Atma Xplorer

Xploring Games, Computing, Photography

Living with 2 OS’s

I was introduced to Linux during my 2nd year in college, about the time I started my part time job at a small hosting company. We had 6 servers running Red Hat and my first impression was ?WTH is DOS doing here?? Of course that changed a few weeks later after a crash course on the basics of linux. 3 years after and I?ve gone and passed through several distros: Red Hat Server, Mandrake (Now Mandriva), Gentoo , Slackware, Debian, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Derivatives: Xubuntu and Kubuntu.

The time I?m spending in front of my desktop is 70% Kubuntu / 30% XP. I still can?t leave my windows installation for various reasons, mainly because I?m still programming/scripting on VB.NET and ASP.NET. Don?t get me wrong. I?m not at all dissatisfied with my Windows XP installation because the only crashes I?ve experienced was due to hardware failures. I don?t experience OS related problems because I use a legit copy updated with only the security patches, not one of those cracked/warez version.

Ubuntu Logo At this point you?re probably thinking that this is another Linux fan boy post. No. I?m simply going to point out why Linux and Windows can live in harmony. Neither is a perfect OS, no doubt about that and anyone proclaiming otherwise is either close-minded or a die-hard fan of one or the other.

Windows is staple, it?s hard to deny that. You can look at internet cafes and business centers and see that windows is as common as the florescent light above you. However, so familiar are we with Windows that the same can be said with the headaches that it brings us.

Linux is an alternative yes, but it has cons. I?ve been trying to find a solution to the spontaneous death of the USB on my laptop when using any linux distro but no luck. For someone who doesn?t want to be friendly with the command line like me, I always look for a ?double-click to install? solution.

I once read a signature in the Ubuntu forums that goes

Microsoft gives windows, Linux gives you the whole house.

At first I thought it was a joke, windows has everything I needed (need not want), word processing, gaming, programming, multimedia (audio and video playback), the net, what makes Ubuntu a real alternative? I had that question looming over me until I gave time to think about what I really want on a computer so I began a writing checklist.

1. Office Applications (docs, presentations)
2. Web development stuff (Graphics, Page Authoring)
3. Connectivity (VOIP, chat, surfing, downloads)
4. Programming
5. Games
6. Multimedia Capabilities( audio and Video playback, * to DVD)
7. A cool UI

Then I compared my experimental installation of Ubuntu with my XP.

Office Applications:
There?s OpenOffice for Ubuntu and Office XP (at the time).
Both offers nearly the same functions. I can make documents, presentations and worksheets. Although I admit I use MS Publisher to make title pages from time to time.

Web development
For Graphics on Linux there?s the GIMP. For Windows there?s PS.
For Page authoring there?s NVU. I loved it?s interface because it?s simple and it has Linux and Windows versions. I use GoLive and Dreamweaver for XP

Web connectivity is one thing where the line between linux and windows blur for me. With a huge list of applications on both sides it?s safe to say that they?re par at this point.

I can write almost anything in Linux but when I need to do something in VB or ASP, I need to switch back to XP.

I can install any game on windows.
For linux there?s WINE to install windows games.

For Audio only one name dominates, Amarok. I?ve always wanted a port for windows ever since I used it but no luck I guess. Winamp on XP.
Both OS?s have great video playback support and a plethora of players.

KDE, GNOME, XFCE etc. for Linux. Windows has windows (pardon the pun)

Now the run down
Ever since I started that experiment, I couldn?t leave my computers without linux. At the same time, I found more and more reasons NOT to abandon my windows OS.

From the list, the only problems I?ll be encountering was with creating VB-based programs, for everything else it?s seems green because of the compatibility of some programs with both OS?s. So I pulled out our old and forgotten Pentium 2 box and installed Ubuntu on barebones. After using it for a few weeks, I?ve found things that I liked and didn?t like.

I use lots of programs that are limited to windows. I tried to find linux alternatives but they didn?t give me the same result. An example would be GIMP vs PS. Yes, it?s not as powerful as PS but I work with signatures, banners, buttons and simple photo editing. I can?t, for the life of me get some effects that I wanted to look the way I want. Either I?m doing it wrong or there?s a real difference with how GIMP handles filters. I didn?t bother to looking it up so you can post here if I?m wrong.

When it came to audio, I found that playing music with my Linux box was better than in XP. The reason for that is Amarok. I don?t think there?s a program that comes close to It?s functionality on the windows side.

As for the GUI, KDE is probably the best GUI I?ve seen. It?s not lightweight like XFCE but it?s really put the flashy effect that I was looking for in Linux. It?s fully customizable too. XP?s UI was good but you get so used to it, it?s like the back of your hand. You can use skinning programs like Windowsblinds but they tend to eat up resources.

One thing that makes Linux stand out for me is security. Not like my windows box, there?s no need for Anti Spyware and Anti Virus programs and yet I can surf without worry that a single misclick on a website will turn my system into crap.

In closing, Linux is a great OS for those not picky with what they use so long as it?s working. It?s fine now unless you have specific needs like me. That?s where the need for windows comes in. The perfect OS will probability not come into existence until both sides learn to help each other. I won?t be recommending anyone to fully replace their windows OS anytime soon. One of the reasons for that is MS Office 2007. Yes it’s shiny and heavy on resource but it’s functionality exceeds it’s price tag. Even with just One Note, that price is more than justified.

People who aren?t picky and simple needs like typing a report, researching on the net, chatting with friends and downloading will probably not notice the change if the computer they used was suddenly turned to a linux only box if not appreciate several of the quirks that it offers. But for picky people like me, the only choice is to go both ways.

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