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Posted by Arjun Shankar at 14:08 hr 01/04/2006.

Linux vs Windows: A laywoman's opinion

(scratching head, looking thoughtful)

Yeah, so like I was saying, Arjun has been on my case since the time I was down with chicken pox (two weeks of extreme tourture and self pity) to write him an article on what I think of linux. I assume its got to do with bringing in more Linux users in your college or some such motive. To tell the truth, there is a part of me that doesnt want to do this. I mean, doesn't it somehow make your college seem better than mine? But then again, to hell with all that, I like Linux and I like Arjun!

Oookay, thats one paragraph of absolute crap and nothing about what I'm supposed to be writing. Well, getting down to business, all I got to say is "LINUX ROCKS, PEOPLE!!!" . And I'm not saying this just because thats what I'm supposed to be saying. Let me tell you why I think so.

Firstly, I want to clear up a few misconceptions about linux:

Windows is 'user friendly', Linux is not: Thats complete horseshit, you know. Seriously, the first time you started using Windows, did you know how exactly it worked? It's all about taking time to figure it out (with or without help). And frankly speaking, I didn't find Linux extremely difficult to comprehend. True I don't know how to fiddle around too much with the terminal, but so far, I've not had any trouble with Linux because of it.

All software is designed for Windows, Linux has no apps: Everyone seems to notice just the software available online, or off the shelf, which, somehow, is by default for Windows. But what people don't seem to realise is that there's almost always, a free alternative meant just for Linux, which you can easily download and install with the help of Synaptic Package Manager (This is a feature of Ubuntu, which I use, but Arjun tells me there are other package managers too.). This can, infact make your comp 'cooler' than Windows can ever make it.

You need to learn a lot of coding and scripting to be able to use Linux: This is again just a bifurcation of the first point. I hardly know around ten linux commands, and I do definitely and easily use Linux every day (for music, movies, internet, sharing on LAN.... Isn't this what most of us normally use the comp for?).

Linux is complicated and difficult, and so takes us a really long time initially to understand it, and then get it running: It probably took me a couple of hours to get things running smoothly. True, I did have help from Arjun, but then again, considering that help is probably much closer to you, than me, what's stopping you from starting out with Linux??? I mean, arent the others in the User Group there to help you out with it all?

Misconceptions done with, I guess we can now say Linux atleast equals Windows. Now let me tell you how Linux is better than Windows.

Most Linux distros are free, Windows rapes your wallet: Hence, many (Type 1 people) lighten their wallets (because they get the 'user friendly' Windows) or more often, they (Type 2 people) prefer using pirated versions of Windows. Now if you're Type 1, you end up losing a lot of money as you have to keep getting newer versions of Windows, and better hardware to go with it, as they are released (because a new version is better than an old one, and because afterall, all the latest app sofware is designed for the latest version of Windows). Type 2 is very economical, except that you miss out on all the Windows freebies because its pirated. Who cares about the one-in-a-million chance that MS finds out, you end up in jail!? Right? Why all the trouble? Be the smart one (Type 3 people) and use Linux anywhere and everywhere and for FREE!!!

Linux lets you see the code: Freedom means everything to us, right? Our forefathers died for it and we fight with our parents and college over it..... Well, freedom is what linux is all about. Windows is supposedly completely designed to meet the user's demands and needs (or rather whatever Microsoft considers to be our demands and needs). But when we want to change something to our liking, we just can't. But with Linux, you get to make it the way you like it, and if you can't someone else certainly will help you out. So! Change whatever you want. Absolutely no restrictions. You are finally the master of your computer.

Linux is virus free: We all hate viruses. Be it infecting us or the comp, we hate them. Period. Almost all Windows users have suffered not once, not twice, but over and over again because of viruses that infect their comps and damage everything. But its not like we can stop using the internet or the LAN, just to avoid the viruses. For many, its even become a hobby to keep installing Windows again and again, each time their system crashes. All the time and data wasted!! And the number of anti-virus software I've tried out, don't even think about it! And still, the worms just keep increasing and there's nothing you can do it stop it. Unless of course, you're using linux, in which case such a problem doesnt even exist!

Its a hacker's paradise: Haven't we all secretly desired to be one of those cool hacker types (Of course, working to save the world or something like that. Those who break into machines malaciously, are called crackers.), like Neo from the matrix? Well, here is your opportunity! Learn Linux seriously and you'll get an idea of what all this baby can do!

Lastly, there's the new respect, admiration and coolness factor you get when people get to know that you're into Linux.

All right then, I guess I'm done with what I had to, in here. Oh, by the way, in case I did convince you to swtich over to Linux, do let me know how convincing this was. You see, people need to enter the political scene of India. Engineering sucks, we need honest politicians and I do need a job in the future :D

Sridevi K S
3rd year,
NIT Jalandhar

PS: The author is a recent convert to GNU/Linux, so any errors above are pardonable.