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Jack Wallen is Stuck in 1995


I've just read a nice (if not misleading) posting by Jack Wallen over at ZDNet, and I got to say, there are still some really misinformed people out there.  Most of all, I can't believe that the user-based OS fanboy battles are still going on.  Just let people use what they want to use. Don't turn it in to a religious battle.

Before I go off on my diatribe, I want to just put out there a couple of points. 

Your operating system should be not be a major deciding factor of your workflow.  The OS should be transparent to end users, and simply serves as a container to hold the applications that you use to get your work done, or to recreate with gaming, social media, etc.  I myself use Windows mainly for gaming.  But I also use a Linux machine for productivity tasks, such as writing, tracking things in spreadsheets, video and graphic editing, etc. 

It used to be pretty humorous listening to the ranting diatribes about "My OS is better than your OS!", but lately it seems like most of these invectives on anything other than what the lecturer uses is getting old, and most are based on outdated information.

What it boils down to is, if you have a tool that does the job, then use it.  Don't switch tools just because someone else says your tool is evil and they don't like it.  Conversely, use the best tool for the job, for you.  For example, I use Notepad++ for web development.  Why would I use such a basic editor when there are many more feature-laden alternatives out there?  Simple: I don't need those features. Notepad++ gets the job done in a way I am familiar with, without getting in my way with extra fluff. 

Let's go down the list of items that Mr. Wallen called out.  Keep in mind, I am not necessarily a Windows Zealot, but there are a lot of inaccuracies in the authors characterizations.

1. It Makes Sense

The example given here is that the user must open a command prompt, navigate to the directory of the program that is desired, then run the program.  From Mr. Wallen:

Say, for instance, you want to run Firefox from the command line. To do that on Windows, you might first have to change into the Mozilla Firefox directory and then issue the command start firefox.exe. On Linux, you can type firefox from any directory and the application will launch.

The author goes on to explain the $Path (Linux) environment variable, which I guess doesn't exist on Windows.  Except it does.  The %Path% environment variable has been around since the early days of DOS, if not from the beginning, when MS-DOS was bought from Seattle Computer Products, back in 1980.  This is one of the reasons I can open a command prompt on a Windows machine, and use WinRAR at the command line, from any directory.  Or Robocopy. Or whatever.

Plus, why wouldn't you just double-click the FireFox icon on your desktop? Or (gasp!) open the start menu and click the FireFox icon there?

2. It's Easy.

Well, kind of.  For basic functionality, yes, it is easy.  But not necessarily moreso than Windows or MacOS.  Getting stuff installed on any of these operating systems is pretty straightforward.  Simply go to the app store of choice, or download an app from somewhere, install it, and you're done. 

Ever tried to get nVidia drivers to work properly on a Linux machine.  I have.  My current machine contains an nVideo RTX4060, driving dual monitors, which works fine "out-of-the-box" with Windows and the nVideo drivers available on their website. Getting this setup working on any of the Linux distros I tried was a chore, and stability was a major problem.  That's one of the reasons that I use Windows for gaming.  I don't want my display to freeze in the middle of a firefight with demons in Doom Eternal.

Further, the author mixes OS updates with app installations.  Completely different categories, in my opinion.  When you update the OS (like the Linux Kernel), you sometime require a reboot.  If you update an app, most times a reboot is not required. The only time a reboot is required for applications is mainly for a service to be updated.  For example, I use MySQL as a database service in my lab and production environments.  When I update MySQL, it has to be restarted.  Note, not the OS, just the MySQL service.  Make sense?

3. It lets me work how I want

Linux works for you.  Good for you.  Windows isn't locked down either, and you can do pretty much anything you want, even shoot yourself in the foot.  MacOS is a bit more locked down, with the whole "walled garden" thing going on. 

The example given by Mr.Wallen is clipboard functionality, and having copy/paste twice.  Apparently, Mr. Wallen hasn't heard about clipboard history, wherein you press Windows Key + V to access all your clipboard activity. 

4. It's Flexible

This whole section is just wrong.  Nothing stops you from replacing the shell in Windows.  MacOS is a bit trickier.  Heck, I've written shell replacements for Windows.  It's not hard.  There are also augmentations for Windows (Rainmeter, Stardock) to modify the shell pretty much any way you want. Don't like the task bar at the bottom? Drag it to any edge of the screen you want, which you don't have to download an app to do, by the way.

5. It's Secure

It used to be the case 29 yeears ago that Linux was inherently more secure than Windows 95, but I don't think that is the case any longer.  Linux and MacOS are being targeted more and more as nefarious individuals begin to explorer a wider audience.  Further, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to secure the operating system.  Ten years is EONS in the technology world, and great strides have been made since the era of Windows 95.

One other thing that comes to mind is the open-source nature of Linux.  Open source means that anyone can reviewe the source code for the operating system to find vulnerabilities that haven't been remediated.  In my opinion, this opens the OS to supply chain attacks.  Check out this post on Ars Technica

I'm not saying you shouldn't trust open-source software.  On the contrary, the idea there are many eyes on the source code helps in shoring up the security of whatever OS or application you might be considering. This is good if you are "squishy" about trusting a closed-source OS or application.

And, in Closing ...

So to wrap up this rant of a response to a rant of post.  As I said previously, use the tool that you are familiar and comfortable with.  If there is something about the tool that you don't like, you have the ability to investigate other options.  I posted this response to Mr. Wallen to clear up some inaccuracies in his post.  I'm hoping that anyone considering a change of OS (or app) has the foresight to do a little research before making what could be a painful change.

Don't base your choice of OS or application on the opinions of one inaccurate zealot.  Get input from a wide variety of sources.

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Posted: 2024-06-20
By: dwirch
Viewed: 49 times

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