Bonum Certa Men Certa

2010: When GNU/Linux Remained/Became Better Than Vista 7

Summary: Optimism with regards to the success of GNU/Linux on the 'desktop' (or whatever form factor becomes most commonplace)

SOME people are afraid of Vista 7. Some people are said to be in love with it, but they usually go under anonymous handles and some time in the near future we'll have an investigative report linking such people to AstroTurfing. Those who listen to episodes of TechBytes (which we enjoy producing by the way) probably got a bit of a teaser because the subject was covered in TechBytes around Christmas time. OpenBytes has managed to expose a Microsoft agent cursing Linux and praising Microsoft products under multiple handles. Once the person was linked to his/her Facebook account it turned out that s/he worked for Microsoft, whereupon the Facebook page got deleted (evidence, be gone!).

I was personally amused to see just a few days ago how anonymous commenters pressure writers who are critical of Vista Phony 7 [sic] under pseudonyms. Remember that Microsoft spends about half a billion dollars just promoting this already-failed product and this money goes to peripheral agencies that use all sorts of tactics to shape the perception of Vista Phony 7. Watch what those alleged sympathisers of Vista Phony 7 (it hardly has any users) caused a Forbes writer to publish even as a headline: "Commenters Say Don’t Knock Windows Phone 7 Prematurely"

“In many ways, these people can handle GNU/Linux better than they can use Windows without a support helpline and an OEM's preinstallation.”Who are those commenters? Can they be named? The point of it all is that what we're seeing here is exactly what we saw when Windows Vista and Vista 7 were released. There was retaliation against writers who criticised it. In the coming days we'll do some dedicated posts about Vista Phony 7, whereas in this post we wish to address the myth of GNU/Linux being 'hard', 'incompatible', etc.

I've used Fedora 14 since its release and wrote about it almost a dozen times in my personal blog. It works for me. It works better than almost anything I've tried and I installed it for other people too. They stick with it. They even installed it themselves, having never installed a GNU/Linux distribution before. In many ways, these people can handle GNU/Linux better than they can use Windows without a support helpline and an OEM's preinstallation. Last night I found the post titled "Windows 7 fails to power down idle disks, Fedora 14 works". This it the typical sort of example where Linux "just works" where Windows does not. People need to take it for granted that in certain areas GNU/Linux is far ahead of Windows (package management for instance). To quote a fragment from this new post:

After a while Windows 7 will power down my idle (Fedora 14) disk but then it will randomly power the disk back up. This process would then repeat, an endless cycle of power down, power up, power down, power up....

Why does Windows 7 feel the need to poll my idle disk and wake it up?

Not only is this behaviour irritating but it undermines the idea of spinning down idle disks to save power.

Fedora 14 on the other hand spins down my idle (Windows 7) disk perfectly and does not randomly power the drive back up again unless I intentionally access the drive.

"My morning in Microsoft hell" is another new post that I found last night. It also speaks about Vista 7:

I didn’t want to give up, so I took the plunge and called Microsoft. After a glorious 10 minutes on hold, I was told that as I had bought my copy of Windows 7 more than 90 days prior, I could not get support for less than $59. What? I could not believe it. I have to pay for when I can’t get your product to actually work? This is literally the exact opposite of a Genius Bar. Microsoft told me to go to their website and search for answers to my problem. I was blinking, so she repeated: “go to”

All I needed to know was, ‘is it possible to revert to factory like settings without reinstalling Windows 7?’ Is that so hard to divulge?

Then it hit me: I can’t reinstall Windows at all, because I don’t have a disk to reinstall from. I downloaded the OS from Microsoft, and thus have no physical media to use to restart. In short, I can’t restore, and I can’t reinstall, despite having paid for the damn OS. In other words, my main computer is for all intents and purposes dead.

It is important to see why people favour GNU/Linux here. It's not price, it's not the viruses in Windows, and it is not the belonging to a "side", either. It's technical merit and the notion of ownership/control. If one expands the scope of factors, cost can be seen as a nice bonus and as Microsoft Emil reluctantly admits, there is yet another unpatched Explorer flaw right now (we wrote about a couple more yesterday).

Details on the IE vulnerability are probably more widely known than Microsoft would like, especially given that the researcher in question, Michal Zalewski released the fuzzing tool to the public on New Years Day. It's worth noting that a Google employee has done this before, disclosing an IE flaw that could allow attackers to steal private information from online services. Then and now, Microsoft argued that details should not be disclosed publicly until a patch is available.

How many people still remember that Google banned Windows for all internal use? That was less than a year ago. Google claims to be doing this for security reasons, but there are so many more reasons than that. Google starts pushing Linux-based Chrome OS and Android into a very large market and GNU/Linux in general is very mature at this stage. I never use Windows (neither at home or work) and this avoidance becomes ever more painless over time. Soon enough proprietary codecs and Flash won't be required, either (I have neither installed in Fedora) owing to changes on the Web, partly owing to Google.

So, in conclusion, 2011 looks like a bright year already. Mark Shuttleworth is becoming extremely active in the mailing lists this week, possibly because he too feels invigorated with enthusiasm. Here is an underwhelming short screencast I've just grabbed of my main desktop (just 1.4 megabytes in total size). We ought to have something better in the future.

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