Interesting article on the "OS Wars"

This article from PC Magazine is interesting. It does a fairly good job of looking at the pros and cons of various OS’, without the silliness of most such discussions. The only aspects of it I think are a little unfair are the “Price” and “Installation” scores, both of which rate Mac OS better than either Windows XP or Vista.

On the price side, while it is true that you can buy Mac OS for less than Windows, you cannot (at least if you are a typical user) install it on your existing, non-Mac hardware. So the true cost of a typical user switching to Mac OS includes the cost of buying a completely new computer, at a premium price.

On the installation side, again the comparison is not quite fair. Both Windows and Linux are general-purpose OS’ which have to be able to install on a wide-range of hardware and almost unlimited permutations of hardware configurations. Again, Apple does not have this problem with Mac OS, since Apple tightly constrains (though not as tightly as it used to) the hardware configurations with which Mac OS must contend.

Overall, though, not a bad article.

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New laptop & Another try at Ubuntu

Well, as I dicussed in a previous post, I have been in the market for a new laptop. I have finally bought one. I decided to go for a Dell XPS rather than Apple (mostly due to cost). Such is life – maybe I will try a Mac next year. It is my intent on my new laptop to either dual boot Vista and Ubuntu, or (if I have a good enough experience with Ubuntu), just run Ubuntu and do all of my Windows stuff in hosted virtual machines.

So, last night I take my brand new laptop, and my newly burned Ubuntu CD, and set out. Ubuntu boots up from the CD just fine, but the screen resolution sucks because Ubuntu is philosophically opposed to loading the drivers for my video card. No big deal, I can live with 800×600 until I get a proper install done. So, I click on the install icon, and away I go. Or, actually, I don’t. It seems the Installer UI is not expecting 800×600 resolution, and the buttons to let me proceed through the installation are lost off the bottom of the screen. I also do not seem to be allow to resize this window. It being midnight and all, I gave up. I am sure there is some way around this, but I did not feel like screwing with it.

I will probably have another shot at trying to set up Ubuntu or some other Linux distro this weekend. Maybe I will have better luck and not just give up on Linux (sorry folks – this is stuff that should just work!)

PS – Vista is working fine on my new laptop. Transfered my files and settings from my old machine using “Windows Easy Transfer” – not a problem.

Vista equals Edsel?

Vista equals Edsel?  (which just refers to http://www.linuxworld.com/columnists/2007/082307backspin.html)

Ok – here is a thought. If Windows sucks so badly (and not just Vista, because you all bitched about XP before Vista came out, and 2000 before that, and Windows Me, and so on), and I am having one of those weeks that makes me believe Windows does suck, then why hasn’t Linux won? Or OSX?

How badly must you suck if you cannot beat something that sucks as much as Windows???

(and don’t give me the “20xx will be the year of the Linux desktop” crap – you’ve been at this for 15 years – get on with it).

Is Vista as bad as they say?

Over the last few months (or the last year or more), it has become extremely fashionable to beat up on Vista. Heck, it is a great way to generate hits on you site or blog, maybe get Dugg, whether you have anything useful to say or not. I am talking about posts like this, or this, or this whole blog.

Personally, I run Vista on several machines, and have few problems which were not related to the failure of third parties to provide updated drivers, or updated versions of software for Vista (sometimes makes me wonder if there has been a conspiracy on the part of other vendors to purposely sabotage Vista – but it is more likely just not bothering to provide what customers pay for). I also still run XP on a couple of boxes, and Win2K3. On my main development box, I also run a number of operating systems in VMWare, including WinXP, Win 2K3, Fedora, Ubuntu, and several “minimalist” Linux distros for playing around with.

An unfortunate fact of life is that all operating systems available right now suck, at least in some aspect or another. Linux suffers from many driver limitations (though this is getting better), and a wannabe user interface that spends far too much time trying to look like Windows, while missing the point of usability altogether. Windows (all versions) suffer from security issues, and from performance and stability issues inherent in trying to be all things to all people. I will not comment on Mac OSX, because I have not run it. It is also kind of irrelevant, since I cannot run it unless I buy Apple’s hardware.

Vista has its own usability issues. Some that are pointed out are valid. The UAC implementation is moronic. The UI path you have to follow to connect to a wireless network is annoying. Here is one I discovered today – disk defragmentation. When you defragment you hard drive you get this useful dialog:

defrag

Isn’t that helpful? No progress indication. No estimated time to completion. Just a statement that it could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Gee, thanks.

The problem is, this kind of thing is not just a problem in Vista, or Windows in general. It is pervasive in all operating systems, and almost all software written to run on them. Most software is filled with minor little usability gaps like this.

So stop beating up on Vista (unless you need the traffic), and start thinking about how to make the whole situation better.

Linux sucks – especially Ubuntu

Now that I have your attention, let me explain. I like to play with Linux periodically just to keep current (actually, I like to play with almost all technologies, but there is just never enough time). I have also done quite a bit of development on Linux for server applications, though I must admit it has been a number of years.

This past weekend, it was time to rebuild my laptop, which I do every few months because I have a tendency to install a lot of trials and betas and other stuff that just generally polutes my system. Since I was reinstalling anyway, I decided it would be fun to use Ubuntu as my main OS, and do all my other stuff (i.e. Windows) through virtual machines. So, I downloaded Ubuntu Desktop 7.04, burned it out to a CD, booted up and away I went. For about 30 seconds. Then the installer from the disk crashed and burned. I tried it several different times, playing with suggestions I got from forums and stuff. No luck – it appears the installer did not like the X1400 video card in my Dell laptop (all pretty standard stuff). I could probably continue to play with this, and I am pretty sure I would find some way to get it installed. Or, i could use a different Linux distribution. That would defeat the point, however, as what I was really trying to check out was whether the current hype about Linux being ready to make the move to the desktop is real.

This brings me to the title of this post. Do I think Linux sucks? No, I think Linux is great. Do I think Ubuntu especially sucks? Not at all, though I did not really get a chance to find out.

As I read various blogs (Linux blogs, Microsoft blogs with comments from Linux zealots, Open Source blogs, etc.), I frequently see comments of the type “Microsoft sucks, and everything they build is crap, because I tried to install “product X” on “machine Y” and it didn’t work.” This type of broad generalization seems to be endemic in the open source and Linux communities, primarily when talking about anything Microsoft. Sure, I have run into problems installing and using stuff from Microsoft. I have also run into problems installing and using products from pretty much every software vendor I have run into in the last 20 years. It is an unfortunate fact of life (though I do not believe it has to be this way).

As much as I love open source software, including Linux, fanatics in the open source community have really been getting on my nerves lately (it is much the same way I feel about golf – I love golf, but golfers annoy the heck out of me).

So, by the logic of the open source world, am I justified in saying “Linux sucks – especially Ubuntu”?