Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Linux Mythbusting

First post from Linux

I use a Dell Inspiron 6400, got it back when 2 GB of RAM was HUGE and people were using Vista shells on XP just to show that they had Vista. My laptop shipped with a Vista, and I wasn't too proud of it. I would have been happy if it was only half as bas as XP. The difference was noticeable immediately. Vista asked me so many questions, that I was sure that no virus or trojan would get past it. Vista moved like water, and little did I know what this was doing to my system. My laptop used to become an iron box, and I would be impressed by how hot it became. Hell, I could not put my laptop on my lap because of this. I did the usual things that are done with a laptop, put in loads of music, put in loads of photos, and put in loads of movies. I could design stuff on it while working for a small company, and I could handle the tasks necessary off a comp admin guy at my collage fest. All was good and well, and the laptop never gave me any real problems, till the inherent flaws in Vista began to surface with use.
It was taxing the RAM too much. It was hogging up waaay too much memory. Too many things were going on that I didn't know of. And although my own system was not affected, I was infested with viruses, worms and trojans that went on to other computers after passing docilely through my laptop. The combination was so bad that a friend's computer was rendered useless. I just became more careful. The system became more slow. Too slow for me to do anything meaningful with it. Then a huge blow came. The operating system would insistently place the photos folder in the music folder. I kept moving it over and over again, but it mysteriously showed up again in the wrong place. I saw a photos folder where it was supposed to be, and I saw another photos folder in the music folder. So I went ahead and Shift+Deleted the whole thing.
No prizes for guessing what happened. I lost heart. I stopped using my laptop as much as I used to. Then the bottom fell out, the battery died. It was dormant for a month or two, I got a replacement, and booted it up again. It was gone – gone bad. All the folders were exe files, and everything was corrupted. At that time I was having troubles with XP too, and I decided to take the plunge. Linux was the way for me. It was free, and there was some geeky allure to it. So I went for it.
Linux distros are easy to find. They were lying all around. I had ordered an Ubuntu Distro a year ago, and I had received TWENTY CDs. Ten live CDs, and Ten Installation DVDs. Pity they did not send over an installation DVD. Anyway, Ubuntu was a distro for the sissies, seemed too simple, I was up for a challenge or something, and I went for Puppy Linux. It was supposed to be tiny, which left more space for my data. I hated the way it looked. Switched instantly to Dyne: Bolic. Dyne: Bolic was a multimedia specefic distro, but most of it did not work, and it looked horrible anyway. Instead of just booting it live from the CD, I was actually installing it on the disk itself. Next up was Linux Mint. For all its promise of looking good, it did not, and the installation did not work. Fedora next. I liked Fedora. I played around with it a bit, but it would not play any mp3 files (I was young and stupid back then, not knowing about the format), and decided to nuke it. Went through Ear OS (looked horrible), Mandriva (FTW, Just a cmd line?) and Parsix (Persian linux anyone?). Finally, I settled on Open Suse. It looked good, worked well, and I decided to stick to it.
After working on it for some time, I came to understand a few things about Linux
1. It is not faster than windows
Linux is not faster than Windows. Amarok takes as much time to load as Winamp. Vlc takes about the same amount of time on both.
2. Everything is not free
The better, full-featured and supported versions of Linux require payment – like every other OS out there
3. Linux has bugs too
Seriously, Linux has as many bugs as Windows, as many obscure problems you don't really understand show up
4. Linux is not difficult to handle
Its relatively simple to setup, there is always a thread on a forum to help you out with every single specific problem you might Google, even why a particular software is not doing a particular thing on a particular distro. The support is there – and it is great.
5. Linux cannot do everything better
I miss Photoshop. I miss quake.
Linux has as many pros and cons as any other OS out there, but I like it simply because it is a lot easier on my system's resources. I can change everything to my heart's content, and everything is so responsive. I love Amarok, I love F-stop. There are a few things that have to be sorted out, but its still great. Linux requires a constant connection to the internet. Mp3 decoding cannot be given away for free, so they cannot include it in a distro. They have to make a dummy site where you actually pay zero dollars to download the codecs. Getting the codecs is a pain in the ass. Getting all the software to work is a pain in the ass. Handling repositories is also a pain in the ass. But once you go through the gauntlet of setting your distro up, you can't help but adore it. Because it is yours, your machine is unique, no one else has the same set up as you, and everything that your computer does is under your direct control.
And oh, no fucking viruses or trojans or worms or spyware.
That, according to me, settles any argument.

No comments: