Thursday, June 01, 2006

Linux vs. Windows...again

I don't think you can put 5 geeks in one place without a Linux vs. Windows fight erupting. Each side has its fanboyz and neither side is very accepting. I use Linux for any serious computer work I have to do and if I could I'd uninstall Windows and never think of it again, however I use my computer to play games. Thus I have to have Windows on board and that's fine for what it is. Here's my latest take on the Linux vs. Windows debate.

I just bought a new PC for home, a suped up machine perfect for gaming. It has an AMD x2, lots of ram and two nvidia video cards SLI'd together. Whenever I get a new machine its reopens my eyes as to how bad Microsoft Windows really is.

Installation trouble: I often hear that Linux is very hard to install and not for the feint of heart. Well, Microsoft Windows is no panacea either. I started the XP SP2 install and it proceeds along nicely until it gets to 'detecting devices' there's a long pause and then the process continues where upon it asks for my XP SP2 cd. “But the CD is in the drive”, I exclaim. To no avail, Windows won't listen to reason. So I cancel the request for media and the install continues. It seems that the 'detect devices' method is making my DVD drive go missing (the eject button won't even respond). Eventually XP comes up, but it looks....odd. No rounded corners, no pretty background of verdant fields, no opera's all missing. Hmm. “Well that's fine.” I mumble to the cat.

Hardware Issues: “Hey, where's the sound?” I often hear that Linux doesn't support some hardware. Well the truth is Windows doesn't support ANY hardware, hardware vendors support Windows. Now that my crippled system is alive its a DaVinci Code-esque hunt for driver disks. Install sound card drivers. Reboot. Install wireless network card drivers. Reboot. Install display drivers. Reboot. The 'install after the install' takes more time than the OS install. Nevermind that there is no word processor installed, no modern web browser installed, no safe email client installed. Nothing. It does come bundled with that cool application 'calculator' (which probably has floating point round off errors lurking).

Ok, fine. So the machine now has sound, video and network. Time to install a game. Put in Quake4. The installer dies. That's weird. Try install Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (came free with the video cards). The installer dies. Weird x2. Install Oblivion. IT WORKS! Looks awesome. Plays great. Yay.

So what's wrong with the other games? Well, I'm glad you asked. The abortive installations didn't get everything installed correctly. It seems that XP is missing a great deal of stuff. I can't install it correctly since the installation process drops the DVD drive as a matter of course, checking for devices. Eventually I had to copy the whole XP disk to my harddrive (after another abortive install, taking another hour of my life I won't get back soon) and install windows from the harddrive. (I'll bet I've broken some kind of DRM law in doing so.) Then I had to do the 'install after the install'...AGAIN.

My SuSE linux install went off without a hitch. It detected my soundcard, video card and wireless network card during install. There was no 'install after the install' session. Heck my favorite web browser (firefox) and email client (Evolution) were installed by default. As were a news reader, an office suite, an image editor, a compiler suite, an instant messenger, a calculator, a nifty drum machine (great for helping learn guitar)...need I go on?

Why do people think Windows is so great? A) They don't see the cost. Since it comes pre-installed they don't see the $100+ they paid for it. B) Its easy to install since they didn't have to install it. C) Hardware and software vendors support it well since its the only choice for them to be viable in the industry.

The only 'virtue' that Windows brings to the table is that it has a monopoly on home market. Without the gaming industry and unfair OEM contracts it has with PC makers, Windows would be dead and gone.

No I don't think Linux is for everyone, but neither is Windows, but its what we are forced to use.


Blogger The LQ said...

hmm. I'm running a Linux flavor here at home, and it was pretty easy to install. In the year or two that I've had it, I've only reinstalled it once, and that was after a NIC failed. I suppose I could've done a bunch of reconfiguring to cope with the replacement NIC, but hey, I was just pulling out random 10/100 from the bin (I'm still not sure how I ended up with so many of those things) and didn't feel like reading faded screenprinting.

10:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home