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The REAL Reason We Use Linux 682

Vlad Dolezal writes "We tell people we use Linux because it's secure. Or because it's free, because it's customizable, because it has excellent community support... But all of that is just marketing BS. We tell that to non-Linux users because they wouldn't understand the REAL reason." The answer to his question probably won't surprise you.
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The REAL Reason We Use Linux

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  • It would be good... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Port1080 ( 515567 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:23PM (#22760690) Homepage
    If the editors didn't strip away the story link [] from the article when they posted it, yes?
    • by Peeet ( 730301 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:27PM (#22760720)
      Thank you for posting that. For those of us too lazy to even click on the link, the reason is "Because it is fun." Good afternoon, good evening and goodnight.
      • by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:46PM (#22760860)

        For those of us too lazy to even click on the link, the reason is "Because it is fun."

        It really makes sense. Don't get me wrong, having the freedom to tinker with the kernel is nice. Having the ability to see the source code to ensure safety is great. But the majority of users don't actually use Linux (or any computer OS) for those purposes... they aren't a means to an end.

        I personally use Linux third to Mac OS X (at home), which is second to Windows (at work). I like understanding the different systems, because that's how I can keep up with the extreme pace of the software development industry. But I almost never use Windows at home, and here's why: competition.

        I want Microsoft to feel the pressure of competition. They have been feeling it for the past couple of years. And what do you know, it works! Firefox has caused the IE team to push towards open standards compliance. Love or hate OOXML, it's easier to work with than older formats (due to pressure from OOo and iWork). And there are many reasons to hate Vista, but it is more secure than older versions of Windows, it has much more advanced compositing, and a host of new things that are good for the future, even if they hurt now.

        So, I care more about the future of the computing world... the future of my career, a future of openness by major corporations that enables someone little like me to start and run a business. And I'm doing my part to make sure that happens.

        • by Codifex Maximus ( 639 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:18PM (#22761074) Homepage
          I agree.

          I use Linux because:
          It's powerful, stable, simple, configurable, inexpensive, open, accessible... in short, everything that Windows is not.

          The ONLY reason I still use windows at all is because the workplace wont let me use Linux on my desktop and I run some windows only games at home.

          Down with proprietary lock-in mechanisms!
        • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:13PM (#22761424) Homepage Journal
          There is more to "it isn't widely used" than is generally pointed out. This isn't just a matter of elitism, but the fact that if you want something to be good at certain things, it will be less good at others. Linux is great for a lot of things because it doesn't fall to the lowest common denominator. If it did, we would need to use a distro that didn't, that was more specialized for what we need it to do.

          Imagine Linux with all the tools which say "you should never have to use the command line." Such a distro would be pretty bad for most of us who currently use Linux because a command-line is fundamentally superior to a GUI for a lot of tasks we use it for. I always have at least three terminal windows open in addition to any GUI apps.

          Similarly, I find that OS X (which is almost but not entirely unlike BSD) has a number of shortcomigns that make Linux and BSD better choices for me. My sister uses OSX however because it matches what she needs.

        • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:01PM (#22761672)

          Having the ability to see the source code to ensure safety is great.
          I don't agree with this. I would bet that very few users go through ANY source code at all. Editing .conf files or running 'make xconfig' not constitute 'going through the source code'. And those that do, probably wouldn't be able to know what's going on.

          Let's say you're running a webserver (apache) which connects to a postgre database. Do you check all the code in apache+mods? filesystems? DNS? NIS? FibreChannel drivers?

          How is trusting Redhat/Debian/Suse to make sure their distribution is safe any different from trusting AIX or HPUX? I don't want to have to be the one at my company that audit's 1m lines of linux code to 'make sure it's safe' we just trust our distribution.

          • by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @08:56PM (#22762506) Journal
            The idea is not that you check every single line of code ran by your company. The idea is that SOMEONE does. There's plenty of people reviewing the Linux kernel. There's plenty of people reviewing X. There's plenty reviewing GNOME (or KDE). There's plenty of people reviewing Apache, Postgres, etc. So you hire someone to write some webapp, that's the only code you *have* to review- because all the other stuff is reviewed by someone. But if it's entirely closed, you would have to trust the company. This is the case with Microsoft. They can do whatever they want because nobody can review it.
        • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:02PM (#22761684)
          My favorite is not on the list.

