June 20, 2006

My desktop OS: Microsoft Windows XP Professional

Author: Kristopher K. Kruger

Though I dabble with GNU/Linux through the Kubuntu 6.06 installation on an older, less powerful machine, the system I use most often is running Microsoft Windows XP. Despite my choice of operating systems, I use open source software whenever possible.

I have been a long-time Windows user, starting with with Windows 3.1 as the front end to DOS 6.22. Through the years that followed, I used various versions of Windows based on the NT kernel, which brought me to Microsoft Windows XP. While I was in undergraduate school, where I studied computer science and psychology, 32-bit Windows was the only x86 OS students were allowed to use when accessing the network through their dorm rooms. The development environments (Turbo C++ 3, Borland C++Builder, and any of the various emulators for CICS or COBOL) we used in class all ran on Microsoft Windows.

Of course I had an interest in learning and using GNU/Linux, I had just never got around to it. Most of the time when I had installed it in a dual boot configuration, I found myself switching back to Windows to do anything.

By the time I started graduate school in 2004, I was running SUSE Linux on my most powerful desktop PC, but since coursework still brought me to Windows-based development environments (Microsoft Visual Studio), I ran Windows XP in a virtual machine on my GNU/Linux system.

My primary machine now is a laptop with a 64-bit AMD processor. It came with a 32-bit version of Windows XP Home edition, which I replaced with a 32-bit XP Professional edition I purchased through school. I will not be replacing XP Professional with Microsoft Windows Vista. I neither need nor enjoy the additional GUI bloat, which I turn off in Windows XP anyway.

Never having been a fan of Microsoft Office, I use OpenOffice.org as my office suit. Firefox and Opera 9 are my browsers of choice. Wengophone 2 (Openwengo) is my VoIP application of choice, though I've installed Skype and Gizmo Project too. I had been using Mozilla Thunderbird as my email client. I resort to webmail when I am just at my laptop but I download the messages through a POP3 client whenever I am at, or working on, my other system, the 400 Mhz AMD K6-3 on which I run Kubuntu 6.06. There I use Kopete 0.12 for instant messaging and KMail for downloading and archiving of the email. Messages I send while not out are sent through Kmail.

I like the community that surrounds open source software. I like what it promotes and what it stands for. I like the mentality that is open source software and development. I use mainly open source programs: Avidemux, Audacity, Cygwin, Freemind, GIMP, Hugin, Last.fm player, MinGW, mplayer, Scribus, Shareaza, Synergy, SharpDevelop 2, VLC, and Xming, to mention a few.

However, I am more comfortable developing software through IDE systems (Visual Studio, or the current one I am using, Borland C++Builder) in Microsoft Windows XP than I am on a GNU/Linux system. That comes from lack of exposure and experience.

I see myself moving beyond Microsoft Windows XP at the end of this calendar year, but in the meantime I will stick with it as my primary desktop OS. Though it represents tactics of FUD, which I do not endorse, and has been merely, or just barely, good enough for years, it is still a shell of my past from which I have not yet completely emerged.

What desktop OS do you use every day? Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us what you use and why. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your favorite OS or have one in hand.) In recent weeks, we've covered SimplyMEPIS, Xandros, Mac OS X, Fedora Core 3, Ubuntu, White Box Enterprise Linux, Mandriva PowerPack 2006, Slackware, SUSE, GRML, Kanotix, Gentoo, VectorLinux, CentOS, Damn Small Linux, Frugalware, Kubuntu, PCLinuxOS, Arch Linux, Fedora Core 5, Debian Etch, Zeta, and Zenwalk.

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