About the author.
Nicholas Avenell was, this time last year (And now it draws ever closer to the start of 2001) a Linux Newbie. He had installed Redhat 5.2 once for a week, failed to understand it, and reformatted the drive to Windows. He has worked, and is working, as a Microsoft Troubleshooter for a range of small companies and individuals stretched across the UK. When he expressed an interest in Linux, a friend gave him Caldera OpenLinux 2.3 and Slackware 4 (of which he has only installed Caldera), but a reputation for “Newbie Friendlyness” drove him to the shores of Mandrake a few months later. He recently made the switch to the mighty swirl (Debian), after a bad experience with the Mandrake 7.1 updater, which wouldn’t let him upgrade without formatting his Windows C drive. He is happily apt-getting as of now, and can be reached at Nicholas@Aquarionics.com
Why is the above before the main document? Because in order to understand this paper, you must know from where I speak. I am one of those “difficult” linux users that support desks hate so much. The whole point of running Linux was, for me, more understanding than actually getting it working, so when I asked a question, I found the answer, and then kept asking the source “Why?” until I understood. This is one of the reasons that I abandoned Mandrake, because it gives you this almost Mac-like “you don’t need to see this part, so i won’t show you, and if you try to find out, I’ll cry” simplicity. Debian then though me in at the deep end.
Why Use Linux?
Because It’s Cool. Because it will work with an old box, because it’s a great feeling when you get it working, because it’s free, because it sucks less than windows, because I say so. Or, in my case, because it is a useful thing to know for the Big Wide World.
Why Not Use Linux?
Because you don’t understand it, because you don’t want to have to understand it (and you need to understand Linux), Because it’s there, because it’s easy, because you can pay for tech support, because you know people who can help you, because it looks nice, because it runs Monkey Island 4.
Why Run Both?
Because you answered “yes” to one or more question in each section.
Why? – Linux
Because It’s Cool
Linux is not Geek Cred. Running your own Linux box does not mean you are a super megageek, capable of leaping tall TCP/IP stacks in a single bound, Find a Linux Advocacy group, or pick a random Slashdot story and read the comments on that. There are arseholes in the Linux community, as there are arseholes everywhere. Linux no longer requires copious amounts of Clue to install.
But Linux is A Good Thing. It is easy to use, free, and part of the Open Source revolution. The programmers may have been revolting, but now they are politically so as well. It’s diplomatic (In the sense of “Anyone can help” rather than the back-stabbing Risk-like game), and It’s open. It’s insecurities are known, and therefore work aroundable, and it’s a spit in the eye to the Microserfs 🙂
Because it will work with an old box
Linux will work with any box with a chip newer than a 386 and a small amount of memory. If you want to use Graphical interfaces, you will need higher specs, and if you have Weird Hardware you may need a moderate amount of playing to get it into the Real World.
Because It’s A Great Feeling When You Get It Working
If you have a problem, or you embark upon a Quest to get something working, the feeling that you get when you solve it is great, in this as with everything. Challenge is the spice of life.
Because It’s Free
As in “Speech”. You can do what you like to it, you can recompile the code changing all instances of “Hello” to “Hi There”, you can look at the source code, see how it works, poke under the bonnet. You can re badge it and sell it at a profit, providing you don’t limit anyone elses right to do the same.
As in “Beer”. ISOs (CD Images) are available for most, if not all, linux distributions (Some fit onto disks) are available by FTP, or you can, quite legitimately, get a copy from a friend (Though they might (and probably will) charge for the CD)
Because It Sucks Less Than Windows
Windows Crashes more than Linux does.
Because It Is A Useful Thing To Know For The Big Wide World
Most of the worlds Internet servers run on a UNIX-based OS, Many office networks do, and most Academic systems do to. It’s Useful.
Why? – Windows
Because You Don’t Understand It
You don’t need to understand windows to use it. The basic interface for windows is (for 99% of all applications) The same. There is the Start button, Launch your program, There is the file menu, the edit menu, the Help menu. Use one GUI and you can grasp the basics of them all. When you start noticing how much this matters is when you move to a program designed on/for a Mac, where there is less of a standard, or to *nix, where there is *no* standard. Also, in order to run windows you click the buttons. You don’t need to know the commands, the syntax, the format. (And yes, I know there is the command prompt under windows, but you don’t need it to run a program. It’s an option, like X is under Linux)
Because it does what you want it to
Linux plays DVDs badly. It plays games reluctantly (You try installing Quake III under a modern distro, see how far you get), and runs Office and Photoshop not at all. The purists will say “Yeah, but you can use $FOO, $BAR, $BAZ and $QUX instead, but that’s not the point. The *point* is that you know how to do the task under Windows, learning how to do it under Linux is *far* slower than just launching up the app in windows, and in many cases not as good.
Because it’s a necessity for the Big Wide World
For every office whose workstations run on Linux, you will find many more that run under Windows. Microsoft Office is the standard office product at the moment, and if your office cannot accept MS Office files, you will lose business. By shear force of market-share, you must be able to accept word attachments somehow.
That doesn’t apply to everyone. That applies to me especially, because my primary admin system is of a company whose job it is to deal with Documents (Word document in, Mail merge with Excel Spreadsheet, place in envelope, post), but also every company that has to deal with many other companies. This description covers most of the world of commerce.
This document is not finished, As people find me arguments about what I said here, I will continue to attempt to shoot them down in flames, and to update this document. So Email me at email@example.com, and lets see how far this goes…