Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Top 7 Reasons People Quit Linux

1. Linux doesn't run a program I use.

In this particular argument, people typically point out that Linux doesn't run one of the main Adobe products, such as Photoshop or Dreamweaver. They then point out that there's no swap-in replacement in the world of open-source.

This is true. I can't argue.

The problem is that they're using specialized industrial tools. Most people neither know nor care what Dreamweaver is. It might seem otherwise in the circles in which that person moves, but out here in the real world, it just ain't the case.

Much of the work that's gone into desktop Linux in recent times has been to make it better for the ordinary individual. Linux now has a top-notch browser and office suite, for example. But, so far, nobody has got around to re-creating specialist toolsets such as high-level Web design software.

The solution is simple: If you need to use a particular industrial tool for your work, then you should keep using it. That means you'll have to keep using Windows. It's no big deal.

2. I installed Linux, but some element of my hardware didn't work!

That's incredible because I installed Windows the other day and had the exact same experience! My graphics card didn't work, and Wi-Fi didn't either.

Might this just be the way PCs are?

But do you know what I did? I fixed everything. Maybe I'm lucky to be clever enough to do so, but if I wasn't, I could easily ask around for solutions. I know there are smart people out there who are willing to help.

If you do this, you might have to do some hard work, and step into unfamiliar territory. But there are lots of instructions out there on the Web, and it only has to be done once. Plus, as you work through the solution, you'll be learning stuff about your new operating system. Treat it as an opportunity, rather than an ordeal.

Some people expand this complaint to point out that Linux can sap their precious time as they work through getting it set up the way they like. Again, this is as true of Linux as it is of Windows. It's just the way PCs are.

3. I tried Linux, but I had to type commands!

OMG!!! Really?

But seriously. So what? Are you scared of the keyboard? This is usually related to point #2 above, and it's usually a one-time maneuver designed to get something working. For example, to get DVD playback on Ubuntu, you have to type a certain command after downloading software. Once done, however, DVDs will play back automatically forever and ever.

If you had to do this every time you wanted to play a DVD, then you might have a point. But typing a few strange words won't kill you.

There are also those who take a haughty position and project their fear onto others: “I had to type commands! Ergo Linux just isn't ready for the ordinary person!” Here, the individual concerned seems to be implying that the “ordinary user” (whoever that might be) suffers from an intelligence deficit and is incapable of typing commands. It that really true? Why do we always assume that other people can't possibly be as smart as we are?

4. I did *this*, and *this* happened. That doesn't happen with Windows!

Again, so what? Nobody said Linux was a clone of Windows. Things are going to be different now you're using Linux. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse. Just different. You're over the rainbow, Dorothy! Rather than griping about your troubles, why don't you get used to it? If you're unable to adapt, it says more about you than it does about Linux.

5. I posted a message on a forum, but Linux people were mean to me.

It's true that some community members aren't paragons of virtue and honor. These kinds of people are found in all walks of life, however, and are best avoided. You can't blame Linux for their existence.

But in most examples of this complaint, the individual concerned brought wrath on themselves in one of several ways:

a) By being aggressive and/or unfriendly in their posting, or in their replies to other people. Yeah, you might be frustrated that you can't get Linux to work how you want, but try and keep that temper in check;

b) By not doing basic homework before asking for help, such as searching the forum for a particular issue that may be extremely common. There's only so many times community members can answer the same query before getting annoyed;

c) By simply not respecting Linux and its culture. Switching operating systems is like switching support for a sports team. When chatting with fellow fans, you can't keep mentioning how good you think the other team is, or how you think their techniques are better. In fact, even making reference to the other team might stretch your fellow fans' patience to breaking point.

6. I just don't like it.

It would be marvellous if people were honest enough to state this as bluntly as I've listed it above. After all, Linux isn't for everybody.

But what people with this complaint always do is make a spurious argument about usability--that wonderfully nebulous term that means different things to different people. “Linux just isn't as usable as Windows or OS X,” they'll say. When asked to back up their complaint with evidence, they don't bother to reply.

What they're really saying, of course, is that Linux was unfamiliar and spooked them so much that they ran back to Windows. Again, this is reasonable. It's their choice. But they shouldn't pretend they're making an objective evaluation. It's just an opinion.

7. I installed Linux and things went honey-nut-loops crazy.

Typically the person with this complaint will say something like, “I installed Linux and the installer program crashed half way through. I tried to boot but nothing happened and I found myself at a command prompt. I eventually got the desktop running but none of the programs worked correctly.”

This might also be known as the “shaggy-dog story,” because it's usually a long and rather pointless tale of things going wrong. (Ironically, their attempts to fix things usually makes the situation worse. But I digress.)

Most times I've no idea what the cause of the problems are, and the individual concerned has my sympathy. But I do know that what they describe is probably a one-time event, and definitely not indicative of what most people experience. As with point #6 above, it's not really fair to make an objective argument out of it, because--effectively--it's little more than one person's bad luck. If it happens to you, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Windows 7 gets virtual 'XP mode'

Microsoft will unveil an add-on to Windows 7 that lets users run applications designed for Windows XP in a virtual machine, the company confirmed Friday -- the first time Microsoft has relied on virtualization to provide backward compatibility.

Dubbed "Windows XP Mode," the add-on creates an XP virtual environment running under Virtual PC, Microsoft's client virtualization technology, within Windows 7, said Scott Woodgate, the director of Windows enterprise and virtualization strategy.

In a post to a company blog, Woodgate said the add-on is part of the pitch to convince businesses to migrate to Windows 7. "All you need to do is to install suitable applications directly in Windows XP Mode," said Woodgate. "The applications will be published to the Windows 7 desktop and then you can run them directly from Windows 7."

Details of Windows XP Mode (XPM) were first reported Friday afternoon by Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott, two prominent bloggers who are also collaborating on a book, Windows 7 Secrets, due out this fall.

According to Rivera's Within Windows blog -- Thurrott published a nearly identical write-up on his SuperSite for Windows -- Windows XP Mode will be offered as a free download only to users running Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise, the three top-priced editions of the new OS.

Windows 7 Enterprise is available only to companies with volume licensing agreements.

Windows XP Mode (XPM) requires processor-based virtualization support and is based on the next-generation Microsoft Virtual PC 7 virtualization technology, said Rivera, who also disclosed that Microsoft will include a fully licensed copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) with the add-on. That, in effect, gives Windows 7 users a way to run older applications without having to pay for another operating system license.

Rivera also touted, as had Woodgate, the ability to run Windows XP applications directly from the Windows 7 desktop without having to first open a separate virtual machine window.

"XPM does not require you to run the virtual environment as a separate Windows desktop," Rivera said. "Instead, as you install applications inside the virtual XP environment, they are published to the host (Windows 7) OS as well. That way, users can run Windows XP-based applications, like IE6, alongside Windows 7 applications under a single desktop."

Both Rivera and Thurrott trumpeted XPM as a "huge convenience" for Microsoft's corporate customers, and predicted that Microsoft will be able to discard older code and technologies from future versions of Windows, and instead rely on virtualization to provide backward compatibility.


Friday, May 1, 2009

MS Windows 7 goes on public test

A release candidate of Windows 7, the next major release of the world's most popular operating system, goes public in trial form in the next week.

Windows 7 has been designed to be compatible with Vista so users do not have to invest in new hardware.

A commercial release of Windows 7 is expected in the next nine months.

A test version of Windows 7 will be available to developers from Thursday, while the public can try it out from 5 May.