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Windows vs Linux mk 2 26 December, 2008

Posted by aronzak in Linux, Windows, XP.

A short while ago, I installed Windows XP on one of my computers. *horror*. It’s not so bad. It does some things quite well. Even after bloating it up with about 50 open source apps, it still seems to chug away quite merrily. I gor rid of the antivirus software, as it slowed the system down. What is this  ‘virus’ thing that everyone keeps talking about anyway? Today, a win to Linux and a win to Windows XP.

Round 1: Camera images. Winner: XP

First, I tried to copy some images off a camera. Not having a card reader handy, I used the camera itself. Plugging it into Debian did SFA. didn’t bother doing anything. Ubuntu seemed not to want to boot a few times (she can be rather tempramental) and finally, when it did, it failed. A camera icon came up, clicking on which did nothing. CentOS failed, bringing up an error that some driver or another wasn’t there. Plugging this into the XP installation, it worked straight away, with no need for any extra software. I remember the dumbed down system is terrible, so I opted to use ‘advanced mode’ and just copy the pictures straight off the machine. Worked a treat. Win to XP.

Round 2: Shell extensions. Winner: KDE

Right. THat was done. Next, I had a bizarre idea of trying to make QEMU easier to use by creating a shell extension in the context menu, so that I can double click on a disk image (.iso) and automatically virtualise it. It isn’t at all obvious how to do this. Searching for some combination of ‘context menu’ and ‘windows XP’ on the net is disastrous. Huge numbers of results come up, all telling me a very particular way of doing one particular thing. Most of them want me to install thier own crappy freeware utilities, which will pimp out some aspect of my context menu or another. After going through the registry (I remember that thing! I hate it! I really do hate it! In fact, it’s the worst thing there is about Windows. It’s worse even than shared dlls, which accumulate like cholesterol) in several different places, and hoping that modifying any of the different keys and values wouldn’t set my computer on fire, I achieved little. Well, now I can get a command prompt to open when I click on a folder.

After ploughing through the arcane scrolls of the Windows registry, I decide to venture into ‘Folder options’ and file associations. I have to create my own entry for .iso, as the dumb system doesn’t recognise it by default (come on!). Anyway, the long and short of all of this is that after spending over an hour loking up different things nothing worked. Amazingly, QEMU seems to like being run from a shell, and given the name of an iso after -cdrom, but using “%1” does not work. Really strange.

Then, swith to KDE to see if it is possible. I right clicked on an iso, clicked on “open with > other” and then clicked on a drop down box. I noted vlc %U, then simply entered qemu -cdrom %U. Works a charm.That took me two clicks and about ten seconds. Win: Linux.

Really, the final winner is Linux. I know that pictures have worked for me straight away with no hassles in Ubuntu before, but that was an old install. It’s the conficurability that gets me more. I mean, I wasted a whole lot of time on the assumption that operating systems are made to be configured to suit the user’s needs. With Windows, this simply isn’t true.

I think that the whole XP experience has taught me a few useful lessons.

1. Linux is not ‘vastly superior’. Many Linux people have not used Windows on a powerful computer at home. The last version of Windows that I had run before was ME, which was fairly unimpressive. I had only seen XP on an underpowered laptop (where it ran appalingly) and on school and uni machines. I think that there’s a risk of ‘setting up the straw man’. That’s when you argue against a something that you claim is an opposition’s arguement, but isn’t. There’s a risk of that if Linux people have never really used Windows for themselves, and merely rely on what other Linux people tell them. Finally, I think that it’s good to acnowledge this:

Windows XP is good but has some faults.

Windows Vista is good but has many faults.

Mac OSX is good but has some faults.

Linux is good but has some faults.

In some tests, Linux will vastly outperform Windows. But that;s just propaganda. In reality, both have their strong points and substantial weak points. Windows is mainly weak on letting power users get on with what they want to do. Linux is extremely weak at helping new users, but is getting much better.

2. Open source is best marketed on the Windwos platform.

There are hundreds of open source applications that are cross paltform and will run under Windows. More people downloaded Open Office 3 Windows executables than Linux packages when it came out. Yes, many Linux people will use their distribution’s own software updating system to get a new version, but still, it says something. I think that trying to get people to use open source programs will be more successful if you offer them new applications, rather than a whole new operating system. People are generally afraid of breaking their system, and having to ‘learn something new’. Keep a few installers on a USB stick, as well as a live Linux distribution.



1. linuxcanuck - 26 December, 2008

You are comparing apples to oranges. Due to M$’s cozy relationship with OEMs, it has a built in advantage which makes your comparison silly. It has nothing to do with the OS itself, but has to do with a mutually beneficial relationship that keeps consumers on a continual upgrade path.

Of course the camera works better in Windows. The OEM tailored the product for Windows. If he had done it for Linux then the reverse would be true.

The second comparison is also ludicrous. Linux has a built in advantage because it is open source and modular. Therefore you can customize it to your heart’s content without stepping on anyone’s toes. M$ does not want you to customize it. They want one look and feel. They want uniformity and conformity because they see users as lemmings who are dumbed down to the point where all they have to do is follow the leader, which coincidentally is them. Linux users expect more and get more as a result.

Your conclusions are superficial at best. Windows is for people who don’t know any better. Any advantages it has has nothing to do with how well it works. It has only to do with how Microsoft has been able to leverage position and much of that has been illegal. Remember they are convicted criminals and they have not paid all of their fines and they still think they have done nothing wrong.

Linux is vastly superior. It has a journalled file system that does not need defragmenting. It is modular in the way it loads. Its kernel is constantly being improved. It has no central registry that can become corrupted and fragmented. It has a choice of user interfaces that is unparalleled. It has smart updates that are constantly available. There is no need to re-boot and you are never nagged once you decide to update. Upgrades are available at regular intervals and this is all free. What isn’t there to like?

2. Boycott Novell » Links Xmas 2008: Linux 2.6.28 Released - 26 December, 2008

[…] Windows vs Linux mk 2 A short while ago, I installed Windows XP on one of my computers. *horror*. It’s not so bad. It does some things quite well. Even after bloating it up with about 50 open source apps, it still seems to chug away quite merrily. I gor rid of the antivirus software, as it slowed the system down. What is this ‘virus’ thing that everyone keeps talking about anyway? Today, a win to Linux and a win to Windows XP. […]

3. Daniel - 26 December, 2008

If your Ubuntu install is “tempermental” and refuses to boot several times, then you’ve installed a corrupt CD. Period.

You also Need more than two “rounds” to determine any kind of winner.

4. aronzak - 27 December, 2008

Canuck, you like being controversial. You seem to have nothing better to do than argue all day, judging from your blog. That’s nice.

The article was not really a comparison. I was being facetious
in the ‘vs’ thing. It’s just a simple observation of something that worked well in both OSes and gave me grief in the other.

My conclusions are simple. First, our attempts to spread open source might go better if we drop the zeal. Not that many people care about computers, so being passionate about them is not helpful. Using words like ‘criminals’ (above) and ‘evil’ to describe Microsoft is not helpful. Don’t get angry, get even.

Second: saying that you have used Windows before and like some of what it does first is a really good way to avoid a heated debate. Most people will try and say that Windows is good and Linux is bad in response to you. If you acknowledge that Windows does some things well and that Linux has faults just like every other OS, suddenly the anger is taken away.

Third: our attempts to spread open source will be more successful if we can give people software that they can run without having to change the way their computers work. Also, using open source software on Windows will make changing to use Linux easier, because people have already used the software that Linux comes with, and also their Windows computers will be truly interoperable.

There you go, that’s all I was saying.

Daniel: It boots, but X does not start. This is because there are errors in the filesystem. All root filesystems have ‘errors=remount-ro’ in their fstab entries. X or Gdm cannot start in a read only filesystem. Fsck sometimes fixes this. Frankly, I can’t be bothered as my other Linuxes work fine.

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