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Why I Use Windows 7 over Linux on my main PC

I’m going to start off my new series of articles about Linux with a post about Windows. Yes, that’s right, Windows. And it’s not going to be an article talking about how terrible Microsoft is, or how Bill Gates is the anti-Christ. It’s an article on why I use Windows as my main operating system.

Up until a few years ago, Linux and Windows were like night and day. Two very different creatures that required very different software to do the same thing. You could use Microsoft Office on Windows, but had to use Star Office or OpenOffice on Linux. There were very few Linux-native video games, image editing and creation was limited to mostly GIMP which left Photoshop users wanting, and there was no decent Flash plugin for Linux either.

Since then we’ve drastically changed how we use computers. This is mostly because of “The Cloud.” I’m writing this post in Google docs right now, and I’ll just copy & paste it into my G+ stream when I’m done. This allows me to work on it from any computer at any place. I mean, let’s be honest, how many of you use your computer for more than a glorified web browser most of the time?

Even though the way we use computers has changed, just about everything I do on Windows I can now do on Linux, and Linux has gotten easier to use with “desktop distributions” like Ubuntu, Mint, Jolicloud, and a few others, I still prefer to use Windows on my main OS. I can play the games I love through Wine or any of it’s various forked projects and I can run most of my .Net applications through Mono, There is still one main reason I use Windows:

Windows just “works.”

I know, shock, horror, blasphemy, etc. etc. Linux is a tinkerer’s OS. I don’t want to have to spend 3-4 hours configuring and troubleshooting things just so I can play a video game. In 15 years I have never used a distribution of Linux that I didn’t have to Google a solution for at least a few times a week. Many years ago I was OK with that, but now that I’m older I just want stuff to work.

Now my problems here may stem with the fact that I work with Linux every day, as my entire livelyhood is based around it. I spend hours every day tweaking, updating, adjusting, changing, backing up, restoring and scripting things in Linux all for a paycheck. When it’s time to relax I don’t want to do it all over again just so I can play Eve Online.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. About 5 years ago I gave in and quit my job so I could focus on being a Linux Sysadmin full time from home. So far it’s working out pretty well. I made enough money that I was able to sell the small shack I lived in and buy a nice 4 bedroom (ok, 2 bedroom, 2 office), 2 1/2 bath house with a finished basement. My wife occasionally wants to kill me because I’m around way too much,and the 24-36 hour “I need 12 servers set up by Friday” marathons are murder but I don’t think I’d ever go back to a traditional job. I like being able to take a vacation almost whenever I want way too much.

On the other hand, I’m still a tinkerer by nature. I do have 3 other machines that run Linux, Ubuntu on an ancient laptop which is hooked up to my 3rd monitor (I use it strictly for an Instant Messaging client), Ubuntu on my netbook, and a version of Slackware (called unRAID) which functions as a 6TB fileserver for my home network.

Windows is not without it’s problems. My current installation has about 2 years on it, and my AppData folder (where most programs keep their settings) is from my original XP installation. My computer is in desperate need of a reformat and reinstall but it still does what I want it to do when I want it to.

So I guess it all boils down to the fact that I am a very, very lazy person. I don’t want to do any more “work” than I have to. Windows lets me get away with that. If I really want to tinker I can (and have) set up virtual machines with VMWare or VirtualBox, or I can play around with one of the other easily wipe-able machines in my home.

  • Rathie

    I’m the other way. I use Linux as my main OS because it works whereas with Windows I’m constantly having to reboot, reinstall, redo the set up. In the past two months I’ve had to reformat the boot sector on the Windows machine because hal.dll was corrupted; I’ve had to reinstall the OS as windows explorer decided to crash with fatal errors at least once an hour, I won’t even mention the trouble that I have to go through because the OS keeps ‘forgetting’ that it really does have the drivers for my video card. I keep my anti-virus and anti-malware software up to date as well as the usual Windows updates.

    My Linux machine on the other hand, usually has an uptime in excess of 60 days. Updates take place seamlessly and usually without the need to re-boot (unless there is a kernel update) as the individual services can be stopped and started and the machine does almost everything that I want it to do (sadly Command and Conquer doesn’t seem run under Wine).

    Given that I am not a programmer and don’t really have any formal training in IT/Computer Science most people are surprised when I say that Linux is my OS of choice, but that’s the way it is.

  • kinkyness

    In response to the comment above, I’ve never heard that kind of problem with Windows that you’ve experienced. That isn’t normal. There must be something terribly wrong with your copy of Windows or your computer is not functioning properly.

    Majority of Windows users don’t have to constantly reboot, reinstall and redo setup. That’s just insane. And hal.dll just doesn’t get corrupted like that. And Windows Explorer crashing at least once an hour? I don’t believe you. And if those really happened, it’s definitely an isolated case. I mean, common, that’s just ridiculous. Windows just doesn’t act retarded like that.

    I’ve used Linux a lot. People defend it as though it’s got lots of features with the programs that run with it. Well they are features that are also present in Windows. Maybe Windows doesn’t have the extra things that Linux does, but who uses those extra features anyway?

    And with the useful ones they are already in Windows as well. And the thing is, you don’t have to fix them in order for them to work. Because everything that comes out in Windows is already working out of the box. In Linux, you have to freaking fix everything up yourself in order for them to work. How is that in any way better?

    Programs in Linux are insanely out of date. And when you install updated ones, they aren’t compatible with your latest copy of Linux. Yes they still work, but they don’t completely work. AND you have to fix them yourself. While in Windows, those same latest versions of softwares work. Everything works.

    Who wants to fix every software that they want to use? That maybe fun during the first time, but as time goes on, it’s just ridiculous. You don’t want any software you use to be like that. Linux just lag in that aspect.

    Yes Linux is free. And that’s because it doesn’t work.

  • Wild Turkey

    It sounds like my kids were using Rathie’s Windows computer. Fact: Kids Kill Windows!! (Particularly if they have admin privileges, and they often can’t install their games without it.) Well, maybe not all kids; just mine. On the other hand, Win7 and Linux machines at my office are all running happily, sitting behind a firewall and secure in knowing that I’m going to use good judgement as to what I load onto them.

  • Raven Lee

    Just get a Mac. Then you have the best of all worlds. You can run Windows 7 32% faster than on a PC according to PC World testing. You can run all Linux or BSD or Unix software, although some sw may not be prepackaged and will have to be recompiled. And of course, you have Mac OS X based on BSD with Office and native games. So you can run Windows programs and games faster than PC, you can run Linux programs and you have Mac OS X for security and virus proof OS that “just works”. Btw, Mac OS X “just worked” long before Windows, although Windows 7 finally caught up a bit.

    • George

      Obvious Macfag is obvious.

  • Your claim that Mac OS X is “Virus Proof” has been busted time and time again. In fact, it was just last week that a massive virus was released for OS-X and was reported to be on something like 53% of OS-X based machines.

    • GuiMaster

      Mac was hacked first in a hacking competition that I read about. Ubuntu could not be hacked in that competition.

  • GuiMaster

    I too am counting the cost. I’ve got 5 different operating systems on 2 different computers, in order to use Linux as primary and Windows as secondary. The effort and time that I spend configuring everything and rebooting my computer makes me question the value. Microsoft is pure evil, but damn Windows works and it’s compatible with everything. One OS that does it all – including spy on it’s users. Even then, I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle to avoid the spying since we get spied on everywhere on the internet now.

  • geomaster

    Actually, for me, Linux is the OS that just ‘works’. I’ve had numerous problems with Windows on my desktop computer and it all went away when I switched to Arch and KDE. It’s not without its limitations and I find myself configuring way more than when using Windows, but my Arch installations never hangs, seldom has any leftover data problems, it never gets slow when its uptime is high so that it needs a restart etc. Also I get a lot of bloatware with software I install on Windows, but I figure it’s something vendors should be blamed for, not Microsoft. Windows is more straightforward to use, of course, but I am pretty young so I guess you can say I yearn for challenges. Maybe this view of mine will change with years to come. I am no expert, but know things. That’s pretty enough for now.

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