          Instead of being loaded with nagware, crippleware, and crapware that needs removed, it comes loaded with fully functional applications. It doesn't require paid upgrades to burn ISO's, use AV, create music CD's, use an office suite, etc.
      • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:43PM (#22761264) Homepage
        I use Linux because I prefer "free" and I trust it.

        For the longest time I wouldn't leave Windows because of the Japanese language support. As I was (and always am) learning Japanese, I find it useful to have a good Japanese language user interface. And while there has been Japanese language support under Linux for a while, it didn't really start getting good until maybe 3 or so years ago. It was then that I went ahead to make the switch.

        For the most part, using free software, I have little trouble doing the things I want or like to do, and rather like Mac users, if "it" is not available to me, I don't think about "it" too much and it's not much of a problem for me.

        And since I actually start computing with TRS-80, Commodore and Apple II, I have never been afraid to learn something new or to even think in a different way. I've used everything from audio tape on up for program and data storage. I've used rare operating systems such as OS-9 along with others such as Orwell (which was a very long time ago and was used with Commodore CBMs) and a huge variety of things. Knowing the generalities of what goes on underneath the GUI gives me a more global understanding and comfort with just about anything. So choosing Linux over other things has more to do with trust than fun or just about anything else.

        I don't trust Apple or Microsoft. I just don't. What I trust is software that I can compile myself and read the source code... not that I do -- I don't! I usually just install the binary packages and move on. But the fact is that in most cases I can and I know that others have and do frequently.

        I left Microsoft because Linux was short on something I wanted to be able to do because it was important to me. If for some reason Japanese language support were to disappear (obviously hypothetical) I would probably move over to Mac or Microsoft but I wouldn't like it. Basic functionality does come first and foremost, but when I can get those basics covered in all of the choices I have available, then I choose based on other criteria... in this case, trust.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Zadaz ( 950521 )
        If it was that fun, wouldn't more people be using it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      While it was nice to RTFA, which I do actually before posting. (yeah I am a weirdo, people keep telling me)

      However, the truth to this story is ---- "But all of that is just marketing BS"

      it's a one page, - THIS I BELIEVE page. Other then throw a sudden 30,000 hits on the author's site it will accomplish nothing. it's not anything I can tell a non-linux user that would draw any more of a response then when you tell your dog a joke..

      They stripped out the article because its worthless.
  • by 7-Vodka ( 195504 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:25PM (#22760702) Journal

    Here it is in all it's glory:

  • by thewiz ( 24994 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:26PM (#22760712)
  • by budword ( 680846 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:30PM (#22760748)
    We use it because it's ours.

  • by Port1080 ( 515567 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:31PM (#22760756) Homepage many circles, anyway. I have no desire to tinker. I want it to "just work". I tried using Linux multiple times from when I downloaded my first copy of Red Hat in 1999 or so, through some attempts with Mandrake and SuSe. None of them "just worked" - driver support was missing, programs didn't work as expected (or work at all), etc, etc. So I stuck with Windows. Finally, Ubuntu came about and I saw that someone was taking seriously the notion that people wanted things to "just work" (I would say that Red Hat and SuSe didn't take that notion seriously until recently - they were making OS's for business use, after all, so a trained IT tech would be setting things up and maintaining them - they didn't have to "just work" for your average user, because someone else would be taking care of most of the tough stuff). Even so, the early versions of Ubuntu weren't the best (and there are still many problems with wireless support - ndiswrapper is a poor substitute for a native driver, sad to say). The 6.x series was almost there, and finally I feel like the 7.x series is something I can actually use full time (and indeed I am - I built a new system last November and for the first time didn't bother to install Windows on it). I didn't install Ubuntu because it was fun to tinker. I installed it because it was free, easy to use, and not crippled by DRM. That's it, plain and simple.
    • It's not the distribution's fault that the manufacturer won't make Linux drivers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Timmmm ( 636430 )
        Sorry I've got to call bullshit on this one. The truth is it is far too much work to write and maintain a linux driver. Unless you've got huge resources (e.g. nVidia), the only option is to get it into the official kernel tree, which involves making your driver open source which very few companies are willing to do.

