I like to read the “Today in open source” column written by Jim Lynch.
On the 27th August there was a link to an article by John Dvorak which basically stated that Linux has run out of time.
Speaking of Munich, John Dvorak uses it as the opening to a diatribe about how Linux on the desktop has run out of time or something like that. Think carefully before you click through to read the article
The above quote was written by Jim Lynch and I should have heeded the warning. Jim told me before clicking through that this was an article designed to stir up a wasps nest.
What has this to do with the Ghostbusters video linked above? There is a line in Ghostbusters where Ray says “Ok, I’m opening the trap, don’t look into the trap” and just seconds follow before Egon says “I looked into the trap, Ray”.
Humans are curious and if there is a big red button that says “do not press” our natural instincts makes us wonder what the button is for and the second instinct is to press it to find out.
Linux has run out of time
I like Linux and would love to just go all-in with it as the mavens tell me I can do. But I cannot. I use these computers to make a living by writing and podcasting. I also produce photographic art as a hobby. I can’t accomplish any of this with Linux.
There are a lot of products that I need that will run on WINE, a chunk of code that allows Windows software to run on Linux. It’s not perfect. It takes tweaking, there are all sorts of issues, and, more importantly, what’s the point? If I have to run Windows applications, I want Windows, don’t I?
John wants Windows and therein lies the problem. You can’t write an objective article about Linux if ultimately you want Windows. WINE is great and it is getting better year on year at running Windows based applications but at the same time there are less and less Windows applications that Linux users truly rely on.
Then we have Photoshop, Illustrator, and the entire Adobe universe. None of it runs on Linux natively and people “have heard” that it runs okay on WINE. This is no good. Then GIMP enters the conversation. Yes, as a Photoshop clone it’s actually pretty good. But the name says it all: hobbled.
The main issue with people using GIMP professionally as opposed to Photoshop is the hype given by people like John.
Why do so many offices around the world run Windows? For decades Windows has been taught in schools as the only operating system and Microsoft Office has been taught in schools as the only office suite.
When you enter the business market place it can therefore be no surprise that big companies run Windows and use Microsoft Office. The people that run the IT departments and their senior managers and directors were all brought up on Windows. They feel safe by using it. It has nothing to do with what works and what doesn’t.
Photoshop is the same. Photoshop has become a commonly known product and web design companies hire people because they have Photoshop skills. The people running these agencies have become too ingrained into thinking that Photoshop is the only way to go.
Things do change though. Microsoft used to dominate everything. Every man and his dog used to use Hotmail but now more and more people use GMail. Do we even need a mail client anymore such as Outlook? I can have a million emails in my GMail account and with a quick keyword search I can find the email I am looking for.
Ironically, Microsoft didn’t need to change anything. Word is just better. Excel is better. PowerPoint is better. It’s that simple.
Is Word better than LibreOffice Writer or is LibreOffice Writer better than Word? Is Android better than Apple? Were Nirvana better than Pearl Jam? Which were better “The Beatles” or “The Rolling Stones”?
Microsoft Word has a lot of flaws that people seem to gloss over. Bullets and numbering for instance are just random. The fonts change, the numbering changes, the indentation changes and for no apparent reason.
The Microsoft ribbon bars have surely just been added to sell training courses because there is no way they are better than menus, toolbars and keyboard shortcuts. Everything we have been used to for 20 years all switched around for no seemingly good reason. I don’t like it when my local supermarket rearranges all the shelves for no apparent reason either. If you want a ribbon bar then there is always Kingsoft Office.
My wife, for example, likes the Windows way of tracking and saving all changes in a document, and the ability to reclaim old text.
Good for her John. I quite like my computer to boot in under 30 seconds, not display a blue screen saying there has been an error and then spend 3.5 hours reconfiguring itself. Each to their own I guess.
LibreOffice Calc is probably a more difficult sell. IT departments in the business world are commonly underfunded and therefore to get around IT deficiencies every other department in the company has the so called resident Excel expert who knows VBA. Companies big and small have badly designed spreadsheets with poor VBA code, whereby the expert left long ago but nobody dares to change the spreadsheet for fear of breaking it.
Getting companies to clean up these spreadsheets is not a cheap task and therefore abandoning Excel for LibreOffice is probably not going to happen.
If I want a word processor to create e-books, for example, or to organize large texts I use Scrivener. Does Scrivener run on Linux? Maybe someday. I still do the original writing in Word, then run it to Scrivener for organizing and compiling. Linux is not part of the scheme.
It just so happens that Scrivener has arrived on Linux. At the moment it is in Beta but then so was GMail for about 5 years.
Right now Linux on the desktop remains a cheap curiosity, that is kind of fun to play with when you are bored.
I am not suggesting for a minute that Linux has made it on the desktop. To be honest I’m not sure what the big fascination is.
All I know is that for me Linux is easy to install, easy to use and for home use it has served me well for over 10 years.
I haven’t had a virus or any sign of malware in all the time I have used Linux. I only have to switch on my Windows based computer before I am bombarded with an Antivirus package that wants to update itself constantly and scan every single file and process slowing down the whole machine to crawling point.
I can’t reboot my Windows based computer without it wanting to install updates 1 of 63, 2 of 63, 3 of 63 on what appears to be a daily basis.
Free software in Windows doesn’t mean free anymore. Once the bastion of freeware and shareware CNet now seems to supply software riddled with endless toolbars, search tools and PC Optimisers and they aren’t the only download site doing that.
When I run Windows applications at work, every so often I will receive a message saying that the application has stopped working. It doesn’t give a reason, it just tells me it has stopped working. The application then dies and I have to restart it. I’m not saying that I have never had an application crash on me in Linux but it is far less frequent and the reasons why are far more verbose.
I don’t write about Linux to force Windows users into changing their operating system. If somebody is using Windows and they want a change then I try an aid that process.
Why does it have to be one thing or another?. For Windows to survive must Linux die and for Linux to succeed does Windows have to die? Of course not. The people who want to use Linux will and those who don’t won’t.
Thankyou for reading.