Monday, March 17, 2008

Top 10 Reasons to Use Linux FUD / Bull

This is a response to "Top 10 Reasons to Why Should I Use Linux? - A Linux Evangelists' Reference."

Think of ten reasons off of the top of your head why Linux is better than other operating systems. Go.

"Umm... 1) It helps you get rid of viruses 'n' stuff."

True, sorta. It doesn't help you get rid of viruses and malware exactly, though it could be used for that purpose. Linux is certainly more resistant to infection for a variety of compelling though questionable reasons. Its "server-client relationship" is one of those questionable reasons, and a good one if you're worried more about damage to the operating system than to all of your data. Linux is a more secure multi-user environment out of the box, and is a more secure single user environment partly because of obscurity and partly because users by default don't run as root. There are plenty of security flaws in "Linux" -- assuming we're not just talking about the Linux kernel -- many of which are never taken advantage of.

Back when I was running RedHat 7 I was a little bit lax on keeping it up to date, and my machine was rooted and subsequently used to attack at least one organization. I'm to blame, sure, but let's not get carried away with this "Linux is uber-secure because of its amazing design and opensourceness" business.

Linux is uber-secure when compared to Windows. Compared to Mac OS (even pre-OSX BSD goodness), it doesn't exactly stand out.

"2) Linux is really fast 'n' stuff."

Yeah yeah. This is a seriously out of date point. You certainly cannot run a major distro on 256MB of RAM with "all the bling." In fact, you'll have a hard time even installing some major distros with only 256MB. And as soon as you bring up an application like Firefox, it's gonna grind.

In my experience XP will run "better" than the latest Ubuntu on 256MB. Not so much "better", but "useable" or "slightly less sucky." I do realize of course that XP is seven years old, and 256MB was adequate when it was released.

What really impresses me the most is how OSX runs on my old G3 with 512MB. Now *that's* impressive. This is something that neither Windows nor any full-fledged Linux distribution could pull off.

Oh, and "Linux" will bloat and slow down if you willy nilly start installing applications and the requisite eight bajillion dependencies required by each. Run your Linux installation like the average user person runs his Windows installation and you'll be in a similar boat right quick. You'll just have spent a hell of a lot more time getting the boat into the water.

My most used XP installation is at least 5 years old (yeesh my machine is getting old!) and isn't slow.

"3) Linux is easier to use than Windoze"

This is absolute bull. What could be easier than opening up a package manager and installing the software you want? Downloading a single file and clicking on it, that's what could be easier.

Despite the impressive completeness of most package managers these days, they're still at the mercy of poor descriptions and extremely bad program naming. Many times I've jumped through more hoops than necessary to install "ksmk2ii1kk-", not realizing that it was in the damn repository already...or if I did see it, it's six months out of date and the features I need are in version

Now I'm not saying that I don't like systems like Synaptic, because I do very much. But this is not necessarily a reason that Linux is "easier." There are some things about it that are better, sure. Easier? For me. Sometimes. Sure.

Hardware compatibility? Ok, just freakin stop it. To say that Linux has better hardware support than Windows (as a whole) is just a lie. And using ndiswrapper to help prove your point just negates your point. Using an OPTIONALLY INSTALLED program like ndiswrapper to wrap WINDOWS drivers does not make Linux easier to use than Windows. And if you care so much about so-called freedom (see point 4) then using Windows drivers is not an option.

Frankly, the Linux desktop is still harder to use than Windows or Mac. It's gotten worlds better, but unless you have a system that's setup to do X, Y, and Z, and only X, Y, and Z, the average person is going to get frustrated very quickly. And the shell will come out. I have never been able to get a Linux distro to the same relative state of usefulness as a generic Windows install without using the shell. Ever. The last time I installed a major distro was last month.

"4) Linux is free because information wants to be free man"

Ok, I'll concede this one, although I'm still on the fence as to whether a software application can be considered "information" and thus should be free, unless I intentionally stick my head back into the box and disregard the energy required to generate said "information," not to mention that some of this information is the ends itself, not just a means. But I digress. I'm certainly no fan of modern commercial licensing.

