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Linux.. A Toy For Geeks

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I commented in a recent thread (here) how troublesome Linux appears to be for the average not-too-technical home user and asked via an open question to the "Geeks Who Know" why such would bother with it - bearing in mind that "it's free and so is much of the software" is not the best reason. (Community-built software is all well and good but with a few exceptions - e.g. Adium for OS X - it's rarely great.) My guess was that it's the only real option for netbooks given their limited capabilities - i.e. slow processors and minimal memory - but I couldn't see why anyone would want to change the installed version, as appeared to be the case in the thread mentioned, nor put it on a proper computer. I'm aware it's got a big footprint in the corporate world - where it seems to mainly operate in e-mail and web server capacities - but aside from the netbook niche it all seems a bit useless at home. Discuss.

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I tried it, but there was just too much fiddling for my liking. I don't actually have that many problems with Windows in general (and pour scorn on those who do), so I'm happy using it.

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Hmmm...

 

Not sure about the loaded commentary here. I'm no "geek", nor am I a computer expert by any means, but similarly I'm not someone who just surfs the net and is happy with that. I've found most Linux OS's I've used to be brilliant solutions for the desktop, let alone netbooks. I use Windows too, but try to avoid using it beyond gaming since it's become a pain. I grew tired of installing apps to maintain the system, then installing apps to keep it safe on the net. Then installing freeware apps that aren't free at all, but nag you constantly, urging you to buy stuff that isn't even related to the app you're using.

 

I remember using Linux for the first time and thinking, well it's nice and all, but what's the point? Windows was running fine, and I only installed it out of politeness because a work mate recommended it. But then I got WGA (on a proper version of Windows!), which completely locked me out of my computer. I sorted it out, but I then started to question why this company should have this hold over my PC. Locking me out of my own PC! I had another look at Linux...

 

It was tricky at first trying to follow how it worked, dealing with repositories and alternative apps, but after a while it became clear and I'm so glad I stuck with it. I still use Windows, mostly for gaming here and there, but for everything else I use Linux.

 

Sneery commentary is ten a penny on the internet from Windows users who just don't understand it, but that's fine. They point to the free aspect as if we all use it because we're skint (as if free Windows isn't readily available), or because we're beardy or otherwise strange (maybe true, but hey), or because our PC's are from the dark ages (mine's an AMD X2 5200+ with 3Gb RAM and an Nvidia 9800GT, so not so old really). The truth is, I use my PC for all sorts of things beyond everyday browsing, and you don't need a list, because that would be silly. I will say though, that it's not up to anyone to judge what people use their computers for, and lets face it, how many people paid top dollar for Vista just to use Facebook?

 

Linux is easy to use, secure, and yes, free (and Free). I've installed it now across my whole family's PC's, and beyond a couple of tutorials about where to get software from and which apps to use, no problems have been reported. There's a ton of applications for almost anything, and I've certainly not found it lacking in comparison to Windows. In fact, I had a hell of a job recently trying to find a .avi to DVD converter on XP, just in case. I never did find one that did the job, so I'll stick with DeVeDe on Linux.

 

You guys don't like it. That's fine. But why the daggers? You don't need to be so defensive over Windows. HarryBustard, I like your signature...

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I commented in a recent thread (here) how troublesome Linux appears to be for the average not-too-technical home user and asked via an open question to the "Geeks Who Know" why such would bother with it - bearing in mind that "it's free and so is much of the software" is not the best reason.

Yes it is.

(Community-built software is all well and good but with a few exceptions - e.g. Adium for OS X - it's rarely great.) My guess was that it's the only real option for netbooks given their limited capabilities - i.e. slow processors and minimal memory - but I couldn't see why anyone would want to change the installed version, as appeared to be the case in the thread mentioned, nor put it on a proper computer. I'm aware it's got a big footprint in the corporate world - where it seems to mainly operate in e-mail and web server capacities - but aside from the netbook niche it all seems a bit useless at home. Discuss.

 

It's also more stable, less insecure, less likely to be r00ted, less likely to get a virus or other malware, updated more often and more open about what is in it (ie you can get the source code and look).

 

I'm sure there's more, but price has to be the big one, why pay the M$ tax when you have a choice.

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...but aside from the netbook niche it all seems a bit useless at home. Discuss.

 

Perhaps you can learn from your signature here :P

 

As you think it's a bit useless at home you may be assuming that everyone else has the same needs as you at home?

 

Every OS has it's uses, depending on your personal experience & your needs. Personally I do use Windows at home on my main PC because it's more convenient for gaming, but every other computer I use is Linux, from my office desktop, personal laptop, mail server, web server, & development server.

 

I'm far from a Linux evangelist, if Windows was more convenient for any of these uses I'd use it, but in every situation other than my home PC Linux is far more convenient for me, & for the server-side part of it Windows has severe disadvantages.

 

With Linux I prefer the way OS installation, drivers & updates are handled, the way that my mail & web servers have been up for 2 1/2 years (since they were physically moved into a new data centre) without having to be restarted on the third Tuesday every month, & still be secure, the way that I can install proper freeware without having to say "no I don't want to install your bloody toolbar, or change my damed home page", & the way I can make my laptop look so pimped it's unbelievable.

