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Linux, Perfect? I Think Not!

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I've heard for years how everyone is sick of Windows crashing and how Windows is a poorly made system. At the same time, I've heard about how much better a Macintosh is because it doesn't do any of these things. I've even heard that Linux is better than both of them.

But having used a Mac, Linux, and Windows, number three is what I'll stick with. That being said, I'm going to debunk a lot of the stuff the Linux community puts towards its own system in the same manner they do when they talk about Windows and its community.

In effect, I am jumping into the fire.

Linux users champion their own software because they feel they are allowed to customize what is installed on their system with whatever version they use.

I applaud that, really. But let's say I have something else, like a life. Windows beats Linux on that alone. You install the OS and you can go and come back and put the rest of the software in later.

If I try to do the same with Linux, I get the feeling that there's always a piece missing. I don't care for that. I want those pieces, whatever they may be, to be added so that if I have them and don't want them, I can quickly remove them. I don't want to spend hours in another installation setup to put in the same component.

Linux users feel that Windows makes computing less intelligent because there is no need to think with Windows.

I agree that a computer should awaken the senses and make you smarter. The computer, however, is a machine. A machine is only going to do what it's told. That means that if you don't know, don't care to know, or simply can be bothered with learning how, then don't get Linux.

That doesn't mean that you don't have the brains to use a computer. The lack of will for you to learn something that is possibly more complex is a sign that you are deciding what you want to learn. Most people don't want to spend their hours at a computer typing commands. They want to click a button and that's it.

Linux users feel that their operating system cannot be affected by a virus.

This is easy to break down. If someone can break into a $500 dollar iPhone, then someone could easily break into a computer running Linux. It's probably not quite as easy to do it, but the harder you have to crack a program, the more likely that a backdoor is possible to find.

With the failure of Vista and the phasing out of XP, Windows users may find themselves with a welcome alternative in Linux.

It's an alternative, but not really a welcome one. Sure, many brands of Linux are supposedly compatible with Windows-based hardware. But given the caustic nature of the way companies deal with Microsoft over in the Linux community, the drivers created for the system will probably not work as well as they do with Windows.

Well, Bill Gates is evil.

Okay, so Bill is probably Hitler reincarnated when it comes to how he created Windows and ran Microsoft. At least you can point to him to blame someone for the problems with the system. Who exactly can newly converted Windows users blame for the faults in Linux? No one! There's a zillion damn versions and a lot of hands in the pot.

Linux never crashes like Windows.

If it's something made by man, it will crash. If something is made by a community that tells you in a childish voice, "Mine is better than yours," then it likely isn't any better than the alternative.

About Matthew Milam

  • ubuntu-user

    What a load of ignorant gibberish! Bah…

  • MarkJensen

    Your first point complains about the ability to add or remove whatever you please? And you somehow find fault with that because *you* feel “that there’s always a piece missing”. Ummm… Try the default install (Ubuntu, SUSE, Fedora, whatever), and see that it really is quite well-rounded. Much better than buying a Windows box off the shelf, and closer to what a fully loaded Dell solution would be (but minus the time-limited crapware).

    Linux never affected by a virus? Oh, please. What informed Linux user would claim that. Slapper, anyone? Stuff exists, and (like Windows) pretty much affects unpatched or improperly managed computers.

    Bill Gates is Evil? Now, you must really be grasping at straws to find faults in how Linux works by taking quotes from the vociferous lunatics as a reason that Linux doesn’t work well for you.

    Oh, and congratulations on using a “Perfect Linux” strawman to get page hits (and advertising revenue).

  • http://mbmilam.com Matthew Milam

    I just ran the default install of ubuntu on my own machine. I had to do much more work in configuring it than I ever had to do with windows. In fact, some of the Ubuntu users have made this very complaint on some the message boards that support it.

    And some of the solutions to the problems seem very windows:

    Restart the computer.
    Unplug the component and plug it back in.
    Run a command
    Start and stop a service.