        Just look at the drivers for UniChrome graphics cards. The installation process requires you to recompile both X and the kernel. I'm sorry but I bet if decent tools were provided for writing linu
      • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:35PM (#22761510) Journal
        "It's not the distribution's fault that the manufacturer won't make Linux drivers."

        No but it is an excuse that gets us nowhere.
      • You have to accept that for various reasons, a number of companies aren't willing to do OSS and that includes drivers. You also have to accept that Linux is by far the minority OS out there. Well, given that, you need to make it easy for a company to release a driver for Linux, in binary form, that will then continue to work for a long time. The problem is that the ABI isn't stable, it gets changed all the time so people who want to do binary drivers of various types have to change them all the time. The be
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gordonjcp ( 186804 )
      That's precisely why I use Linux and not Windows. I tried Windows, and it wanted to connect to the Internet to download a driver for my network card. Quite how it proposed to do that wasn't really something I wanted to explore.

      All I ever hear from Windows users is how they got a virus and had to reinstall, or how it crashed and they had to reinstall, or how an update broke some critical piece of software and they had to reinstall, or how they got a new bit of hardware and couldn't find drivers that worked
    • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:38PM (#22761232) Homepage
      Me too, at work anyway.

      Which is why it irks me to no end, when I log in as administrator on a Windows-box and tell it to please terminate a given process, and it does not. Not until you've told it to do that three times and waited for minutes anyway.

      Or I tell it to delete a file, and it tells me I "can't" do that, because the file is "open". I don't want to fiddle with that shit. I know what I'm doing, I want the OS to get out of my way and just bloody do what I tell it to do. Which Windows won't.

      And yes, I am -fully- aware of the WHY. The underlying reason is a weakness in the "file" metaphor used on Windows, but that's not much of an excuse. (on unix a "file" is a chunk of bytes with zero-or-more names. On Windows a "file" is a chunk of bytes with -precisely- ONE name) (okay, that ignores character and block-devices and fifos, but don't be nitpicky here...)

      I want to be able to install a update, yet NOT reboot anytime during the next 4 hours. Yes, I'm fully aware that program FOO may then fail to work properly until I finally do reboot, I STILL don't want to reboot now. And I'd much prefer if the OS could refrain from nagging every 15 minutes about that....
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:31PM (#22760760) Journal
    but I use Linux because I don't want to pay MS for anything. ever. again.

    Sure, I pay donations to those software projects that I use, but it's affordable, and upgrades are free of DRM, spyware, and other nasties that I don't want to have to pay for. For me and my family, Linux works just as good if not better than MS products. That is why we use Linux.

    Fun? The Internet is fun no matter what OS is on the machine you are using. Paying to use a program seems rather ignorant at the prices MS charges. On Linux I never get a genuine advantage check BS window. Thats fun.
  • by GreatDrok ( 684119 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:31PM (#22760762) Journal
    I don't know about all this fun stuff. I use Linux because it does the job I need it to. More to the point though, when something goes wrong it is pretty simple to track it down and fix it. Heck, I have repaired systems that have become seriously mangled where with Windows you wouldn't have much choice but to start over.

    I switched to Linux from UNIX (Irix at that time) and did so because that is the environment I need for my work. These days I use OS X for much the same reason. Whatever MS does to Windows, it is still a very closed system. If closed floats your boat, fine, but don't try and say that closed gets you a more reliable and cost effective system.

    Actually, UNIX is fun I guess ;-)
  • He's right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:32PM (#22760774) Homepage Journal

    It's fun to use the command line.
    He's totally right on this, in my opinion. I get a real kick out of using my shell (bash). I've got a bunch of options in my .bashrc that make it much easier to use for me:
    • Automatic logout when left alone for more than x minutes
    • Colored prompt, allowing me to spot the output between previous and next command fast
    • Aliases like 'printcode' that calls a2ps with all the right options
    • Fancy PROMPT_COMMAND variable that sets the xterm title just right
    • Limiting the history
    • Ignoring things like 'ls -l' in the history
    • Expanding the tab-completion possibilities
    And lots of more options, the list gets too long already :-)
  • Because it works! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:33PM (#22760776)

    I find Linux to be a congenial programming environment, where I can noodle together scripts and programs to get things done. It provides lots of sharp tools that make things easy.