"5) The FBI can't spy on you with Linux!"

Please. This is genuine FUD. Just because you can't read the high level source code for Windows does not mean that you can't verify that it's not spying on you and sending the information to the FBI. Please. And when was the last time your grandma popped open the source to kPrescriptionLoc to verify that it wasn't leaking her Medicare information?

"6) Windows programs like Photoshop CS3 work awesome on Linux thanks to Wine!"

No they don't. They just don't. Stop lying. Photoshop CS3, and all of the CS3 Suite programs have major problems even installing in Wine. Even the Wine lead Alexandre Juillard in a recent interview with LUG Radio admitted to being far from able to keep up with new software developments. (not that he ever tried to deny it)

And what happened to "Linux is easier to use than Windows" and that business about freedom? Wine? Please.

"7) Linux looks better than other operating systems."

Cork it. Linux finally has some eye candy, that mostly works, and is mostly not too clunky. Better looking? I enter into the record the Gnome Panel. Case closed. The best looking Linux was had ten years ago with Enlightenment, the Duke Nukem Forever of desktop managers.

Awesome 3D Penguin backgrounds and wiggly windows get old pretty damn fast. Linux has a long way to go to catch up with OSX in terms of look and feel. I'd even say that it has some catching up to do with Vista, one of the worst, most annoying operating systems that I've ever used.

"8) Linux is fun!"

Well no shit. I've always said that Linux is the best tool available for configuring Linux. It in and of itself is a challenge. Unfortunately "fun" and "easy to use" are mutually exclusive here.

"9) You can help improve Linux!"

Pahleese. This has nothing to do with Linux specifically. Go ahead and send your whiny complaints to Linus and see what kind of reaction you get.

Yes, we can all help to improve open source software. I *love* open source software. I will not spend my free time improving it, however, unless it's something I really need to have working. That's not to say that I won't complain about, however.

Anyhow, you'll have a hard time convincing anyone that they should write the documentation for some software that they can't figure out how to use because the documentation sucks.

"10) adf adsfadsf adadsf adf"

Ok, an "evangelist" couldn't come up with ten valid points about why Linux is a superior operating system in a TOP TEN list? Too busy looking over source code for security flaws? Too busy writing better documentation for Sendmail? Or are you just stuck trying to work out some dependency conflicts?
Here is my list of why Linux is the best operating system. Note that many items are repeats of the FUD article, but without the poor explanations:

1) It costs nothing. Self explanatory.

2) In terms of free operating systems, it has the best hardware support.

3) Business case: licensing ensures that your vendor can never pull the rug out from under you and force you to start paying. The software, and the source, is yours to keep, use, and modify forever. (although I haven't gotten over feeling burned by RedHat when it dropped RH Linux after version 9 and left us with a pay-only upgrade to RHEL or the baby new Fedora project) More importantly, your data is yours.

4) No activation schemes, period. No situations where you're restricted from using your software because you've changed your own hardware. Need to reinstall? Then do it. Hundreds of times. Thousands of times. Never call a support center in India to verify the genuine awesomeness of your operating system again.

5) There is a lot of software available. Most of it is very poor quality, but you can still be very productive.

6) Business case: Linux makes for a fantastic server. You've got the same clunky problems maintaining a Linux server that you do maintaining a Linux desktop, but once you get that server running the comparative uptime is phenomenal.

7) Once you've got your distro configured just right, Linux is easy to use and productive as a desktop operating system. Unfortunately, there is a chance that you will never get it configured just right.

8) You're already using Linux whether you know it or not. It might be on your phone, your router, or your MP3 player. Chances are, it served you this web page. Linux is not just a hobby operating system for enthusiasts anymore.

9) Your chance of becoming infected with a virus or malware is reduced nearly to zero if you keep your system up to date. This doesn't mean that you're not susceptible to a wide range of online trickery, and it doesn't mean that Linux doesn't have security flaws.

10) Using Linux prevents you from getting involved with most DRM systems and somewhat prevents you from becoming a part of the software patents problem.