    So, exactly how is this different from Windows? You better off with the real thing and not a poor copy-cat.

    I will admit that Internet does run better — when I can browse. Firefox crashed alot more in my Linux os than it did in Windows.

    I dont think the Penguin is going to take over jack at this rate.

  • Jaime R. Garza C.

    Are you sure you have used Linux?
    I mean, all your critics are not based in reality, at least not for me, using PCLinux, Kubuntu, MEPIS, SUSE, etc, you will never have such problems. Because they just work and all is there and much faster.

    Of course if you tried to make youir own linux distribution, then you will have a lot to do. or if you used a Distribution like Gentoo or even Debian, you will need to configure a lot.

    I really think you are a total ignorant about linux, as you said. And I don’t really think you have used a good Linux Distro, (as the ones I mentioned) ever.

    So please, before you write something, inform yourself, use the stuff before you talk about it. Some of the arguments you use are exactly the opposite.

  • MarkJensen

    Matthew, please detail the “work” you had to do in configuring. For me, even 5 years ago, Linux just installed and ran. I haven’t had Windows on my box for almost 5 years. I would not put up with the same Windows hassles just to say “look! I am running Linux!”.

    Firefox crashes? Constantly restarting services? Obviously large companies would not rely on Linux if it were truly that unstable.

    Stick with Windows. It suits you.

  • http://mbmilam.com Matthew Milam

    I would need to see a live linux machine of these versions you are talking about before using them on my own. That is the one other problem I have with Linux. If it’s so great, why isn’t the community holding up the computer stores, the colleges and universitys and even businesses.

    A product isn’t great because people say it is, it has to actually be good. In the few times I’ve used it, in any version, that’s hardly the case.

    But I think people would, despite the problems with Vista, stick with the V rather than the Penguin.

  • http://mbmilam.com Matthew Milam

    I’m actually looking to do an account of my experiences using Linux, such as the one I’ve been missing with for the past few days.

  • http://mbmilam.com Matthew Milam

    using even, excuse that

  • http://www.zomboscloset.com ILoz Zoc

    I agree with you on the points made, and I would add that Linux will never become a widely used alternative for general PC users due to its many hands in the pot. Advocates for Linux are tech savvy PC users who easily work with its complexity, but forget that what makes Windows a commercial success goes beyond the “evil” of Bill Gates. Windows, though it’s not faultless, is still a more sophisticated platform for handling the many device drivers and multi-dealer applications on the market. Apple is a good platform, too, but contrary to its many admirers, it’s not the end all, be all when it comes to computing. I’ve taught both platforms, and have worked with various flavors of Linux. Windows gives you more bang for your buck than the others.

    If and when Linux becomes a commercially viable product for general PC users, you’ll see all the viruses, bugs, and other BS that hits Windows. People like to take potshots at big targets, not little ones.

  • Preload

    Of course you will see BS that hits Linux but thanks to design you will see a lot less of it. I bought a computer that had Vista installed. I wanted to use XP on the damn thing. I´ve set up Linux and OK. To get the thing to work like I wanted it to I hand to configure a few things, add repositories and download drivers if available(not OS fault but mine for choosing that **** hardware).

    With the XP the same thing download drivers and configure the thing but thanks to repositories in Linux it was easier there.

    The only way Windows can give you more bang for the buck is if you “steal it”.

  • http://gnuski.blogspot.com/ lefty.crupps

    I’ve been off Windows for 5 years now, and the issues you describe are very untrue in my experience. Except the “Bill is evil” part, that seems correct.

    When I feel the need to reinstall my OS, and all of my apps (generally every 6mo when a new Kubuntu comes out), its an easy processes:

    1. Copy software repositories (so my new system knows where to get its software)
    2. Run a *single* command to make a .txt file of all the software I have and use
    3. Reinstall my OS from scratch — always better IMHO
    4. Replace the software repository list with my old one, make a few changes to reflect the new system
    5. Run another *single* command to get ALL of my old software back onto my computer.

