January 7, 2006

Once again, I delay a switch to Windows

Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

Like all computer users other than a few free software zealots and Mac addicts, I secretly prefer Windows to all other desktop operating systems. I run Linux only out of cheapness and an old-hippie desire to "stick it to The Man." But lately Microsoft has started to embrace open source so lovingly that in a gesture of support for their new open-mindedness I was ready to dump Linux on my two daily-use computers and install Windows instead. Then another Windows security hole popped up. Darn! Once again, it looks like I'm stuck with free, reliable, secure Linux, at least for the next year or two.I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The biggest problem with Linux is boredom. You install your distribution, you set it up and tweak it until it works the way you like it, and after that -- nothing.

Every time you turn on your Linux computer it works the same way it did the last time you turned it on. You give it a command either as text (command line) or by pointing and clicking (GUI), and it does what you tell it without any fuss. This is fine if you're the kind of cold-blooded person who thinks of his computer as a work tool, but for a person who wants a relationship with a computer, this just doesn't do. A lover who is always the same doesn't inspire passion. Love requires not only tender moments but also conflict. And this is why it is easier to love Windows than Linux.

I have friends and relatives who run Windows. Now and then they burst into fits of "I hate my computer and my computer hates me!" fury. Since I run Linux and free, friendly applications like OpenOffice.org and Firefox, I never have days like these, nor do I have days when my heart is overwhelmed with affection for my computer, which I assume Windows users have in enough abundance to compensate for their all-too-frequent days of computer hate.

I would love to tell Windows users, "I feel your pain." But I don't, because I use Windows only sparingly, and never connect my one Windows computer directly to the Internet or rely on it to store critical data. So I feel neither Windows pain nor Windows joy. I never feel the wonderful "Am I going to get a virus today?" thrill the Windows users seem to love so much. I don't have heart-stopping moments when I wonder if a slavering terrorist hacker in a former Soviet republic has invaded my computer. And I never get the soul-lifting experience Windows users have in their good moments of knowing that today, at least, my computer seems to be running properly, God's in His heaven, and all's right with the world.

Maybe Longhorn -- I mean Vista -- will change my mind.

With any luck, Windows Vista, which will finally be released in (fill in year/month here) will be stable and secure enough to use for actual day-to-day work. If it is, I might be tempted to switch. But if Windows Vista is as stable and secure as Linux, it will be just as boring as Linux, so there will be no point in moving to it.

Oh, well. :(


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