Joined: Sep. 2005
||Posted: Mar. 08 2006,14:08
I think there are two general levels to linux-versus-windows discussions.
The first centres around "usability" arguments, which invariably are never qualified as to purpose, the level of skill of the user, and the format silos which lock one in to using, say, MS docs. Usability is a relative thing. For example: once installed and set up, you simply can't beat linux for a general internet desktop - surfing etc. The internet originated on unix, whereas internet functionality was historically an afterthought for M$. Linux doesn't get malware or viruses (much) and granny can use it since a web browser or email works much the same on any platform. But if you're stuck (like most of us) in a corporate environoment where M$ format issues are paramount, it's just (unfortunately) sometimes easier to use Windows. Open Office imports MS docs fine, but exporting back is not always without complications because Oo still doesn't always handle MS metdata quite right. M$ knows all too well that this lock-in is one of the major barriers to the widespread adoption of linux, that's why they won't tell anyone exactly how their formats are put together, and neither will they move to the Open Document standard any time soon.
The second type of argument is about the design and functioning of the operating system. No contest, linux is designed better (eg) better permissions handling, better account securiity etc. and better memory management.
But many here in userspace won't always notice the difference. What they will notice indirectly is that MS has the marketplace muscle to get what they want from hardware and software manufacturers and designers. Drivers. Easy interfaces. Crisp fonts and graphics. Money and marketplace inertia makes these things hang together, while we in linux go in a million different directions (though not always a bad thing). You can usually get these things in linux, but it takes work and knowledge.
And above all - many people now buy laptops as their main machines. All arguments about linux being easy to install fall over badly on laptops, at least for 100% functionality. Laptops are generally built for Windows, like it or not. I've spent weeks and many hours getting eveything to work with FC4 on my new HP laptop (it wouldn't even boot to begin with), and I still am not sure why I have cpu scaling ok but no throttling (I probably should've used Ubuntu or Suse10). I'm glad I did, I've learned a lot. But it's not for granny, and By contrast, installing the evil product from Redmond was (as they say) "just put the cd in and let it install" (ignoring for argument's sake the need to install drivers, antivirus etc). Because the laptop was built for it.
So there is the intrinsic worth of the operating system - versus - the realities of history and market clout.