CiRE's Tech Stuff
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Win vs Lin

Most people I know who aren’t Comp. Sci. majors (and even some who are), seem to have this horrible misconception of Linux. They think it’s some kind of (even slightly) complicated thing to use. Users of linux know that a LiveCD of Ubuntu is easier to install than Windows, by far (and doesn’t cost you 100+ dollars).

But then there are the features Windows has:
Speed (lol), efficiency (lol), style (lol), a huge program base (lo…. well, maybe).

The thing is, Linux has all the first three, and certainly the first two, in great excess of what you get with Windows. My shutdown in Karmic Koala (Ubuntu 9.10… yes, all Ubuntu distros have a name like this: Dapper Drake, Feisty Fawn, Jaunty Jackalope, etc. ) takes all of 3 seconds. Literally. No Win user past maybe 3.1 can claim that.

The detail of program base is certainly contestable, and there are many people on both sides claiming a win for themselves. Linux cannot be beat out in easy availability of office/editing software (which is free, of course), and Windows cannot be beat out in games, until now…

With Vista’s 64-bit inception, Microsoft moved towards a less backwards-compatible OS, which had been one of their biggest claims over, say, Apple, in the past. This movement significantly strengthened Linux’s claim on equal program-base, as with WINE, now there are windows programs which Windows can’t run, but Linux can. And these aren’t even all old games that we’re talking about; Spore doesn’t run AT ALL on 64-bit Vista.

Let’s compare some software for the two, “out-of-the-box”.

Windows: Notepad (no formatting, plain text), Wordpad (for formatted text), Paint (for… something), IE (which you can no longer uninstall, as Microsoft has incorporated it into windows update, meaning removal makes the system unstable) for internet.
That’s about it. Your pc (now) can’t come with Microsoft Office, due to anti-monopoly rulings against Microsoft. You may also have a Norton, or McAffee firewall/anti-virus, maybe even with a free period of use!

Linux: Gedit (formatted and format-less text), gimp (basically a scaled-down version of Photoshop), Firefox, a built-in firewall.

Straight-off, Microsoft isn’t doing too well – the only useful software all costs money. All the afforementioned Linux software is free, removable (easily, via synaptic package manager), and largely augmentable/customizable, should you have the urge or need to do so.

Let’s look at getting some new software installed:

Click “Start” menu, Open IE, search for software, download, open installer, specify install directory (and whatever else), wait for install to finish, DONE.

Click “Start” menu, open Software Center, search for software, press “apply”, wait for install, DONE.

In Linux, there are online “repositories” in which the software information is stored, and referenced by your computer, and the downloading and installation is all done for you. Afterwards, you will find it in your start menu.

If you find a program that only has a windows executable (.exe), there’s still a very good chance that it will run in Linux, via WINE.

As a quick search online will tell you, WINE is a compatibility layer for windows commands, and, as the name means, “Wine Is Not an (windows) Emulator”. You can install WINE through the Software Center.

With WINE, and a few more packages (software/ programs) from the included repositories (like Open Office, which is Sun Microsystem’s free Microsoft Office alternative, and which supports reading and creating Microsoft Office file types: .doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.), you’ll have more programs and funtionality than you’ll have on a new Windows box (computer), with the ability to even run windows programs (including games).

And YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN ONE OR THE OTHER. A dual-boot setup with a Linux distro (distribution) like Ubuntu or Fedora is easy as pie.

You don’t even need to install Ubuntu to try it, just download the LiveCD, and you can “run” it in windows, or reboot into it for a test run!

Next up in the series, I’ll walk everyone through preparing a new partition on which to install a Linux distro!


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