    It doesn't get in the way like certain other OSs I could mention. It doesn't squander system resources on non-essentials (ditto), and I can tune it to allocate resources where they are needed. Oh, and did I mention? It just plain works!


    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jesus_666 ( 702802 )
      Actually, Linux is also a superior programming environment for languages like C. A friend of mine is pulling his hair out because he's writing an app on Windows and lots of standard functions are implemented differently than everywhere else (eg. errno being replaced by WSAGetLastError) and MinGW apparently suffers from ages-old bugs like vsnprintf returning -1 if the supplied buffer is too small - which was fixed after glibc-2.0.

      Under Linux you can be reasonably sure that everything works as intended by t
  • by ( 142825 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:34PM (#22760784) Homepage
    Most people can't even spell command line. While I was in China, I was fixing a friend's computer and her boyfriend said, "You must be a computer expert, you are using a dos window." He didn't even say DOS in upper case.

    You know you are a real programmer when you speak in UPPER CASE. []
  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:34PM (#22760786)
    Girls keep telling Linux users that they (Linux users) are nice, caring and entertaining, but that they (girls) have no free time at the moment. But all of that is just a marketing BS told to Linux users because they wouldn't understand the REAL reason for girls using non-Linux users.
  • by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:37PM (#22760808) Homepage

    Ever tried stopping a process in Windows and the OS wouldn't let you?

    Yes, and I've also had Linux do the same thing. It didn't give an error, but no matter how many times I "kill -9"ed it the process never paid attention to the command and carried on churning away. I guess that's the process rather than the OS, but it's still not always "all-powerful root".

    I think a more accurate list (from my view at least) is:

    1. Linux gives you complete control
    2. Linux is free (as-in-speech)
    3. Software install is easy
    4. It has less potential problems with web dev for a Linux server
    5. No DRM! You own the hardware, you own the software, you own the data.

    Oh, and the penguin is more cuddly than some flag or some annoying animated critter ;)
    • >> "Oh, and the penguin is more cuddly than some flag or some annoying animated critter ;)"

      Yeah right. I just put my baby in her crib with a big, cuddly paperclip. There's no noise coming out of the baby monitor, so I can only assume she's fast asleep.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CTalkobt ( 81900 )
      >> Yes, and I've also had Linux do the same thing. It didn't give an error, but no matter how many times I "kill -9"ed it the process never paid attention to the command and carried on churning away. I guess that's the process rather than the OS, but it's still not always "all-powerful root".

      The reason is typically because the process is a Zombie process that no longer 'truly' exists. To remove it from the process list you'll need to kill the parent process. (See []
  • Why I use Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:45PM (#22760858)

    Because I can't exactly afford the latest and greatest in computer hardware just to run the latest version of Windows. I kinda got tired of looking at XP. It is a good OS and it suited my needs but after 7 years, it was time for an upgrade.Vista was totally out of the question and I have been tooling-around with various distros throughout the years.

    I finally settled on Gentoo due to the fact that it can be as bloated or as light-weight as I wanted it to be. Also, I could run as little or as much **bling** as I wanted depending on the load on the CPU and GPU. Linux suits my needs as well as XP did and was quite a learning experience in the total switchover process.

  • by rubenerd ( 998797 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:47PM (#22760864) Homepage

    Granted I'm a FreeBSD guy [insert comment about why BSD is dying here] but I think the arguments are basically the same as for Linux. I agree with most of TFA, but I enjoy using FreeBSD and other Free software for another important reason: the people.

    Despite the fact commercial products can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, their technical support services nearly always suck: they're slow, obscure, vague, answered by people who don't know what they're talking about or are reading off a sheet of paper that assumes everyone they reply to is an idiot, or at the very worst you don't get an answer at all. Just speaking from my own experience.