    In fact I did this last night in under an hour. My day job is maintaining Linux servers (geeky stuff) and fixing Windows desktops (impossible stuff). I move anyone willing to a Linux desktop and my support is cut immensely.

  • Jimbo

    I’m sorry to hear that your linux experience wasnt all that great.

    -Linux users champion their own software because they feel they are allowed to customize what is installed on their system with whatever version they use.

    This is a good thing – it actually what the open source model is all about – if your not fond of it then chances are you won’t like linux

    -Linux users feel that Windows makes computing less intelligent because there is no need to think with Windows.

    Windows doesn’t make computing less intelligent, I know people who are far more skilled in the windows registry than I am with linux. Your actually getting confused, Linux makes computing more fun and its easier to learn stuff than on windows – but if you get a problem on windows you still have to be damn intelligent to be able to fix it!

    -Linux users feel that their operating system cannot be affected by a virus.

    Its true, not having any virus’ does make you complacent, but lets face it, if someone did write a virus for linux/unix, given that the internet is build on linux/unix web servers it would probably cause as much damage as a windows virus – so there must be a reason why none have surfaced.

    -With the failure of Vista and the phasing out of XP, Windows users may find themselves with a welcome alternative in Linux.

    I agree with this, after using linux, windows was just too archaic.

    -Well Bill Gates is Evil.

    Reasonable linux users like reasonable people don’t say this, just try not to listen to internet trolls and you’ll be fine!
    As for pointing the blame, it never gets anything done anyway.

    -Linux never crashes like Windows.

    Like most statements with ‘never’ in them, this is clearly untrue. However when Linux crashes there is almost always a way to fix it without rebooting – in systems where everything is closely intertwined this is usually difficult or impossible.

    Perhapes the most annoying thing about windows is not that it crashes but that when an application freezes and you try to force quit it, force quit freezes as well, on linux when an application freezes you can get rid of it quickly and start again.

  • http://kevineagan.blogspot.com Kevin Eagan

    ….and the flame war begins.

    OK, I’m not going to be a fanboy here, but I can speak from my own experience using Ubuntu and Windows Vista/XP. XP was an excellent system that always works for me, hardly ever crashed, and did everything I ever needed. But Vista’s been nothing but headaches: crashes, BSOD (hadn’t seen that since ’98!), file corruption, etc. etc. So I installed a dual boot system with Ubuntu, and it never crashes. Always boots up, no BSOD.

    I can’t say that’s everyone’s experience, though. Linux is a stable system, but not without flaws (some major). Plus, you have to have a technical knowledge to get it running, unless you get a pre-installed system (which are hard to find). Dont’ jump in too quickly; give Linux a chance, use the live CD first, then if everything works, go for it.

  • Robert Nargang

    I think your comments are just as biased as the small percentage of biased and “loud” Linux geeks who slam Windows at every opportunity. Most reviews I read of Linux talk about pros and cons. You have to go to forums and find the fanatics to find the talk you reference. I think credible, serious writers (of Linux comments) don’t talk like that.

    I use both Windows and Linux on a dual-boot laptop. Linux is not perfect. It has flaws, like Windows (and Mac), but I find it extremely user friendly and reliable. I started my Linux experience with OpenSUSE 10.2. It partitioned my hard drive and installed without a hitch. After two or three weeks of continual Linux use, booting back into Windows felt like a foreign environment. The only “show stopper” I found is that the Gnome and KDE window managers did not work well together. It corrupted my installation, which necessitated reinstalling OpenSUSE. Maybe I could have fixed it with command line prompts, but I didn’t want to waste my time learning how to do that. Reinstalling was a breeze, because there were no copyright protection schemes I had to worry about. I just stuck in the DVD, wiped the partition, reinstalled, and had a working Linux OS in about half an hour. I now stick with only Gnome, but still use some KDE applications. I just avoid having both window managers installed at once.

