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Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year here in the U.S., and that means the holiday season is thick upon us once again. We *could* buckle down and get working on all those holiday shopping lists, but it's not difficult to think of countless ideas that would be a whole lot more fun. Take a good, old-fashioned debate, for example -- about operating systems, no less! Thank goodness for the team over at Slashdot, because that's just the conversation that's been raging there recently, to the tune of almost 2,000 comments.
I use Windows mostly to run some softwares which can only be run in Windows even though I used to run it only for games :) It just really hard to find a replacement for legacy programs which you can't part with.
Apart from that I run Fedora for my own PC and Ubuntu for my work one.
My main business computers all use Ubuntu 10.04.
I also use Windows Vista which I don't prefer, but it works when I turn it on, it's annoying but dependable, it has the software I need, and it came installed on as a new computer so it worked right away. (I'm a techie so I've got Vista tuned and working about as well as it can.)
I've used various Linux distros since 2006. I would categorize them generally as buggy and incomplete--they work but the software I need isn't always available and probably never will be. (Try QuickBooks) I also sometimes run into awful upgrade issues, boot loaders that won't work nicely with multiple installs, intermittent wifi or networking, etc., etc. Long term bugs just don't seem to get fixed either.
My Ubuntu 10.04 works about as well as I could expect and I can run my business with it. The next LTS in April, 2012 is probably going to be unacceptable as a replacement. I feel it's a bad regression from the 10.04 because of the massive changes to the desktop and a likely crowd of new usability bugs. So I'll be back to all Windows computers probably. Ugh!!
Linux Mint (my favorite distro), as well as other distros, may not have the most software, but what it does, it does well. Windows on the other hand makes you pay a lot for Microsoft Office, it doesn't want to support free codecs and formats (out of the box), if I leave my computer alone for too long it decides to restart itself for the purpose of updating, etc. Windows may have the best software, but the way it works just angers me.
Is trivial to fix. Reboot? That is one click under Windows update or even better just download the free WSUSOffline and then update when YOU feel like it. MS Office? Nobody forces you to use it, there are nearly a dozen alternatives, several free. Codecs? If you are on XP use Klite, on Windows 7 use Windows 7 Codec pack, which even works in DVD Maker so you can drag and drop any format you wish. I hear they have a Windows Vista codec pack as well, but after the beta I avoided Vista so not sure there.
In fact pretty much any problem you have with Windows can be fixed simply and cheaply if not free. you don't even need to use the Windows DE if you don't want to, there is AstonShell which will make Windows look like anything you want from OSX to Android to even KDE.
Sadly the Linux problems I have found NO quick, easy, or relatively painless solution for. as I said above try my "is it safe?" test and see what would happen to my customers. They are not gonna pay for 5 year support contracts and I am sure not giving away free lifetime support. I have several XP builds in the field going on a decade, that is THREE service packs and probably another 3k or so fixes on top of that and NO broken drivers.
But of course the drivers are just a symptom of a larger problem and that is the fact that EVERYTHING in Linux is in a constant state of flux, from the kernel on up. While some might like that to me it screams alpha build and not something I'd want to hand my customers. And before someone trots out the LTEs I'd point out that the LTEs are 1.-Anything but LTEs since you are looking at 3 years IIRC on the desktop, most Windows get a minimum of 8, and 2.- LTEs in linux land often equals "old and unsupported" because everything requires Kernel Y and you have kernel X.
If you want the masses, the driver support, being able to buy any device in any shop and have it "just work" then you have to accept the fact that YOU have to change, not them. Expecting the world to embrace bash and hunting forums to fixes is frankly delusional. they want simple, easy, clicky clicky and no driver breakage. While Linux has made strides it is sadly still a far way away from that goal, and I honestly don't know if it will ever get to the point it can stand next to OSX and Windows in the polish dept.
I won't deny the multiple annoyances (reboots, yukky stuff with an anti-virus client, Java, Flash, etc.) that come with the Windows environment. In that environment I use LibreOffice so I don't have to pay $$ for Microsoft's equivalent. When I use it, I turn on the Vista computer and come back 15 minutes later to see if I can "borrow" the machine to get some work done.
Thanks for the tip about Linux Mint. I actually have the version 10 on a separate IDE HDD and it works very well. I think it's based on Ubuntu 10.04 so that makes a good fit for me.