsepower.

When people start to get fed up with this circus, they then ask "Should I get a Mac?". What they dion't realize is that although a Mac is not plagued by viruses and malware, they are not Windows computers. they have to throw out all of their old software and often their data as well when adopting a new Mac. It is a tightly controlled franchise. Although it is built upon FreeBSD (another choice in operating systems), the licensing that FreeBSD uses, allows a custom interface to be added. It is this interface that is the problem. It limits your personal freedoms in choosing particular pieces of software.

This is where linux comes in. It is free in many definitions of free and it works on most new and old computers. Yes its not perfect, but the included drivers will handle most of the hardware out there. The exceptions come in hardware that was specifically designed for a Windows computer. Even these are disappearing fast. Its been a long time since I've seen a failure. Usually, it just works. The majority of people out there just wants to use email, web, and to write letters. This is the classic requirement for computers these days. In reality there is always a special thing they do. This may mean running their favorite P2P software to grab some music. In most cases like this there are alternatives in the linux world, but it means a change in software. Bur really can these changes be as bas or radical as the changes from Word 2003 to Word 2007 with the ribbon or from XP to Vista?

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