    I keep Windows for software that won’t run on Linux. (The most serious problem of Linux for me.) Linux has equivalent software for most things you do in Windows, most of which is free. Linux works with all my peripherals, including my digital camera, but if I want to use Acrobat Professional, Nokia’s PC Suite, or some obscure function on my Canon multifunction printer, I need to venture back to Windows, which is maybe once or twice a week. I’m hoping software and driver support will improve as more people adopt Linux and start “pulling” products to Linux with their demand.

    OpenSUSE installs new software in seconds or minutes, depending on the size of the application. It checks for dependencies automatically, so I don’t waste hours making sure applications aren’t missing some component. I’ve installed software from third parties just as easily as if it came from the SUSE repositories. I upgraded to OpenSUSE 10.3, and it works even better with more features. It boots faster than Windows XP. (I’ve read their eventual goal is a five second boot.) Applications rarely crash. I can’t see how anyone can pan it as a viable alternative to Windows. It works great, and it just keeps getting better!

    I don’t know how well Linux works in a large corporate environment with the complexities of networking and sharing resources. For the average home or small office user, I think Linux should be a “no-brainer.” Most people I know are not power users and don’t use anywhere near all the functionality of the much more expensive proprietary software. With more services moving to the Web, the OS also becomes less relevant.

    Overall, I don’t think Microsoft is evil and Windows is a horrible OS. Microsoft does what is in the best interest to Microsoft. Windows works so well with so many applications and peripherals because Microsoft poured billions into its development and it commands such a large market share. I think all the publicity regarding Linux helps with name recognition. More people know about Apple because of its non-computer products and it’s computer sales have benefited.

    I’m hoping publicity will result in name recognition, which will result in increased usage, which will result in more options for the Linux users. After all, I’ve read that Linux can be found in the smallest computing devices all the way up to the biggest supercomputers. An operating system that flexible and reliable can’t be all bad.

  • http://www.velocitywebdev.com VelocityWebDev

    okay – I thought, this guy is going to have some solid proof about why Windows is great and Linux is bad.

    nothing…

    no surprise…

    1. Linux users champion their own software because they feel they are allowed to customize what is installed on their system with whatever version they use.

    Some do, some don’t. I have yet to install anything in SLES, CENTOS or UBUNTU that didn’t install just fine, work, and not require “hours” of my time.

    2. Linux users feel that Windows makes computing less intelligent because there is no need to think with Windows.

    Site your source – I have read posts where folks believe that Ubuntu makes the computer user very stupid because it does everything for you.

    3. Linux users feel that their operating system cannot be affected by a virus.

    That’s just not true. Both your premise and the statement. If someone releases a package that exploits anything within the open source club, then you will have a “virus” The difference is, there are those that wants Windows users to feel pain, there aren’t really any attackers of Linux right now. I have not had one single virus affect any of my Linux systems.

    4. With the failure of Vista and the phasing out of XP, Windows users may find themselves with a welcome alternative in Linux.

    You may not welcome the alternative, but who cares? I won’t lose sleep over what O/S you choose to use.

    5. Well, Bill Gates is evil.

    I wouldn’t know. Don’t use his software, or care.

    6. Linux never crashes like Windows.

    It hasn’t crashed on me. It apparently didn’t crash on you either. Doesn’t mean it won’t, but I have had past Windows systems fall apart on a much more regular basis.

    Here’s the problem I see – you are a bandwagon kind of follower. You have a lot of “probably” and “maybe” statements in your post, but no proof, no real world experience documented.

    Windows users on the whole are fed up – but they have lost their will to do anything about it. Apparently you were never a real Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 or the infamous 3.1 user. So, you haven’t got a clue how windows became what Windows is. It’s fine to get into the fire to attract posts to your opinion, but if you are really interested in getting beat up, post some evidence we can discuss.

