Does Loving Linux Make Us Dislike Windows?

Is the Linux-Windows debate about OS politics, or something more pragmatic?
Posted August 8, 2011

Matt Hart

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Years ago, I was a reasonably content Windows desktop user. Then something remarkable took place that changed everything: I began stumbling upon various open source projects that I found to be nothing short of amazing.

The first open source application I happened upon was a project called "Firebird." Destined to become what we today refer to as the Firefox Web browser, Firebird offered me a whole new way to look at software.

Even back in the early days of the Firebird/Firefox browser, I knew it was going to take off like crazy as development began to pickup. As time went on, I found myself using open source software over that of the freeware/shareware alternatives. Software cost was certainly part of the reasoning for my change in computing habit, but so was the speed of application development.

Today I'm a full-time desktop Linux enthusiast, who is familiar with dozens of popular distributions. I'd consider myself very comfortable with Linux on the desktop. What's interesting though, is the change in how I view Windows.

These days, I avoid Windows as much as possible since I feel much more limited with it. Perhaps this is what Windows users trying Linux feel when stepping outside of their regular computing routine?

Whatever the issue happens to be for others, I've found myself disliking any non-Linux experience on the desktop. The reasons for my view of Windows are bountiful. However I can't say that everyone reading this is going to agree with them.

Regardless, this is simply a deeper look into what makes me embrace Linux and avoid Windows whenever I can...even though I own a Windows 7 PC.

Where's the software?

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Based on my own experiences with Windows 7, the software included is laughable. There is no default office suite, the productivity software is missing out of the box and most of the time the driver support is painful to behold.

Just to make the Windows 7 desktop usable in my office, I must hunt down software solutions that mirror my Linux desktop experience. Though, to be fair, there are some very solid applications available for Windows users. Claiming otherwise would be disingenuous.

However, finding these software titles can be tedious. Worse, I find myself using search engines and shareware websites to fill in software gaps for application discovery. Considering that Linux software is available from Linux software repositories, along with the plethora of apps already installed, Linux has software availability won hands down in contrast to Windows.

I've also found that many of the applications I've come to love on the Linux desktop aren't always available on the Windows desktop. For instance, one example occurs to me from the video editing space. I could go with VirtualDub for Windows, however I'd rather stick with OpenShot instead.

There are other Linux software titles I've run into this with, but this is one example that is something I came across recently. We are victims of what we consider familiar, I suppose. However this is hardly true only for users of proprietary desktop operating systems. It seems that Linux enthusiasts can also suffer from platform shock when going back to a non-Linux experience.

Dollars and "sense"

One thing I find most annoying about Windows is how I must spend extra money every time I update the operating system. I’m not saying this happens with each Windows release cycle, rather with every two of them.

The problem is that even if I stick to open source/freeware applications on the Windows desktop, Windows 7 seems to "dislike" peripherals aged more than 3-4 years old. It amazes me that I could take brand named devices, connect them to a Windows 7, only to watch as the installer coughed up excuses instead of getting the devices up and running. Even peripherals that worked out of the box in Windows XP failed miserably with Windows 7, due to drivers.


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Tags: open source, Linux, Windows, Linux desktop, Windows 7

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