 

I also like the way that if I need to install Linux for someone I'm done in an hour (plus download time for the packages, plus half hour pimping time if applicable) & can install everything I/they need with a single command (that I have in an email, so it's just install, update, a single reboot if necessary, then copy/paste & walk away, knowing that it'll be done & working fine in half an hour), rather than having to install Windows, install Service Pack, update (in multiple batches, with possibly multiple reboots) download firewall, download anti-virus, download whatever flavour(s) of anti-spyware you use, download ccleaner, download flash, download java, download Firefox, download Thunderbird, download... well you get the idea, & that's without installing them all, in which case you're back to having to say no to half a dozen toolbars & homepage changes again.

Edited by steev

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<3 Ubuntu, <3 KDE 4.3

 

I've already bought Windows 7, but I find myself always drawn back to that wonderfully secure, fast, gorgeous looking Linux.

 

Its so nice not to have to bother with anti-virus, not worry about keyloggers, spyware. To have the package manager on hand to install a wealth of quality software quickly, easily and free. To be a part of a software revolution.

 

A shame about the games though. Windows 7 will stay installed in the meantime.

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Brilliant posts by RyoHazuki and Steev.

 

The real question is - why would someone stick with Windows when they could have ubuntu up and running in about an hour?

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I think a lot of the criticism of Linux stems from one thing that the person doing the criticising wouldn't mention. I'm not suggesting that it's the case in this instance, but I've brought it up with a couple of people who consider themselves computer "experts" & have started slagging off desktop Linux to my face, & they both went a bit red & shut up.

 

Basically they tried it 4 years ago, either couldn't get the hang of not having a "C" drive, couldn't get AOL working, couldn't get [insert obscure bit of hardware] working as driver support stopped around Windows 95, or just couldn't even RTFM about how to partition the drive properly (when there weren't nice installers that did it all for you. "I need a swap partition, that's why it won't work, what a bloody silly idea" :rolleyes: )

 

Ubuntu has always billed itself as Linux newbie friendly, but IMO it's ony since Intrepid (8.10?) that it's really been that way. Hell, now my Mum uses it, & my sister took one look, took the CD I'd left around there back home with her, managed to install the damn thing herself, & only phoned me up because it gave her a choice of two Nvidia drivers. I used to get calls every month, I've got this virus, how do I install this driver, where do I get this program, my printer stopped working, why have I got 8 toolbars, etc etc. One problem between both of them in the last six months, & that was when the cat knocked the printer's USB lead out.

 

The aforementioned cat's left eye is my avatar BTW.

Edited by steev

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Don't forget that with Linux you can also make a remaster image of your system in case you do need to reinstall for any reason. I've had a hard drive fail, put in another one, popped the remastered DVD in the drive & within an hour my system was back up & running - including all the programs I use, the tabs I always have open in Firefox, & all the toolbar settings & everything as it was when I made the remaster.

 

I just do a remaster every month or so, so that the remaster has all my current settings and is up to date with updates & everything.

 

Windows fans may well say they can do the same with Acronis or whatever they use - but can they legally do it for free the same as Linux users can?

 

Incidentally, the same remaster will install on both my laptops, & the desktop, so they can all have the same desktop & programs as each other. (I just have to change their hostnames so the network functions correctly). Let's see you do that in Windows!

 

One of the reasons I initially started using Linux was that I got fed up of leaving my PC converting & burning a file to DVD when I went to bed, and getting up next morning to find I had another coaster because Windows had to reboot because it had "installed an important update that required rebooting".

 

When updating Linux, it downloads & installs in the background. I had to reboot once when I used Ubuntu, but I've never had to with PCLinuxOS.

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There will always be a %age of people who are pro Linux, and those who are pro Windows. You could have the same discussion regarding Mac vs. Windows, in the same way we used to argue about BBC B vs. C64 or Amiga vs. Atari as kids.

 

Some of us however have to stick with Windows, even when we have the technological nous to swap. We have to use it at work, I have to use it on my home PC - so making another partition with an alternative OS is pointless, I don't want to be swapping between operating systems, I just want one that can do everything.

 

Linux can do lots of stuff, some better than Windows; sure, anyone who understands computers beyond the pages of PC Gamer is well aware of this. However, Windows still has its place in the world, both and home and in the office.

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If linux ever becomes a true platform for games....then i will quit using windows completely.

 

I do find linux a little difficult but at the same time the stability and safety make windows look silly to say the least.

 

Im not talking about opensource gaming here, if some major publishers actually took a chance it might crack microsoft enough to release their stranglehold on pc users.

 

That said it's a pc, you have a choice on what you want to use and each to their own.

 

Me personally with a little more convincing (aka another ms flop, wether windows 7 or whatever comes next) and ill go all linux and never look back.

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So, a good question gets good answers - and only a few digs here and there - rather refreshing for this forum. For the record I've never used Linux - the sole basis for my question (read it again) being an observation that it seemed to be tricky for home users to manage - not least as support seemed thin on the ground. (No-one addressed this specific issue so perhaps they might.) Nor do I use Windows these days - except when I'm helping family & friends with problems - as I live in a Mac OS X dream world. (Come on in... the water's lovely... though the tickets are expensive.) Actually, I haven't always had such a nice place... I was in a Windows nightmare for years... and like those who managed to escape to a new world it was tricky finding my feet at first. Anyway, each to their own and thanks to everyone who gave their opinions - even those with barbs. (Ouch!) P.S. As a software developer of some twenty years' experience I learned early on never to assume - but I am happy to presume.

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