    Now granted there are plenty of jackarses on forums for Free software and the like, but on the whole I can post a question and generally get a useful response and in a fraction of the time. Plus if it's for a particular piece of ported software, generally I can either contact the port maintainer or the creator of the software directly and get helpful answers. I've NEVER got that from commercial software vendors. That's what makes the difference.

  • package management (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Deanalator ( 806515 ) <> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:48PM (#22760870) Homepage
    Sure, it's fun, got an easy to customize UI, I can do tons of security and network tweaks, and it has a well integrated set of developer tools, but the real reason why I was never able to turn back is the package management. Package management issues were also the core reason I switched from slackware to debian in 2001, debian to gentoo in 2003, and gentoo to ubuntu in 2007.

    It is ridiculous to me that even today, tools for Microsoft package management are completely archaic. Microsoft has MSI files, but still the difference in add/remove programs between windows 95 and vista is minimal. Imagine if they allowed users to import catalogues of software, and search for software within the add/remove programs interface (which most distros have been able to do in some sense for 10 years or so). Hell, they could even deal with licence subscriptions right in the interface. It would allow them to better integrate their software with third party vendors, while at the same time making sure effective QA is happening (they could threaten key revocation), and also protecting the users, making sure that all software that gets installed gets downloaded from reliable sources, and does not have the chance to get infected by malicious warez kiddies.
  • Why I use linux: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@AAAtpno ... inus threevowels> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:57PM (#22760916) Homepage
    I use linux because, in certain instances, it's the right tool for the job. I'm busy. I don't have time to play around tinkering anymore ( and yes, I do have grey hair, thank you very much ). So when I want something that'll "just work", I analyse all the tools at my disposal, and choose one based on merits.

    Quite often that's linux. Sometimes that's windows. But regardless of the choice, the end result is hopefully the same: A system that just works without me needing to constantly hold it's hand.
  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:59PM (#22760932) Journal
    Boss: Why should we switch to Linux?
    Me: Because it's fun!
    Boss: Thanks for your input. You can go now.
    Boss (to the secretary): Please get me HR on the line. I think we're over-paying some staff.

    This is possibly the lamest story I've ever seen on slashdot. The article then lists THREE other reasons - plural with an 's' - (not one) why the author uses Linux. By 'we' I think he's referring to himself, his blow up sex doll and his imaginary friends.
  • by websitebroke ( 996163 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @03:59PM (#22760942)
    One of my favorite things about Free software in general is that the programmers and the people who write the documentation don't feel like they have to keep this "professional" face on their work.

    For example, you'll never find George W. Bush's face for the "unsharp filter" icon (Cinelerra) in a closed source program. That would indicate that the programmers were having fun, and that obviously makes the program of lower quality.

    Personally, I think that if the developers are having fun, and are in a positive frame of mind, they'll make better software.
  • Reason #2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:00PM (#22760950)

    I can relate to this. Linux not being widely used.

    Some years ago, I was in engineering and involved in 'fixing' a system built by our IT department. They had sunk about $300 million into a system that was just barely functional. We (engineering and manufacturing) were supposed to supply them with appropriate requirements so IT could start over (yet again) building another piece of crap.

    We convinced our management that we should hammer out requirements by building a functioning prototype. As our IT department maintained a stranglehold over all things Windows, we chose to build on Linux and a few surplus Sun desktops with Perl, Apache and a few COTS packages. Keeping the IT dept. and Windows out of the picture allowed us to get a working demo of the shop floor interface up and running within a few weeks and half a dozen people completed the 'prototype' in about 6 months.

    When our system was up and running, it actually outperformed the one running on the Windows backend. When management saw it, they just gave the order to pull the plug on the legacy Windows system and place ours into production.

    Part of my job after the project completion (about 10% of my time) was to administrate 6 hosts that made up the new system. When our IT department made a pitch to management to take over administration, they quoted an recurring maintenance cost for their proposal of $50,000 per host per month. Management fell off their chairs laughing and I suggested that they pay me 6 * $50,000 per month.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitZtream ( 692029 )
      Now keep in mind I'm playing devils advocate, and that thier price is ridiculous ... but ...

