13 Dec 2008

Is it the time to switch to Linux? - CEan Desijays

Article written by CEan - Desijays [in Feb 2007] for CrazyEngineers.


Windows Vista

Its that time of the year again and a new incarnation of another Microsoft OS is slated for release. With this release, Microsoft breaks the record by making Windows XP the forerunner for the the title of the OS with the longest shelf-life. And consequently, Vista has been in development for the last 5 years - the longest, compared to any of its other operating systems. With most of its previous versions, Microsoft has been quite generous in making regular scheduled releases of its flagship OS. Due to its long time in development phase, Mircrosoft touts Vista as a revolutionary OS, that is far better than any other operating system developed till date. And naturally, that is what Microsoft wants us to believe as well. But I think we should know otherwise !!!.

Lets eliminate a biased approach to evaluating Vista in the face of other operating systems, specifically Linux. Before that, a little history first.

Windows 95 was the first OS, that in some form or fashion resembles Vista in subtle ways. Windows 95 was a huge success, selling over a million copies just in the first 4 days. The phenomenal success of Windows 95 is attributed to many factors. The GUI (Graphical User Interface) is one reason. That apart, one other important factor was that Windows 95 was almost a self contained operating system. Prior versions of Windows required some version of DOS to be installed as the OS and Windows was just the graphical component that was augmented to provide visual interface to the DOS kernel. With windows 95, the role of DOS was curtailed to just a boot loader. Ofcourse, eventually, with subsequent releases of Windows, the DOS component was completely eliminated.

Inspite of being installed in over 500 million PC's worldwide, Windows does have some quirks. Most notably and more specifically the earlier versions, were prone to displaying the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). Those who migrated to other operating systems from Windows because of this, affectionately termed it "The BSOD". Even ardent patrons of Windows would attest to this. Microsoft claims its occurence to the poorly written device drivers by the ISV (Independent Software Vendors). With Vista, Microsoft has chosen to install only those drivers that are digitally signed and verified. Even though later versions of Windows were proclaimed to be BSOD-compliant, XP and Windows 2000 are still minutely susceptible.

Moving on, we finally come to 2007. Windows Vista is scheduled to be released on the 30th of January. It remains to be seen, how well the end users will adopt to the new operating system. If at all!!!!!.

Pirates Beware

According to some authentic figures that monitor software piracy on a global scale, almost one third of the software installed on desktops is pirated. Accordingly, this translates to a huge loss in sales for software companies. Advocates in support of anti-piracy argue that if an organisation that develops software cannot earn profits by selling its products because of piracy then it wont have the means to pay its programmers. This in turn leads to substandard software and software practises. And those who are in the habit of actively reverse engineering software, argue that source code for software, like literature must be open source and available to all for study and scrutiny. The open source community is like a giant with no form. It has no authority. No CEO, or HR or any of the other 2 to 3 letter designations you would normally find in a company. It has no headquarters. Sometimes, it occurs to many of us, how an unorganised organisation can accomplish the development of an OS, a web server, many flavours of Programming Languages, Image editors and so on and so forth. But the truth is that it has. The strength of the Open Source Movement lies in its formlessness. It is easy to strike an enemy that exhibits some form. But how do you charge an enemy that has no form? This is the challenge facing Microsoft. This is the software version of a typical geurilla warfare.

To protect their properitary OS from being pirated without any restrain, Microsoft has gone to extreme lengths to protect its corporate interests and its legitimate customers. The last year, saw enormous objections and out cry from support groups and induvidual citizens alike because of the copy-protection schemes employed by big corporations like sony. Unbeknownst to its users sony tried using root kit systems that resides on the users computer to prevent people from using copy protected content. The ensuing backlash was appropriately embarassing for sony, which was charged with accounts of trying to spy on the computers of induvidual users.

Now, with Vista, Microsoft has taken the concept a little furthur by employing two types of protections. One is DRM (Digital Rights Management). In DRM technology, media is wrapped in software code that checks the parameters within which the user can manipulate the media. If something is within the rules, then the user is allowed to continue and if not the respective operation is denied.

The second type of protection employed by vista is gaining controversy and is much more invasive compared to DRM. In this method, the media that is being accessed is constantly checked by many devices that it moves through. Sometimes between different peripheral devices and sometimes between many components within the motherboard. If a particular rule allows the media to be played only in a particular type of device, then another device trying to access it will be refused. For example, if a movie is being accessed, vista will check its rules to see how the user can use it. The rule might specify that it can be transferred to the Video card. But another rule might specify that it can't be transferred to an external hard drive or a USB. In essence, vista instead of providing only the interface to a device, it also determines what a device can and cannot do, even if the device is capable of doing it. Essentially, vista downgrades the capabilities of a device, if it has to copy protect media.

