Thursday, January 17, 2008

Linux Saves the Day: Real Life Story

Many people fell that I am biased against specific operating systems, in favor of a few. Most say that because the most outspoken of both the Linux and Mac community tend to defend their position by negatively attacking the competition. As such, the "community" is thereafter labeled as zealots, and from then on out no one takes you seriously. The truth is, I feel that operating systems are like suits, you wear the one that best fulfills your goals. Case in point:

My father is using an older machine that I had built about four years ago. The processor isn't even a 1 gig processor, the memory not quite one GB. It's old, it's worn, it started to show it's age. XP has been installed on it because it was the handy OS, and it ran fairly decently... Until recently. Updates from Microsoft have made the OS unusable.

I brought home another XP install disc to use with my XP key I had at home, and my dad tried to reinstall. It didn't work, and the original XP disc was nowhere to be found. What was he going to do? I also brought home Fedora 8 and Ubuntu 7.04. Fedora wouldn't work, because the machine didn't have a DVD-ROM drive. So, he installed Ubuntu.

The installation was flawless I assume, since I received no requests for assistance. The machine just works, and works well. Where XP had failed on this older machine, Ubuntu is flourishing. Granted all the games that were previously installed on the machine now no longer work, but as my mother was rather frustrated with the wasted time in those games, it's a better all around situation without them.

So there you have it. No zealous attacks on XP, no burning effigy of Bill Gates, just the reality that the machine was getting too old for XP and needed another operating system that would work on it. Do I think one OS is better than another? Only when the other OS will not work at all in the platform that you want, or when you want some flexibility. As my father so aptly told me this morning as I groaned at his decision to install Opera, "For what I use it for, it works better than anything else."


Ritergal said...

I just installed Ubuntu on an old laptop that was having problem similar to your father's I love it! The main challenge is getting the wireless card to work. I'm not there yet, but I did get my own TrueType fonts integrated.

I'm having so much fun with Ubuntu, it's tempting to put it on the other machines. Vista melted down on a brand new computer ... the handwriting is on the wall.

Jeremy Robb said...

Very true! I have often said this to my students in class: If Microsoft ever dropped their own kernel and sold just a windowing system for a *nix OS, they would make a fortune.

You just can't beat UNIX in general for reliability, even on older machines. ^_^