  • Dragon

    Matthew, You can easily see most Linux distros running on a desktop without having to install them. How? Most of the popular distros offer Live CDs. So kicking the tires on a Linux OS is as easy as playing a CD. Anyone can do it. All you need is an internet connection to dowload the CD. Or in the case of Ubuntu, you can email and ask them to mail you a free CD the old fashioned way. Free? Yep, though I’m sure they won’t refuse a donation.

    When a friend’s laptop was in the shop, I tried the Live CD of Ubuntu on an old Sony VAIO desktop, originally a Windows ME machine. It didn’t work. So I tried Mepis. It worked great. So I crossed my fingers, clicked the install icon on the desktop, and 15 minutes later I booted into Mepis from the harddrive without a hitch. It has been my first experience with Linux, and I love it.

    My friend has had her laptop back for a while now, but the desktop with Mepis has found a permanent home. The laptop is a dualcore Turion TL-52, 1.6 GHz per core with 1GB RAM, while the desktop has a 900 MHz Duron chip with 512 MB ram. Compared to the laptop, the desktop boots so much faster and is so much more responsive when surfing the web or working on a text document or spreadsheet. So what’s the difference? Laptop runs on Windows XP; desktop on Mepis.

    Personally, I think Microsoft really got things right for the first time with XP. And I was hoping for the same quality with 64 bit capabilities from Vista. But after using Mepis, and realizing the dysfunctional corporate dynamics that alone can explain Vista, I am trying to figure out how I can switch over and never turn back. My friend still uses her laptop to watch NetFlix videos. And I’m thinking it may be necessary to run Windows as a virtual machine on my next laptop, for any unexpected software needs that may come up. But the more seriously I consider my options for my next computer, the more I realize the benefits of Linux over Windows … and even over OSX.

  • brad

    i tell people to “use what you can install, figure out, creatively acquire” be it windows , linux, apple etc..

    as long as there are arguments like this, and fanboys bashing windows every moment they get and hard core linux zealots, bashing ubuntu , telling new people “RTFM” and “you go back back to windoze” or the best one. “you arent ready for the big time yet” and bashing the “point and clicky” linux distros, Linux will always be 500 choices with no real choice. And itll NEVER take any real dent out of the desktop market.
    with DRM and vista’s issues, and all the other things bogging down windows today… isnt it strange linux doesnt have a real share of the market yet? And another thing.. knowing linux for 99% of those that do, DOES not pay the bills. so why bother.. Linux is a tinkerer’s OS, and a hobby.. Dont know when itll ever get past that?

  • yossarian

    YOU DO NOT HAVE BACKDOORS IN OPENSOURCE !!!!

    As you can examine the code (unlike Windows) you can see any potential backdoors – they would be discovered………….

    My office in the UK run only linux – either Mandriva or opensuse.

  • Rambo Tribble

    “I’m sure I’m flat-out, ignorantly wrong when it comes to Linux.” Sadly, that may well be the most accurate among your observations.

    Spanish is an simpler language in virtually every respect than English. The syntax and rules of conjugation are much more logical in Spanish than English. A native English speaker cannot understand Spanish without learning. By the same token, Unix is a more logical and better engineered OS than Windows, but to someone who only knows Windows it makes little sense.

    You learned Windows first so now you have a, “Why can’t them damn foreigners speak Windows so a person can understand them?” attitude. Please realize that this is your limitation, not Linux’s.

  • Davros

    “Why aren’t there Linux users on the streets like the people who give out free Snapple?”

    The answer to that question from someone who did it can be found here.

  • bernstein

    well just try ubuntu….

    wait. you say you’ve tried linux?
    either you haven’t tried ubuntu, you’re a gamer, you need to interoperate with some stupid company/administration refusing to send you anything else than ms office files or you’re just blind…
    i am currently running a macbook with Ubuntu/OSX/WinXP and i would readily dump the latter two if i wouldn’t need to reed ms office documents and wanted to play the latest games…

    so what makes windows cool ?
    number of available games (buy a mac, take an old winxp and you have an xbox360/playstation for free…) + availability of pirated software…

    so what makes a mac cool ?
    cool hardware with cerfified drivers, freebsd core, ability to run software from apple,adobe,autodesk & others refusing to release software for linux….