Finally, the conclusion, is that if you don't want control over your PC then by all means, Vista is a technological masterpiece. But if you are someone, who prides in knowing and interacting with hardware at a very intimate level, or just someone who values privacy, then Vista is a devils nightmare. For people of the second category, sticking to Windows XP or migrating to Linux would be a better option.


Linux

Since a good number of you use and swear by Windows XP, i'd rather not discuss it as an option. One good thing about XP compared to Vista, is that it doesn't exercise its anti-piracy muscle too often.

Linux is a posix compliant operating system that is not made by any organization. It was made by programmers who could afford to spend their free time on it. Im quite sure of the fact you would have heard of the history of Linux many times. But for all those new comers and for the sake of completeness, I am obliged to include it none-the-less. Linux was initiated by Linus Torvalds since he found Minix to be very inadequate. Minix is another operating system made by Andrew S. Tanenbaum for the pure reason of educating students on the implementations of operating systems. Minix being simple, which it was meant to be, to facilitate learning, was not quite adequate because of its lackluster features. Another reason being Mr. Andrew was very restrictive about allowing the addition of source code from external sources even if it meant making Minix a lot better. All these factors coupled together, gave rise to the Linux operating system. Initially it was meant only for programmers and people who were technically oriented. Over the years linux has evolved into a revolutionary operating system useable by ace and novice alike.

Today in more ways than one, it is compared to Windows in terms of the User Interface and core functionality. Linux has been a multi-user operating system from the get go. In windows it was added as an add-on. Because of this Linux manages the users of a system more efficiently than Windows does. The heart of Linux, is its terminal emulator program (CLI) that lets the user to directly interact with the kernel for performing operations. The best feature in Linux in my opinion is the ability to channel the output of one program as an input to another. But rest assured, it is very well possible to use linux without knowing jack about the terminal emulator program or any commands. The laterst distributions come with readily installed window managers. Gnome and KDE are some of the popular desktops. Gnome and KDE users can spend an endless amount of time arguing which is better than the other. But ultimately, it doesn't matter what desktop you use, the underlying functionality available to the user is always the same.

Linux has many application programs just like Windows. And the best part is that they are all stored in the form of repositories and are all open source. Anything that can be done in Windows can also be done in Linux. If at all, you have a program that you would like to use in Linux but is available only in Windows, then you can use emulation software such as VMware to run Windows inside Linux. And finally games. The one true motive for people to stay in Windows Land. Well, most of the games can be played in Linux using emulation software likes Wine and Cedega. Besides, a lot of the major titles are being ported to linux as well. As the user base for Linux increases, it is only natural to make Linux ports of games available. And finally the role of Linux is not only limited to desktop computers. They can also be used as the OS for servers and have some of the highest uptimes in record. Linux is also used in embedded computing and has a significant user base for distributed computing. But the best part of Linux is that it is free. Free in the truest sense of the word. Free from royalty and most importantly free from Microsoft !!!.

The Redmond giant will try every trick up its sleeve to derail the raising popularity of Linux. But I'm afraid they will eventually realize that they cannot compete with FREE. They have to either close operations or embrace the Open Source paradigm.

Ultimately, the decision remains. Whether to switch to Vista or not. The facts are laid bare and naked. For the discerning eye, the implications of using or not using Vista are quite obvious. You DECIDE.
Harshad Italiya

Harshad Italiya

Electronics and Communication
14 Dec 2008
Nice Written Mate
mayurpathak

mayurpathak

Branch Unspecified
17 Dec 2008
Old articles being renewed, nice to read them again here. 😀
sauravgoswami

sauravgoswami

Electronic
17 Dec 2008
Very informative.......but i think it depends on the individual a developer will love linux,a normal user will like Windows and the most dumb will go for MAC, there are also AIX and Plan 9 for confidential users
Rajkumar.be

Rajkumar.be

Branch Unspecified
29 Dec 2008
I just want to convey one more IMPORTANT thing.

"Windows for Viruses and worms,
Linux for human being's,
What is your OS".


I will assure every one that a normal desktop user using ANY LINUX VARIANT will have at most of 0.0001% of being attacked by viruses.

Just Ubuntu [A popular Linux Distro] Takes just 5 GiB of maximum space for full installation including all required package's.

"Closed source is a crime against humanity" -Richard M.Stalman

Why you are still waiting?

When even you get the Operating system Free at your Door Steps?

https://shipit.ubuntu.com/

Share this content on your social channels -

Only logged in users can reply.