      They were probably including maintanence contracts on hardware and software, multiple support personal, backup systems, space, helpdesk time, and lots of other things you weren't considering.

      Is thier price correct? I doubt it. Having done IT in a previous life, part of their job when quoting something like that is to be all inclusive in costs. They may have their own requirements for offsite data and service duplic
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PPH ( 736903 )

        Inevitably, I simplified things a bit. We did locate our servers in IT-managed data centers. Some of that price goes toward that cost. Compare it to the monthly fee for commercial server co-location and take that off their price.

        Hardware support was also part of the price. But we were running desktop class hardware, for which pats were cheap. Labor was provided by me, as was off-site backup. The systems were set up to be redundant and divided between different facilities. Not that this did any good. The

  • by One Childish N00b ( 780549 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:03PM (#22760968) Homepage
    Most of the time, I'm an OS X user. I love my MacBook, but when I use my PC at home, I run Ubuntu, and it's not because it's 'fun' - I use it for work, so it's not 'fun' by any stretch of the imagination - it's because of the same reason I like my Mac - because it just works. The computer came with Vista, and I genuinely tried to like it, and I will admit that, when it works properly, I do like Vista. I don't champion it, I don't think it's anything special, but I've nothing really against it either. It's never kicked in my door and raped my dog like the grudges some /.'ers have against it would suggest, it just doesn't 'just work':

    * My Belkin wireless adapters never worked properly with it and required several reinstalls to work as they should.

    * The Aero Glass effects make a perfectly servicable computer with 1Gb of RAM and a reasonably fast processor stutter if I dare have more than half a dozen windows open at once (I know it's Aero doing it, because it chugs along just fine if I run the same apps in the same state with the thing turned off).

    * Niggly little 'features' like the Windows Sidebar reactivating itself whenever it damn well pleases and the 'You have disabled startup programs, would you like to view them?' (No I fucking wouldn't, that's why I disabled the bloody things!).

    On the other hand, Linux (well, Ubuntu - your mileage with different distros may vary), when installed, automatically configured my wireless adapter and all I had to do was put in my network password and I was away. I don't know if it's using ndiswrapper to do that, because I'm not a techy and it never told me, it just worked. I'd assume it isn't seeing as I was never prompted to locate a Windows driver, but I couldn't tell you for sure - all I know is that my wifi works.

    I can also have my computer look easily as good as Aero Glass with the automatically-installed-and-configured Desktop Effects and a swift set of clicks around - the only qualm I have is that the default window decorations take up a few pixels' more room than the 'Windows Classic' ones, but with the resolution I have, that's not really an issue. I also don't get any annoying pop-ups whenever I start my machine asking if I want to start the programs I asked it not to start (I asked you not to for a reason, ffs) or re-activating 'Ubuntu Sidebar' modules.

    In short, maybe I'm strange, maybe I'm not the typical Linux user, but I don't use Linux because I love tinkering with the command line - I don't. I use Linux because it's fast, does what I want it to, is shiny without compromising performance and doesn't bug me about things I've no intention of looking at. A couple of years ago when I first checked it out it didn't do that, and kicked up all sorts of hassles about all sorts of hardware issues, etc, but it's really come on since then. I'm not the 'granny wanting to surf the internet for pictures of the grandkids', I'm a twentysomething screenwriter, but I'm not the /. stereotype sysadmin or guru programmer either, and I'd take Linux over Windows all day long.
  • by RichardtheSmith ( 157470 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:08PM (#22760996)
    Because a lot of people were waiting in the 90's for one of the Unix vendors (mostly Sun but also SGI and SCO) to stop ignoring the home user / hobbyist market, so when the first usable Linux distros started to come out it was like, "Thanks, it's about f*cking time."

    Also, the overall "feel" of Linux reflects the fact that there is no vendor telling you what you can or can't do with it. It lets you be in control. There's nothing in the user experience that reflects corporate arrogance. It lets *me* be arrogant. :)
  • Control (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:10PM (#22761018) Homepage Journal
    Simply put, I can see what is going on on my system.