    so what makes linux cool ?
    it does all xp & osx 10.4 do. it does nearly all OSX 10.5 and VistaUltimate do. it does things both can’t. And it does so at zero cost. and as of 2007 it does so without the need to tweak lots of things. in fact it is the one OS you have set up (including apps) faster than setting up applications on the other two…

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    here’s an opinion from a different angle.

    i started writing software in 1984. a year or two in, sun microsystems came out with machines that ran a version of berkeley unix. they had their own ui that was based on x-windows. a year or so after the release that os was rock solid. pretty much the only time you had to reboot was when there was a hardware problem.

    i used flavors of unix with x-windows for years. it had some incredibly powerful features like the ability to run a program on one system while actually displaying it on another (this would be a no-no in the windows model where every computer must have a copy of a program). there are other more technical (and more boring) features that might only be pluses for an engineer, but here’s one: installing software. how do you install a program in the unix world? copy it to a directory.
    uninstall? remove the directory.

    what a concept.

    so when windows 95 came out, it seemed like a huge step backwards. huge. it has taken microsoft years (over twenty now) to move toward that level of reliability. they’re still not there yet.

    and one more example of the stability of linux (not exactly unix, but close enough): my company’s gateway machine runs linux. at one point, that machine had been up for well over a year. sorry, but there aren’t a lot of windows machines that can do that.

  • bliffle

    I have 3 different computers running ubuntu 7.10 for 8 months without one BSOD or equivalent. The only time I’ve restarted any one was when my wireless AP loses it’s little mind and goes out of sync. I’ve put a 10gb XP partition on each machine for the extremely rare situation where I need to use one of the two programs I’ve not ported. yet, because they are so seldom used.

    Linux works good, as an OS should.

  • Mich

    If you are really interested to use a stable Linux without all the nice look feel good factor.

    Try Debian and add the following repository deb stable main

    Stay with the default stable branch and you will have a good OS on your computer.

  • Chris Lees

    Can I just say that although the title of the article is correct, the author really doesn’t know anything about Linux, security, or software freedom. Or computers.

    I don’t think many Linux users are brave enough to say that their operating system is impervious to viruses. What we *will* say is that the operating system has always been designed for compartmentalisation, for “default deny” (any executable file that managed to get itself downloaded directly and secretly to the computer would still end off without executable permission!), for limited permissions to ordinary users, and for respect of the security system.

    Users are also taught what constitutes good security practice, which is a very powerful tool in Linux’s favour.

    The reason why the iPhone was hacked in such a short amount of time is because Apple still cannot write secure code. Remember, the iPhone version of Safari has a critical iframe-related security flaw that was fixed in Internet Explorer back before XP SP2! When you take this into account, it’s no surprise that people were able to figure out how to install 3rd-party programs onto their iPhones.

    Linux is not as ubiquitous as Windows, but Linux-based servers are extremely widespread and store a huge amount of valuable, sensitive data. Cracking these days is done for financial gain, so it would follow that Linux would get attacked as much as Windows. Except that it doesn’t! It is too strong a target. The task is made even harder because a Linux system is not a completely standard object like a Windows system is; you always know what services will be running on Windows, but a Linux system could be running pretty much *anything* in any combination.

    On a Windows mail server, you pretty much need to know one exploit against one mail server program, and you can get into 95% of Windows mail servers. With Linux, knowing an exploit against Postfix (very improbable!) will do you no good against a server running Exim or one running Sendmail.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    It looks to me that Mr. Milam doesn’t really understand the topic at hand. It also seems like he is one of those people who don’t want to figure things out on his own. Fear of technology will do no one any good…

    And let’s get one thing straight… If you do nothing to shut down those back doors in Windows XP or Vista,i.e;services.msc,then your just buying time before you have to do a whole new install & lose critical information.

  • Evan

    Farah was an internet troll