The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why Not to Buy Vista, Part 2

4 "Reasons" to Dump Linux

Okay, so I love Linux, but maybe when you think about switching from XP, you should consider Vista. Here are my top four reasons you should move to Vista instead of Linux.

Reason number one: Linux is boring. When I run Linux, I don't have the excitement of wondering whether an e-mail, IM, or Web page is going to give my system the latest worm or virus. Where's the fun in that? I know Microsoft promises Vista represents significant and noticeable changes to the operating system, locking it down in the interest of security . . . Oh, wait, I'm quoting from a 2003 story about XP SP2. Silly me.

I'm sure Microsoft will turn in a secure OS this time. Just look at Internet ­Explorer 7—it's much more secure! It took almost a whole day before the security company Secunia found that a hacker could trick IE7 into showing malicious content by spoofing a pop-up window opened on a trusted site.

I know some of you think that the only reason Windows gets all the neat malware is because it's so popular. Why would anyone attack Linux? Just because 60 percent of the world's 100 million Web sites run Linux, that's no reason to try to crack Linux. No, it's not that Windows has historically been as secure as a papier-mâché fortress; it must be because Linux just isn't very popular.

Reason number two: Linux is a pain to set up. With Linux, you need to put in a CD or DVD, hit the enter button, give your computer a name, and enter a password for the administrator account. Heck, you could break a nail that way! Almost all early customers of Vista will need to redeem their upgrade coupons and then replace their new PC's XP with Vista. That'll be loads of fun.

Reason number three: Linux is expensive. Linux is often free, but look at all that time you spend setting it up. Most people will end up buying new PCs with Vista preinstalled. Doesn't everyone and every business have the money to buy new systems? Why, just now I went over to Dell and priced out an OptiPlex 745 minitower with a 1.8-GHz Duo, a DVD±RW and 48X CD-ROM SATA drive, an 80GB SATA hard drive and 2GB of RAM, and a 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro graphics card for an "enhanced Vista Experience." It'll run me only $1,375. Of course, I won't get a keyboard, mouse, or monitor at that price.

With Linux, unless I buy one of those less-than-$1,000 boxes with the OS preinstalled, I have to set it up myself! It took me at least half an hour to set up Linux on a 2.8-GHz Pentium IV PC with 512MB of RAM, a 60GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive, and an nVidia GeForce4 MX 440 AGP graphics board with 64MB of DDR memory. That system cost me $499.

Reason number four: Linux doesn't have enough apps. Most Linux systems come only with secure Web browsers, like Firefox 2.0; e-mail clients, like Evolution 2.6 and Thunderbird 2.0; IM clients, like Gaim 1.5; office suites, like Open­ 2.0.4; and so on. By my count, my copy of SUSE Linux has only more than 100 apps. Microsoft gives you Internet Explorer and Outlook ­Express, the most popular Web browser and e-mail client around...even though they do have a few teeny-weeny security problems. Microsoft also has Office, which . . . oh, wait: You don't get that with Vista, do you?

Just because some apps such as the Juniper Networks' Odyssey wireless LAN client WLAN, Cisco Systems' VPN client, and Norton AntiVirus 10 don't work right with Vista is no reason to think many of your current apps either won't work or will need to be upgraded.

Still, as long as you want to run Microsoft programs at Microsoft prices, Windows is the OS for you! If you really think about it, you can find lots of reasons to run Vista instead of Linux. There just aren't any good ones.

- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, PC Magazine


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