I’m writing this blogpost on my laptop in the Firefox browser as usual, but this time… IT’S RUNNING ON LINUX. Penguins rejoice!
I’ve been wanting to install linux on my laptop for a while because lately it’s been running slower and slower – a typical syndrome for PC’s running Windows. All the usual windows remedies gave only short term improvements.
So friday I installed Ubuntu Linux (probably the most user friendly and easily installed flavour of Linux), and I’ve spent the weekend trying it out and getting stuff to work. The installation was really easy once I figured out how to install it on my laptop which doesn’t have a CD-rom drive. Importantly, all the major stuff worked right after installation and the Ubuntu installer correctly recognized and configured my hard disk, keyboard, trackpad, wifi, etc… A few things didn’t work or weren’t installed by default, and in each of those cases, I’ve been able to find excellent online resources giving step-by-step instructions.
Some major victories:
* Getting my online bank to work
* Getting my Palm Treo to sync with the Evolution calendar application included
* Migrating all my mails and bookmarks from Windows
My overall impression is paradoxical:
Windows XP Professional Edition which I’ve been running so far is made by a huge, succesful corporation and sells for a lot of money. Linux is made by passionate amateurs and professionals around the world, loosely organized in an open source Community. The version I’m using is not only free, they actually go to considerable lengths to give it away, eg. by mailing people free install CD’s.
And yet Ubuntu Linux feels like a more professional, finished and complete product than Windows XP, which has always struck me as half-baked. There are solid practical reasons why I think Linux is preferable to Windows:
* Price/value – Hey, it’s free and just as good (at least)
* Free appplications – Ubuntu comes with the Openoffice.org office suite and many other great applications.
* Speed/performance – Applications run faster than on Windows
* Security – Linux is less vulnerable to viruses, adware and other attacks than Windows
* Stability – Windows is famous for crashing or needing rebooting often. Linux is famous for being stable.
Also, there are two “fluffier” reasons for me to choose Linux:
Ubuntu Linux is committed to an ideology which is Free Software. This is free as in freedom not free as in gratis, meaning:
* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
* The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs.
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others.
* The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that everyone benefits.
Microsoft on the other hand is comitted to … Microsoft. Time and again they make business and technology decisions that clearly favour their bottom line rather than their customers. I don’t blaiming them, most businesses (but not all) choose this approach. It’s just not a philosophy I favour or want to support more than I absolutely have to.
Does values and philosophy matter when choosing products? It does to me, and while the Free Software philosophy doesn’t make the product any more useful to me, I believe that these principles will create better IT solutions for all of us.
* Technology base
Linux has a better technological base than Windows – quite simply, it’s built on a better foundation. Again, this may not make much of a difference for me here and now, but in the long run it definitely pays to build on solid ground.
Mygdal suggested I should switch to Apple, but while the Apple OS is certainly a better product than Windows, Apple falls short on values. Apple is Microsoft with better design.