Monday, August 13, 2007

Ho hum....

I hate misinformation with a passion and beleive me there is a lot of misinformation about a GNU/Linux on the Internet. I was browsing around the Internet looking for nothing in particular when I happened upon the following link: Now, having been a Linux user since around the very early 1990's I take issue with some of the bogus things mentioned in the above article. Let us look at this persons "Requirements" one by one. Here is his list of "Requirements": 1. It must have a GUI interface for installing and configuring the system. 2. Existing hardware must remain usable and the new operating system must make it "just work" without my having to edit text-based configuration files. 3. Existing software must remain usable unless the new operating system has equivalent features to the ones I use, and I can switch without losing data or doing much work. 4. Because I need to use software that has no Linux substitute, the Linux distribution must make it easy to create a dual-boot system. It has to recognize and preserve the existing operating system and its data during installation, and give me access to the data on the Windows drives after installation. Further this person says his "Requirements" are "non-negotiable". Obviously a very arrogant person who writes fluff at best and utter junk, like the article above, at worse. Option 1 in this persons list of "non-negotiable requirements" is the funniest of all of them. The question is, what constitutes a GUI? Most people consider a GUI to mean real drivers for the graphics card and real and proper windows, buttons, icons etc. The MS Window installer does not use a GUI, it uses bit mapped graphics which imitates what we all know as being a GUI. On Linux this is called the framebuffer or sometimes the VESA buffer is used. Given that this person claims to know his stuff does not bode well for whatever else he waffles on about. Throughout the article there are errors and misleading information that is so blatant is stops being funny after page 1. Anyway. Item 2 on his "non-negotiable requirements" list is almost as funny of item 1. The vast majority of hardware under MS Windows immediately after the installation phase is used in the most basic of basic states until one installs the proper driver. Under Linux the vast majority of hardware is in the most usable state from the minute the kernel loads the driver during the install phase. There is a huge difference between these two methods and those differences are at best glossed over in this article and at worst totally disregarded. Further in this persons Item 2 it is stated that the hardware must just work without the need to edit text based files. Now, given that MS Windows has all manner of "Wizards", some of which just work whilst others simply do not and almost every change requires a reboot, I think editing the odd text based file is a much prefer method as they are almost always guaranteed to "just work". Redhat, Mandriva and SuSe to name but a few all have similar wizards. Still, it has to be said that the vast majority of hardware "just works" under Linux and of those obscure bits that rely on deeply embedded MS Windows files often installed by MS Windows only drivers are not worth bothering with anyway, because those types of hardware use way too much CPU time to do their thing. Item 3 in this persons "non-negotiable requirements" list is an obscure one. The person states that "Existing software must remain usable". I do not fully understand the meaning here as it should be obvious that MS Windows software will not work on a Linux distribution as the under laying file system formats are not compatible, unless one uses cedega or qemu both of which run MS Windows within Linux. Some software packages, like the Picasso one this person mentioned run under a Linux OS but is wrapped up in Wine, another MS Windows emulator. If however, this person meant that under Linux his DATA files should be usable from the MS Windows world then that is a different thing altogether. Apart from some deeply proprietary formats the vast majority are usable under a Linux distribution. OpenOffice, which can be directly compared to MS Office, can open, edit and save in all manner of formats, some MS, some Linux but the majority of major MS formats can be opened, edited and saved back to the MS format. The programs under a Linux based OS may not be the same (how could they be when the program creators do not produce a Linux version?) but the fact is that the vast majority of file formats, be they text based ones, movie and sound based ones or even the ubiquitous MS Office formats are usable under a Linux OS but using a different program. OpenOffice in place of MS Office or Mplayer plus codecs in place of MS Media Player plus codecs etc etc. Finally, this persons Item 4. This person states that he uses some applications that have no Linux equivalents. While I agree that this situation does happen, the situation is getting less and less but there are still some areas Linux has not gone to that the MS world has. The person also mentions a dual boot situation. Now, given that both Lilo or grub (two boot loaders under a Linux OS) have been able to do this since, well, since they more or less first came onto the market and if given the choice between a Linux based boot loader and an MS boot loader I personally would go with the Linux based one every time. Why? Well, the MS operating System does not like sharing with anything and is often times the culprit when in a dual boot situation the Linux OS side suddenly either stops working or simply gets deleted. Also, when you install MS Windows it will automatically over write whatever is in the MBR irregardless of whether you wanted it to. The Linux based counterparts however will allow not only a dual boot situation but a triple or quad etc boot option. And just so this person knows it is not a Linux OS that stuffs up the MBR (Master Boot record which holds all the partitions and OS information) but the MS Windows one. The MS boot loader, or rather the MS installer does no sniffing of the MBR at all, while its Linux based counterparts do, and simply overwrites whatever was in the MBR. So, there we have it. Someone who has not the first clue about Operating Systems writing blatant rubbish about operating Systems. If these people are to gain any credibility whatsoever they should at least learn that about which they speak. Installing a Linux based OS nowadays is easier than installing its MS Windows counterpart. It will not over write whatever is in the MBR. It will open, edit and save almost all formats be they text based one, XML based ones, film based ones and music based ones. Apart from games, and even that area is getting less and less, there is very little MS Windows can do that a Linux OS cannot. This person used Ubuntu as his marker for his or her "non-negotiable requirements" which is a good choice as Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu or any other flavour of Ubuntu does all the things one would expect from a Linux OS trying to immitate MS Windows in every area. There are other Linux Distributions out there that operate in a similar fashion but there is only one MS Windows (Windows95, Windows98, WindowsXP, and MS Windows Vista are not differing OS's in the same way that the many and varied Linux distributions are). For anyone thinking of installing a Linux OS either as the only OS on the hard drive or as a dual boot you would do well to ignore this blatantly bias rubbish as portrayed in the article above and go and find someone, somewhere that knows what they are talking about. This person in the above mentioned article clearly and unequivocally does not.

No comments: