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.