Friday, March 6, 2009

Myths about Linux

Okay, here is another really stupid luser site. This one claims to 'debunk' the top 10 'myths' (i.e. facts) about Linux.

NOTE: Well, apparently it was created in 2005 (stupid linux reddit; this isn't new), but I did not realize it until this rant was mostly done. It doesn't matter much because lusers are still making the same claims, and they are still totally full of shit. Let's give a response. It is rather amazing and quite sad.

Myth 1: Linux is too difficult for ordinary people to use because it uses only text and requires programming.

The truth: Although Linux was originally designed for those with computer expertise, the situation has changed dramatically in the past several years. Today it has a highly intuitive GUI (graphical user interface) similar to those on the Macintosh and Microsoft Windows and it is as easy to use as those operating systems.

Having a GUI does not automatically make Linux easy to use. The GUI has to be designed with the users needs in mind, and this is something that lusers have demonstrated an inability to do well.

No knowledge of programming is required.

Wow, I do not need to know how to code quicksort in Intercal to browse the web! This is almost Mac-like friendliness!

Moreover, once people become familiar with Linux, they rarely want to revert to their previous operating system.

So why are all those netbooks being returned?

In some ways Linux is actually easier to use than Microsoft Windows.

In some ways, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

This is in large part because it is little affected by viruses and other malicious code

Yeah, LH already covered this.

system crashes are rare.

This has been covered too.

Myth 2: Linux is less secure than Microsoft Windows because the source code is available to anybody.

The truth: Actually, Linux is far more secure (i.e., resistant to viruses, worms and other types of malicious code) than Microsoft Windows. And this is, in large part, a result of the fact that the source code (i.e., the version as originally written by humans using a programming language) is freely available. By allowing everyone access to the source code, programmers and security experts all over the world are able to frequently inspect it to find possible security holes, and patches for any holes are then created as quickly as possible (often within hours).

You forgot to mention that giving access to the source code also allows lusers who don't know what they are doing to seriously fuck things up.

Myth 3: It is not worth bothering to learn Linux because most companies use Microsoft Windows and thus a knowledge of Windows is desired for most jobs.

The truth: It is true that most companies still use the various Microsoft Windows operating systems. However, it is also true that Linux is being used by more and more businesses, government agencies and other organizations. In fact, the main thing that it preventing its use from growing even faster is the shortage of people who are trained in setting it up and administering it (e.g., system engineers and administrators).

Really. If there was such a serious demand for Linux sysadmins, I think the 'shortage' problem would have been solved by now. There seems to be no shortage of expert lusers on the 'net.

Moreover, people with Linux skills typically get paid substantially more than people with Windows skills.

The reason lusers get paid more is because it takes a lot more skill and work to manage a *nix system. Unix has been called an Administrator Full Employment Act.

Myth 4: Linux cannot have much of a future because it is free and thus there is no way for businesses to make money from it.

The truth: This is one of those arguments that sounds good superficially but which is not borne out by the evidence. The reality is that not only are more and more businesses and other organizations finding out that Linux can help reduce the costs of using computers, but also that more and more companies are likewise discovering that Linux can also be a great way to make money. For example, Linux is often bundled together with other software, hardware and consulting services.

Yes, that is all well and good, but what is the business model if you want to sell software. Not everything can fit under the 'services' umbrella. If you have to depend on hobbyists, you are screwed.

Myth 5: Linux and other free software is a type of software piracy because much of it was copied from other operating systems.

The truth: Linux contains all original source code and definitely does not represent any kind of software piracy.

Linux may not represent piracy, but it still copies. Linux is a copycat of Unix, and most of the Linux GUIs are half-assed clones of Windows.

Rather it is the other way around: much of the most popular commercial software is based on software that was originally developed at the public expense, including at universities such as the University of California at Berkeley (UCB).

WTF? Are you talking about Windows 95's TCP/IP stack? That was thirteen years ago!

Myth 7: There are few application programs available for Linux.

The truth: Actually, there thousands of application programs already available for Linux and the number continues to increase.

I think you mean there are thousands of crappy applications available for Linux. How much of that shit is actually worth using?

Myth 8: Linux has poor support because there is no single company behind it, but rather just a bunch of hackers and amateurs.

The truth: Quite the opposite: Linux has excellent support, often much better and faster than that for commercial software.

What was the last commercial app you used?

There is a great deal of information available on the Internet and questions posted to newsgroups are typically answered within a few hours.

The same is true for both Windows and OSX.

Moreover, this support is free and there are no costly service contracts required.


Also to kept in mind is the fact than many users find that less support is required than for other operating systems

Just who are these users you're talking about? You and your freetard friends don't count.

because Linux has relatively few bugs (i.e., errors in the way it was written) and is highly resistant to viruses and other malicious code.

Oh boy! Most problems normal people have with software is not the result of glitches. Many users don't even understand the most basic concepts about computers. To develop a product they can use, you have to provide a clean, consistent interface that is both well-documented (so they can look stuff up), popular (so they can get help from their friends), and contains the smallest possible configuration space (to minimize the knowledge necessary to use the product). Linux has none of these things.

Myth 9: Linux is obsolete because it is mainly just a clone of an operating system that was developed more than 30 years ago.