    Windows is a fecking black hole where all manner of shite can happen without me knowing. Until Microsoft gives the average user a complete view and complete control over processes, they're crap.
  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @04:18PM (#22761068) Homepage

    I use Linux because proprietary apps suck to high heaven, and if you want to run OSS (desktop) apps, Linux is by far the best system.

    There's a horribly perverse system of incentives pervading the economics of proprietary apps. A user buying a proprietary GUI app typically has no way of knowing whether it's slow and/or buggy until he's already bought it. Performance is hard to judge until you have it loaded on your own system, and bugginess is hard to judge because the vendor does their best to keep bugs secret, and generally succeeds very well. Because buyers can't make decisions based on performance and quality, they tend to buy based on features. So vendors have a huge economic incentive to bloat their feature list, and push slow, buggy products out the door.

    Two experiences that helped to sour me completely on proprietary software:

    1. Bought a copy of Mathematica for my Mac back in the 90's. Upgraded to a new version of MacOS. Mathematica stopped working. Called Wolfram. They told me my only option was to buy a new version of Mathematica.
    2. Bought Adobe PageMaker 6.5 (?) ca. 1997. Wrote a book in it. Found out it was horribly buggy, and was constantly corrupting files. Adobe's tech support came up with lots of excuses to explain why it wasn't their fault.

    I teach physics at a community college. Recently I started working on a project to clean up the horribly messed up software situation in our student computer labs. Perfect example of what a mistake it can be to hitch your wagon to proprietary software. We have all these proprietary Windows apps. Every app has a different licensing scheme, and some of them have no explicitly stated licensing scheme at all (e.g., CD-ROMs that came with textbooks). Nobody can find half the original disks and licenses. Some software was bought to run on DOS or Windows 95, and isn't compatible with Windows XP. Some software is abandonware. In one case, faculty are downloading a particular piece of DOS abandonware/shareware from an untrusted third-party site every time they need to teach a particular activity -- can't ask IT to permanently install it, because the vendor is gone, so random people are just posting the .EXE on their web sites, without so much as a checksum. The whole thing is a nightmare.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There's a horribly perverse system of incentives pervading the economics of proprietary apps. A user buying a proprietary GUI app typically has no way of knowing whether it's slow and/or buggy until he's already bought it. Performance is hard to judge until you have it loaded on your own system, and bugginess is hard to judge because the vendor does their best to keep bugs secret, and generally succeeds very well. Because buyers can't make decisions based on performance and quality, they tend to buy based o

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by poliopteragriseoapte ( 973295 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:10PM (#22761420)
    I call bullshit. That may be the reason he, and many slashdotters, use linux, but I don't think it is universal at all.

    For instance, the main reason why I and many of my friends, relatives, etc, all use linux, is that it is plain simpler to install than Windows. Sure, Windows comes with many (most) PCs, so that's great. Once the HDs bit the dust, or Windows slows down to a crawl, or the PC is infected with viruses, or [insert any reason] and you need to rebuild a PC, it is infinitely faster and less painful to install Ubuntu than Windows -- especially now that only Vista is mostly available, and many peripherals don't work with it.

    Windows used to have the advantage, but no more. I installed Ubuntu for relatives, friends, including people whose knowledge of CS is zero and they hate the command line. It is plain simpler. Takes about 20 minutes, then all just works -- printers, internet, openoffice, firefox -- most people's needs, if you take out gamers and the like (and they are a small percentage of real users) are pretty basic, really.

    It is actually amazing how much the balance between Linux and Windows changed in the last couple of years -- in part thanks to Ubuntu, and in part thanks to Vista.
  • Transparent. (Score:3, Informative)

    by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <> on Saturday March 15, 2008 @05:45PM (#22761584) Homepage Journal
    I love linux because its so transparent. Im an avid Windows user and work mostly with Windows machines but i cant stop admiring the complete transparacy of Linux. While an error in Windows usually demands a reinstall and the logs tell me absolutely nothing in Linux i can actually find the culprit and mend the error in a very short time.
  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @06:56PM (#22761970) Homepage Journal
    Some years ago, in the late 1980s if I remember right, someone explained something to me that I've remembered ever since: Everything on a computer, especially the programming languages, can be best understood as a video game. The way the game works is that when the computer does what you intended, you get a point. When it finds some way to misinterpret your command (or find it impossible for some internal, unexplained reason) and do something other than what you intended, the people who build the software get a point. A good programmer or an experienced user wins if they get more than half the points. When I first stumbled across unix systems, I found that I was winning overwhelmingly within only a few days of first cracking open "The C Programming Language". I'd never had that experience before, and I never have since on any non-unix computer system.

