Saturday, December 30, 2006

Your next operating system

If a person guesses Vista as the next big operating system , he (or she) is probably right.
Vista will ship with a lot of new computers and lots of people will need it for various purposes. To run new games that requires Direct X 10 for exemple.

Personaly I've been using Linux as my desktop OS since 1997. A small partition for Windows has been required for games and for my internet banking account.
Since one or two years I have stopped playing games and my internet bank now supports Firefox , so when I upgraded my computer a couple of months ago I didn't care to install Windows XP.
The latest version of VLC plays videofiles nearly as good as Windows Media Player , Mozilla Firefox is the best browser around with hardly no compability issues at all and OpenOffice gives decent interoperability with Ms Office. My studies doesn't require the use of proprietary applications other than Matlab , which is avialable in a Linux version.
It's in fact a very good thing to run Linux as an engineering student. The platform is excellent for programming.
My computer never crashes and is very responsive even during heavy loads.
My laptop is quite slow sometimes , which I blame on the driver for my graphics card. Even when it's slow , the computer is still responsive. If I shutdown a program that takes up a lot of resources it ends directly.
Last time I used Windows XP , a program crashed and I tried to kill it with the "task manager". The task manager stopped responding and I found no other sollution than to reboot my laptop. I paid money for a Windows XP licence when I bought my laptop.
Funny thing that the operating system I didn't pay for works without problems day in and day out , while XP gives me headache after 5 minutes of use.
I installed Gentoo Linux when I bought my laptop 3 years ago. The same installation still runs today. The boot time hasn't increased and my screen is not filled with popup windows and adware when connected to the internet as my parents computer running XP. And that installation is only 6 months old.

Why is people accepting this?
The year is 2007 (almost) and the major operating system for personal computer is a joke when it comes to function , security and stability.

I know a lot of people who use their computers for a small number of tasks.
  • Writing documents in Word or Excel.
  • Internet
  • Mail
  • Connecting their digital camera or media player
  • Playing music
No gaming or special applications.

I am absolutely sure that a lot of these persons would do equally good , or even better with Linux.
The problem is that there really is no Linux distribution that sets up a system that offers the same functionality as their Windows system.
There are issues with Java , Flash etc. that requires knowlededge to fix.
Another problem is that these persons aren't interested in making any changes. The computer works good enough and the damage of paying for the operating system cannot be undone.

What the operating system market needs is competition, Microsoft need to feel some heat from a competitor. Look what happened when AMD released their K7 architecture. CPU prices dropped and the megaherz race got a big boost. Also CPU diversity increased with low and high budget processors Competition!
This is exactly what is needed in the OS arena.

The forecasts for increasing competition is quite cloudy however.
There are distributions such as Ubuntu that have done a great work in creating an easy to install , configure and use distribution. The problem is that byers of new systems are not given the choise between Linux or Windows. The choice , if any , is between XP home or XP pro .
The reasons of this are many , of course.
Retailers want to sell a product that works , has support and is familiar to the users.
Linux doesn't meet the requirements from the retailers points of view.

I would like to see a big PC retailer to give buyers the Linux alternative. The least I would like to see is that the price of the Windows operating system is shown as a separate post when a computer is sold.

Anyone reading this should really give Linux a try.

There are distributions that you can download to a CD or DVD and boot from , without installing anything on your hard drive. gives av very good demonstration of what a modern Linux distribution offers in user interfaces. Knoppix is a very popular Live CD distro. is a quite cool alternative as well.

Try one of them! You'll like it.
Especially Sabayon Linux. The XGL user interface will blow your minds.

If you don't have the time , at least watch the video on this page.