The truth: It is true that Linux is based on UNIX, which was developed in 1969. However, UNIX and its descendants (referred to as Unix-like operating systems) are regarded by many computer experts as the best (e.g., the most robust and the most flexible) operating systems ever developed.

There is a group of people who would take issue with that.

They have survived more than 30 years of rigorous testing and incremental improvement by the world's foremost computer scientists, whereas other operating systems do not survive for more than a few years, usually because of some combination of technical inferiority and planned obsolescence.

Unix did not survive because of technical merits. It survived because it was simple (hence portable) and given away freely to universities. The best systems are not the ones best suited to survive; the worst ones are.

Myth 10: Linux will have a hard time surviving in the long run because it has become fragmented into too many different versions.

The truth: It is a fact that there are numerous distributions (i.e., versions) of Linux that have been developed by various companies, organizations and individuals. However, there is little true fragmentation of Linux into incompatible systems, in large part because all of these versions use the same basic kernels, commands and application programs.

HAHAHA!! I can't believe this luser is saying, "well, because all the distros have mostly all the same apps, Linux cannot be called fragmented." They forget that this fragmentation makes it really fun for IHVs and ISVs to support Linux. Not to mention that the fragmentation makes technical support quite a challenge. The Linux community is tiny enough as it is, but it is now broken up into dozens of little distributions.

Rather, Linux is just an extremely flexible operating system that can be configured as desired by vendors and users according to the intended applications, users' preferences, etc.

Ahh, the fallacy of choice rears its ugly head!

In fact, the various Microsoft Windows operating systems (e.g., Windows 95, ME, NT, CE, 2000, XP and Longhorn), although they superficially resemble each other, are more fragmented than Linux.

You are forgetting that four of those systems have been EOLed and are no longer supported. CE is quite different from the rest, but it is not really considered when talking about the desktop. Anyway, even though the systems are different, they look roughly similar to the average desktop user, and the APIs are similar enough that there is a decent (not great, but decent) chance of an application written for Windows 95 running on Vista. The major differences on the Windows platform are the DOS/NT kernel, Start Menu/Vista shell, various IE versions, and various DirectX versions. Do you really think this compares with Linux and its mass of shells, X11 servers, window managers, desktop environments, graphical toolkits and sound systems? Please.

Moreover, each of these systems is fragmented into various versions and then further changed by various service packs (i.e., patches which are supplied to users to correct various bugs and security holes).

Oh come on! Microsoft releases a service pack every two years or so. Ubuntu, the most popular desktop Linux distro, releases an entirely new version every six months. Do you really want to be making this comparison?

Myth 11: Linux and other free software cannot compete with commercial software in terms of quality because it is developed by an assorted collection of hackers and amateurs rather than the professional programmers employed by large corporations.

The truth: Linux and other free software has been created and refined by some of the most talented programmers in the world

It takes more than programming talent to develop quality software. Alan Cox once said, 'Linus is a great programmer, but a horrible engineer.'

Moreover, programmers from the of the largest corporations, including IBM and HP, have, and continue to, contribute to it.

However, most of these major companies are supporting Linux's development as a server. They don't seem to care much about Linux's use on the desktop.

Myth 12: Linux is free at the start, but the total cost of ownership (TCO) is higher than for Microsoft Windows. This has been demonstrated by various studies.

The truth: A major reason (but not the only one) for Linux's rapid growth around the world is that its TCO is substantially lower than that for commercial software.

Oh, I just have to hear these reasons!

(1) the fact that it is free

as in it costs nothing (except bandwidth)

(2) it is more reliable and robust (i.e., rarely crashes or causes data loss)

Windows has made major strides in reliability as well. Solaris is also a (free) contender.

(3) support can be very inexpensive (although costly service contracts are available)

As mentioned before, you can get free support for Windows as well (with about the same quality). Also, have you seen the pricetag for some of those service contracts! Damn!!

(4) it can operate on older hardware and reduce the need for buying new hardware

So can Windows 2000. Also, low-end desktops are going for $400 nowadays. Servicing old hardware and replacing old parts is likely to be more expensive than buying a new low-end PC every 3-4 years.

(5) there are no forced upgrades

There are no forced upgrades on Windows either. Bill Gates doesn't point a gun to your head and order you to buy a new copy of Windows. Companies upgrade because their system is no longer supported. The same thing is true for every major Linux distro with the exception of Debian stable; Ubuntu LTS releases are only supported for 3-5 years.

(6) no tedious and costly license compliance monitoring is required.

I admit that is a valid point. So out of six points, you have two valid ones. You are doing better than most lusers. However, I highly doubt the difference in sticker price and license enforcement costs make up for Linux's TCO problems.

A major reason provided for the supposedly higher TCO of Linux is that Linux system administrators are more expensive to hire than persons with expertise in Microsoft products.

This is definitely a major issue for companies, but you are forgetting a major problem: Linux desktops tend to have lower productivity than Windows desktops. The transition to a service economy has replaced capital-intensive enterprises with labor-intensive enterprises. When a businesses' biggest cost is their employees salaries, productivity issues are incredibly important. Assume all the desk clerks in a company are worth $30 an hour ($0.50 a minute) and work five eight-hour days; also assume that the cost of one Windows Business license is $280. If Windows Vista gives them a twenty-minute per day productivity boost over Ubuntu, then within six weeks Vista will have more than paid for itself.

Well, I think we have now debunked the REAL Linux myths.

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