    I heard this sometime after I'd been using unix systems for a few years, and it made a lot of sense. I could explain very simply why I preferred unix to all the other computer systems I'd ever used: On a unix systems, I usually won. When I told it to do something, it almost always did what I wanted it to do. Granted, there were occasional problems with running out of resources, and no OS can prevent that. But even then, it happened at a much later stage than on other systems, because unix tools were mostly small and sleek, and didn't hog resources.

    Linux is just the current favorite in a long chain of unix-like system that let me win in both the programming and computer-user games.

    I've used OSX a bunch, and in fact I'm typing this on a Mac Powerbook. I like to work on different computers occasionally, to keep up to date on what they do well or poorly. But I don't win nearly as often on OSX as I do on linux, for a lot of reasons. It's always doing something bizarre, and when I investigate, I usually find that the bizarreness was intentional in the design. And it's full of little time-wasting gotchas that aren't nearly as common in linux apps.

    Of course, as with any system, you do have to learn its basic tools to get anything done. Most of the non-linux users I know use this as their excuse. They "know" Windows or Macs, and they aren't about to learn some other system. So they're stuck forever in a computer game that's designed to lower their score at every opportunity. When I watch over their shoulders, I have to keep my mouth shut about how painful it is to watch them laboriously fighting with their computer to do the simplest tasks. But I generally don't say anything unless they ask, because I don't want to insult them. And telling them how much easier it could be would be an insult, because I'd be telling them how much of their lives they've wasted on zillions of little time-wasting design snafus.

    The only reason I'd even bother mentioning it here is to see the reaction of other linux (or solaris or whatever) users. How many of you have heard this video-game model applied to all computer use and programming? Does it really have the explanatory power that it seems to have, or do you really have some other basic motivation to use what you do?

  • by Fuzzums ( 250400 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @08:00PM (#22762286) Homepage
    After working with Windows servers and Linux servers, with the same level of experience, personally I find Linux easier to configure, more documentation and easier to make your own hacks to get done what you want.

    No crappy applications where you can't find the right button to turn off a frature, but simple text files with settings. Nice. I like it.

    AND Linux it's fun to play with :)
  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Saturday March 15, 2008 @08:51PM (#22762484) Homepage Journal

    If Linux becomes widely used, we'll probably switch to something else. Or at least develop an obscure distro that only we will use. Because, let's face it, we want to feel special.


    I use Linux because:
    • Once you get something working, it just works.
    • It won't suddenly decide to de-activate because I upgraded a third-party network or video driver
    • It doesn't phone home to the OS/distro provider without my explicit consent
    • It can be configured to log everything
    • I can tweak it to my heart's content. If I want to run it headless, I can do so.
    • The uptime is much higher than Windows -- without redefining "downtime"
      • Almost all maintenance can be done on a live system - none of this "scheduled maintenance" window B.S.
      • Almost all maintenance can be automated. Heck, what can't be automated on Linux?
    • I can choose from a variety of desktops and themes - without resorting to hex editing uxtheme.dll or paying Microsoft
    • Once hardware is supported by the kernel, X, or cups, etc. (as in a GPL, MIT, or similarly-licensed driver) chances are it will always be supported
    • Licensing - if the BSA ever comes by my office, I can tell them to go screw. Likewise, at home I can run servers without paying exorbitant licensing fees, and without pirating software or otherwise violating "license" restrictions
    • When DRM is active on Linux, it's true DRM - I am protecting MY privacy, not allowing my Fair Use and First Sale rights to be infringed. I'm keeping bad people out, not being blocked from accessing content I legally purchased or legally ripped or transcoded in accordance with Fair Use and/or the Home Recording Act

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears